Two songs by the new line-up appear on their web site - http://www.splatterrock.com/home.html - I urge you to give them a listen! Now then, the interview. My words are in bold; theirs are in clear, with their names next to them.
Tom: Hey, it's Tom.
Hey, it's Mark.
Tom: Hey, Mark, how you doing?
I'm so sorry, I wasn't even on the phone. What happened was, I guess at about 6:10, I was thinking to myself, `Jeez, how come he hasn't called yet? I better make sure this thing's on the hook.' And I picked up the phone real quick and went, `Yeah, it's on the hook,' and hung it up. Presumably, that's when you called.
Tom: That's what it was, then. I called right at that time.
Tom: Probably what it was, then. OK. Sorry about that. You still have time? You want to rap?
Yeah, of course I do. Of course I have time!
Tom: Can you hear us OK right now? Or can you hear me OK?
I think so, except I'm recording it. I don't know if the recorder will pick it up OK.
Tom: OK. We'll have to... we can either just share a phone or gather around the speaker real close or something.
Okay. Who all is there?
Tom: Well, we have Brad, our singer guy.
Tom: He's right there, he says hello. Say hi, Brad, go ahead.
Tom: And Mike, Mike the drummer. And myself, that's Tom.
Tom: The bass player guy couldn't make it.
OK. He's got that pseudonym going on.
Tom: He does. He tends to do that. That's from his Pleasure League days, his other band. He has persona after persona that he kind of falls into. It makes for an eclectic situation.
Mike: What time do you got out there anyway, New York?
Tom: Yeah, that's Mike speaking. Say hi, Mike, that's Mark Prindle.
Mike: Mark Prindle! Hey dude, nice to meet you, man!
OK, so, Tom. You know that I have only heard Blaine's side of the story.
What is your side of the story?
Mike: This is the part where we don't stop the tape!
Tom: Yeah, we let the tape roll here! That was classic. Well, the deal is, as far as I know. I mean, I still really don't know exactly why the three of them up and had a plan to leave the band, or leave me high and dry with the band, or break up the band or whatever, I still don't really know. But I can tell you what happened.
Tom: OK. Essentially, we got back from that little trip in San Francisco that we went down and did with Municipal Waste and - I can't remember the other band, real great guys. Anyways, that was back in, what, summer of 2005 I guess. And we got back to Seattle after that little road trip there and I called up Steve, our drummer, because I hadn't gotten any communication. I'd been trying to communicate with both Alex and Blaine, and I'd talked to Steve all the time, no problem, ever since we'd gotten back, off and on. You know, we were trading phone calls or emails or whatever. But I called Steve or Steve called me, one of the two, and I said, `Are we going to practice? It's been a couple of weeks now since we've been back from this trip, are we going to be getting together or anything, or having that meeting about what shows we're going to do and what shows we're not going to do for the rest of the summer?' And Steve tells me, he says, `Have you seen the website, the message board on the website?' And I said, `Our website?' and he says, `Yeah.' I said, `No, I don't really go there, look at that thing, why?' And he goes, `Well, you really ought to take a look at it.' And I said, `Well, why is that?' He said, `Well, you should really just probably go look at it.' And I said, `OK. Well, do you know if we're practicing? Have you heard from those guys or anything? Cuz I haven't heard anything back from emails or anything.' He said, `You should really go look at the website and the message board.' I said, `OK, whatever dude, I'll call you back in a minute.' So I went, checked the message board, and right there on the top of everything was this post from Blaine that said, `Hey, it's been a good run, you know, have a great rest of the summer you guys,' you know, something like that, the topic was something like that. I clicked on it and read this big long goodbye message from Blaine saying `It's been great, thanks for all your support, and we've got this band, we've been practicing and we've got all these songs. It's called Toe Tag and we're gonna be doing gigs from the first of the year,' blah blah blah. I looked at the post, and it had been up there for FOUR days before I even knew that it was up there.
Tom: That's how I found out that those guys were doing what they were doing. And so I was pretty upset at that, and I thought that was kind of weird, and not a cool thing to do. For lots of reasons. So I immediately called Blaine and I don't think I got through to him right away, but somehow or another we managed to hook up on the phone within 24 hours of me reading that, and I said, `Dude, that was fucked. What's the deal with the thing on the message board?' And he's like, `Well, that's the way I feel.' And I said, `Well, I'm sorry to hear that, but you don't have the right to do that or say that. We've gotta talk. We've gotta get together and talk, like now.' And he said, `Well fine, but I don't think Alex is going to come over.' I said, `Well, then fuck him. But he really should come over.' And I called Steve, and Steve agreed to go over there to Blaine's house, which is where we practiced, and we had that meeting that I've heard talked about. It wasn't a meeting at all. Alex and Steve didn't say anything, and Blaine just started short-circuiting on me when I calmly said, `Dude, why did you do that?' He was like, `Well, that's how I felt. Hey, I mean, come on. You just don't get it, do you Tom?' And I said, `No, I don't. I don't understand what's going on here. But obviously you guys have had some sort of plan, you've got another band active right now.' And I said, `Well, that's fine, but the Accused is not over, you have no right to say that the Accused is over. It's not your call.' And he didn't like that very much. I said, `Sorry. Good luck with your new band, but it's not over, dude. I've gotta go do damage control.' I just told them all goodbye, and that's the last I saw them. I haven't seen them since October of 2005.
Could you sense that there was something going on?
Tom: No more than normal. With those guys it has been, at least most of the last ten years that we were an active band - not including the off years, the inactive years - I would say it would be probably 90% of the time it seemed like there was something I was missing out on. You know? Like when you come into a room where you know people have been saying something about you or whatever? Not being paranoid, but just straight-up a vibe. You know what I mean? And that's been constant. So, to me, that's just a personality trait that I've learned to live with with those guys. It was not really out of the ordinary the two weeks prior to that meeting, when we went to San Francisco. I mean, it was weird and Blaine was being particularly rude-just to everybody, pretty much-and cocky. I thought that was kind of odd, because he had this swagger about him which he didn't normally have. But other than that, no, I didn't suspect a goddamn thing. No. If that's what they wanted to do, was dupe me or get one over on me? They got together secretly and made this new band without me - they pulled it off. But what kind of shit is that?
Before the band had broken up, there were a few things that Blaine had said to me that he told me not to put into the interview, but I was wondering what your take on it was. He said that you felt like he never liked you, and he couldn't understand why that was.
Tom: Yeah. Well, that's true. I believe that to this very day. In your and my and most people that I surround myself with, or try to - in that definition of `like,' he doesn't. I don't think he knows how to like people in that way. Because I don't think he knows himself. I think he's really at a loss for who he is. That's my armchair psychologist's opinion of it, but that's what I think now, and I've come to that conclusion. I don't think that he knows how to really like anybody else. I'm not saying he only hates people, it's not that extreme, but I don't think -- he keeps his emotions very, very guarded. I'm not asking for a hug or a `Hey, buddy,' or a pat on the butt or whatever, or a handshake all the time or anything. I'd long since stopped expecting that or desiring that from our relationship. But no, I don't think he likes, really, anybody. I mean, I don't know what he's got going with his family. That's none of my business. But that's the only thing I can surmise at this point after knowing the guy for 20 years. In the traditional definition of the word, to `like' a friend, to have a friend that you -- Here, real quick, I'll give you an example and then I won't dwell on it anymore. I've never heard him once say, if something good was happening to me on a certain day and I came into practice and I said, `You know, this thing is going so well, we're gonna get the house, the loan came through,' whatever, I've never heard him say to me or anyone else, `You know what? That's awesome, dude. Good for you. I'm totally happy for you.' You know? He doesn't possess that emotion. Whatever emotion that is. I don't know what it is, what to label it; I know what it IS. But I've never heard him express that sort of enjoyment at somebody else's enjoyment. An honest enjoyment.
Mike: How old is he, again, Blaine?
Tom: A couple years older than me.
Do those guys know him from around?
Tom: I don't think so. You guys don't know him, do you? Brad knows him. Yeah. There you go.
Brad: I ran into him here and there a couple times, when we went with my wife and saw them at the Riviera. You know where the Riviera is?
Tom: Well, it was a show in '97.
Brad: Yeah, yeah. Anyway, we went there and we were sitting there, and then my wife goes, `I want an autograph by Blaine.' She gets out a pen, and she turns around and he writes on her back, `You asked for it! Blaine.' That was it, that was about my whole experience with him. And I'm going, `Well, jeez, we came to the show, I thought he'd talk to me for a minute,' you know?
Brad, you're the singer?
I just listened to those two new songs on the website. You are an awesome screamer!
Brad: Thank you very much!
Very good! I wasn't sure what kind of person Tom would be able to find, but man you've really - it sounds like you must be killing your throat though!
Brad: I try my hardest. (laughter)
Tom: And he's a dwarf, that's the weirdest thing! (laughter) What're you, four-foot-one? (laughter)
So, Tom, was Alex like that as well, or was he just a friend of Blaine's?
Tom: Well, no, I would say Alex and I were probably more chummy. He had that quality to him, more of the traditional sense of, you know, being able to revel in other people's enjoyment, or good things, good fortunes. So no, they weren't identical. But their relationship is give-and-take, I think. I've been doing a lot of thinking, Mark, (laughs) about how people are, you know, in general. Because that's 20 years I've known these guys. Well, Blaine anyway, and almost 20 for Alex. And it took some digesting to try and digest all this. Because as a human being - an intelligent human being, hopefully - you want to make sense of things like this that happen to you. There was no, and definitely still hasn't really been, a quick nub or frame that I can just plop it into and there it sits and I understand everything. It's hard. It's hard to figure out what the hell.
The fact that they all left, though. I mean, were you living a different lifestyle or something? Is it because you trademarked the name?
Tom: Well, I would hope not. I would hope not. It can sound like an excuse to some people, but no, I wouldn't think that. I told them that that was the best way to do it at the time, because it was purely financial and a timeline situation. If I would have had to go the route where I put the trademark in three of our names, or all four of our names, it was going to add on like an extra six months potentially to the process, and several hundred dollars which I personally didn't have. So it was the quick, easy way. Upon my mother's grave, or whatever, I swear to God, I knew that there was a way to add them on later that was going to be just as legal, if I was to just get it in my name real quick and get the paperwork done. `Real quick' meant, still, a year and a half to get the trademark cleared, you know, from the time I submitted it. I mean, it had just cleared, I think, when the shit hit the fan. I think Blaine and I started that in 2003, yeah. So it was almost two years. But if he was that pissed about it, that's because he didn't trust me, you know what I mean? Because I told him straight up. I said, `This is what I what I have to do. I can add you guys' names later. I didn't do that to cover my ass or to steal it out from under you or any of that shit.' It was a lot cheaper and a lot quicker. Because otherwise I would have had to gather up everybody's social security numbers and all that shit, have them sign affidavits or whatever forms and all that shit, and at that point we didn't really hang together after the reunion at all, the 2003 reunion. We just got together to practice and do some shows and stuff. We weren't really in each others' hip pockets on the weekends and stuff like that. They weren't really that readily available, physically. If he did freak out and think that I was stealing it and trademarking it myself, then he's just being a paranoid freak. Which is, you know, what he's called me, I guess, a few times. Everything that he's called me, it's weird, because he suffers from most of those syndromes himself.
Brad: And you offered them that contract.
Tom: Right. I did offer - thank you, Brad, this seems to get forgotten about. Prior to the trademark thing, I brought in an internal band agreement, which is a two-page contract that band members can sign so they all kinda know where they stand legally and things, both during the band's active period and if heaven forbid the band breaks up, right? Real simple thing you get off the Internet, replace a couple of heretofores, theretos, untos, thous and all that stuff, and it all looks legit and legal. And I customized it for our particular situation. I think we were going to do a certain thing with O-Ring, the drummer, that we weren't going to do with the rest of us, like we were going to be cut in on maybe a little more of the older royalties or something. And Steve agreed to being left out or whatever early on. Anyway, I brought that thing, Xeroxed off copies, brought them to practice, and I said, `Hey you guys, here's that band agreement I've been talking about; I finally have it. If you would, just look it over and stuff. It's nothing scary or anything; you can take your time, but I think we should sign it so we all kind of know what's up, where we stand.' And one of the main clauses in there was I said that if a member was to leave or the band was to break up, the band the Accused could not continue unless it was at least Blaine Cook, Alex Sibbald, and Tom Niemeyer as members of the band. No one member would be able to continue being called the Accused and continue to play the music and get profits from the catalog or whatever, unless it was all three of us in agreement. And that was, I think, clause number one in that thing. Well, they didn't even bother to look at the thing. They, literally, Steve didn't look at his, Alex threw his on the ground, and Blaine put his upside down on the PA at that practice and didn't even bother to look at it. He goes, `We don't need a fucking agreement.' And Alex is like, `Pfft,' and just tosses his. So I don't think they ever read it.
Tom: Yeah. I told them during that meeting, by the way - to go back a little bit to the quote-unquote meeting where I called everybody together and said, `What the fuck did you do on the website?' - I said, `By the way, did you look at that band agreement yet? Because if you would have signed that thing, you probably would have gotten what I think you're after.' Because I wouldn't have been able to go and continue going on. Because I think he wanted to derail me, for whatever reason.
A while back, after I posted that letter from Blaine, somebody wrote me saying that you were supposed to sign with Relapse or something, but there was a problem with the contract.
Tom: Oh, right. Yeah, yeah, right.
Now, what happened there?
Tom: That was a connection of some sort that Blaine had managed to make with some people at Relapse Records through a friend or whatever. He was hooked up with whoever the main guy is, I can't recall his name right now, one of the two main guys there at Relapse. They were interested. They'd been interested, and they had been tapping his shoulder, saying, `Have the Accused get together, have the Accused get together,' and been really, really interested in putting out our next record if we were to make a record. And Blaine informed me of this, and I said, `Cool, that's great. I've checked them out, and they seem like a great label; we'd be a great fit there. Tell them to send us some paperwork. Or proposal or whatever.' And they did, and it didn't take me long to look through it and realize that it wasn't really for us in any way, shape, or form. It was more like a developmental, like beginning band contract for a beginning band, essentially. Not moneywise, necessarily, but the amount of control they had, kind of.
Tom: But it was more that they had a bigger hand in developing. And a lot of artists, a lot of bands starting out need these sorts of contracts, where they don't really have an image or a vision, or any kind of creative originality or whatever. They've got some good songs or whatever and put the record out. And they've just got a look or whatever. But anyway, it was like if there was a machine where you punch a button, one, two, three, or four, it was like contract number one that came out. It was like, maybe, number 4.5 revision, 4.5c or whatever. So this was a very basic grassroots for seven albums; really, really low money; incredible packaging costs and deductions; and cross-collateralized, recoupable publishing; recoupable tour support, video support; they get to keep everything; and this and that. It was your standard. I don't blame Relapse or any label. That's a basic, standard contract and a lot of bands need to start out with something like that. But I've personally been through it now a couple of times, and I learned a lot from the Gruntruck situation. We had a legal battle with Roadrunner Records that was three years long, ended up in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Fighting a contract that we had with them. So it was a sink-or-swim situation, but I learned about legalese, which I used to turn a blind eye to. A drunken eye, actually.
Tom: I used to not really care about it. But I learned a lot, because I had to. It was my survival at that point.
Were they willing to listen to your suggestions, or was it -
Tom: Was Relapse?
Tom: We tried to renegotiate and redo certain clauses and yank out other clauses. They sounded like they were. you know, this is all through me asking Blaine if he would please ask them, you know, take down some notes and ask them if they could address this clause and that clause and maybe reword that particular thing. So by the time Blaine got it to that guy and I got a reaction back from Blaine that he got from Relapse, it sounded good. And I said, `OK, well then put it in paper.' This went on and on for six or seven months or something. But the contracts didn't seem to get much better. The offers were still really - they were, frankly, insulting. By the time the fourth revision came in, I was like, either he's not asking them to do this, or they're just saying, `Fuck you, we're not going to give you anything more.' And if that's the case, then no, we don't want to sign with a label that says one thing and then doesn't put it in writing, essentially. You know? There were some phone calls of mine, or emails of mine that went unanswered, and that didn't sit well with me. And I don't think they were worded very rudely or anything; they were very direct and to the point. It was about certain amounts of royalties after certain expenses were recouped. And I'm not expecting the world, dude, I don't think I'm a rock star; I don't think I deserve more than the next guy or anything like that. Buut these were rude. This was an insult. If this is really the fourth revision, and they honestly tried to revise it, then either they thought we were totally stupid or Blaine never asked them. Because it was really, really pro-label, and more for a developmental situation for a real young band that needed some help. Which we didn't, that's the thing. We didn't need creative vision. We've got a mascot. This is stuff we could milk like a motherfucker, and we were ready to do so. And I thought they understood that. I don't think they were trying to, like, take Martha away from us or anything. I don't know. But, no, of course he took that personal. That was his gig, that was his contract. And he took it personal, and I said, `Dude, that's the world's worst contract. If that's the fourth revision, dude, you don't want to sign that, man. If you don't understand that, let me break it down to you.' And I did. I got yawn after yawn when we were going through all this `heretofore, there unto, thou,' the legalese crap. Which is to be expected, it's not the most interesting read or narration in the world to go through 20 some-odd pages or whatever it was. But I know he didn't like that very much, and he thought there was an ulterior motive or some reasoning behind it, like I was too good for it or something. No, no. That's not it. I didn't feel like giving away this record forever, you know? And we didn't have to. We were going to finance it ourselves; we didn't need the advance. So I don't know. Dude, I tried to be as polite and non-talking-down to him or the other guys, just being overly sensitive and considerate of their potential feelings of, like, `Well I've been around the block! I was in Gruntruck!' If they thought that that's how I was going to come across, I'd tiptoe even that much softer when I was delivering some sort of knowledge that I had gained - heaven forbid - from being in bands since we were together last. You know what I mean?
Tom: You know, that stuff, it can come out weird. Like I know more than them and they should probably just shut up and let me handle it, that type of thing. I don't know. That's their problem, man, not me. I can only tiptoe around so much, dude. And I figured after I'd known the guy for 20 years, he would know that I don't mean anything personal.
Mike: Mark, man, Tommy is so sensitive, bro. He's such a sweetheart of a dude. I mean, he gets royalty checks from other stuff and still always makes sure they get their money. He's gotta have such good karma. I don't see why they are so mad now that he keeps going on. I can't believe they say bad shit like that about that stuff. I mean, you're always making sure they get all the checks, you make sure you mail it to them, and you never hear a thing. It's a lot of work. You really do your homework. You're not trying to rip anybody off. That bums me out.
Tom: No, I wouldn't do that. I mean, not that I'm wealthy without the band or anything like that. It's nice to potentially make a little bit of cash off of this thing after 20 years, but -
Mike: But you still send them stuff. Karma, dude.
Tom: Yeah. That's a bonus. That's a bonus. I'm not doing it for that, either. That's the only way I know.
Brad, how have people been reacting to you, in the audience? Because I've seen some really nice comments from people on your website. Have you run across people who say, `Oh, he's not the real guy'? Like the guys who tried to replace Jello Biafra in the Dead Kennedys, for example.
Brad: Well, you just kind of expect that to happen, and I expected that to happen big time, you know. Surprisingly enough, I expected a lot more kicks in the balls, but things have been pretty cool. For me, if it wouldn't have been me singing in the Accused, because I've always been a big fan of the Accused, I probably would have been one of those guys for a second: `Oh, man!!!' But I was confident that I could go forth and make some great music, I've always wanted to play with Tom, really, for a long time, and that's what I feel like we're doing. We're having a great time together and we're playing and we're doing what we want to do. People are having a good time with it, and I think the people who don't like the idea of it, they just aren't coming and aren't doing it. And that's what you SHOULD do if you don't want to give something a chance. You know? That's what I would do. Ignore it.
The thing is, I don't know that people realize - because I didn't realize this - that all three guys left and said, `The Accused is over.' I mean, if I were Tom, that would make me want to keep the band going, too. You know?
Tom: Yeah, yeah, oh yeah. It added some fuel to my fire for sure. I was, like, `Oh yeah, motherfucker?' That was my initial motivation. Anybody who says I can't do something like that that's been essentially almost all my - or at least a big part of me for that long? Dude, you're just asking for it. I'll pick myself up by my bootstraps, even if I was as fucked up as they think I am or was or whatever. You know, fuck that. Yeah, so that was my initial motivation. It was just, `Fuck you, watch this.' But I had to calm down. Luckily my wife was totally there for me to calm me down and go, `OK, you've got to focus. You can't do this out of spite or like a revenge thing; you've got to do it for the right reasons and remember why you started the band in the first place. You should want to do it because you love playing the music. That should be your main motivation.' So she helped me - these guys too - and that's a real close friend that helps calm you down. You know, because I could take that shit real personally and just go fucking crazy. And I did. I went through a lot of fucking crazy rollercoaster emotions. But yeah, it pissed me off pretty bad. Even now, it's just like, I feel like, whatever, how weird. How totally bizarre. And sad. It's sad, dude. Both guys had issues, they just had to. What? What was the motivation there? It's not like their lives were at stake, or their careers. Or because I was bringing them down or holding them back? I don't know what possesses a guy to do that. And the main enigma is Steve, you know, O-Ring. Dude, we drove to practice together every night, because we lived near each other in north Seattle and Blaine's house was in west Seattle. So Steve, O-Rin, and I drove whatever it was, 20-some miles there and back together and talked. We were able to talk because we'd get stuck in bullshit Seattle traffic. And so sometimes when things were extra kind of weird - you asked at the very beginning if I had noticed anything particularly weird - well, when things were abnormally maybe a little weird, like a little crispy or crunchy, as I like to call it, I would ask him, `Do you know anything, Steve?' or `Can you explain? Is something going on?' Every fucking time, dude: `No, I don't know. I don't know. You're paranoid.'
There's something going on with the phone. I'm getting kind of a pulse.
Tom: Oh, really? OK.
What is that?
Tom: Uh. can you just turn that fan off?
Brad: Oh, yeah.
Tom: OK, yeah, we'll kill that.
Oh, okay. No, that's all right. I was afraid the phone was going dead.
Tom: That better?
Talk a little bit, let me see.
Tom: Is this better now? Mike: Yo yo yo.
Yeah, yeah. That's much better. Okay, so I was going to ask the singer and drummer: Were you in other bands before that people might know? In Seattle?
Mike: I played Top 40 for a year in a band right out of high school. Two girl singers, you know. Went over to Europe for another year, played over there and crap, got back and ran into this guy Nick, who used to be in Bam Bam. You ever hear of Bam Bam?
Mike: Man, they were total punk. They had this black lead singer and they would play at CBGB's and a lot of places in New York, you know. She quit and we never did ever go over there when I joined the band. I was also in Apes Of Wrath, which was a kinda Steve Vai metal thing. We opened up for Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen.
Mike: Mr. Bungle, opened up for Bungle. We got some really good shows, dude.
Tom: Yeah, they were a staple in the early punk scene here in Seattle. They had this wicked crazy guitar player that nobody else could fucking even touch. And the drummer, of course.
Mike: Yeah. He was a total Dr. Know fan, you know. The big Bad Brains jazz-metal-hardcore thing, you know? Then we sort of opened up for this weird band Sweaty Nipples, and I'm like, `Fuck these guys.' (laughter)
I've heard that name. I've never heard them, but I've heard the name.
Mike: Dude, they're assholes (laughter). This was Brad's band, dude.
Tom: One of Brad's bands.
Brad: One day I was sitting there, we had shirts, and here comes this crazy guy going, `How about a shirt, man?' I go, `I want a shirt.' `I'll trade you a shirt for a shirt.'
Mike: So we traded shirts, I got to know Brad, and he really liked us, some stuff happened with Apes of Wrath, and a couple months later, we played.
Brad: He kicked me out!
Mike: We kicked him out.
Brad: Oh, we were just moving in different directions. No bad feelings now, but back then it hurt. I cried for a while.
Tom: Yeah, most of these guys have pedigrees, Mark, and they're just like crazy, just as eclectic as the day is long.
How did they wind up in the Accused?
Tom: I'm wonderin' that!
Tom: I feel like I won the lottery!
Mike: It's a kind of funny thing, because, okay, before - we're talking '92.? What's that time you guys went to Germany?
Mike: OK, then. what was that German -
Tom: Oh, '91.
Mike: OK, '91. '91, bro, we were playing at a little place in Seattle, and I'm in Bam Bam before I got together with Brad in Sweaty Nipples, and here comes my buddy Josh, I've known Josh. you know, Josh Sinder, `Grinning Like an Undertaker' drummer.
Mike: Buddy of mine. We always used to just hang out. And he goes, `I'm in the Accused, you know, and we just went to Europe.' `No shit!' He played me the album, and I was just blown away. But I never really knew Tommy and stuff like that. Then, later down the line I got in another band with a keyboard player, it was called Sean, and this guy ran his keyboard through like a Marshall stack. It was like grindcore, shitty, like from Maine. Like Discordance Axis, you ever hear of those guys?
Say it again?
Mike: Discordance Axis.
Heard OF them, but never heard them.
Mike: Yeah. Guitar player, drummer, and crazy Japanese singer guy. Anyway, to make a long story short, I start playing with them and then I'm kinda kicking it, and I knew Brad, I contacted Brad because Mommy broke up - he started a band called Mommy. I've got to go back -- after he got together with that and I didn't see Brad for a long time, then shit, next thing I know we got back from tour when I was with this band Sean, and I see Brad, Ge's like, `Dude, you're never gonna believe this, man. You remember Tommy Niemeyer?' And I'm like, `Yeah. He's kind of a weird guy. (laughter) He's that asshole!' (laughter) No. He's like, `You wanna check it out?' And I'm like, `Yeah!' He goes, `They asked Josh first, but Josh had some stuff going down,' and then Brad goes, `Are you down?' So that's how I got in. I did it pretty much because Brad did it. He's been my best friend for a long time.
Tom: It's a sweet package deal, Mark.
Tom, did you know Brad would be good for the Accused because you heard him in his old band, or did you hold rehearsals, or what?
Tom: Yeah, I actually was just taking long-shots and stuff, and I was thinking I would get ahold of Mike Patton. And so I wanted to get ahold of Mike, and I'm like, `Fuck, how am I gonna get ahold of Mike, and he's not gonna want to do it anyway.' So I'm like, `Fuck.' So then I go down to see Napalm Death, and Mitch says, `You know who you should get? You should have Mike Patton.' And I'm like, `Ha, that's funny, because I was just thinking that.' Because Bungle screams and stuff, I thought. So he gets me his email address because the Napalm Death guys had it or whatever, so I emailed Patton and a couple days later he emails me back and he goes, `Aw dude, I'm fucking totally flattered. Thanks man. I was a huge fan, but I'm totally booked until like 2009!'
Yeah, he's in like six different bands already!
Tom: I said, `I had a feeling. we've been watching your career kind of spreading out in all kinds of directions from out here, from out in the field here.' And he goes, `What about that cat Brad Mowen? Doesn't he live right there too?' I was like, `Oh, fuck! That's right!' I go, `Thanks, Mike! See you later!' (laughs) That was the last I talked to Patton on the email. And I got hold of Brad, I fucking tracked him down where he works and shit, and, yeah, it totally flipped my mind. Yeah, he was the first guy that I thought of, I mean, after Mike fucking reminded me that he was right here in town.
Mike: Because of Brad's old bands?
Tom: Well, 90 Proof and shit like that, you know. Yeah, his old bands. I'd heard him do shit that was total Blaine-style shit, but I knew he could sing, too. You know, if need be.
Mike: In any style!
Tom: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. He's a fucking freak of nature.
Mike: It's like, `Yeah, we like playing jazz and out stuff,' so it's like, breadth, and really you know Tommy can play weird.
Tom: Yeah, Brad taught me what the other strings are for. So yeah, it's fun to be able to fuck around and shit like that.
Yeah. There are just so many ways you can pick a singer that you think is right because he's a friend of yours and everything, but he just kind of, you know, ruins the band, he just doesn't fit in. But if these two songs are any indication, he's pretty much perfect for the Accused.
Brad: Thanks very much!
Tom: That's Prindle saying that, all right? I agree, dude. Thank you, Mark.
I mean, it's really an intense scream. Every once in a while you get the sense that it's almost like - a hint of it almost sounding a little like Blaine, so you know he can sing the old songs live fine, but really, Blaine had kind of a scared kind of a sound. Like, I told him he sounded like a victim. Brad doesn't sound like a victim, he sounds like an aggressor.
Brad: Oh my God! I mean, Blaine came up with that style. He honed it for sure.
Brad: I think it's great, you know?
Yeah. Oh, Blaine has an incredible style, yeah. But the fact that you were able to replace him, it's pretty amazing.
Mike: Yeah. Well, I look at Dana or Steve, and he's got such a neat style. You just complement it. We're not in a `compete' thing. It's like, we're just trying to keep it going in a different way.
Tom: You know MySpace? That little profile thing and all? You ever go to that crazy world, Mark?
I just started on MySpace about three weeks ago.
Tom: Well, good knowin' ya! You'll be spending some time there, bro! (laughter)
Yeah, really! It's time consuming. All right, I'll have to send you a Friend Request!
Tom: Yeah, do that. I used to think I could get along without it, but it's integral for a band pretty much. And if you just go and fuck with it a little bit and then walk away, you should be good. I think that's the way to handle it. But no, there's some video stuff on there if you go to ours, the Kings of Splatter one. There's some video of us doing the older stuff with Brad and the new guys here, live. It's got decent audio, too. Yeah, you can hear what he does with the old stuff and it's pretty cool. It's pretty cool.
I have another question for. And here I am blanking on everybody's name again. The current drummer.
Yeah, Mike. Now, the Accused has had several drummers. If you listen back through the catalog, who do you think were the strongest, and how -
Mike: Out of the drummers?
I mean, can you tell? Or did they all just play super fast to you? I mean, you, as a drummer, would be able to tell differences that I wouldn't be able to tell. Is it hard for you to recreate those parts live, or do you just play them in your own style?
Mike: That's a good question. The first thing I got from Tommy were learning tapes. Because honestly, bro, I honestly was more into S.O.D. and that crossover stuff. I really didn't know The Accused that well, but I'd seen Josh play and I was like 'What is this? I don't understand this'. But Tom would give me songs to listen to. And I'd go, `OK, that's Dana's style.' And then he kind of got out of it, and then when Josh joined, I was like, `That's a totally different style.' And I wasn't seeing them onstage at all until Josh put a whole new aspect on them. Fast, double-bass speed. I've never been able to do double-bass very well, so it's kind of like, `Man! How am I gonna complement that?' And I just, I don't know, I listened to the other songs and I dig a lot of double-bass stuff, and I'm thinking of those parts, but I can't emulate them. I'm just trying to complement it, I guess. It's not because of the speed that much, because if they're playing, like, grindcore shit -- my heart is actually more into thrash and that kind of stuff. I hope that answers your question.
Yeah, it does. Have there been any songs that Tommy has wanted to play that the new band hasn't been able to do? Like the bass player and everything, or -
Mike: We're playing pretty much everything. I mean, like some of the double-bass stuff, if I would do it I would just probably just turn it into a grind beat because I've got a single bass, but then I get to do that blast-y kind of thing. But no, nothing's been that hard. I have a tendency to speed up. God! I have a problem, I really do.
Tom: Mike's probably faster than any of the drummers that have been in the Accused, with the exception of Josh.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. But Josh had such great time, and knew when he could speed up. Sometimes I just get so excited. Oh, man!
Tom: He does, he gets all excited back there (laughter). We gotta corral him back in.
Mike: Another story for you - one time when Josh was teaching me some drumming techniques, he's like, `Just hit the fill. I'm going to do a weird odd time, it's called syncopation.' `What's that?' (laughter) I'll never forget that. He's like, `Mike, OK, count it.' 1, 2. And he starts doing it, `Mike, don't speed up!' OK. `Mike, what are you doing? Don't speed up!' And I didn't even know it and I'm like, `I'm not gonna speed up, I'm not gonna speed up.' (laughter) But really I'm just trying to complement what they're doing on the old songs. The new stuff is a challenge, you know? Because Tommy will come up with stuff on the drum machine with like double double-bass parts, and I'm going, `I can't do it!'
How many new songs are you working on, or do you have?
Mike: Well there's a lot that we're working on.
Tom: Well, about 12 that are going to make it to the block for sure. But, I mean, that's some stuff. We wrote about 200 songs in the last three years, I think.
Tom: We've been writing a lot.
Do you think there will be a new CD this year?
Tom: Yeah. We're working on it. I think so. Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Oh yeah, this year? Definitely.
Who are Unrest Records?
Tom: That's some guys who are up in Canada, friends of mine that just kinda have been punk rock fanatics for their whole lives. This guy up there has this kind of record store that he's had for a while, and he decided to start a label with his buddy. They just kind of put out what they want to put out and stuff. They make most of their money off of mail order through their record store, so they're not like starving to be the next Metal Blade or whatever. They're really cool to work with. There's really low pressure, like no pressure, that kind of thing, from those guys.
Mike: It's really old-school.
Tom: Very much old-school, yeah. They're really cool. And they're just good to work with. They're going to re-release those two of our CDs domestically. "The Return of Martha Splatterhead" is coming out finally on CD through them, which'll be available in the United States for the first time for under $300.
Oh, man. When are those coming out? Do you know?
Tom: They're ready to be printed, they've got barcodes and everything. So I'd say within the next month or two.
Tom: Yes. I'll send you a copy of that, no problem.
Oh, I'll be willing to pay for that, don't worry!
Tom: Yeah, I'll send you one of my burned copies. But no, we'll get you the new package. They are gonna be different; the packaging's going to be a bit different. A little. Different colors and stuff.
That's the thing that I don't know that everybody realizes, is that Tommy - you have been the only founding member in the band for a long time now.
I mean, Blaine was the third singer, right? And Alex wasn't on "The Return of Martha Splatterhead," was he?
Tom: No, he wasn't.
What was his first one? The one right after that?
Tom: He was on half of "More Fun Than an Open Casket Funeral." It's a little-known fact that I played bass on a bunch of those tracks.
Tom: Yeah. I didn't ask for credit for it; we just had to get it done.
So it's not even like David Gilmour taking the name of Pink Floyd. He wasn't in the band the whole time; you've been the main guy.
Tom: Right. I'm the last original from the original three that started it.
And I guess there's not really a lot you can do when the entire band leaves, you know?
Tom: (laughs) Right, right. I didn't want to be an arrogant, cocky bastard or anything and go, `Well fuck you.' It's that I had to. I had no choice. I wasn't done! We just put out a good record, a really good record.
Brad: This is Brad here speaking. Another thing, too, when Tom asked me if I wanted to sing and stuff, I asked him what happened right away, because I wouldn't have joined the band if Tom had kicked them out and dissed everybody. The only reason why I joined is because, `A' to fucking play with Tom, I've loved him forever, and the other is that they quit. I wasn't moving in on anybody or anything, basically.
Yeah. I guess what's going to do it is putting out your first album as a new band. And if the songs are good, people are going to know it right away. And that should pretty much clear it up.
Tom: Yeah, that's one of the reasons, Mark, to be honest, why we cranked these two songs out. We needed to get shit out there to show what we're doing, that we're doing the name justice. These guys know what kind of a legacy this has. I don't want to shortchange somebody. I want to try and retain as many of the old fans as possible, but not to the point where I'm going to give a shit if a Blaine fan is gonna be pissed off. If you're a fan of Blaine's, you're probably not gonna like the band. If you're a fan of Blaine's personally, that is. You won't like this band because he's not here. But if you like the music that we've been putting out the last several years, I'm gonna try my hardest to make you like this. These guys are doing a fucking great job helping make that happen.
Mike: Mark, what do you think of the `Fuck Sorry' song?
Is that about the guys who quit? That was my first thought.
Tom: No, not at all.
The first song - the one about the kid coming back - right when that came on I went, `Oh, that's the Accused.' That's a great song.
Tom: I like to hear that.
The second one, I'm going to have to listen to that a bit more, because that wah-wah pedal was throwing me off.
Tom: Yeah, that's fucked up. (laughter)
Because the chord changes were weird, I liked those, and the vocals are great, the drums sound good, but that wah-wah pedal, I was like, `What's he doing with a wah-wah pedal?'
Mike: Is there a wah-wah pedal there?
Tom: Yeah, yeah. I may have overdone it a little.
But yeah, they made me want to hear more.
Tom: Right on. We've got a lot more coming down the pike. I think my battery's gonna croak, Mark.
Oh, OK. All right. Well, thanks to all of you guys for your time, I really appreciate it.
Tom: Good to talk to you, Mark.
Brad: Thank you, Mr. Prindle.
It was great to finally hear your side of the story, Tom.
Tom: Well thank you. That really means a lot to me, dude. People want to know, you know?
Yeah. And also, it's important to remember that it's not a matter of one side lying, it's just -- you see the same situation in two different ways.
Tom: Right, totally.
It's like they say, if you're looking for the truth, look at both stories, and they're probably both true. The truth is probably right in the middle. You just see things in different ways.
Tom: The interpretation's totally different.
Yeah. Well, thank you again.
Tom: Hey, you bet, man. Thank you, Mark. Talk to you soon.
All right. Bye.
IN THE WEEK FOLLOWING THE INTERVIEW, TOM AND I EXCHANGED A FEW INTERESTING EMAILS THAT HE SAID I COULD QUOTE HERE, SO HERE I DO! HIS COMMENTS ARE COMPILED FROM THREE DIFFERENT EMAILS:
The guy who emailed me about the Relapse record deal also suggested that you have (or had) a serious drug problem that was making you behave erratically. Is this something that Blaine and Alex brought up before they left?
Tom: No, the fucking assholes never told me they were concerned about me possibly having a drug problem. Or that if I did, that it was affecting them to the point they needed to creep-away secretly without me knowing. (What kind of shit weird-ass behavior is that, anyhow?)
They can run around and talk shit to everyone else, but never once told me they had a problem with me to my face. Now that they're out of my life, I see the fucking assholes for who they are. Shit-talking fucking pussies with all kinds of problems of their own to deal with.
First before I continue to answer this:
Just know, in general---that I don't feel it's very fucking cool to make a judgement about how others live their lives if it's none of your business, and it isn't harming you, or hindering you in any way. If their behavior is affecting you in a negative way, then it should be discussed, or you need to move on. With that said--
As far as being all fucked-up on drugs: I've never had my life so fucking together. I've been married for 6-1/2 years; My wife and I bought our first house a couple years ago; We've raised our two dogs for the last 11 yearslike they were our children ; I'm working for the same employer for 5 years; I've been a guest speaker at seminars put on by King County Bar Association; and I like to party here and there, but usually stay away from getting totally wasted. That's a decision I made a few years ago because my life is different now. I have to leave the club before we play so I won't be tempted to sit at the club and get fucked-up. I believe that became a personal issue with Blaine, and what he considers 'late to gigs'--so, whatever. I guess he doesn't like that sort of thing. Too bad. Because of my leaving and coming back right before we went on, I was almost sober for those 20 or so shows we did. If 'erratic' means 'not fucking wasted like before', then yeah, I'm erratic as hell. I think I was playing the best I'd ever played. Ask anyone who was at those shows. I'm guessing, you understand, in regard to what his real issue is, because he never told me what I was doing that would make them all leave. The only thing that was ever mutually assumed (in the standard disfunctional, non-verbal insinuated manor) was to the effect of: if partying got out of control for anyone to the point where it was a detriment to the band, things would have to change. Since the 2003 reunion, I think I was anything but a detriment to The Accused. I wrote every song on 'Oh Martha!' in what little time I had left every evening after I'd gotten home from practice--which was usually around 11pm. (The commute roundtrip for me from my work to Blaine's house for practice was approx. 70 miles); and went to work every morning at 9 a.m. for the three years or whatever that it lasted with those fuckers. That's a big chunk of my day to be away from my house and family, but I did it because of my commitment to The Accused.
Fuck those guys. They need to shut the fuck up or there's gonna be some shit coming their way they aren't going to enjoy. Not sure if they realize this, but slanderous statements are gonna bring them a world of misery real quick. And whoever this person is that's labeling me a drug addict.
So, since no one else in my life seems to think of me this way, I can safely assume I'm not a fuck-up with a 'drug problem'. Those guys fucked up, and they now must live with that insane decision. I'm thankful I'm not in a band with them anymore.
Also - Just a quick note re: the 'Post Script' that is on your website from Blaine.
I didn't realize it was up there until yesterday. I thought only his interview with you was all that was there, or 'anywhere' for that matter, as his 'last official words' or whatever. This 'Post Script' that is there now, was, to my knowledge, originally a letter written for and meant to be soley aimed at 'Nuclear Blast' records in Germany. There was a period last year where I was negotiating a licensing deal for some of the Accused's back catalog, and Blaine began to try and put a stop to it--thinking I was ripping him off when not even a penny had exchanged hands yet. He was so completely freaked out over my discussions with anyone over the back catalog, that he (or someone acting on his behalf--with a DIRECT personal interest in the back catalog himself)--began a non-stop smear campaign as a weasley, anonymous way to discredit me as some sort of drug-plagued, insane thief. All I could think of was that a certain 'freind' of theirs who had some sort of secret plan to release this older stuff 'himself' somehow, got pissed that I did it and he didn't. In fact, I'll go as far as to say 'I'd bet it is him' doing all this muckraking and shit-flinging. Cuz his little 'punk rock badge' of how cool he is, was taken away before he even got to pin it on his leather coat. Sounds like something that weirdo would do in his spare time anyhow. That's all I got for that.
I hate to keep adding things to this bizarre story, but there is one tiny relevant detail that I didn't mention in the original interview and I guess it's time to let this be known. During the 'meeting' where I called them all down to our practice room at Blaine's; which was of course directly after I read the post he put on The 'Splat Chat' message board of The Accused's website that said they were all three leaving--OK, at that meeting I asked Blaine what exactly, specifically he had a problem with that I was causing.
He stood there for a second; kinda looked around with a nervous grin on his face, and said, 'Uh, well--maybe I never got over that whole GrunTruck thing! How do you think that made me feel? I didn't get to be on MTV...How do you think I felt seeing that?' But he didn't have anything more, Mark. Nothing. I had to get out of there, man. It was not pretty watching this guy start to short-curcuit. I said to him, 'Good luck' and got up off the floor, where I purposely sat, so as not to intimidate, or flex like some badass. No. I layed down during the whole meeting, while he stood to my left, and Steve and Alex were on barstools or speaker cabs or something.
I asked him, politely, why on Earth didn't he say that before. I told him 'Now we're getting somewhere. NOW this is something I can chew on.' I looked over at Alex and Steve (who said NOTHING to me for the duration of our meeting) and asked Blaine, 'Why don't you have that beef with Alex for joining GrunTruck?' Blaine said 'Alex and I have spoken our peace years ago...'
At that point, I knew it was over, and he would NEVER be over it. I told him I'd be back to get what I couldn't fit in my vehicle. He said he'd gather it up and put it outside on his porch for me to get when I could.
So, there you have it. A possible insight into the origin of it all? I don't know, but maybe someone will be able to figure this out someday. I am not sure why I 'forget' about this particular exchange between Blaine and I that night. It's not the most easily written or spoken thing to do or say for me--is partly why, I guess. It's uncomfortable. I leave out this thing, this fact in regard to this moment in my life because I'm selfish, and I do not want to feel badly from exposing another person's weaknesses or pain. Until now, I would rather soak in the malcontent and broiling talk than whip out this potential war-ending Enola Gay.
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