Interview with Tony Paletti of Morbid Saint 2006
By Bradley Smith
Spectrum of Death stands as you lone testament to such a brutally phenomenal band such as Morbid Saint. Can you reveal a bit about the recording process and the writing of the material? Was it released as a demo first and then an album? Who released it as an album, some company in Mexico if I remember correctly?
First off, I just want to say that I am not the official spokesman for the band. The truth is that, until just recently, I haven’t spoken to any of the members since I left the band in 1990. I was only in Morbid Saint for a few years; just long enough to record “Lock Up Your Children”, the recording that would later be released as “Spectrum Of Death”, and long enough to play some awesome shows with those guys, including the Ultimate Revenge II tour with Death and Dark Angel and Metal Fest III with Death and Nuclear Assault. The band “split up” in 1990 shortly after Metal Fest III, actually performing a “final show” at Croation Hall in Sheboygan, WI. They later reformed with a different bass player, Mike Chappa, and released the “Lock Up Your Children” recording as “Spectrum Of Death” on Avanzada Metallica, then ultimately on Grind Core. The band and I - with the help of the bands producer Eric Greif – are negotiating the re-release of “Spectrum Of Death”, which hopefully is going to be officially re-released by Power Play Records soon.
How much demo material did you guys have before the recording of Spectrum of Death? Do you feel you were adequately prepared for the ordeal of recording a full length album?
We pretty much recorded our current set that we were playing out at the time. Going into the studio and laying those tracks down was really no different than jamming at practice or playing a live show for me. There was really no pressure, no time constraints. We had a limited budget, but Eric Greif and Opus worked with what we had. From what I remember, it was recorded over the course of a month or so. I suppose the production could have been better if we had the budget for it, but overall we were satisfied with the recording at that time.
You have a pretty thorough website dedicated to Morbid Saint. Why has its upkeep fallen on you alone? Why have the other band members distanced themselves from reminiscing on the “good ol’ days” with Morbid Saint?
My website wasn’t put up so much to reminisce about Morbid Saint as it was to set the record straight. The response to it, however, has been incredible. I get e-mails from fans all over the world, not to mention the occasional interview offer (grin). The site is averaging about 1000 hits a month. As for the other members, I suppose they have just moved on and are too busy with new projects, including the recently disbanded Sgt. Discharge, and Hallowcore.
I get the impression that your concert appearance at Metal Fest 3 along with Death was a pivotal moment for the band. Why was that and can you describe the atmosphere surrounding that performance?
Metal Fest III at the Rave in Milwaukee, WI was definitely the biggest show I ever played with Morbid Saint. Sharing the stage with Death and Nuclear Assault, in my own hometown, at a venue (the Rave in Milwaukee, WI) where I had seen dozens of bands play over the years, was completely awesome. I personally cannot say whether or not this was a “pivotal” moment for the band, because I didn’t keep in touch with them, and really have no idea what they did or where they went after I left the band. I’m not aware of them going on any sort of World Tour with Death or anything like that, but I really don’t know.
There is a Spectrum of Death/Destruction System CD that is floating around in the underground. Is that an official release? I have heard there is some sort of controversy surrounding it. Can you expound on that?
Here’s the deal with that release: The CD was released by the record label Keltic Records. They apparently received permission from Avanzada Metallica to re-release "Spectrum of Death", and also released the "Destruction System" demo along with it. Only 500 copies were made, and no more should be printed.
The problem is that Avanzada Metallica holds no rights to the recording "Spectrum of Death" and therefore had no right licensing its release to anyone. Also, "Destruction System" was released without the bands permission. A deal was ultimately struck by the band and Eric Greif - after the CDs were already out there for some time - and the company agreed to liquidate whaat they had left, and not to print anymore copies.
You guys partook in the killer Ultimate Revenge II Tour among other tours. How did you feel about touring in general? How was the crowd’s reaction to such a monstrously heavy band?
I wouldn’t really call it a tour. I mean, Death and Dark Angel were on tour, but we didn’t go with them state to state or anything. These great bands just came to our hometowns and we were just lucky enough to be in the scene at that time, and shared the stage with them. The band never really went on a tour while I was a member per say, unless you consider a 65 mile drive from Sheboygan to Green Bay a tour (grin). I am not aware of them ever really breaking out of the local scene.
In Sheboygan you guys got banned from playing in a place because of a pentagram and such in your logo. What exactly happened there? Also was Satanism and anti-Xtianity part of Morbid Saint’s musical ideology? Do you think that a person’s ideology is directly reflected by their musical output?
That actual incident occurred before I was even a member of Morbid Saint, when the guys were still playing Slayer covers. Ironically, I recently learned of a group of fans (or possibly ex-fans now) who believed that Morbid Saint was a Christian metal band. Now I can understand someone mistaking Morbid Saint for a Satanic band, but it’s quite a stretch to suggest that MS were a Christian metal band! We did talk about dark and evil subjects in our lyrics, but none of us were into any kind of devil worship or anything like that. Like Jim Fergades said, we were just “Evil Metal”.
You guys were making a name for yourself outside of Wisconsin right about the same time that Death metal was beginning to peak. With your style that to me lay somewhere between Death metal and thrash metal was it easier to appeal to both audiences or did that make it harder because you weren’t pigeon-holed into one scene or the other?
I don’t think any of that really played into our thoughts at the time or in the music we were writing and performing. We were just doing our own thing, whatever came natural. We were playing the music that we drew from our own varied musical influences. As a result, the guitars and drums had a more Slayer-like sound, while my finger-style bass lines were more reminiscent of Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate. And of course, Pat Lind always sounded like a more raw and evil incarnation of Kreator’s vocalist to me. I think we made for a unique combination of musician’s that – together – really made us stand apart from anyone else at the time.
It seems like old school bands, especially obscure thrash, are making quite a comeback lately and generating a lot of interest with a new group of younger fans. Have you noticed a recent increase in interest regarding Morbid Saint? I know your CDs sell for outrageous sums when they make their rare appearances on Ebay.
Yes, I have seen a copy of that Keltic release sell for over $100 on Ebay, primarily due to its limited number of copies released. I have also seen mint copies of the Avanzada Metallica LP release fetch a hefty price. Yeah, I would say that there has definitely been an increase in the amount of interest in Morbid Saint recently, and in old-school Metal in general. Perhaps these younger fans are hearing something in these obscure metal bands of the past that they have never heard before, something they are perhaps not hearing from the more polished corporate acts of today. One thing is clear, they like what they’re hearing.
You were an integral member of Morbid Saint. If it is not too personal, why did you depart?
I will just say that, for personal reasons, I was unable to make any sort of commitment to the band, as far as touring, practicing and what not. Therefore, I would have been in a position where I would have held them back. I never felt like we left on bad terms. They needed a bass player that could make a long-term commitment to the band, someone who could go on tour and make it to practice. It was a great ride though, however short.
What sort of projects are you involved in doing these days? Do you just have a regular job or are you still heavily involved in the music/metal scene?
I am still a music enthusiast, but I am no longer heavily involved in the music scene. I still enjoy playing and recording different kinds of music, and even have a small recording studio in my basement. These days I spend most of my time taking care of my 9 year old daughter, working full-time as a computer repair technician, and running my own computer repair business.
Any Final words before Death Takes us?
Yes, the Morbid Saint and Eric Greif are in negotiation with Power Play Records to officially re-release “Spectrum Of Death”. Hopefully it will be available by the end of the year. When I have more information on the release, I will put it on my website at http://www.pcmdusa.com/ms. STAY MORBID!