Already this year, many old treats and classics which were lost to the radar of the many originally, have been unleashed again on the metal scene from decades past. Many of the bands are seeing a new lease of life and one certainly looking like re-igniting a previous blaze and more is West Virginian thrashers Sonick Plague. Linking up with Pavement Music, the band has re-recorded and re-energized their 1988 debut album What’s the Purpose, breathing new ravenous breath into it as it comes now as a self-titled proposal. We as so many missed the band and record first time around and were caught by surprise by the new release because of it. Now all we want is to hear and know more, so with thanks drummer Ken Cuccaro who kindly sat down to indulge our nosiness, we explored band, album, and plenty more…
Hello Ken and many thanks for sparing time to talk with us.
The band has just re-released 1988 debut What’s the Purpose via Pavement Music; but not just set the same version free again or simply re-mastered it as so many old encounters being uncaged again are, but re-recorded it. Was there a particular reason for going down that route?
We really needed to. The first one sounded pretty bad, we lost the masters and really just wanted to start fresh again. It’s very much like giving the old stuff a shower.
Did you look at the songs any differently for the fresh recordings from first time around and they take on a new relevance for you when approaching them?
I wouldn’t say we looked at them differently, but as far as new relevance absolutely! Damn a lot’s happened in 30 years! I’m laughing my ass off right now because of how we approached them. Very carefully, like sneaking up on a gator. We had to make sure we could still play that stuff. Although we all kept playing over the years we’re older and beat up. Hell poor Sean had 2 broke feet when we first got back together.
Obviously technology has changed over the decades. Did you make particular use of modern possibilities in recording the songs or went for a more raw and organic approach to again and successfully ignite the same vital character of their first appearance?
We went for the more organic thing. We played live in the studio and really wanted to try to capture the energy again. There were definitely some modern amenities [the studio did have a great blender] we used but not too much. We didn’t want it to sound robotic and triggered, and all that shit. Not knocking anybody’s stuff, I just personally feel the metal and thrash stuff now is so electronic, click tracked, and feels the same. Some of these guys are awesome but everything sounds the same and is just so cut up. Again not knocking their musicianship there are so many great bands out. Right now there’s a guy reading this saying “these guys are so fu@#$kin old they don’t even know how to use the shit and they suck!” That’s ok; we probably could still kick your ass. I think the people that listen to this stuff want to feel that energy and little variations in the music, it makes it human. We recorded at the Carriage House Studio the place was incredible.
Apart from the obvious change in sound quality etc. did anything else brew up in songs when recording the new versions which maybe was unexpected or added something different to additionally enjoy?
I only know one way to play ‘em. Chuck and Matt put their own stink on it. I personally was shocked how well Sean’s voice held up over the years he can still belt it out. But all in all we kept it very close.
Obviously the original recording of the album was with guitarist Tony Teodoro in the band. Sadly he died a few years ago. Did you find there was some emotional intensity around the new recordings because of his passing and presence first time around?
Absolutely! Me personally whenever I get an ache or pain I think of what he went through, it kept me going. I don’t think anybody in the band didn’t think of him every day we were recording this.
It was his death, which the press release said, brought the three of you together again and talking music, the band eventually to full strength with the addition of Matt Dupre. Was that indeed the spark or were there already thoughts of maybe reuniting in maybe one or two of you?
No that was it. That got us talking about it again. It’s strange how a tragedy can change things.
The new album is simultaneously a reminder, revisit, and introduction to Sonick Plague for fans old and new. Is it also any sort of teaser to the new songs and sounds you guys are working on?
Well sort of, we still got some tricks up our sleeves. That was kinda what we had in mind, turn some new people on to our old stuff and some of the old timers on to our new stuff. A lot depends on the listeners, if we’re lucky enough for them to like it we’ll do some more…Maybe in less than 30 years.
Can you give us any clues as to what you next release and songs will offer? Any spoilers?
I’m not going to tell you shit. It’s a surprise!! It’s definitely heavy metal rock and roll. You can get sweaty to it with your girl.
Between the two periods of the band, how musically were all your times taken up?
We all played in different bands, definitely kept playing and raising our kids. Myself I did a lot of hunting and a retreat in New Zealand where I was taught the ways of a true warrior killer. I had to do it for work. They wouldn’t use me as an extra on the Lord of the Rings set. I was sad about that.
Are these experiences you would say have impacted or certainly are spicing up the heart and nature of your new tracks?
The warrior thing yes. The guys are in constant fear of my wrath. I could snap any of their necks in a second for no reason what so ever. We all still have a lot to be pissed about and we’re broke. That’s what keeps us young and energized.
There is no denying something very familiar to the album yet that comes from the bands and releases filling ears and lighting appetites since the songs were first impacting on the thrash scene. Has it frustrated that some others have found greater recognition with a sound you all helped originate way back and which has obviously inspired them?
I’m asked that a lot. I wouldn’t say frustrated …yea let’s stick with frustrated. We worked our asses off, but it is what it is. I wouldn’t have minded making a living playing drums but things happen for a reason. I’m not pissed that other people “made it” I think it’s cool whenever anybody gets success in what they’re doing. I just find it extremely sad that nobody picked up any of the great bands in Connecticut back in the day. You had Liege Lord, Skeletal Ambitions, Disaster, Forced Reality, our old touring buddies Lost Generation, that’s not even scratching the surface. It seemed if you weren’t from the bay area they didn’t want to know you. It’s too bad there were some great music people missed out on. Maybe we should have switched to rap.
How did the link up with Pavement come about?
Chuck busted his ass hookin’ this stuff up. He’s the motor, our little energizer bunny. He never stops working at this. Pavement has been incredible, great bunch of guys.
The live side of Sonick Plague is as alive as the recording side?
Better! I always thought we we’re a workin’ man’s band. I love that energy you can only get from a crowd.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
We’ll see. It’s our middle aged crisis experiment. It really depends how the music sells. Hopefully people will dig hearing our old brand of thrash. I know we’re having fun playing again.
Once again thanks so much for chatting with us, anything you would like to add before we let you go?
YUP! Thank you so much to all the people who are still showing an interest in this band this has been really cool! I never thought in a million years people would even remember us. We wouldn’t be shit if it weren’t for all the great people in the metal community. Its guys like you who keep this stuff pumping. THANKS
Read the review of the Sonick Plague album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/sonick-plague-self-titled/
The RingMaster Review 30/07/2015