|Interview by Burt Wolf with Chris Andon Guenther, drummer for ENEMY REIGN!
Interview done January 25th, 2014.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO IN THE BAND?
I'm Andon. Some call me Chris. Chris Andon Guenther. So that's what's up with the name...I get asked about it
daily. So...I play drums. My brother Nick Guenther plays guitar. First there was Cassie Begay on bass, then Phil
Turner was on bass, now Cassie is back on bass. And we are currently looking for a vocalist...but that a hard
task. On second guitar back in the early days we had a good friend of ours Justin Lascalle on guitar. His new
project AXESLASHER is super fine. First there was Sherwood Webber on the vocals. Then Stevie Bosier was on
the mic. And to fill in for tour our wonderful friend Ben Pitts took on the duties. He has too many bands so we
can't work with him full time. But full time for this band is less than part time for most...I'll get to those details
later. We are from Denver. That's Colorado for all you "millennials" who didn't pay attention in school and
facebook'd your way through geography. Colorado is a state in the USA. Ya'll need to study.
CAN YOU GIVE SOME OF THE BANDS HISTORY AND
HOW YOU GUYS FORMED?
That's easy. My brother and I are brothers who play different
instruments, we are pretty far apart in age, so we both had bands
in the mid-nineties and then when we could both go to bars
together...we started a noise-metal band called MASAKADO in, I
think it was 96. We did that for about 5 years. Then we keep it
going with BECOMING THE ENEMY in '01 through to about '04.
Didn't do anything with that band, just practiced a lot. School and
work took over for awhile and we stopped playing. I started doing
vox for a band called PAINSTAKE and playing drums for
DEADSPEAK (Wyoming...and if you can search the inter webs you should check both of those bands old stuff
out...now defunct but they had great material). We meet Sherwood Webber through PAINSTAKE. The drummer
of PAINSTAKE, Carl Kumpe, I had known since like '93 and he just so happened to work for a stint as VP of
RELAPSE RECORDS. Carl had a party, we meet Sherwood Webber (for those who are saying "hey...wait...
RELAPSE RECORDS? Sherwood Webber? That sounds...No not familiar at all") who used to play in
SKINLESS. He moved here to Denver, Justin was his roommate, we all started a little crappy side project. Cassie,
who played with me in DEADSPEAK, jumped up on the bass (like a trampoline and then went to the hospital...it
was brutal...totally different story). We wrote some songs and went straight in the studio to record "MEANS TO A
ANY PREVIOUS BANDS MEMBERS WERE IN BEFORE?
Here is a summary...
Nick Guenther - MASAKADO, BECOMING THE ENEMY...and some bands I can't remember. Sorry.
Cassie Begay - THROCULT, DEADSPEAK, FINAL BLOW, 908 (currently with ex-members of CLINGING
TO THE TREES OF A FOREST FIRE), ENEMY REIGN (currently)
C. Andon Guenther - MASAKADO, BECOMING THE ENEMY, PAINSTAKE, DEADSPEAK, short stint with
VIMANA, ENEMY REIGN (currently)
Justin Lascalle - DDC, ENEMY REIGN, AXESLASHER (currently)
Sherwood Webber - SKINLESS (currently)
Stevie Bosier - CALCULATING GENOCIDE, DISSONANCE IN DESIGN (currently)
Phil Turner - DRIVE-IN MASSACRE, ENEMY REIGN
YOU GUYS COMBINE ELEMENTS OF
90'S DEATH METAL, GRINDCORE,
HARDCORE AND SOME THRASH METAL.
HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE THE
STYLE OF ENEMY REIGN?
Well...I'm personally averse to all trends. If it's
a trend, whether music, design or artistic
creativity...I buck it. Trends are not creative.
So that being said... We simply, with great
planning, decided to make the music we wanted
to hear. So we drew upon all our influences,
and everything we thought was the immovable,
trend-proof foundation of Metal (whether it's
Grind or Hardcore or Noise or what the fuck
ever...if it was heavy and pissed off we listened
to it...back in the early 90's there was no such
thing as "genre mixing"...everyone listened to
everything and every band sounded completely
different). So it was us just making music as an
homage to our influences. Keeping a tradition
going...not dropping tradition in the name of the
"flavor of the month" sound.
WHY WAS THE NAME ENEMY REIGN CHOSEN AS THE BANDS NAME?
We had a band BECOMING THE ENEMY...and that name sucked. We had to change it. We are all pissed off at
the government and the economy (this was 2007/08)...I thought...We live under a government that almost
occupies our country instead of being a part of it...feels like we are under "ENEMY REIGN". If I'm going to be
perfectly honest..."ENEMY" because that's just the world we live in. And..."REIGN"...because of SLAYER's
"Reign In Blood." (That's the truth...)
WHO OR WHAT IS SOME OF YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES, AS WELL AS SOME INFLUENCES IN
Of course a tough one...where to begin. Well we'll just keep it simple. The staples: NAPALM DEATH, MORBID
ANGEL, MERAUDER, BOLT THROWER, SLAYER, SEPULTURA (old), BOTCH. It's kinda messed up...we
literally will call our riffs out by these bands' names in the initial writing process. "So do the NAPALM part, and
after 6 measures do that MORBID ANGEL bridge, two times, then after that we go into the BOLT THROWER
part..." You could go on about all the bands over the years...but those bands set the stage for everything we listen
to and everything we try to create. Period. (purists...go on and disagree, but you damn well know that those bands
and a couple others are the reason modern extreme music even exists today).
YOU HAVE THREE RELEASES OUT NOW, "MEANS TO A DEAD END", BETWEEN HELL AND
OBLIVION" AND "TORMENTED TO OBLIVION". CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT EACH OF
"MEANS TO A DEAD END" - The first EP. Still great songs that we always play live. A true rocker. "MEANS TO
A DEAD END" / European Release" - This has "The Truth Hurts Suffer" on it and different album art. Still a
rocker. "BETWEEN HELL AND OBLIVION" - Full length. Fuller than most. A little less Thrash on this one. At
over an hour of music it can be hard to get through the whole thing. Very much more in the way of longer songs
and a darker atmosphere. Take it in 30 minute bursts. 30 minutes one day...30 the next. "TORMENTED TO
OBLIVION" - Vinyl release. The songs on here are Sherwood Webber's last with the band. Recorded after
"MEANS TO A DEAD END", they were to be released on the "TORMENTED MASSES" EP. It has some key
moments though. The song "Tormented Masses" is probably my favorite song that we have ever written, and it's
only on this album. Nowhere else. Also contains the remixed versions of new "BETWEEN HELL AND
"TORMENTED TO OBLIVION" IS A COMPILATION ALBUM. WHY THE DECISION TO DO A
COMPILATION RELEASE AFTER ONLY TWO ALBUMS?
Because we went back and remixed everything and wanted everyone to hear that. Self financed from day one...we
just did it for the satisfaction of getting better versions of these songs out to the world. Plus, there are 4 songs that
Webber did with us that were never released. People need to hear those songs because it's some of his finest most
versatile work. Couple alternate versions of the new songs off of 'BETWEEN..." that we thought rocked harder.
WHAT IS SOME OF THE LYRICAL CONTENT IN YOUR
Many of the Sherwood tracks deal with personal struggle and
overcoming obstacles. Very NY/HC vibe about those. Others
(Stevie's), are more along the lines of stories about torture, aliens or
historical events. Typical Death Metal and Hardcore stuff. Just good
lyrics to get brutal to.
WHO WRITES THE MAJORITY OF YOUR MUSIC OR IS IT A
WHOLE BAND COLLABORATION?
Collaboration. Riffs by Nick. Changes by Cass or Phil. Arranged by
Andon first, then by everyone. Sketch it out. Add / Subtract. Write
the vocal patterns. Then fine tune the details. Move on. (Day before
the studio write the actual lyrics... ha ha!)
ALL THREE OF YOUR RELEASES YOU PUT OUT BY YOURSELF. HAS ANY LABELS SHOWN
INTEREST IN YOU GUYS OR DO YOU JUST PREFER TO HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER YOUR
Well that's not all entirely true. NEUROTIC RECORDS (http://www.neuroticdeathfest.com) and RUUD
put out our EP with bonus track and bonus material in Europe. It's not a control issue. We have never shied away
from labels or any label interest. In the early days we had quit the buzz, but labels quickly realized that we weren't
spring chickens and that we couldn't afford, at that point in our lives, to become road dogs to support a release.
That conversation is quick to happen. So we just move at our own pace and do things at our speed. It's just done
out of the passion for doing it. Nothing more.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW MATERIAL IN THE WORKS?
Yes. We have new material for a new full length...but with Nick living in Vancouver and the rest of us here in
Denver...it's hard to practice as a band or play shows. We all have material to bring to the table and organize.
YOU ARE GOING THROUGH SOME LINE UP CHANGES AGAIN. CAN YOU TELL US WHO LEFT
AND WHO ARE THE NEW MEMBERS?
Well yeah...the vocalist part is hard to fill for us. We also want to bring back a second guitarist since all the songs
are written that way and should be played that way live. Currently we have one (Nick) live guitar and it's fine, but
it's just not a real representation of the power of the songs. So it's Andon, Nick and Cass. Ben can fill in on vocals
anytime but we need a full timer. Not really as tumultuous as it sounds.
DOES ENEMY REIGN PLAY OUT A LOT? IF
SO, WHERE ARE SOME OF THE PLACES
YOU'VE PLAYED? WHO ARE SOME OF THE
BANDS YOU'VE SHARED THE STAGE WITH?
We have to pick and choose. And we tend to get to
Europe and England more often the last few years.
We don't play local shows here in Denver because
it's just never the right timing. And the bands we
have shared the stage with? Fuck...that's long list...
I'll just say our biggest show were the two times
('10/'13) we played NEUROTIC DEATHFEST in
Tilburg Holland. We played with MESHUGGAH and
CYNIC once... Epic. Did shrooms that night. Even
more epic. Played with ROTTING CHRIST and
BOLT THROWER in Prague (I jizzed/shit in my
pants a few times that night). The list is so long that
I don't have time to do the research or memory game it would take to name them all. But we have played the most
epic "dream come true," Metal-fanboy moments I can think of. We have been the luckiest bunch of low life
assholes to have ever shared the stage with the bands that we have. For some Hardcore kids who play Death Metal
in a Grindcore band... We have come across more than our share of good luck when it comes to shows.
ARE THERE ANY ROAD / SHOWS OR BAND STORIES THAT STICK OUT FOR SOME REASON YOU
We almost got murdered in Prague, by Kazakh mafioso's, after we got shit faced and walked into the wrong bar at
like 4:30 am. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong country. Wrong dudes. Wrong attitude. We seriously barely
escaped. That really is all I can say about that...
I USED TO LIVE IN COLORADO AND SAW SOME KILLER BANDS. WHO DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME
OF THE BETTER BANDS OR LABELS IN COLORADO?
PRIMITIVE MAN, CTTTOAFF, VIMANA, 908, FINAL BLOW, CEPHALIC CARNAGE, VALE OF
PNATH, DISSONANCE IN DESIGN.
ARE YOU INTO ANY OTHER STYLES OF MUSIC BESIDES WHAT YOU PLAY? WHO ARE SOME OF
THE BANDS YOU HAVE CURRENTLY BEEN LISTENING TO?
Well...Jazz...lot's of Jazz. The classics. Miles. Mingus. Tatum. Armstrong. Ellington. Basie. I'm a huge fan of
Trent Reznor. No lie. Songwriting is something to take notes on. Just the most epic simplicity and exercises in
compositional structure that are to be studied and pined over. I also am really into Ambient and IDM. From AMON
TOBIN to BONABO to APHEX TWINS and TYCHO. I run a design agency so that type of music gets my brain
vibrating in a functional and creative fashion. I love JEDI MIND TRICKS and the ODD FUTURE crew and
anything else in that vein.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST ALBUM YOU REMEMBER BUYING?
NAPALM DEATH - "UTOPIA BANISHED" Let me elaborate... Well when I was a kid we couldn't buy anything
(don't know why...we were poor and just didn't go to the music store or something) so we just traded tapes that
you dubbed on a boombox. My first tape that I got from a friend was BLACK FLAG - "DAMAGED". I was in
fourth grade. He also gave me a DEAD KENNEDYS tape, it was "FRESH FRUIT FOR ROTTING
VEGETABLES". Later I was turned on to SICK OF IT ALL and AGNOSTIC FRONT in about 7th grade...that
was a great time for extreme music. My first legitimate purchase was when I was a high school freshman. I
bought NAPALM DEATH - "UTOPIA BANISHED". That was it for me. I listened to that CD until it was
destroyed. Bought a new one last year. At that time a bunch of discs came out the same day... BIOHAZARD -
"URBAN DISCIPLINE", PANTERA - "VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER", SEPULTURA - "ARISE...and then
there was NAPALM DEATH - "UTOPIA BANISHED". Damn. The album title alone had sold me. This was it.
And for the record, I never listened to METALLICA. That was what the girls who used to listen to butt-rock
were getting into. They weren't SLAYER so they could fuck right off. So that's the early days and rule of thumb
went like this... "If it's heavy and pissed and NOT on MTV...then I liked it."
WHAT WAS THE FIRST CONCERT YOU EVER WENT TO?
I went to a PROPAGANDHI concert in the back of a record store...and they wouldn't play the song "Ska Sucks"
so I jumped on the stage and sang it for them. I was like... 16 I think.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU'D THINK PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT ABOUT YOU?
That I own my own business creating branding, marketing and advertising.
WHAT DO THE MEMBERS OF THE BAND
DO WHEN NOT DOING ANY WORK FOR
THE BAND? (JOBS, HOBBIES, OTHER
Mainly jobs. Nick is a mechanical engineer. Cassie
works at an energy company. We don't do much
other than work...and then when we have time
play in the band. Cassie goes to tons of shows
though. That's her hobby when it comes down to
THIS IS ALSO A HORROR WEBZINE SO I
HAVE TO ASK, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR
FAVORITE HORROR FILMS AND WHY?
ALIEN and HELLRAISER. The HELLRAISER
series of movies. All of them. This idea of "hell" as
an alternate dimension, devoid of religious tinged
messages, I always thought that was
simultaneously the most clever and probably the
most realistic interpretation of what "hell" would really be. Clive Barker really put it all together as far as I'm
concerned. Now don't crucify me for this, but EVENT HORIZON, while not really traditional Horror, was right
up my alley. The way I saw it, this was a spaceship that took you to the HELLRAISER universe. Now, Paul WS
Anderson is a crap director, but that movie is still awesome. And anything else 80's. Those movies that I grew up
on. Love them. NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. and FRIDAY THE 13TH and HALLOWEEN. I'm not going to say
anything "zombie" cause that trend is getting as old as Estelle Getty's baby photo.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS OF THE LEGALIZATION OF WEED IN COLORADO?
It's about damn time. I could go into all the reasons...but it's just about damn time. I don't smoke weed but I don't
believe that prohibition changes anything. It just makes society more dangerous. I could go on and on and on about
this one...So...smoke up. Just don't drive. Same as alcohol (which is was worse for you than weed, that's why I
WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT FROM ENEMY REIGN?
Probably fall of 2014. We'll have our shit together by then.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE ANSWERING THIS INTERVIEW?
Getting to work on a project here at the office and translating minutes from a meeting into our project management
WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW THAT IT'S OVER?
Get back to work. Clean the office.
THANX A LOT FOR ANSWERING THIS INTERVIEW. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD ANYTHING
YOU'D LIKE TO CLOSE OUT?
I am a co-founder of SickDrummerMagazine.com and SICK DRUMMER MAGAZINE. I still make all the
covers for the mag and the digital magazine. You all need to check it out...besides the band, this is the other Metal
thing that I do. And...Thank you for supporting ENEMY REIGN!