Late 1987 ‘Attitude’ toured Europe with a new drummer. Paul Birnbaum had left the band. As such they did a gig for our Smurfpunx collective (87-12-11). Paul was playing drums for ‘Septic Death’ around that time. Markus Staiger (founder of the HC/thrash/metal label Nuclear Blast recs) and his mate Martin Purr (who was the contact for gigs at the Jugenzentrum in Geislingen) interviewed ‘Attitude’ and someone that apparently played the role of Paul for their fanzine Message From The Gutter.
This 1st issue – as far as I can remember this was the only one they did – was in German and contained a travel-diary to the US (July ’87), interviews with ‘Attitude’, ‘Cancerous Growth’, ‘Impulse Manslaughter’, ‘Extreme Noise Terror’, ‘Marginal Man’, ‘No Fraud’, etc. and reviews.
‘Septic Death’ (originating from Idaho, later residing in San Francisco) consisted of Brian Schroeder (‘Pushead’; vocals), Jon Taylor (‘ONJ’; guitar), Mike Matlock (bass) and Paul Birnbaum (drums). At that time there was a mystic aura hanging around the band (because of the raw/brutal/thrashy sound, Pushead’s creepy vocals & artwork, and even more amplified by their inaccessibility because of the few means of communication that were available back then). Most of us over here had heard them on Cleanse The Bacteria (compilation-LP on Pushead’s label Pusmort, with bands such as ‘7 Seconds’, ‘Instigators’, ‘Zyklome-A’, etc.) and were eager for more…
Find out more on this band: septicdeath.com
This seems very strange! I don’t remember this at all… I didn’t got to Europe with ‘Attitude’. If this interview was conducted in Europe, then ‘Attitude’ had their other drummer pretend to be me… When I was reading it – there were some things that I supposedly said that just seemed strange… I was thinking that maybe it was the translation… But then there’s some things that are just wrong… Like about the 10″… We didn’t decide to put out the 10″ on DeLuxe because he had done other 10″s… The ‘Septic’ 10″ was the FIRST one he released… etc. I think this interview is a hoax!!! I don’t know why anyone would do this. They must have thought it was funny. I’m sure a lot of people were thinking this drummer was me – so they decided to pretend it was….? I don’t know. Anyway, I don’t remember the interview and I know I would not have said some of those things… Some of them are just incorrect. Weird…
While I can’t remember it in detail, the interview was conducted by recording on tape in Andy’s living room in S.F., with Paul being present. I’m quite confident the interview reflects what was being said that day.
Interview: Markus Staiger & Martin Purr
[Andy (Andersen; singer of and ‘Attitude) / Rick (Strahl; bassist of ‘Attitude’)]
One doesn’t need to spend a lot of words on ‘Septic Death’. Every kid knows that this is the band of the well-known ‘Pushead’. But what was new to me, was the fact that ‘Septic Death’ is – in principle – a studio-band, which has done very few live gigs so far, but however already has some vinyl on the market and also appeared on several compilations. Currently, their new LP is being recorded, which – according to Paul, in his capacity of drummer for ‘Septic Death’ (and ‘Attitude’) – shouldn’t be quite as extreme anymore. Since at the time of this interview the band consisted of only 3 people – ‘Pushead’ (vocals), ‘ONJ’ (guitar) and Paul, to be precise – the guitarist also had to take care of the bass-parts for the new LP. Overall, there was plenty to talk about and because Paul was already present during the ‘Attitude’ interview, we took the opportunity to learn a bit about the almost ominous ‘Pushead’.
Martin: Paul, you told us that ‘Septic Death’ is more or less a studio-band. Will there some day be a ‘proper’ band, ‘Septic Death’, that does live shows, perhaps even will be touring Europe? There’s a lot of people in Europe that like ‘S.D.’.
Markus: Yes, we totally didn’t known that things are the way Andy told us, that you hardly practice, have made virtually no gigs and stuff. In Germany almost nobody knows about that.
Paul: Well, the last time we played was probably a year ago at the Farm [venue in San Francisco].
Markus: And why?
Martin: You’re not interested in playing live?
Andy: It’s up to Pushead.
Paul: I’ld love to play, but Pushead …
Martin: Is he ‘too busy’ or ‘too lazy’? (Laughter)
Paul: No, he has too much to do.
Andy: He doesn’t want to damage his voice. (Laughter). Yes: he said his throat was always aching.
Martin: What’s this with his voice? Does he want to join the opera?
Paul: (laughs) No.
Andy: That’s why Paul plays with us now: because he just loves to play and also because it’s not that great for him if he never gets to play.
Martin: And what about the other members of ‘Septic Death’?
Paul: At the moment we don’t have a bassist, the guitarist also would love to play live.
Markus: And who plays the bass-parts on the new LP?
Paul: The guitarist also does that. We First recorded guitar and drums, and then mixed the bass into it.
Markus: And the sound will be better than the other records?
Andy: Yes, it sounds really good.
Markus: It’s funny. The live 10” is not available anymore, almost everyone wants it, although the sound…
Andy: Paul, don’t you think that the new stuff is slower?
Paul: Yes, a little.
Markus: Stuff that isn’t as fast as Terrorain?
Paul: No, not that fast anymore. Nevertheless: the record is still fast.
Markus: Well anyway, on the record some things were perhaps a little too fast … OK, Paul, tell us a bit why it took so long to record the new LP. It’s been almost a year since I saw an ad of Bunker recs in MRR, that said: “Coming soon: ‘Septic Death’ – Strings Of A Toy”.
Paul: Well, the music has already been recorded for ages. But because Pushead writes all lyrics, we had to get back in the studio, etc. Then we recently decided to record even more songs, to extend the play-time of the disc. It’ll probably take a little bit longer.
Markus: So will the record be released in a month or two?
Paul: Yes, in two to three months, hopefully!
Markus: Why has the bassist left the band?
Paul: He’s going to college now, so he hasn’t got time to play in the band anymore.
Markus: Which band do you actually prefer playing for, ‘Attitude’ or ‘Septic Death’?
Paul: ‘Septic Death’!
Paul: Well, I don’t know. I’m playing so long in this band, I’m just so used to. I like playing the drums because I like to play fast. Slow things are boring after a while.
Markus: Doesn’t that cause problems within ‘Attitude’? Andy has said that he prefers slower bits.
Paul: Yes, that’s true.
(Then we wander a little off topic and talk about such things as Fuck You! and the like …)
Markus: Why have you put out the 10” on DeLuxe and not on Pusmort?
Paul: At the time the guy from DeLuxe had released a few live 10”s, e.g. ‘Gang Green’, and we didn’t have any good recordings and therefore wouldn’t do it ourselves.
Markus: Would it not have been better to wait until you had better tapes?
Paul: Well, the guy from Deluxe didn’t wanna wait. He wanted to do it right away.
Martin: Since you hardly did any gigs, you probably also hardly made any new material?
Paul: Yes, that’s right again.
Markus: But I think that the 1.000 that you have pressed, were sold out in a short time.
Markus: Do you think that one day it will be possible to experience ‘Septic Death’ live in Germany?
Paul: Maybe one day, I don’t know.
Martin: Perhaps you’ll open for ‘Attitude’ then or perhaps the other way around.
Paul: Possibly. If I had my way, we’ld be playing in Europe, but I am just one person in the band.
Rick: Yes, you’re just an individual, but you’re not Pushead. (Laughter)
Markus: What kind of things do you listen to, probably fast Hardcore?
Paul: I can’t think of any specific band immediately, in general I listen to fast stuff.
Markus: Do you listen to other things then hardcore?
Paul: I also listen to other bands, such as ‘Sisters Of Mercy’ and stuff like that.
Markus: Who got the idea to name your band ‘Septic Death’?
Paul: Pushead did.
Markus: Do you think it’s possible that the band dissolves, since you’re hardly rehearsing, have got no time, etc.
Martin: Is Pushead really the absolute boss with you guys, or couldn’t you persuade him to rehearse more often and to do a ‘real’ ‘Septic Death’band?
Paul: I’ve often told him that I want to play live and our guitarist says that. But I think that it’s hardly possible to try it without him.
Martin: So he currently prefers being a businessman?
Paul: Yes, that’s how it looks like. He just doesn’t earn any money by practicing with the the band. (Laughter) This will be printed in German, no? (Laughter)
Martin: I don’t think he’ll understand.
Andy: I’ll translate it for him, with Rick’s help.
Markus: Something else about Pushead. Does he just release records or has he got another job?
Paul: He works for Thrasher zine one or two days a week. He gets money for the articles that he writes, and for the artwork.
Markus: Did you know that a lot of people from Germany have written to him, but that he has not responded?
Paul: In the beginning, he wrote back to everyone that he received a letter from, but now he gets a minimum of thirty letters daily and it’s impossible for him to respond to all.
Martin: He has written record-reviews for MRR sometimes too; doesn’t he do that anymore?
Paul: No, he quit that.
Martin: OK, Paul, final words regarding the record and on the future of ‘Septic Death’?
Paul: Hopefully the record will be out soon, we’re gonna take the time to record a few new songs. It will be pretty good and…
Markus: Was first one side of the LP recorded?
Paul: I don’t know exactly but we still have to work on it for a bit. 10 songs are recorded so far and we will record another 5 more.
Martin: So it will be a 15 song LP?
Paul: I don’t know if we’ll put all the tracks on the LP.
Markus: The cover will probably be done by Pushead again?
Paul: Yes, but I don’t believe that he’s already finished it.
Martin: And what does the future look like for ‘Septic Death’, rather uncertain?
Paul: Unknown, no idea.
Markus: OK, thank you for the interview, Paul.