A talk with
DAMIEN LEE THORR (Guitars)
(Questionnaire by STEFAN)
METAL TO INFINITY
can’t live without my daily shot of US Metal music – you might think this is
an excessively expression but that’s the way it is, believe it or not. A type
of music that crawled into my heart and soul in the very early 80s and be sure
– I goddamn won’t let it slip away! That’s also the reason why I keep on
going on with my humble homepage called Metal To Infinity – the more we can
spread the word of band those who belong to the US Metal community, the better
for us. For now I’d like you to meet another US Power Metal act named Predator
and shredder in charge Mr. Damien Lee Thorr was able to answer my questions,
here we go…
Q: Hello Damien – what’s up in the US at the moment… what keeps you busy today?
A: Hello! Things are fine here. Busy with getting the new release, Born In Blood, ready, busy with lining up some live shows, writing songs for our third album and raising my little baby daughter. Things are busy but I am loving life.
Q: Let’s go back to the early days of existence – how did everything started, who was the one that came on with the idea to set up a band like Predator?
A: Initially, Chris Reiser and I wrote some songs together and had this recording project. As we added more instruments and Nestor’s amazing voice, it became PREDATOR.
Q: What were the ambitions and how difficult to find the right guys to complete a pure Power Metal line-up?
A: We went through a lot of auditions to find the right guys to fit in. We met a lot of people but many did not have the standard of talent we were looking for. For one, most could not read music and reading music is VERY important for the members of Predator because it simplifies the production process and helps us communicate better.
Q: You’re the guitar wizard in the band – where your technical skills come from Damien? Man, you have a wonderful way of guitar playing – so fast and pure, Awesome!
A: Thank you! It feels great to have respect as a guitar player. Thank you! For a start, I still practice every day for a few hours and I have a guitar performance degree. I studied guitar at University of Barcelona in Spain. I practice a lot each day for my fans. It would be a rip-off for metal heads pay their money to see someone who plays sloppy. With Predator, they get what they pay for! We have great respect for our fans, they are the best people on Earth!
Q: In my review for your new album “Born In Blood”, I wrote that I’ve noticed two remarkable elements while checking out the entire effort. With all respect for the rest of the band but singer Nestor Aguirre and yourself lift up the band to a very high level to me. Where do you find this great singer Damien?
A: Nestor was in Nicaragua when I first heard about him. A friend suggested that I contact him and I did. He first auditioned with Icon and totally impressed us. He also has an amazing ear and he is a very nice person. A good friend.
Q: Please feel free to introduce the rest of the band as well?
A: Right now the band is Nestor Aguirre on lead vocals, Victor Meneses on 2nd guitar, Scott Opiela on bass, Eddie Gresely on drums and myself on first guitar. This line up works the best so far.
Q: Through the years you guys struggled with line up changes – tell me about if you like.
A: Shortly after the debut album was released, Chris Reiser decided to leave the band. He still remains a great friend so there are no hard feelings and he still helps us out when we need him. We don’t know what happened to the drummer... he just stopped showing up and never returned phone calls. Rotten Rudy had some immigration issues and was ordered for deportation. Reiser was originally replaced by Billy Gordon but he was involved in an accident where he suffered a severe head injury and told us he could not remain in the band. He is still recovering and it has been a year! Victor was discovered after a few auditions. Victor is a very talented guitarist and stood out among the others. Victor is also one of the nicest people you can meet.
Q: Are you aware of the fact there are other bands carry on the same bandname? There was a Classic US Metal act way back in the 80s and in Germany walks another act with this name. This can ensure any form of confusing, right?
A: We have registered the name as a business entity so anyone else would have cease and desist the use of our name. I am not too concerned about that. The name is now officially ours. End of story.
Q: A few years ago Predator unleashed their debut, self titled album – MTI co-editor Rico aka Officer Nice wrote down his thoughts on the product and was very enthusiast with the final result. Did you read the review?
A: Yes. And we liked it very much. Thank you for that!
Q: What about the other discussions those who came in from other zines?
A: So far the majority of our reviews have been good. I don’t pay attention to the not so good ones because when I read them, you can tell that the writer does not know much about music or they don’t know what they are talking about. Bad reviews don’t really affect anyone. In fact, when Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden first came out to the States, all the reviews were very bad. However, that never stopped them from selling out arenas and selling multi platinum records. I remember when Metallica first came out... everyone in the press hated them! Look at them now. People have criticized us and some people love us. You cannot let negativity get to you. However, someone recently wrote that Predator is better than Metallica! That it VERY flattering and we are grateful!
Q: How would you like to define your first effort Damien – to which type of people you would like to recommend the product?
A: To everyone!
Q: Second album has been released recently through God Of Thunder Records – from where the collaboration between Predator and CEO Roger?
A: God Of Thunder Records is an awesome label devoted to keeping metal alive. Check out the other bands on the label. Pretty cool stuff.
Q: Can we consider this as a one-way deal or will the future bring us some Predator stuff through this record company?
A: I think we will be with GOT for a while. They are a great company with a great reputation and they have respect for the artists. You hear many horror stories of record labels ripping off the artists.... that does not happen here.
Q: There is a lot to enjoy on the new album man – awesome high pitched vocals with flammable guitar pickings and nice compositions. According to your own meaning – in which ways this new album differs from the former one?
A: Many things are different. On the debut the songs were written by Chris and I. On this new one I wrote everything with the exception of XXV (Mozart) and Caprice 16 (Paganini). I composed and conducted the string quartet on Die not My Hopes and I played most of the guitars. Chris was handy in the studio and he played some short solos on three songs but the rest.. is all me. The album was recorded after Billy was injured so there was no time to replace him. I figured I could audition guitar payers after the recordings were done, which is how I did it to save time. I like this new one better.
Q: “Born In Blood” has been recorded in a short time of only 24 hours – that is pretty fast man, an explanation please.
A: I had written everything down. I mean I transcribed the entire album and handed copies of the music to everyone. Everyone learned the parts and rehearsed them and when it came to the studio, we were done in less than 24 hours of recording time. Some people take too long because they walk into a studio unprepared. We were ready with everything down to the finest detail. The string quartet was recorded in less than an hour! Some of those musicians had never even met before. I just handed them the music and they got it right in the second take. That’s why I like working with professionals...it makes life easier. Each member of Predator reads and understands music very deeply.
Q: You wrote all the songs by yourself except for two instrumentals entitled ‘XXV’ and ‘Caprice 16’, originally created by legendary Mozart and Nicolo Paganini. About these two instrumentals, in one word AWESOME! How hard to play this way guitar riffs and solo’s?
A: The Mozart piece was easy. I took the score from his Symphony 25 and arranged it for the band. I simply took the three primary voicings and made it work for 2 guitars and the bass. For guitar, this particular Mozart piece is not very difficult to play but when you have to pay with the others in the group in precise time, it can be tricky so a lot of concentration is required. For the caprice... I read the entire thing carefully for a few days. It is a VERY difficult solo to play and I still practice it every day.
Q: By the way, you also play the lute on the intro of the title track – what about that?
A: Actually, the lute was my first instrument I studied in college. I love the sound of the lute and I play it when I can. I have an extensive collection of lute music and I enjoy it very much.
Q: We all will never forget almighty Ronnie James Dio and is great to hear Predator’s track ‘Far Beyond Death’ – a fantastic tribute to this legendary artist! Did you ever met Ronnie yourself?
A: No. I saw Black Sabbath a couple of times and I saw Dio a few times. Never had the opportunity to meet him. I have met Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, GirlSchool, Lemmy, David Coverdale, Rhett Forrester, Overkill, Megadeth, Jason Newsted, Saxon, Joe Perry, Bruce Kulick, Anthrax, Kerry King and a few others. I have taught guitar to many others too, including Paolo Gregolletto of Trivium. But of course, I am not in contact with any of them.
Q: “Born In Blood” also features a few Speed / Thrash Metal songs I really adore. What do you prefer Damien: play some fast speed riffs or playing riffs in a more traditional Heavy Metal way?
A: I LOVE the fast ones! They give me energy. I love thrash and speed metal. I think most of the songs on Born In Blood are fast.
Q: Can you deal with the words I wrote in my review for “Born In Blood”?
A: I welcome it.
Q: Loaded with your technical guitar tactics, it would not astonish me that you teach other people how to handle a guitar as it should be. Am I right?
A: I have been teaching guitar for more than 25 years.
Q: What is your favourite type of guitar to handle and who’s the best axema(e)n in the world at the moment?
A: I play guitars that I have built and I also play some custom made guitars by Neal Moser, one of the founders of BC Rich.
Q: What about the Predator live experiences so far?
A: Predator live is amazing! We have a blast! Back in 2009, we did our debut show and the headliner band (who we will not honour with a mention) were so intimidated by us that they deliberately sabotaged our set by turning off the amps while we were playing and other things. They sucked anyway and when we were done, the place was almost empty. They played to maybe ten people but when we were on stage, there were hundreds! Looks like we sold the majority of the tickets.
Q: One last questions – what keeps you busy besides making Metal music?
A: I build guitars, I teach guitar, I exercise, I cook, I write, I paint, I take care of my family and raise my baby daughter.
Q: Okay Damien – I hope you had quite a good time answering these questions. Thx for the collaboration brother – any last words to say before leaving?
A: I want to thank Predator fans for their ongoing love and support. Thank you so much for showing us the true meaning of loyalty and friendship. We will never let anyone down with a bad record. We love you right back and hope to meet all of you when we travel to play our shows. Thank you does not seem to be enough to say....
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