Dan Lilker - Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth, Crucifist, Anthrax, S.O.D., etc - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com

Dan Lilker is certainly no stranger to the heavy metal scene; playing louder, faster & heavier then many of his peers for over twenty years. As many of you would already know Dan was the original anthrax bassist. After parting ways with Anthrax Dan went on to form the legendary thrash metal band Nuclear Assault. A band that has influenced many of today’s metal bands and after more than ten years recently released one of the finest Nuclear assault albums I have ever heard ‘third world genocide’. Over the years Dan has also worked with S.O.D., Brutal Truth, The Ravenous & most recently Crucifist. No matter what genre of metal you are into, it would be impossible not to know at least one project that Dan has been involved in over the years. I recently caught up with Dan to speak about his latest project Crucifist, the latest Nuclear Assault album ‘Third World Genocide’, his early days in Anthrax, touring, Australia & much more. It’s time to get the Brutal Truth with Dan Lilker!

Metal Fanatix: Hi Danny how's things mate?

Dan Lilker: Pretty cool, just been chilling out!

Metal Fanatix: First of all thanks for putting some time aside to answer the following questions for all of our readers. I’d like to kick off the interview talking about the latest Nuclear Assault album ‘Third World Genocide’. Were you happy with the outcome of this one?

Dan Lilker:Yeah pretty much. Being the first album in such a long time of course we had to make sure that we were going to like it. I would have liked to have done the mix a little more like we did it in the old days, where we were all in the same room but now with technology once we did the recording the record company would mix it then send us links to stuff on servers. Everybody would email in & say well it’s got enough of this or it could use a little more of that. I guess it was kind of convenient to do it that way.

Metal Fanatix: Now it had been more then a decade between studio albums, tell us about those first encounters back in the studio after such a long time apart? Did you guys get together at all?

Dan Lilker: Yeah, if you mean for the recording, after we had written a bunch of stuff we went to New Hampshire which is the home of Screaming Ferret Wreckords. Tim the guy who runs the label that we’re on here in the states has a studio so we just did it with him. In the eighties you got to go into a big recording studio where they’ve got this two inch tape, which Tim actually has but the point being you don’t have to necessarily have to go giving somebody fifty thousand dolls to go & record a record anymore. Instead of just being in the studio for one long month though we just knocked out the drums & I think we might have done the bass at that time to, after that I didn’t really come back. I went back to Rochester New York where I live. Everything else I could do over the phone or via email. Maybe we all should have gone back for one mix session. That’s what we did with a ‘Best of Both Worlds’. We should have done the record the exact same way we did it, except then all meet up & hang out again for the mix.

Metal Fanatix: In a few words can you tell us the first thing that comes to mind when I mention the following ‘Third World Genocide’ tracks…

Dan Lilker:

Defiled Innocence: That’s about perverted priests.

Third World Genocide: Heavy & moody

Living Hell: Heavy & flogging

Long Haired Asshole: I supposed you could say that the first thing that comes to mind with that song is goofy, annoying, yet somehow endearing.

Metal Fanatix: Dan I have to ask, how can you go from a song such as ‘Living Hell’ to a song like ‘Long Haired Asshole’? They’re so totally different!

Dan Lilker: Well it changes the mood a little bit doesn’t it? We’ve always been about having humor. Back in the old days our humorous stuff was quite fast. Maybe cause we’re getting older the humorous songs aren’t necessarily fifty second hard core songs anymore [laughs] We never worried about having to be metal tough guys, if you’re in a band & you can’t show your lighter side, a band where you have to be a very intimidating or whatever, we’ve always thought that was a little stupid. We’ve always had goofy shit in our records. It’s just a part of what we are & we don’t see any reason to try & hide it in order to have this “bad as hell image” or anything like that.

Metal Fanatix: Now you guys have been on the road recently in conjunction with the new album can we expect to see more dates announced soon?

Dan Lilker: Yeah there will be more shows in the United States in January. I’m very well aware of the fact that Nuclear Assault has never made it down to Australia. I’ve been down there three times; twice with Brutal Truth & once with my wife for a vacation a little over a year ago. I would certainly love to come back there with Nuclear Assault. I’m sure there are a lot of people that’s been waiting to see us for a long time & if that could get arranged then that would certainly be something that would be great. As far as any other stuff, we’re just getting some European festivals sorted out for next year.

Metal Fanatix: So far have the media & fans responses been positive towards the latest album & the shows you guys have played thus far?

Dan Lilker: The kids I’ve spoken seem to like the album a lot; I supposed you could say it’s gotten some mixed reviews in the media. Some of the criticism over here in the States could be considered fair because more people think there should be more of a percentage of thrashier tracks on the record. We tried to write what we did naturally, there is some intense stuff on the album & maybe the critics are right. There’s more fast material on ‘Game Over’ but then again with ‘Handle With Care’ we wrote more pretty mid speed songs. Some people aren’t crazy about the production but we were going for more of an eighties production. I think that a lot of people that grew up with triggers & pro tools might be a bit thrown by it because it’s just good old warm analogue production.

As far as the shows that we’ve been doing the response has been positive. We’ve been sticking to a lot of the old stuff at the shows because we’ve had what you would call a revolving door of guitar players & the guy who has been playing guitar with us lately Carl is a very busy guy & he hasn’t really learnt any of the new stuff. At the moment we’re doin' one new song ‘taste of freedom’ & mostly just sticking to the older goodies.

Metal Fanatix: Danny I wanted to ask you about the live album ‘Alive Again’, it had a lot of the same tracks as the first live album & yet nothing from ‘Out of Order’ or Something Wicked’ was there any particular reason for that?

Dan Lilker: Well, ‘Out Of Order’ & ‘Something Wicked’ aren’t really the best albums we have [laughs] so when it was time to put out a live record we wanted to concentrate on the material we thought was the strongest. The other thing to consider is that first live album ‘Live at the Hammersmith’, we don’t even count that. The history of that live album is that it’s one of those contractual obligations. All it was is the audio tracks to the video that was already released. I’ve always considered that a bit of a rip off. We write that record off, I didn’t like when that record came out, I was like “what the fuck”? As far as I was concerned, it was ripping off the fans. We wanted to put out a live album on or terms so for us ‘Alive Again’ is really the first live album.

Metal Fanatix: Now with a new album out, & the band doin' live shows over the last couple of months, what does the future hold now for Nuclear Assault? You mentioned more shows what else can we expect? Is there a DVD in the works?

Dan Lilker: Yeah, that’s something that we’re looking at. We’ve got so much footage we are in the process of compiling stuff. We’ve got stuff from the big festivals we played in Europe last year, we’ve got stuff on video cassettes from 1986, it’s almost like where do ya fuckin' start. I don’t have any updates about it at this stage but keep checking back at the website for further details.

Metal Fanatix: Going way back to when you started out in the business, If someone had come up to you & told you that you would still be doing this all these years later would you have believed them?

Dan Lilker: Probably, cause there’s not much else that I can do really well [laughs]. Oh that would be really hard to say when you’re twenty two & you think that when you’re forty one like I am now that you’re old. You think that you can’t do it because your fuckin' body’s gonna fall apart [laughs]. Obviously music is very important to me I’ve always been passionate about it. I’d probably say yes, I couldn’t say what I’d be doin' Back in 1993 I never thought there would be Nuclear Assault again.

Metal Fanatix: Now Dan, tell us about another band you have been working with Crucifist, what’s happening there?

Dan Lilker: Well I have been living here in Rochester New York for almost three & a half years now. Crucifist is a band I joined last year. Crucifist is a band that plays, I guess what you’d call extreme eighties stuff like death, European thrash etc all mixed together. We’re in the process of recording a full length album, we laid the drum tracks yesterday actually & I have been talking to a few different labels. I would suggest that if anyone wants information on Crucifist they can check out the myspace page or the official site for more details. You will be able to hear what we have done already on either of those sites. One of our songs is called ‘Skull Smashing Face Ripping Death’ come to think of it that’s quite Australian actually [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: Yeah, [laughs] I love the title it sounds brutal! In your honest opinion what do you think about the direction that Hard Rock & Heavy Metal music has taken over the last few years?

Dan Lilker: Well the underground still seems to be nice & strong as far as the death & the black [metal] scenes. As far as the more mainstream stuff its nice to see that the whole rap/nu-metal thing has finally taken a nose dive after seven or eight years, its been replaced with what they call metal core where you’ve got a lot of bands with short hair that kinda look hard core but then they sound like At The Gates.

Metal Fanatix: Now you have played a few different styles of metal from thrash to hardcore & black metal is there one style you prefer to play over the others?

Dan Lilker: No not really, playing different kinds of styles in different bands satisfies a different side of my musical tastes. It’s actually really cool that I’ve got to do them all. Some people in interviews have said that I’m a trend jumper they only see a negative side of it. Anybody that doesn’t know me personally doesn’t really know why I do certain things so they should just mind there own fuckin' business. I don’t really care if people wanna second guess what I do, because they really don’t know, fuck 'em!

Metal Fanatix: Danny I want to talk to you about life on the road; do you do anything specific to warm up & prepare for a show?

Dan Lilker: If you’re talking about having some kind of inspirational meeting or doing push ups then no. I usually get in the mood by various entertaining things that may include beer & marijuana, nothing that you wouldn’t be doing on a Friday night at your house [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: What is the most ridiculous thing you have ever asked for on a tour rider?

Dan Lilker: Probably weed, well no actually sometimes we would have standard things in the rider like four pairs of socks & once in a while you’d get them [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have shared the stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the tour?

Dan Lilker: I think one of the greatest tours was when Dark Angel & Nuclear Assault toured together in Europe back in 1989. They opened up for us & Acid Rain was on the tour too. I remember a bunch of people got fuckin' drunk, some of the guys in the other bands started causing a little bit of trouble, getting a little unruly, walking on cars. So the police come to arrest one person which was Mike, Dark Angel’s bass player. He was in jail for a week so I had to play bass with Dark Angel. Dark Angel’s songs have about four thousand notes in there songs, I learnt about fifteen hundred of them & that was good enough [laughs]. We never told that story too much back then cause we didn’t want to embarrass him, but it was sixteen years ago now so who gives a shit [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: What was your first experience of playing outside the U.S.A. like?

Dan Lilker: It would have been in London in 1987 maybe late 86 with Nuclear Assault, from memory we were opening & Agent Steel were the headliners. It was just really exciting to be playing somewhere else, having different currency, & just getting use to the local customs, for instance you can’t just go into seven eleven & buy some beer you have to go into one of these specialty licensed shops to buy a can of beer.

Metal Fanatix: That’s the same here in Australia, we have separate stores to purchase alcohol!

Dan Lilker: Oh that’s right the places with the giant VB logos I remember now.

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] yeah that’s them. I take it you had a few of those when you were here?

Dan Lilker: Yeah! But I liked them more the last time I came over, on my most recent Australian trip I was drinking more Carlton.

Metal Fanatix: Oh good choice mate, I think that’s one of our nicer beers personally!

Dan Lilker: Oh yeah that & Coopers.

Metal Fanatix: Now I believe you met your wife on tour, that’s pretty cool do you care to share that story with us?

Dan Lilker: I met her at the New Jersey metal festival in March 2000 when S.O.D. was starting a minor tour, I met her through a common friend, & she’s into metal. We just started talking & we hit it off obviously.

Metal Fanatix: That’s pretty cool mate, Dan what’s the biggest differences you notice these days in the business compared to when you were starting out?

Dan Lilker: Well the internet’s made it easier for smaller bands & labels to promote themselves which is a positive thing. On the other hand you have message boards & shit like Blabbermouth where people can talk a bunch of shit & never have to own up to it which is annoying. Otherwise, some things haven’t changed. All these labels start signing bands weather they’re good or not then it wares itself out & something else starts, those things never seems to change everything goes in cycles.

Metal Fanatix: You have grown up influenced by some of the greatest bands in rock history such as Led Zeppelin, Cream & later on you got into Iron Maiden. Do you feel you have played a large role in influencing many of today’s metal acts?

Dan Lilker: It would seem so, I don’t want to say that in an arrogant way but I know I’ve defiantly made an impact on people. I started doing that myspace thing a couple of months ago, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it. Once someone accepts you as a friend they can put a comment on your page which is cool. I get comments from fans & hear others say things such as “oh I’ve listened to you for years”, “I’m a big fan of Nuclear Assault” and so on. I have met loads of people who have told me that; weather it’s just in their listening experiences or if it’s a musician who’s been influenced by bands that I’ve been in, I think that’s great. Obviously my intention when I started playing music was to emulate the music that I was listening to, so it’s great to be able to pass that on.

Metal Fanatix: Are you currently listening to any of the newer hard rock/metal bands? If so who?

Dan Lilker: Some of the bands that I have seen have really impressed me. I enjoy The Black Dahlia Murders they’re a band that seems to put a little more brutality into it. As I said the underdog still seems to be strong, that’s what matters to me. The other stuff will come & go. Some of it’s good & some of it’s shit.

Metal Fanatix: Danny as a huge Anthrax fan I have to ask; what comes to mind when you look back on those early experiences with Anthrax?

Dan Lilker: Oh that was just a really exciting time. It was really cool being on the cusp of the new music movement. We were pretty early in on that. We were young & just caught up in something we thought was really cool. I was thrown through a loop then thrown out two days before the first album came out but then we ended up doing S.O.D. the next year with Scott & Charlie. I’ve had my differences with those guys over the years for various reasons but it was a very fun time & I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Metal Fanatix: I conducted an interview earlier this year Neil Turbin & we spoke about the early Anthrax days. Neil told me that you guys went to school together along with Scott that was something I never knew about. When you look back at what I guess you could call the birth of Anthrax what comes to mind?

Dan Lilker: Well, Scott & I were in the same gym class. Scott was a year older then me but we had gym together. We had the seniors & the juniors we would play each other either at volleyball or basket ball. We played volleyball & Scott was on the opposite side of the net to me. This little short guy, I could just jump up and smack the ball in his face [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] I was just going to say that. He is so short what the hell was he thinking doin' that for sport!

Dan Lilker: Uh well, it was that or basketball what would you do? [Laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] yeah you have a pretty good point there.

Dan Lilker: At least in volleyball he had the opportunity to stand at the back every once in a while & punch the ball.

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]

Dan Lilker: Neil, I would just see in the hallways. He was this tall guy with a leather jacket, I remember saying “wow that guy looks pretty metal”. Eventually you just gravitate towards each other. You just knew it from the t-shirts we were wearing.

Metal Fanatix: As you mentioned, after your departure from Anthrax you continued to do work with both Scott & Charlie in S.O.D. Do you keep in contact with the guys these days?

Dan Lilker: Oh yeah just here & there. We played the same festival with Anthrax in Germany not long ago & we saw each other backstage. John Connolly & Charlie hadn’t seen each other in years so they went off to have a beer & catch up. Certain things over the history of our careers have been a little questionable & those guys are aware of that but we all get along, I drop them a line from time to time just to say hi, how's it going or happy fuckin' thanksgiving.

Metal Fanatix: What do you think would you be doing if you stopped playing metal music?

Dan Lilker: I’d want to do something still in the creative side of it, whether it was music production or get into computers, doing videos etc just something where I could still use the creative part of my brain.

Metal Fanatix: Given the number of bands you have been in, what is the one album you are most proud of making & why? Is it even possible to narrow it down to one?

Dan Lilker: Oh that’s pretty difficult man, if you had to narrow it down to a few then there would be the first Brutal Truth album, ‘Speak English or Die’ with S.O.D., Game Over with Nuclear Assault, there’s other records too but those ones stand out for different reasons.
The S.O.D. album made such an impact for something that was just a joke. The first Brutal Truth album was very memorable & was still fresh at the time, it just fuckin' freaked people out. ‘Game Over’ because that was the band that I was doing hard time with then, S.O.D. was just a project so to get that album out then your first album with a band that you have been working for is a very satisfying milestone. I can’t get it down to one, but I can get it down to three [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: After all these years in the business, what goals have you set for yourself these days?

Dan Lilker: Everything’s just more casual man! With Nuclear Assault we don’t really have a goal as far as we’re going to get in the studio & do the next record in six months” we’re just playing it by ear. I don’t really set goals for myself. I just like to see how things go, within reason of course.

Metal Fanatix: You’re a bass player as everyone knows, but what people may not realize is that you also play guitar & keyboards. Is there an instrument you always wanted to learn but just never got around to doing so?

Dan Lilker: I’d like to learn how to play stringed instruments like a cello or violin that would be cool. I could play the big double bass I played it in high school, but I’ve always like the way string quartets sounded.

Metal Fanatix: There has been so many highlights in your career, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?

Dan Lilker: Making it over to Japan with S.O.D. was really awesome. I’m not just saying this but making it to Australia with Brutal Truth that was fuckin' cool. Playing the Hammersmith Odeon headlining it with Nuclear Assault, when you grow up reading Kerrang magazine they’ve made the Hammersmith Odeon sound so prestige’s, going to Brazil with Nuclear. I just love going to all these different places, getting to travel around the world & performing.

Metal Fanatix: What advice do you have for up and coming hard rock & metal bands?

Dan Lilker: If you’re gonna write music don’t try to sound exactly like somebody else. Watch out because it’s a cut throat fucking business. I don’t want to be the messenger of doom but you just have to be really careful when you’re looking at labels & making decisions about things that could affect you for years to come. But on the other side priority one should be to make sure you enjoy what you are doing.

Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed on and/or present who would they be & what would you call the band?

Dan Lilker: Oh that’s a good question. If I got to play bass in a band that had Dennis from Macabre on drums, Trey Azagthoth from Morbid Angel on guitar and King Diamond on vocals. We’d call it Necro Dog Fucker

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] that’s great dude, now that’s a killer line-up with a stand out name [laughs]. Dan I want to thank you again for your time today, it’s been a blast talking to you. Do you have any last words you want to share with our readers?

Dan Lilker: Hello to everybody that I have already met down there in Australia, I’ve been down there a few times & I’ve always had a good time, hopefully Nuclear Assault can get down there to play for you guys soon! Get goin' with the cones!

Catch Dan live at the following Shows:

Sunday, January 22nd: Heavy Metal Steve's Birthday Massacre @ The Bug Jar, Rochester, NY - 2PM

March 11th, 2006 - Atarfe Vega Rock Festival, Atarfe Granada, Spain

Nuclear Assault’s ‘Third World Genocide’ is out now! Get it where all thrashin' albums are sold.

To keep up with all the latest on Nuclear Assault or any of Dan's other projects check out the following sites:

http://www.nuclearassault.us - Official Nuclear Assault website
http://www.crucifist.com - Official Crucifist website
http://www.myspace.com/crucifist - Crucifist MySpace website
http://inside_out666.mysite.freeserve.com - Dedicated to 40 years of pure hard rock & metal music

© Cameron Edney November, December 2005 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.