Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com
Legendary Swiss metallers Celtic Frost is included in ‘The
Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal’ among the greats of all-time a
title they truly deserve. Guitarist Ron Marks joined the line-up in
May of 1987, after the release of "Into the Pandemonium".
Although Ron was only in the band for a few months, his contributions
turned out to be quite immense. He was a key element, which influenced
& helped change the band's sound. Ron left Celtic Frost in December
of 1987 & later returned to unofficially in 1989 to help record
"Vanity/Nemesis" in Berlin. Ron's tenure with Celtic Frost
at that point would be only the recording of the "Vanity/Nemesis"
album. Many fans class the time Ron spent in the band to be what is
referred to as the definitive line-up. Ron grew up listening to many
styles of music & has had a love for Jazz music since childhood,
as Ron entered his teens he found his Rock ‘n’ Roll roots
rocking out to bands such as Kiss Led Zeppelin & Aerosmith. For
many years Ron has been writing & recording his own material &
in 1998 after playing with various bands Ron made a choice to go out
on his own & create Subsonic. Subsonic has two releases currently
available ‘Super-Vel’ on Outlaw Records & the recently
released ‘No Such Soul’ on Sonic Wave Intl. I caught up
with Ron earlier this week to talk about his time with Celtic Frost,
Life on the road, the recent preliminary Grammy nominations &
Subsonic. This is one interview you have to read!
Metal Fanatix: Hi Ron, How’s things mate?
Ron Marks: Good, I’ve been keeping really busy,
trying to keep the project moving forward. How are you man?
Metal Fanatix: I’m well, thanks mate. First
of all thanks for putting some time aside to answer the following
questions for all of our readers.
Ron Marks: It’s my pleasure.
Metal Fanatix: I would like to start right back at
the beginning, It’s safe to say that you were born into a life
on music isn’t it; I believe that both of your parents were
Ron Marks: Oh yeah! My dad was a great Jazz musician
Metal Fanatix: Oh cool; I actually didn’t know
that. What have your parents thought about the music you played?
Ron Marks: Well, I grew up on Jazz initially &
got into rock later on. My parents were cool with it. My families
owned a music store now for years. I’m third generation
Metal Fanatix: You started drumming at the age of five, &
by the age of fifteen you were playing guitar. Why did you decide
to change from drums to guitar?
Ron Marks: I wanted to write songs & I couldn’t
do that on the drum [laughs]. I needed to pick up something that I
could write music on.
Metal Fanatix: I believe you grew up with Nine Inch
Nails vocalist Trent Reznor & that you guys played in a band together
tell me more about that about that.
Ron Marks: Yeah, Trent grew up about twenty minutes
away from where I live. We had a band in high school, a little basement
band that didn’t really get too far. We were in it along with
Dan Laudo who later became the drummer for Prong.
Metal Fanatix: When you look back on those early
days, did you know back then that Trent, Dan & yourself would
have come so far?
Ron Marks: No I never knew. Back then there were
so many guys that wanted to be musicians. Everybody was trying to
do this & that. I knew Trent was really talented, that was obvious
to me even at that age, but who knew that any of us would have gone
on to bigger & better things!
Metal Fanatix: You have grown up influenced by some
of the greatest bands in Rock ‘n’ Roll history such as
Kiss & Aerosmith. Do you feel you have played a large role in
influencing many of today’s hard rock acts?
Ron Marks: I live in a small town & don’t
really get around a lot of people often, but I have been making trips
to Chicago over the past two years, & I’ve learned that
Celtic Frost & myself later on influenced quite a lot of people.
I really wasn’t aware of that so it was very cool to hear.
Metal Fanatix: Congratulations Ron on the recent
Grammy nominations. When you first heard that you were nominated I’m
sure the reaction would be as crazy as anyone else’s who had
been given such great news. Who was the first person you told?
Ron Marks: Oh! I contacted my family & musician
friends. I sent out a group email to let everybody know. It was amazing.
I doubt that we have a chance of winning considering Subsonic is still
a relatively unknown, but to have any industry acknowledgment on that
level is great.
Metal Fanatix: You must be thrilled to be up for not one
but three awards. That is some achievement!
Ron Marks: Yeah! It’s pretty cool stuff. I
just want to make this clear, these are preliminary nominations. What
that means is that a member of the Grammy board submitted us for a
vote. The official votes happen later this month & if we get enough
votes then Subsonic will be up for official nominations. The projects
not officially nominated just yet!
Metal Fanatix: So how exactly does the next stage
work, I mean is there a website or something that fans can visit &
vote for Subsonic to run as an official contender?
Ron Marks: Well, no. The Grammy board is a club so
to speak & to even submit something you have to be a member. It’s
not like I can just call them up & say “Hi, I’d like
to submit this for your consideration”. It doesn’t work
that way. I don’t exactly know how they do the voting, whether
it’s via email or what but you have to be a recognized member
for your vote to count. It’s an official thing, it’s not
like anyone can just call up or get online & “say I vote
for these guys”.
Metal Fanatix: Do you know who else has been put
forward as contenders in the categories?
Ron Marks: No, I don’t. I got an email from
my label just telling me that I was in the three different categories
& so on. But I will get that information.
Metal Fanatix: Now long time friend Dan Laudo has
come onboard as the touring drummer for Subsonic, who else will make
up the touring band?
Ron Marks: Well, our bass player is Dietrich Thrall
from Chicago. I'd also like to announce that Brandon Park is now onboard
& will also be playing guitar. We have been offered some tours
but none of them have been quite what we wanted. What I mean by that
is I just want something that is well organized & legitimate.
I want to know that we’re all gonna get paid & have a really
Metal Fanatix: Oh yeah! You definitely need to have
a decent promoter on board!
Ron Marks: Yeah! We know the difference. Anyone who
has toured has been on bad ones, we don’t want to repeat that
so we’re just waiting for something better to come along &
hopefully that’s not going to be too far away!
Metal Fanatix: When you guys do decide on a promoter
& what have you, will your tour plans include Australia?
Ron Marks: Oh I’d love to play there man! I’ve
never been to Australia. We had plans to tour there when I was with
[Celtic] Frost, but they never materialized. So I’d absolutely
love to make that happen.
Metal Fanatix: Now for those who don’t know
the story, how did Subsonic get started?
Marks: Well, [laughs] I’ve been writing my own material
for years & finally after [Celtic] Frost, I went on to play with
a few bands, knocking around here & there, touring; it was all
so very temporary & I had no control over it. I said to myself,
“I can’t do any worst then any of the other things I’ve
been in”. “Why don’t I do my own thing”? That
was back in 1998. I had such a wealth of material written & recorded
I figured I’d take a shot on my own. I’m still writing
a lot of material as we speak. But to answer your question that’s
how the project came about.
Metal Fanatix: What other names were you tossing
around before settling with Subsonic?
Ron Marks: Oh God, I can’t remember I had a
few. I think I called Dan on the phone & said “what do you
think of these”? [Laughs] Dan said “choose Subsonic that
sounds like a good one” [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Awesome, now I believe you
did a lot of the work on the first album yourself?
Ron Marks: I’ve done all of the albums myself.
Metal Fanatix: Oh, o.k. bass, drums everything?
Ron Marks: Yeah man everything.
Metal Fanatix: Dude that is great, how long did it
take you to complete the latest album ‘No Such Soul’?
Ron Marks: Oh, a couple of months for sure. It’s
not just the writing & then recording of the songs. It’s
the arrangements, production, engineering there’s so much that
has top be done. It all came about because it was just so hard to
find people that would commit & really put the time & effort
into the project. I wasn’t sitting on the kind of cash that
allowed me to travel to New York, L.A. or where ever I wanted to go
to record unlimited. I decided to do it myself, I turned into a little
[Frank] Zappa I guess [laughs]. I’m a big Frank Zappa fan &
that’s what he ended up doing, he had his own home studio, making
the music himself. On a much more humbled scale that’s what
Metal Fanatix: ‘No Such Soul’ consists
of eleven tracks. In a few words can you tell us a little about the
Dream American: Well speaking of [Frank]
Zappa that’s a little sarcastic poke at the American dream.
Love Is: I guess it’s about longing.
It can be interpreted in so many ways depending on how you look at
love. Love is so many things to so many people.
Play the Fool: There’s a lot of traps
that people fall into, whether it’s becoming a slave to money
or the American dream etc. Whatever it is that makes you lose your
identity. Nobody wants to admit that they’ve given up their
mind & soul to whatever it is & they sure don’t want
to know that they play the fool.
Fix: This is another song about desires
& addictions. I’m not just talking about drugs, there’s
many addictions; religion, money even material possessions. People
get so hooked on them, they need that fix.
A Day Late: That’s the guy who’s
a born loser. I don’t know if Australians are familiar with
the television show The Honeymooners which starred Jackie Gleeson,
he was the guy who always had the brain storm & got one inch away
from pulling it off but of course never quite got there. That’s
what ‘A day late’ is all about.
Metal Fanatix: When it came time to record ‘No
Such Soul’ did you approach it in a different way to albums
you have recorded in the past?
Ron Marks: Yes actually I have. To be honest with
you on some of the other Subsonic releases, (as a lot of bands are
guilty of all though they never admit it) you try to chase what’s
going on stylistically & I might have been guilty on the earlier
stuff of doing that. When it came time to do this album I said “I’m
gonna do what I think I do well & what I enjoy doing”. It
seems very honest to me to do that.
Metal Fanatix: Ron honestly I think that’s
the best way to do it. It seems to me that artists that do that last
a lot longer in the business then those bands that constantly ride
the coat tails of others & ultimately they make better albums.
You see plenty of bands these days, they all look the same & they
all sound the same. You have these up & coming bands trying to
emulate bands that are getting airplay but by the time they get signed
& get airplay the trend is something else. I take my hat off to
anyone that just does what they want to do & I hope that by the
time any of those artist release their material, the public will be
ready to take it on!
Ron Marks: It’s the only way that you’re
being true & it’s the only way you can find an original
sound. You hit the nail on the head, so many bands sound like each
other & you think to yourself “ oh no, not another one of
those” [laughs]. I’m sure you can hear influences in my
music of people I have listened to but overall I hope that it’s
my own sound. I think that’s valuable & I think that lasts.
Metal Fanatix: Have you started writing for the next
Ron Marks: Yes I have. I actually started to record
tracks as well. One of the tracks is called ‘Burn It Down’.
One that I am currently working on is called ‘Christin’.
Like I said there’s a big archive of material & usually
I’ll write about ten songs, pick four or five of them then look
back in the archives & think of what other stuff might fit well
with the sound of this record. Then if I come across stuff that’s
fits well I’ll re-record some tracks that have been done but
have never been released.
Metal Fanatix: When are you looking at releasing
Ron Marks: Well I started recording it about a month
ago so realistically I’d say January /February!
Metal Fanatix: What does the future hold for Subsonic?
Where would you like to see the band in five years time?
Ron Marks: We are looking for management as we speak.
I’ve had managers that were not so good & never really got
us anywhere, so that’s really the next step. I’ve taken
the project just about as far as I can on my own now. I’d like
to see us still making great CD’s & touring for as long
as we possibly can. I also have aspirations beyond that to write for
television & motion picture soundtracks. I would love to produce
other bands, I’ve been doing it myself for years & I think
that would be fun. Who knows where it will go? I’m pretty well
self-contained & can take it pretty much any direction that I
prefer, so I’m open to a lot of suggestions.
Fanatix: I’ve actually read that you’re interested
in composing for movie soundtracks & television, producing other
bands & so on, are there any offers currently on the table?
Ron Marks: Nope, there was one band that wanted me
to do their record & there was a problem with the budget, this
& that. Believe me I wasn’t asking for a large amount of
money. I know I’m a very new name as far as a producer. Like
many things in the entertainment industry for every ten maybes one
might come through. We might have to wait a while for something concrete.
Metal Fanatix: I want to talk to you a little about
your time with Celtic Frost; what comes to mind when you look back
on those experiences?
Ron Marks: Pride! Like with any musical movement,
something happens & a million bands jump on it. [Celtic] Frost
has faired very well as time goes by. I’m really glad that the
legend continues & all the rest of it, but the thing I am most
proud of is that you can put a [Celtic] Frost CD on today & it
still sounds really cool, it’s still competitive & sounds
fresh to me. I’m a musician to a fault & that always comes
first to me. Tom & Martin are geniuses when it comes to writing;
I love how intelligent the lyrics are. Reed St. Mark is one of my
favorite drummers on the planet. I was a lucky s.o.b.; I knew it was
great band when I sent them my demo. I could have been in a lot of
other bands that were apart of that movement that didn’t fair
as well as [Celtic] Frost. I was very fortunate that they asked me
Metal Fanatix: What can you recall from the first
performance you did with Celtic Frost?
Ron Marks: [Laughs].The very first show we did together
was in a nightclub in Zurich before we officially went out on tour.
It was really cool & was on a smaller scale of course. The first
tour we did was in the U.K. & we headlined, it was amazing. I
still have fans emailing me & keeping in touch from the tour.
We played this amazing show in London at the Hammersmith Odeon; a
lot of my heroes had played there so that was a big honor to me. The
morning of that show we were sleeping on the tour bus. As we pulled
up at the Hammersmith I woke up & the bus was shaking back &
forwards. There was a bunch of kids outside the bus waking us up [laughs].
I loved that, we went out & said hi, signed some autographs &
we were the centerfold in Kerrang that month as well which was a really
cool thing. About six months ago I received an email from one of the
fans saying “I was one of the kids shaking the bus” [laughs].
It really warms my heart that all these years on they would remember
something like that. I have great memories from that tour.
Metal Fanatix: Are there any funny stories you can
share with us about the time you spent on the road with the guys?
Ron Marks: Oh there was one show were we opened up
for Anthrax on the U.S. tour. We were playing in Boston & after
the show we went out & had a little party & the bus call was
for midnight. We had to be back because we were heading to Philadelphia.
So about two, three o clock we all came back to the bus. When our
road manager walked onto the bus he was wearing a policeman’s
coat with a badge, we’re like “what are you doing”?
Laughing he said “a cop gave me a ride home & I was cold”.
The bus takes off & he had passed out in the back, when we finally
arrived in Philadelphia some seven hours later, we went to the venue
& it was lined with cruisers ready to take us all away [laughs].
It was one of those fun little Rock ‘n’ Roll stories [laughs].
There are other ones but I don’t know if you can print those
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Mate I’m happy to print
anything that you want to share! What’s the most ridiculous
thing you have ever asked for on a tour rider?
Ron Marks: We were pretty cool that way I don’t
think that we ever asked for anything out of the ordinary, just the
usual stuff; food, drink & girls [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: All the good stuff!
Ron Marks: [Laughs] yeah we were pretty boring that
Metal Fanatix: How about the funniest thing that
has ever happened to you on stage?
Ron Marks: Oh that’s easy [laughs]. Once again
with [Celtic] Frost, we played the London Hammersmith again &
it was Halloween night so as a gag on the last night of the tour,
doing the last song I think it was ‘Procreation’ one by
one the crew started tearing down our gear [laughs]. By the end of
the song we each had one marshall & Reed had one kick drum, a
snare & that was it [laughs] we’re playing this heavy stuff
& we looked like we were playing in a little jazz combo [laughs].
We didn’t know this was coming. They just started taking our
stuff! That was pretty funny. Another great [Celtic] Frost memory
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] For a band like Celtic Frost
who are considered one of heavy metal’s greats. What do you
think most people would be surprised to learn about the band?
Ron Marks: I’m going to say not speaking for
myself, but the other three guys were the most cultural & educated
people you’d ever want to meet. We used to joke around and say
things like “hey give me an album cover with skulls & flames”.
[Celtic] Frost was much more adult then that.
I remember when I was in the band there was a big movement in America
against heavy metal mainly. I was watching one of these broadcasts
& one of the people protesting held up a Celtic Frost shirt. I
mean Tom & Martin didn’t drink or smoke, anything. I was
saying “you’re crazy, this band is nothing like you think
it is”! I’m not saying that we were angels by any stretch
on the imagination but we certainly weren’t the stereotypical
heavy metal band.
Metal Fanatix: Is that the P.M.R.C. you’re
Ron Marks: It was around that time, but I don’t
remember if it was that group exactly. There was so many around at
that point. Once they got some exposure & power you couldn’t
swing a dead cat without hitting a group that was protesting against
Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was the fifties all over again.
Metal Fanatix: There was talk about a [Celtic] Frost
reunion & possibly new album at some point. Do you see that ever
Ron Marks: Well Tom, Reed & I met in New York
some years ago now & there was talk about it. Tom is pretty much
the point man there. He has the say in when & who! I’ve
heard that they are doing some work, I don’t know exactly what’s
going on but I’d certainly love to be apart of it, if they’re
Metal Fanatix: So you keep in contact with the guys?
Ron Marks: Yeah, it’s been some time since
I’ve talked to them but we’ve kept in contact over the
Metal Fanatix: Ron after all these years in the business
what goals have you set for yourself these days?
Ron Marks: Just to keep doin’ it man! I love
it more than I did when I was sixteen. I feel very fortunate to be
able to do what I love doing. Unlike being an athlete it’s something
you can do for the rest of your life. It would be nice to get paid
a little more this time [laughs] but that will come in time, I’m
just a lucky guy that gets to do what I love.
Fanatix: Which album or song would define Ron Marks to a
Ron Marks: The new album, it’s as honest as
it gets for me. I just put my neck out there & figured they’re
either gonna love it or they’re gonna hate it, but this is it!
Metal Fanatix: In your honest opinion what do you
think about the direction that Hard Rock & Heavy Metal music has
taken over the last few years?
Ron Marks: I think it’s fine. There are a lot
of sound alike bands but that’s o.k., that’s always been
the case. I think bands are writing songs again & by that I mean
I certainly like to hear a decent melody in a song. There are a lot
of really talented writers out there & there’s a lot of
crap there too. So many people will say that the new stuffs no good
blah, blah, blah. I think they really need to dig a little deeper.
There’s more great music out there then you can listen to.
Metal Fanatix: Are you currently listening to any
of the newer hard rock/metal bands?
Ron Marks: I’m open to anything. I like the
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s; I like all the new rock bands. This is going
to sound a little strange [laughs] I have a bad habit of getting a
little to diverse with my stuff so I’ve been trying to discipline
myself into a lot of radio which I know has a pretty limited rotation
as far as songs, I like a lot of new bands. Some that I like I don’t
even know who the hell they are [laughs]. I still listen to a lot
of Jazz bands too, which is what I grew up on. When I say Jazz I don’t
mean elevator Jazz. I listen to Jazz trios & big band Jazz. I’ve
always listened to a broad spectrum of music not just rock.
Metal Fanatix: It’s no secret that you’re
a fan of many musical styles as you just mentioned. Do you feel that
it’s important to listen to a range of styles to help develop
as an artist and continue in an ever-changing industry?
Ron Marks: Yeah I do. I think it’s a real advantage
to do that. By doing so you can introduce aspects into your music
that does give it originality and does set it aside from the other
rock bands that are out there! As an example, the songs A Day Late
& Delilah’s have a [Frank] Sinatra feel to their melodies.
Not the swing-era big band sound of his later years but his earlier
style of singing known as crooning, which made him the original "rock
star". I was listening to Sinatra & that kind of music as
a kid & I think it’s interesting to wrap Rock ‘n’
Roll around different genres of music. Not that I’m gonna do
that all the time. I think that if you only listen to one style of
music then you’re cutting your options.
Metal Fanatix: What do you think you would you be
doing if you stopped playing?
Ron Marks: Wow! I’ve never thought of it [laughs].
I love cars so probably drag racing.
Metal Fanatix: From all the albums you have appeared
on what one would be your favorite to listen to & why?
Ron Marks: Oh, these are tough questions [laughs].
Overall, I know this is going to sound cliché but I think the
latest album is my favorite. Not because it was all done by me but
because I like those songs the most. I can put the album on &
say ‘that’s cool”. I’m proud of Vanity/Nemesis
with Celtic Frost. Anything connected with them is a big honor. I’ve
done others here & there but I have to say the latest album ‘No
Metal Fanatix: Ron besides the recent preliminary
nominations for the Grammy’s, what would you say have been your
greatest achievements to date?
Ron Marks: Being a member of Celtic Frost of course
& continuing to do with my life what I choose to do rather then
what I am supposed to do according to everybody. The greatest achievement
is doing it period & not giving up when you’re twenty-five.
It wasn’t a phase that I was gonna grow out of like everybody
thought. Everyone used to say to me “one day you’ll get
some sense & grow up, get a real job” [laughs]. I am grown
up & this is it. That’s my single greatest achievement.
Metal Fanatix: What advice do you have for up &
coming rock/metal bands?
Ron Marks: Jay Leno once said that the worst thing a person who's
trying to break into show business can do is get a job making thirty
grand a year doing something else. Simply because you'll then live
at that level & become a slave to the income. Income that requires
time you should be spending working on your dream instead. I couldn't
agree more. Tough it out and, for God's sake, don't take advice from
normal people! Being successful means routinely doing things at an
exceptional level, not a normal one. Normal people are reactionary
personalities by nature. Meaning they react to what happens around
them rather than influencing it & are, therefore, bad sources
for advice regarding exceptional accomplishments of any kind.
Write what you love, try to get it out to as many people as you can.
The best thing anyone can do that wants to get into this business
is go & buy there own recorder. It doesn’t have to be expensive,
there’s no need to go out & get an elaborate set up. For
years I recorded on an eight track. It’s about getting your
thoughts down & honing your craft & honing your writing skills.
Lyrics are super important. The more you write the better you get
at it. When bands write ten songs then go into the studio, record
them then don’t bother writing again until the time comes to
do their next record, I think that’s a waste. I never stop writing,
whether it’s for an album or if it’s for fun. It’s
always going on & the coolest thing about that is after a while
you realize that you’re not depending on other people doing
things for you. You can have a lot more control over the outcome.
Anytime you can achieve control over your music or your career I think
its healthy cause lets face it no one’s gonna look out for your
ass like you are! One person believes they can & another believes
they cannot & both are correct. Which one are you?
Fanatix: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians
passed and/or present who would they be & what would you call
Ron Marks: Oh dude I would want Buddy Rich on drums.
Metal Fanatix: You know I’d say that was an
out there choice but you are really into different styles of music
Ron Marks: [Laughs] Right, I saw him when I was ten
years old & he just blew my little mind. He was such a freak drummer.
I’ve seen him several times since. He really shook me up, it
was beyond music or notes it was like “what planet are you from”?
He’s so cool.
So as I said I’d have Buddy on drums, I’d want Stevie
Ray Vaughn on guitar, who’s gonna play bass? Ray Brown. Do you
know who he was?
Metal Fanatix: Um! No mate, I have no idea!
Ron Marks: He was one of the greatest Jazz players
of all-time. He played in the Oscar Peterson trio & he played
on many of the Frank Sinatra television specials. I’d have a
real freaky band [laughs]. I don’t know what I’d call
it. It’s tough to name bands.
Metal Fanatix: Ron thanks again mate for speaking
with us today do you have any last words you want to share with our
Ron Marks: Yeah sure, a big thank you to everyone
who has been so complementary & kind, My publicist Alex Zander,
he’s a very good friend of mine & he arranged the meetings
for me to get signed with sonic wave he also arranged for both of
the video’s to be shot, he’s been a great friend &
continues to be a great friend, a huge thanks goes out to Dan Laudo
who flew in to do the first video. Dan’s been my best friend
& has been my brother since we were fifteen and just everybody
that’s been cool & who has stuck with us. Hopefully we will
go forward from here. It’s been really great doin’ this
interview with you Cameron, thanks for the support.
Subsonic's latest album ‘No Such Soul’ is out
now. You can buy your copy where all rockin' albums are sold or order
To keep up to date with all the latest news on Ron & Subsonic,
check out the following websites:
- Official website
- Official website
- Inside Out 666 Past Interview’s
- Metal Fanatix
© Cameron Edney October 2005 Not to be re-printed in any form
without written permission.