Blasphemous Interview With Ron Kaiser

Ron Kaiser is the lead singer of the killer black/death metal band Blasphemous. Here is a recent interview I did with him:

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

RK: Born & raised in good old Filthadelphia!!!

What sort of kid were you growing up with?

RK: Growing up, I was kind of the nerd in school. I did enjoy playing sports but was never great at them, I just liked playing and being around my friends

Did you have a lot of friends growing up or were you more of a loner?

RK: I had some friends, I wouldn’t say I was a total loner until I got to high school and I was in a school that was outside my neighbourhood and my group of friends

Now when did you start to get into music, not metal yet? What were some of the 1st bands you heard of?

RK: Growing up, my mom & dad were polar opposites, which is why they weren’t together all that long! But my mom would play a wide variety of stuff. There would be a lot of hippie shit like The Beatles & Grateful Dead, but some things like David Bowie, Queen, The Ramones, and The Clash. My dad was a little more straight-laced and mainstream, with a lot of oldies and Philly Soul. But I think it all shaped what I’ve become as a musician and person

Now when did you discover metal? What were some of the 1st bands you heard of? Do you still like any of them today?

RK: I started out with a lot of mainstream shit around 1983/84. I was 8/9 years old, a very impressionable age. That was the time MTV ruled, you’d see stuff like Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Judas Priest, alongside stuff like Culture Club, Duran Duran, and The Go-Gos. And I still listen to a lot of that til this day

Now when did you discover underground music? What were some of the 1st bands you heard and was it a style you took to right away?

RK: It had to be when I first freshman year of high school in 1990, I was out of my neighbourhood school and trying to find my place, the hair Metal was still being played, so to give a comparison, I was like the Stewart character on Beavis & Butthead, in my Slaughter, Def Leppard & Cinderella shirts, trying to get girls. There were some older kids who would be wearing shirts like Overkill, Sacred Reich, Slayer, Megadeth, and of course pre-Black Album Metallica. And that kinda drew me in even if I would be laughed off for looking like a tool then. Back in the days before the internet, you’d go to record shops and some of the artwork would catch your eye. So you go and dig and try to find something new. I’d read the lyrics & liner notes. I also knew someone older whose mom would watch my little sister, and I’d ask him what he was listening to, he (for better or worse) took me under his wing and I’d soon be discovering stuff and listening to a show called Rockers on 93.3 WMMR that was hosted by Ray Koob(side note I ended up dating his daughter for a good while after High School). I’d go to South Street in Philly, go to places like Tower Records, and right across the street was Rock & Roll Plus, and not far off South St & 4th St were places like Noise Pollution, Zipperhead, and (the original) JC Dobbs which had killer bands play there back in the day, so there was a lot to discover & take in, not just Thrash, but Death Metal, Punk & Hardcore. During the ensuing years, there would be plenty of underground shows at places like Pi Lam on U Penn’s campus, Stalag 13, Killtime, The Firenze, along with the First Unitarian Church.

Now at what point do you entertain the point of joining or putting together a band?

RK: Not long after 9th grade started, there were some guys in my part of the city that wanted to try to start a band, I had no instrumental skill, but was a decent singer, but that obviously went nowhere because I was more thinking of getting girls! But the spark was there, and would be in a few bands I’d jam with, but never really went anywhere.

Now how did the comings of Blasphemous come together?

RK: Fast forward a bunch of years, some failed bands, I met some guys, and we started a grind band called Grindshaft in 2002. That came and went by the start of 2003, but the guitarist wanted to do a Black Metal project and play drums. We ended up forming the roots of Blasphemous out of that!

So take me through how the band Blasphemous come to be. Did you go through many early member changes before you came to a steady line-up?

RK: After Grindshaft broke up, I and the guitarist Cezar (Poltergeist) decided to do something else. He decided he was gonna do the drums and we had a vision for what he wanted as far as what the sound was gonna be. So we had to find at least a guitarist, and we did Sean Clancy (SC Inferno). We get settled and writing, then Cezar ended up moving in early/mid-2004, but we did record our first song “Black Phoenix Flame” for a compilation called Pennsylvanian Hunger Vol 2, which didn’t see the light of day til 2005. In the meantime, we found a new drummer and eventually a bass player, and finally, a 2nd guitarist after we recorded our Storm Of Chaos demo

How was it decided you were gonna be the singer in the band? How do you feel you are as a singer? What are some of your favourite singers?

RK: Well I had no discernible instrumental talent so I was always a vocalist. I feel I’m a pretty solid vocalist, I can deliver some low guttural vocals along with the high raspy Black Metal style. As far as some of my favourites, I love the classic style of singers like Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, and Rob Halford. Then as I discovered more Death & Black Metal, I started to follow vocalists like David Vincent, Glen Benton, John Tardy, Lord Worm, Chuck Schuldiner, Abbath, Gaahl, Ihsahn,

Now back around when the band was first forming where did you get your fill from metal from?

RK: Back then there was the Relapse Records store right off of 4th & South so I’d go there after work at times, or go to Tower Records still.

What was the first metal arena show you saw?

RK: 1990, at The Spectrum, KISS was on the Hot In The Shade Tour with Slaughter opening.

Now, what was the first club show you saw? What was the club name and who were the bands?

RK: I started going to South St on a regular basis during my Freshman year and I’d sometimes go to JC Dobbs because they’d have all-age matinees and I got to see Goreaphobia, Incantation & Deceased. Not long after that I’d go to shows at places like Cell Block, the Trocadero, and TLA, and some shows in Church halls too.

Now how long was the band around before you recorded your debut demo called “Storm of Chaos”? Who plays the guitar on it? What was the response to it and what are your thoughts on it these days?

RK: We ended up recording the Storm Of Chaos demo in 2005. At this point we had a somewhat solid lineup, we had SC Inferno playing the guitar. And we had an old head Steve Raimer (Decrepit) As far as the response, we just recorded it so we could have something to show to promoters we had something to play. I wish we had a better studio with someone recording it that had a clue about recording Metal. And wish we had a 2nd guitarist when we recorded it.

What was your 1st live show like? What club did you play at and who did you play with?

RK: Our first show was in a basement in Philly in 2004, our original drummer had moved, and we found Brian McGowan (Lord Unknown). We played it as a 3 piece because we had no bassist yet. There were a couple of bands, one of the bands was called Stronghold, which eventually became Infernal Stronghold. In hindsight, I would have waited.

Now it took 3 years until you released a full-length. You also had 2 new guitar players on it. Where did you find them and why the 3 years wait in between releases?

RK: Well we eventually parted ways with Sean, he wasn’t working out and at this point, we moved practice spots from Philly to our other guitarist’s (Adam Hood, A-Bomb) house in Lindenwold NJ. We took time to play shows, refine our sound, and write as a 4 piece. Then we put an ad up because we needed someone who was more of a lead guitarist. My wife also had our 2nd son in 2007 too.

So how did you come up with the name and the logo? Are you aware that there are 5 other names with the same band name? Have any of them contacted you?

RK: Our founding drummer came up with the name, and we reached out to some guy Roger Mortus who did the initial logo, as you can see the logo has been revamped with every full length. As far as the other Blasphemous out there, none have contacted us, but there has been confusion between us and the one from Indonesia l. There’s also a video game called Blasphemous, yet no music from us, or the other Blasphemous.

So now your “Incineration of the Cult” release. Where was it recorded? How long did it take for the music and the lyrics to come together? Who in the band writes the music and the lyrics? I’m going to assume you write the lyrics. What are some of the things you guys like to write about?

RK: For the Incineration Of The Cult album we recorded it with our drummer Lord Unknown. At that time A-Bomb had written most of the material, but we all threw our own ideas since we’d all be in the room writing together. At the time the lyrics were very anti-Catholic, and Satanic. Coming from an upbringing having to go to Catholic School, and serving as an altar boy, there was definitely some stuff I held on to for a long time. There were some terrible nuns and priests around then, and the resentment and hatred stayed with me

Now did you get to play many live shows behind this release? Did you just play local or did you get to go out of the area, by that I mean NY, out towards Pittsburgh, PA, etc?

RK: At the time it was mostly local, we did some NYC & Baltimore shows. My kids were young still, and our drummer wasn’t huge on doing a lot of shows. We actually didn’t get to Pittsburgh til this year surprisingly

What was the overall response to your 2nd release like? Can you listen to it these days and do you play any songs off it live? Is it still available for purchase? Who did the cover art for it?

RK: It was a favourable response. The production was a little more in line with what I wanted, compared to the Storm Of Chaos demo. We still do play Catholicaust live but that was recently brought back into the set right before Covid. And the cover was done by some guy who went by Wretched Sketcher

Now in 2010, you hooked up with Grim Nocturnal Records, who released your next release called “Bearer of the Darkest Plagues”. Why this title? How did you end up hooking up with them and what was it like working with them?

RK: Slight correction, we worked with Grim Nocturnal for the Incineration Of The Cult. They were good to work with, but unfortunately, they folded before we were due to release “Bearer Of The Darkest Plagues”. So we were scrambling around, trying to find a label, but just decided to take a risk and do it ourselves. Deep down we are a DIY-style band, even to this day we don’t have a big PR & Merch hype machine. We haven’t worked with a huge label that deals with marketing bullshit.

Where did you record this release and how easy was it coming up with music and lyrics for this release?

RK: We did that album again with our drummer Lord Unknown. It was definitely a progression as far as writing the music & lyrics. Every member bought ideas, and as the theme is with Blasphemous, we had new blood on that album, Aavistus (Andrew Farace) was brought in on Lead Guitar, Decrepit, who wasn’t on the “Incineration Of The Cult” recording, was officially back on this release!

Who came up with the fantastic cover for this release? Now with Grim Nocturnal Records now closed is this release still for sale?

RK: If it is not, any chance some label or even yourselves will put it out? That cover was done by Drew Elliott, a phenomenal artist who’s done work with a bunch of great bands along with us. Unfortunately, both of those albums are out of print, but still available to digitally download through our Bandcamp page. Maybe we will do a limited reissue if possible. 2023 is the 20th anniversary of the founding of Blasphemous. So maybe we can get them reissued

Now I saw/read the band took a break in 2013 and came back in 2016. Now after your 2010 release did you play out live a lot? Did you go out of town to play shows? Was your following overall as a band getting larger?

RK: This is gonna be a long response. After Bearer Of The Darkest Plagues, we went into a great transition. After playing some shows, we parted ways with Decrepit. Lord Unknown decided to leave. We tried to find another drummer who ultimately didn’t work out. By that time Aavistus was doing his thing. We ended up finding 666 A.D. (Angelo Duca) to take the drum throne, he helped to bring in Evisceration (Harry Lannon) on lead guitars and found Aaxik (Jeff Babcock) to play bass. After doing some shows, we started to write, 666 A.D. and Evisceration brought great energy, but things weren’t exactly compatible between them and A-Bomb and Aaxik, they left, and at that point, with the material we were writing and such, I decided the whole Black Metal pseudonym thing had run it’s course. We brought in Chris Creta to be on rhythm guitars, and eventually Ian Bainbridge on Bass. We wrote & played more and the material we were playing was definitely connecting. Then Angelo decided to move to FL, but not before recording drum tracks for an album, that sadly never was finished. We brought in Mike Cherry to play the drums, after that.

Now Facebook was also starting to come around and YouTube and the internet were starting to become bigger, did you guys embrace these forms of things as something bands would have to do to get the word out?

RK: I think we adapted a bit. But I remember the days of sending physical music to promoters and labels. Now you have to make a strong visual impression online. Nowadays even Facebook isn’t the social media of choice, it’s about adapting to keep up with the Jones’s.

So what led to the band taking a break in 2013 or did you sort of break up, but you knew Ron that the band would be coming back in some way shape or form with either former members or new ones? Was it nasty at the time or just the morale of the band was low and it was decided to take a break?

RK: By that time, things had run their course for that era of Blasphemous. Harry & Chris wanted to do more, at that time I was in a transition between careers and dealing with my kids. Mike was about to have a kid not long after that. So I was fed up, I didn’t want to try to find new members who I’d feel would be a good fit. So Sept 2013 I pulled the plug. You could say my morale was low. I was frustrated we had an album’s worth of material that wouldn’t be heard.

Now in 2016, when the band decided to make a comeback of sorts, was it you Ron who got that ball rolling? Did you call all the members who played on your 2010 release to see if they wanted back? If you did, what did they say? Were any of the members from the 2010 release involved in round # 2 of the band?

RK: When I decided to reform in 2016, I was motivated to reform because the fire was still there, and to also give a giant “fuck you” to a couple of former members, who I was in another project within the time Blasphemous was inactive. I tried to hit up a couple of the guys from the last Blasphemous lineup, but by that point, Harry was in Cognitive, and Chris was in Corpse Hoarder. I eventually found the right group of guys who embraced the past but also wanted to write the style that fit. And who all collectively get along well with!

So we move onto 2018 and you release a full-length called “Emerging Through Fire” on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, which I personally think was a great idea seeing how you and the label are from Phila, PA. How did you end up hooking up with him and what was it like having a new release out there after 8 damn years?

RK: I and Mike have talked for a while about doing something. Mike is an excellent dude, as he says “No Huss”! The unfinished album from 2013 would have likely been with HPGD if it wasn’t for the hiatus. And it felt great to get it out, a lot of frustrations were let out.

Now, where was this recorded and how did the songs for it come together? How did you come up with the CD title and the artwork for it? How was it working with Mike since he was from the same city?

RK: We recorded this with our drummer Mark Vizza at Fermentation Recordings (how lucky have we been to have a drummer that can record us). The songwriting was different than in the past. Before it would be ideas all come from jams inside the room. Now it’s the ideas Hal or Steve would record at home and send to us with the drums programmed, and the rest of us would work it and then practice them together. I was going through a lot of personal stuff, even up until I was recording my vocals in the studio. So the title came from the song itself “Emerging Through Fire” and it seemed fitting coming back from all the years away, and coming back even better than before. The artwork was done by Karl Dahmer of Dahmer Art. Basically, I presented the idea and he nailed it. And dealing with Mike is easy. Totally straight up, zero bullshit!

Do you think the band’s overall style has changed much, even with all new members from your early releases up until this one?

RK: I don’t feel it’s changed too much, aside from the production. Now if you factored in where we left off in 2013, it’s a little different because that was more technical than the albums we’ve recorded. That was a bit of a curveball.

Did you get to play many live shows to support the release and how do you think you guys are as a live band?

RK: Yeah, that was the 1st time we actually did a tour as a band. Got to play places we have never been. I feel we’re pretty tight to live. We drill these songs to the point where we can play them in our sleep.

What are some of the great live bands you have seen and what has been the farthest you travelled to go see a show?

RK: Hands down, Iron Maiden has been the best live band I’ve ever seen. Time & time again the musicianship & the theatrics. Can never go wrong with one of the all-time greats. As far as Death & Black Metal go, Immolation, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Watain, and Mayhem. The tightness that comes from years of being together. As far as travelling for a show, one of the recent ones was going to NYC with my 15-year-old son to see Immolation, Demolition Hammer, Mortician, Black Anvil, and Funeral Leech. Living in the Philly area, it’s easy to get to NYC, Baltimore/DC, and even places like Boston.

“To someone who has not heard the band, what would you say you sound like? The best way I’d describe us is a mix of Morbid Angel, Deicide, Belphegor, and Watain. Someone compared us to Angelcorpse and I was honoured by that!!”

In a typical week, how much time do you spend doing band-related stuff?

RK: It all depends, there are lyric ideas that come out of nowhere, I’ll post on social media, we generally practice once a week. Plus there’s a group chat we have that can go on a bit, sometimes it’s ball-busting, but it’s all from a good place.

Are you pretty much tight with the other members of the band?

RK: Absolutely! When I started to reform Blasphemous, I wanted people I could hang out with and be around outside of practice. We get together regularly or go out after practice. we’ll also hang out and cook out or meet at a brewery for beers.

Why do you think it is you have a tough time finding a good bass player to stay in the band?

RK: Every band has an Achilles heel. And it really seems to be bass. But our last bassist, Josh ended up getting a good career opportunity out of the area. So we hated to see him leave. But we found Dan Lee and he fit in so well with us. It felt natural when he came in.

Now, what did do from 2018 until 2022, when your brand new EP came out?

RK: 2018 & 2019 were dedicated to shows & some writing. Then 2020 came, Josh moved away and then Covid hit. And my job is in a hospital and I got to be up close to it. We found Dan and got him up to speed with our songs. Then we decided to do the EP because it was nearly 4 years since the last album, and we wanted to remind people we’re still here. And it also helped us to break in Dan too!

I saw one of your sons at the Nunslaughter show we were both at. What does your wife think of the band and has she seen you live?

RK: She’s been there since day one. It’s not totally her thing but she does come out more now the kids are older.

So now COVID hits. I’m sure that was a big setback for the band as well as everybody in music. What did you do during this time?

RK: I worked my ass off during COVID as an essential employee. It was probably one of the hardest things to handle. One positive was being able to learn to brew my own beer.

Funny question, do the people at the hospital you work at, know you’re in a black metal band ha ha?

RK: At first I kept that part quiet except for a few people. But my sister-in-law works in the same hospital, and was on my unit one day a few years back pre-Covid. And she told some of the people on my floor that I was in a band. So word got out.

So now that COVID is finally over for the most part, when did you start to get working on your new EP that came out not so long ago?

RK: We took time getting the rust off. We did a show last September which ended up being Dan’s first show with us. And finally in the winter recorded the EP. This recording was a little different. For the title track, Mark did the drums at his spot, and then the rest of us recorded with AJ Viana(Cognitive/Hath). It was a new experience for us to have an outsider involved in the process!

I assume you released an EP because you wanted to have some new music out, am I right?

RK: Pretty much, it’s been close to 4 years since Emerging Through Fire.

Were the new songs pretty much ready to go and you went in and you recorded them? Are any songs left over from these sessions? Why the title “Eternal Misanthropy”? Who did the cover for it?

RK: Well “Eternal Misanthropy” was a slightly reworked song that we wrote back in 2011-2012 but never recorded. It was the era where we still had A-Bomb, but also had Harry too, so when A-Bomb left, that song was on the chopping block. Hal came across it one day. Adjusted some parts, cut out the excessive leads, and changed some of the lyrics to give it some punch. The rest of the EP was all live in the studio where we practice!

If you could record say any 3 cover tunes, what would the songs be and why?

RK: 1st would be Nuclear Assault’s “Hang The Pope”, we covered it back in the day, but never recorded it. Next, would be Christraping Black Metal by Marduk. My third one would be a curveball for some people, and it’s “The Eliminator” by Agnostic Front. It’s a very intense song. Yeah, they’re the godfathers of Hardcore, but it’s a very thrashy song too!

How has the response been to it so far and how come you didn’t work with Mike for this release? If there any chance you will work with him again in the future?

RK: It’s been great despite it being a limited release. Mike had a busy release schedule with HPGD, plus we wanted to do a cassette release. So we hooked up with Unchained Tapes and Born For Burning who are both locally based and did a limited run of Tapes and CDs respectively. And it turned out to be a solid move. But I’m sure there’s a chance we could work with HPGD again.

Have any overseas labels contacted you about releasing it overseas maybe on cassette, which seems to be a big thing these days?

RK: Would be nice to get something overseas at some point. I definitely want to do a vinyl release with our next full-length. But we haven’t been approached by any overseas labels yet

You recently went out and did a mini-tour. How did that go and did you make any money, lose money (fuckin gas prices) or break even? How were the crowds for the shows?

RK: The crowds were cool. Sold a good chunk of merch. Had people ask us to sign stuff too, which was awesome! We pretty much broke even because we’re not greedy and don’t demand huge guarantees. But the bottom line is we all had fun playing places we never played before.

There were 4 shows I believe. Tell me a bit about each one.

RK: Each date we did with IATT out of Philly, Pittsburgh was in a coffee spot, but not like your stereotypical coffee place. It was an old bank that was repurposed as a music venue/coffee spot. The lighting and design gave it’s a dark atmosphere. Youngstown, OH was at Westside Bowl which is a bowling alley but has a couple of stages for live music, and also a little record shop. We played Buffalo, and got to explore Niagara Falls beforehand, Mohawk Place may have been the best-sounding and best-attended show of the tour. Seems like every time we’ve gone to Buffalo or Rochester you get some die-hards that show love for the music!! And we come home to Philly. Probably the longest and weirdest drive we had. And maybe our drunkest show, because it was the only show we ended up closing. I know I was drunk, running on fumes with my voice, smashed a crucifix, and still have everything we had and delivered the goods!

Now, what are your plans heading into 2023? How soon would you like to see a new product come out even though an EP just came out?

RK: Hopefully by summertime. We’re gonna tighten up all the new stuff we have written until it haunts us all in our sleep.

So there are lots of small labels out there. It would be cool to talk to them about a possible re-release of your older stuff minus the album you did with Mike correct? I also assume you have the originals of all your releases?

RK: I think the originals are buried somewhere in my house. But as we are rapidly coming up on the 20th anniversary it would be a treat to do something to celebrate that milestone!

So do you think you finally have a steady line-up?

RK: Oh without a doubt! Aside from bass, we’ve been the same for the past six years. At this point, Dan has been with us since the middle of 2020. I think this is the Blasphemous lineup

So please plug any and all social media sites you have. Do you still have any tour shirts left and what releases do you have for sale?

We’re on all the socials,
FB- facebook.com/blasphemousmetal
Instagram- instagram.com/blasphemous_official
Twitter- @blasphemousband
Bandcamp- blasphemousphilly.Bandcamp.com

Ron, horns up for this fantastic interview, any last words to wrap this up?

RK: Thanks Chris, it’s been a pleasure going back down memory lane. Never realized how much I could recall after nearly 20 years. Also, check out Death Sculpted Productions. That’s the Promotio company Hal & I have. We book underground metal shows in the Philly area. Much respect for you Chris!!!

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