Chat with Chris Hawkins from 90’s Thrash Metal Band Midian

Chris Hawkins was the drummer for an early 90’s thrash metal band called Midian and before that, a thrash metal band named Mercenari. I decided to take a trip down memory lane with him and also to see what he is up to these days:

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

CH: I was born in Washington D.C. My father was in the Air Force. We live there for a year, then moved to New Jersey. Been a Jersey boy ever since.

What sort of kid were you growing up and what did you want to be when you were growing up?

C.H. I was your typical kid. Played sports, mostly baseball. Full of piss and vinegar. Had a bad poor parents ha ha. Got into trouble…quite a bit. What did I want to do when I grew up?? Shit…I don’t really remember. Oh wait, it’s coming to me. One…a cartographer. Love maps, especially the National Geographic maps back then. Loved the way they were designed and drawn. Still have a few from the 70’s/ early 80’s. And two..a palaeontologist. Was a dinosaur maniac, and still am. Knew all the species, time periods, you name it. But when music entered my life, everything else didn’t matter.

When did music start to enter your life and what were some early bands that you listened to whether it be by the radio or by the TV?

CH: Music entered my life as a young child. My father Glenn was a musician and music fan. There was music always playing at home. Doo Woop, classic rock ’n’ roll, jazz you name it. Some of the first bands that made an impact on me were, what I called “The Trifecta Of Rock”: Mountain, Grand Funk and Steppenwolf. Holy shit…these bands were amazing. I memorized all the tunes, the band’s discographies, line-ups. Never gets old my friend. Then, later on, Kiss entered my life, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, Steve Miller Band. I’m a child of the ’70s…what a great time to be alive.

What sort of teenager were you? Were you into rock n roll or metal music at this time? Did you watch MTV a lot as that was a huge thing in the ’80s?

CH: I was a quiet teenager. Yeah, I mellowed out a bit…just a bit lol. At this time, heavy metal came into my life. Went from Kiss, Led Zeppelin to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot then a few years later into the thrash scene.

In the beginning, I watched MTV. That’s how I discovered metal in the early ’80s. There were no metal stations that I knew of that played heavy metal, so MTV was it for me. Remember watching Def Leppard videos off the “High ’N’ Dry” album. Killer. Judas Priest ”Breaking The Law”, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, Quiet Riot ”Metal Health”, Twisted Sister ”We’re Not Gonna Take It”, ah man, the list goes on.

Now at what time did you discover the wonderful world of heavy metal? What were some of the first bands that you heard? Did you hear some of them through that awesome radio station at the time WSOU that I listened to a lot when I was up visiting in North Jersey? (I live in south jersey-Chris)

CH: Since I was into Kiss, Zeppelin, Purple…rock was mostly my genre of choice, but the metal didn’t creep in until…oh…1981, 82. First bands I remember hearing at that time were, Priest, Maiden, Quiet Riot, Krokus, Twisted Sister, Rough Cutt, Def Leppard. Thrash, death metal came a few years later with Venom, Slayer, Metallica, Possessed, Bathory, Hellhammer, then Celtic Frost soon after that.

I didn’t listen to the radio too much. Not till 1986 with WSOU’s Radio Armageddon with Gene Khourey and Don Kaye and of course WRTN Midnite Metal with Matt O’ Shauhnessy. These stations introduced me to a new world of metal bands. I couldn’t keep up with the names ha ha. Used to record these shows and if I liked the band, I went out and bought the LP or cassette. Those were the days. I do miss them terribly. (me too-Chris)

Now when did you start to discover the incredible world of underground metal? What were some of the 1st bands that you heard? Are you still fans of those bands these days?

CH: Like I previous mentioned WSOU and WRTN informed me a lot about the underground metal scene. Used to record the shows, and by the way, I still have these tapes. I’ll never part with them. They go in the box with me LOL. The bands I first heard back then that stuck with me were Sacrifice, Voivod, Sepultura, Death, Deathrow, Infernal Majesty, Exumer, Annihilator, Razor, Cyclone, Angel Dust and so on. Good list right? And yes…I still listen to their music. Almost on a weekly basis. The good stuff stays with you.

I know you’re a drummer. So what made you decide on playing the drums? Who are some of your favourite drummers? Did you take lessons or self-taught?

CH: John Bonham was the reason I wanted to play the drums. 100% the reason. One day I saw the drum solo from “The Song Remains The Same” on TV and that was it. Went out and bought the back catalogue. Already had the first album on cassette and the second album on vinyl so picked up the rest in time and started to learn their songs.

Shit…that’s a tough one. There are so many drummers I listen to. But the main ones that influenced me were Don Brewer from Grand Funk Railroad, Corky Laing from Mountain, Peter Criss, Dennis Chambers (Funkadelic, Santana), Jerry Edmonton from Steppenwolf, Clive Burr, Dave Lombardo and the list goes on.

Yep…I’m a self-taught drummer. Never had any formal lessons. If I had any questions, I asked a local drummer for help on certain things. Taught myself had to read music. Took a while, but I got it. Since my father was a musician, he had plenty of books on reading, theory, you name it. Came in handy.

Now NJ in the ’80s had an incredible amount of great record stores like Rock n Roll Heaven and Vintage Vinyl (which is still open) to name 2. Have you had a chance to visit either one or any in NY that were open like Slipped Disc?

CH: No, I never ventured into NYC at the time. I had a few local spots near where I lived to buy my metal. One was Music Unlimited in Elmwood Park which is gone now, and Music Connection also in Elmwood Park. That store is still around. Very cool place. Plenty of vinyl, metal t-shirts and collectables. Look them up.

What was the first metal concert you went to and what was the first underground metal concert you went to?

CH: One of the first gigs I went to, now mind you I wasn’t driving yet, was at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. It was on my 16th birthday. Saw Raven, Slayer during the Reign in Blood Tour with TJ Scaglione on drums opening for W.A.S.P. Very cool gig. I enjoyed all three bands. But I was there for Slayer of course. My father dropped me off, then picked me up after. Also, saw Hades, Flotsam and Jetsam open for Carnivore in 1987 at L’amour in Brooklyn. That was a great gig. A band I was in at the time went together. One lesson I learned…NY pizza and beer…not a good combination. Boy did I pay for it when I got home ha ha.

Before you ended up in a band, did you know much about tape trading and fanzines which were in full swing by the later part of the 80’s?

CH: No I didn’t. It wasn’t till 1989 that I found out about tape trading. Fanzines…yes. Been reading a few at the time like Blackthorn, Kick-Ass, Metal Forces. My band at the time Mercenari made a demo and I contacted bands through fanzines to trade demos. Got some great demos from trading with bands back then. Kids today will never experience waiting for the mail to see if you got anything like fanzines, demo tapes, fan mail you name it. Today it’s a push of a button, download, stream, Amazon. I get it. It is convenient. I do it too, but sometimes I miss the old days.

Now how did the coming of Demonic Force come together? Did you go through many members and did you ever record anything or play many gigs under that name? How did you come up with that name?

CH: If my memory serves me correctly, I found an ad in the EC Rocker (local music paper) about a metal band looking for a drummer. Saw the list of bands these guys were into, so I called and spoke to a guitarist named Arnold Marfoglia. Spoke a while, talked about our influences, the usual phone conversation. Set up a jam, played a few covers, like “Now Your Ships Are Burned” by Yngwie Malmsteen, a few King Diamond tunes and we clicked. The bassist Mark Greenberg wasn’t there at first, but we met later, and same deal…we jammed a bit, gelled, and the band was formed. We decided to keep it a trio.

No, the lineup never changed. Just Arnold, Mark and me. The only thing we officially recorded was a four-song demo off a Tascam 4 Track in 1988. Songs are Nature’s Warning, Dark Future which was re-recorded on the Mercenari 1989 demo. Cruel and instrumental and Demonic Force.

We played at a few backyard parties and another gig I can remember also is we opened up for the female metal band Meanstreak at a club in Rockland County, NY in 1988. Wasn’t long after, the band split up. Arnold and I decided to go into a “thrashier” style and so began the formation of Mercenari. Mark wanted to go more into a Goth Rock style. It was fun when it lasted. I think Arnold came up with the name…don’t remember. I’m old.

Were you yourself going to many shows yourself at this time as there were many clubs in North Jersey and even in NY having shows every weekend? What were some shows that you went to?

CH: Oh yeah…absolutely. Had a few clubs I haunted back then. Studio One in Newark, The China Club in Hillsdale, NJ, Obsessions in Randolph, NJ, Escapades in Jersey City. Plus big shows at The Capitol Theater, and the Brendan Byrne Arena (remember that?) at the Meadowlands. (yup I do-Chris)

How about this, I’ll name the bands that I can remember that I saw back in the day…cool lol? Metallica opening for Ozzy in 1986, Metallica on the AJFA, Black album tours, Dokken/Judas Priest..Turbo Tour at the Meadowlands, Celtic Frost, Exodus, Anthrax at the Capitol, Metal Church opening for Metallica 1987 at the Capitol. Overkill in the ’80s, Fear Factory first album show, Cannibal Corpse..The Bleeding Tour at Studio One, Cynic Focus Tour at Studio One, Entombed/Anacrusis/Cathedral/Mercyful Fate at Studio One. Voivod in the ’80s, Kix Blow My Fuse Tour at Studio One, there are so many my friend.

So why the name change from Demonic Force (which I kinda like-Chris) to Mercenari, which lasted only 2 years?

CH: Demonic Force was the three of us, so once we split up, we decided a new beginning means a new name for our new band. Yeah…I agree, Demonic Force was a cool name, Chris.

Who came up with the name Mercenari and was it basically the same line-up as Demonic Force?

CH: Arnold came up with the name. He wanted it to have a military vibe to the name. I had no arguments about it, I liked the name. Yep…it was the two of us. And we took two songs with us from the Demonic Force demo. Made them sound heavier.

Now I saw you did a “promo demo” and “1989 demo” (both released in 1989). Is that the only thing you released under the Mercenari name? Did the sound of the band change much from Demonic Force to Mercenari?

CH: Yes…Mercenari technically recorded only one demo. The 1989 demo had our first vocalist Alex Guider on it. Plus that version featured the re-recorded Demonic Force songs “Nature’s Warning and “Dark Future”. After Alex left we auditioned Parasyte vocalist Dean Martinetti and we loved his voice. Melodic, brutal, great lyric ideas, plus he was a funny mofo lol. He fit perfectly. So after a month of joining, we went back and re-recorded the vocals from the demo. That became the 1989 Promo Demo. We also decided to omit the Demonic Force tunes from the demo. We felt the songs were weak and didn’t fit Dean’s voice. We even dropped those songs from our set list. Only regret we have is we rushed Dean into the studio to record his vocal tracks. It was a rush job. Dean did a great job, but if we would’ve waited a little longer, he would’ve done a better job. It’s history now, so enjoy the music.

Now how did coming of the songs on your 1989 demo/promo come together? How long were you in the studio for this release and around how much money did you spend on it? Did these songs end up on that double CD comp that came out in 2010? (we will get to that later-Chris)

CH: The main songwriters were Arnold Marfoglia (guitar), Xavier “OJ” Ojeda (guitar), and Alex Guider (vocalist). Gregg Moench (bass) and I contributed ideas here and there. We rehearsed in my basement two or three times a week and within a few months, all six songs on the demo were put together.

Total studio time was about a month. We recorded all six songs a weekend here and there, mixed, and there was a remix too. Yeah…I say a month it was completed. Total $$$….have no idea. If I have to guess $500, $600?? It was a long time ago. Don’t remember the cost. Yes sir, the 1989 Demo, 1989 Promo were on the Thrashology CD back in 2010.

This demo, was it done with professional tapes or did you dub them from tape to tape like a lot of other bands were doing at the time?

CH: I had a few master copies on cassette. I used one to dub copies …..over and over and over again ha ha. As a matter of fact, the one copy I have is one of those master tapes. Still sounds killer. I play it once in a blue moon for nostalgia sake. Makes me smile.

Now did you play many shows while you were under the Mercenari name? Did you send your demo out to many fanzines at the time and if so, what was the feedback like?

CH: Not too many. Perhaps 10 or so. Alex quit first after a few shows. Got Dean a month later, played a few more than Arnold quit. Once that happened we decided to stay a four-piece and change the band name. And indeed we did to Midian.

Yes, we did. Only a handful like Eternal Darkness, Death Vomit, ARRRGGHHHH and a few others. The reviews were mixed. Some like our music, some didn’t like the vocals, some didn’t like both. It happens. Can’t make everyone happy. As I got older and listened to the Mercenari demo even the Midian stuff, I can hear what people mentioned in their reviews. I get it; we were a young band with little experience. The band learned from our mistakes. Grew up and released some killer music before the band split up. In the end, I love the songs. Those were great days. Never gets old too me.

What are some memories you have of the band during the time of the band being around as Mercenari? Are there any live videos lying around?

CH: I remember our first gig at Obsessions in Randolph, NJ. It was a good night. We drew a big crowd. Didn’t play that tight. Nerves. You know. First gig, lots of people. I played the songs ten times faster ha-ha. Drummer adrenaline and nervous. By the fourth song, I was ok. It was my first gig at a real big club. In addition, never played in front of so many people. There is a video of that gig on YouTube. Mercenary Obsessions 1989. It is there. I do believe there is one other Mercenary gig on video. Gig from Escapades in Jersey City. It was a Halloween gig. That show we had a fill-in singer Robert Estevez aka “LT”. It is so funny…we play an intro, the Halloween movie theme, and then LT comes out on stage with a huge wooden sword. We were cracking up once he hit the stage with that sword. Surprised me with that thing lol. That is on YouTube. Check it out.

Now were you getting much mail at this time? How much time was spent doing band related stuff? At the time, with thrash metal being popular in the underground, did you think you guys were going to get a record deal?

CH: Absolutely. From all over the world. To an 18-year-old kid, it was unreal. Still have all the Mercenari/Midian fan mail in one of those plastic tubs. I save everything, Chris.

Spent a lot of time sending out tapes, writing to bands and fanzines. Loved it. Came home from work, ate, then did my thing. Used to go to Sam Goody and buy boxes of blank tapes, and couple of times a week I dedicated my time to make copies of the demo. In addition, no, no fast speed dubbing. Normal speed. I did not mind.

We were hoping to get a record deal, but the band was short-lived. Once we changed the band’s name to Midian, then we got more serious about getting a record deal. Then the work began.

Now what event or events let you change the band name from Mercenary to Midian? How did you come up with the name Midian?

CH: For one, Arnold left the band. He came up with the name Mercenary. Once he split, we decided to start fresh. In addition, two, there were bands out there with the same name. One from California, one from Texas, and one in Europe and I am sure there were more. It was ridiculous. One night Dean and I went to go, see the movie Night breed. By the middle of the movie, Dean turns to me and asks, “You like the name Midian?” I said yes. By the end of the movie, we decided to name the band Midian. Pitched it to the other people, they loved it and there you go. Midian was born. That was in 1990.

Now, how soon after the name change did you go and start work on your 1st demo under the Midian name, which is “The Last War”.

CH: A few songs from the “Last War” demo were written while we were still called Mercenari. “Malfurious Wrath”, and “Suicide Pact” were going to be on the next Mercenari demo. But Arnold left soon after, and we changed the band’s name. These songs were officially Midian’s first songs. Than “Last War” and ‘One of Dissadence” followed.

Where was this demo recorded at and around how much time did you spend in the studio? Were all the songs pretty much ready to go right before you went in?

CH: We recorded this demo as well as the Mercenari demo at a studio in my town called Clearcut Studios. Many local punk and metal bands recorded there. The studio doesn’t exist anymore. Again…I don’t how much money we spent on the recording. A few hundred??? Don’t remember. Yes, we were prepared and ready to go. This time I was more relaxed in the studio. On the Mercenari demo, I was really nervous. The first time in a real big studio can be intimidating. I’m very happy with everyone’s performances. It came out killer.

Now who did the cover and came up with a logo for the band? Were these professionally done say at Disc Makers or Kinko’s or did you do it the DIY way and use a dual cassette player and tape them tape to tape?

CH: The cover was designed by Joesph Michael Linsner of “Cry For Dawn” fame. Those into comics/horror comics know who he is. We met him at a horror convention back in 1990. Asked if he’d be interested and for his rate which was $500. He did a fantastic job. The cover came out amazing. Yep…you got it, we had the tapes professionally duplicated at Disc Makers. Cost us an arm and a leg, but we did. “The Last War” was special to us and we were proud of it. Plus, we wanted to draw attention so the tape had to look and sound good. It sure did. The only problem we had money only to get the tapes made, only the tapes. No covers. We called in some favours, and used a friends printing facility to make the covers.

I know you sent it out to fanzines because I got a copy to review at the time. Did you sent it out to many other fanzines and if so what was the reaction/reviews like from them?

CH: We sure did. A bunch. In fact, I still have the list of all the zines we sent Mercenari/Midian demos too. The reaction was the same as the Mercenari demo. Some great reviews, some poor, some so so. And by the way, thank you Chris all the support back then and now. Very happy you’re still out there promoting, reviewing metal bands. Keep it alive. (till I’m 6 feet under-Chris)

Did you have a manager by chance and did you send any demos out to any of the indie labels around at the time in the hopes of getting a record deal?

CH: We did very briefly. Platinum Productions. I forgot the individual’s name. He was ok at first. But looking back, he didn’t know how to market us. We were his only thrash/metal band. The other artists on his roster were hair metal, keyboard-oriented rock bands. We did a showcase for Atlantic Records once. That was a weird gig. Here we are playing with a few bands this guy managed. We stuck out like a sore toe. We played great. Atlantic liked us. They told us to ditch our singer Dean Martinetti in order to get a possible deal. We didn’t. Dean was a fantastic frontman, so why would we get rid of him? We told our so-called manager no. One thing led to another, told him to bite our banana’s and that was it. We never had any other management after. We did things ourselves.

Now were you playing outlive a lot and did you have a decent fan base up in NJ as there were plenty of clubs up in North Jersey such as Studio 1, Escapades, Club Bene, City Gardens, The Show Place, etc, not to mention clubs in NY?

CH: We did have a loyal fan base. Studio One and Escapades did very well. More Northern New Jersey clubs. The China Club in Hillsdale, NJ, Obsessions in Randolph, NJ. We never played City Gardens or The Show Place. We played Club Bene as Mercenari, never as Midian. We never played in NYC. World Stage in Spring Valley, NY was a great place. We opened for Pantera there.

The next year you were right back in action as you released another demo called “First Impression”. Was this released to the public as the picture I saw, just saw a TDK cover with song titles on it?

CH: At first, this was an industry demo only. Zines, radio, labels, management companies. After some time we were going to release it. It was the band’s heaviest recording yet and we were extremely happy with it. Around this time there was band turmoil. Band members were forming side projects. The focus was fading. And also if you remember, the grunge scene was starting to boom. Again we heard back from labels, and same situation. Ditch your singer or he needs to sing heavier since the Roadrunner/RC death metal bands were out like Suffocation, Deicide. Or we needed to go in the grunge direction. We couldn’t win. This weighed heavy on our vocalist Dean. He felt horrible. Dean thought we were going to kick him out, which we assured him we weren’t. So in the end, he quit. Guitarist Arnold Marfoglia, Kevin Finnen and I put together a new band called Facing God. Plus we got old Mercenari vocalist Alex Guider and local bassist Brian Sabella on bass. The “First Impression” demo never got a proper release till 2010 when it appeared on the Thrashology CD. Only a handful of people have that demo tape.

If this was a public demo, what was the reaction like to it? Did people like it just as much as your previous demo or less than your previous demo?

CH: Whatever reaction we got press-wise was mostly positive. It was a step forward.
It was 50/50. Some fans like “The Last War” better, some liked “First Impressions” better. Shit…some people like the Mercenari demo with Alex Guider better. To each their own.

Did you play many shows to support this demo? Did you send the demo out to many record companies in the hopes of getting a deal?

CH: Played only a few gigs in 1991. One was the Pantera show. That was our biggest one. Few more in the Dutchess County, NY area since three band members were living in upstate NY. Few in the Scranton, PA area as well. Not too many Jersey gigs at the time.

I believe only Roadrunner Records heard the “First Impression” demo. Same bullshit. Tell your singer to sing heavier or the band to drop him to get a contract. Amazing right?

Looking back do you think by 1991, with Metallica losing its thrash roots, thrash bands slowing down because they were on major labels, death metal becoming a big thing in the underground, that Midian kinda got lost in the shuffle so to speak?

CH: We sure did and we weren’t the only ones. Many bands did. Even the hair metal band lost out with what was happening at that time. Grunge was the biggest reason why metal bands were fading away. The thing I hated was metal bands were trying to go Grunge to fit in. I admit it, Midian was too. If you listen to the Thrashology CD, the very last song on it “Behind The Lie”….that was the last song Midian ever wrote. You can tell we were going for the Grunge thing. Didn’t sound like us anymore. Wasn’t a fan of that song to be honest. Later on, it appeared on the Facing God demo.

So now how was the morale of the band around then? The underground scene was very strong, but death metal bands were being signed by a lot of labels at this time. I know you had have noticed this.

CH: At first, everyone was cool. Morale was high. We just recorded a killer second demo. The gigs were fun and drew big crowds. I stated earlier, opening for Pantera was our high point. Played in from of a thousand people. No lie. We sold 250 tickets to our friends and fans so they saw us and the rest were curious folks. It started going south when labels kept telling us to get rid of our vocalist Dean. It got to him so he quit. Then I and two other members formed a new band.

Oh yeah…Roadrunner/Roadracer/RC Records were putting out killer bands. From 1989 till 1991 the releases that were coming out…my God…amazing. Obituary…Cause Of Death, Malevolent Creation…The Ten Commandments, Pestilence…Consuming Impulse. Ouch lol.

How soon after the band’s 2nd demo did the band break up or was it just a parting of the ways so to speak?

CH: Maybe four or five months. Dean quit. So that was it. Soon after, Arnold, Kevin and I formed Facing God.

Were you sad to see the band go? Did you play the last farewell gig so to speak? Did you stay in touch with the other members even after the band broke up/parted ways?

CH: I was sad to Midian go. We had more music in us. Plus labels were finally noticing us. And of course, this was happening after we broke up. Just our luck lol.

Nope…no farewell gigs. Once we broke up…that was it

I sure do. I keep in touch with members of all band’s I played in. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, I talk to, text or Facebook former bandmates. These guys weren’t just bandmates, they were my friends. Sure, we disagreed in the past, it happens in bands, but I don’t hold any grudges. I wasn’t an angel either when I was younger. I remember some of the arguments.

Now Chris, did you still go to shows, go to record stores and follow the underground at all? Now even though you were in a thrash metal band, what did you think of death metal as a genre?

CH: Yes to the second and third parts of your question. With Covid-19 out there and living with someone with a compromised immune system, no shows for me. Can’t afford to get sick and definitely can’t get my girl sick. Maybe when things calm down, I will. I’ve been unemployed for a while now, and since I’ve been home looking for work, one thing that I’ve been doing more of is going to record shops. That’s my “me” time. There are a few in the area I visit. Music Connections, Sound Exchange, Vintage Vinyl. There are a few others I’ve yet to visit. Hopefully, soon I will. Looking for work is my focus.

Thank God for the death metal genre and its sub-genres. It’s an important genre of music in my opinion. I embrace its evolution from then to now. You know the names, the history. Just as thrash was an important evolution of heavy metal, so was death metal. It’s definitely stepped up in the last 20 years. Necrophagist, Decapitated, Nile, Extol, There are so many. Believe me, I never get bored. Every day I discover a new band, or I go revisit a band’s back catalogue. I play in a death metal band now. Beyond Shadows. There you go…the genre continues on.

Now I know you went and played the drums for a few other bands after the Midian breakup, were any of the metal bands at all?

CH: Yep. The bands worth mentioning were Gomez’s Childhood (1994-1997) which was a mix of hardcore and metal, Child (2001)…hard rock/metal, The Binary Code (2005)..technical death metal, Ghetto (2007) with Danny Gomez of Gothic Slam fame…metal. And now, Beyond Shadows (2018-)…melodic death metal. The best music I’ve ever been a part of, and the most challenging music I’ve ever recorded, no doubt.

Now in 2010 Area Death Productions released a 2-CD set of all your demos, some live stuff and 3 live videos on that release. What events led up to the release of this and is it still for sale by chance?

CH: Around that time, I’ve seen labels starting to release demo anthologies of 80’s metal bands more and more. And I felt Midian should have a CD of all the demos as well. Contacted a few labels about taking the project on, but had no bites. I couldn’t afford to put it out myself, so no dice on that. Someone mentioned to me this label in China called Area Death Productions. At first, I wasn’t on board. China? I thought it’s going to cost a fortune for someone to buy a single CD with shipping, and how long will it take that person to get their CD and will it arrive damaged. Heard horror stories about people ordering LP’s/CD’s from Asia. Damaged, lost items, bootlegs, taking months and months to get their product..nope…I’ll pass. But after emailing the owner Wang a few times and seeing the label’s back catalogue, I decided to work with them. And thank God I did. The CD came out great. It sold well. I received copies to sell and sold them out. Got some great reviews from the press. And to think I almost passed on the whole thing. It’s still available through the label online. Also, I’ve seen copies on Ebay, Discogs, Amazon. But if you want a physical copy, try the label. Also…last year, I released the band’s discography digitally. Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Deezer, Tidal…the whole Thrashology release is on these sites if you’re into the digital format. Hopefully one day a US label will reissue the Midian music. Would like to have a home label to put it out.

Did the ex-members know about this and did they give their blessings so to speak on it and what was it like for you to have the finished product in your hand? Looking back did they do a good job on it? Do you have any idea on sales by chance?

CH: Yes they did. Some were on board and a few others could give a shit. Those who did give a shit, I gave them copies to sell and if they did, cool. Hope they kept a copy or two for themselves. Area Death Productions did a fantastic job on the CD. They did something cool. All the Midian demos were already mastered, but the label remastered the Mercenari demos and didn’t charge me extra for it. They felt the master of the Mercenari demos was too “bassey”, so they EQ’ed it and made it sound amazing.

I received 250 copies of the CD. 30 were for press/radio. Kept a few copies for me. Gave the former members their copies. So I sold on my end…175 copies?? Maybe 180? Don’t know the exact numbers. Only 1000 copies were pressed. And the last time I spoke to someone from the label, copies were still available.

Now I saw the band briefly re-united from 2010 to 2012. Did you play any live shows to support this 2 cd release? If so, how did they go as the music scene had changed a ton since the early 90’s especially when it came to clubs and live shows, etc in NJ?

CH: It was a brief reunion. But it wasn’t a true reunion. I was the only original member. Dean lives in California, OJ lived in Texas at the time, none of the other guys wanted to do it. As I was told, “it’s in the past, why bother, who cares”. I moved on and found new members. Daniel, one of the guitarists plays in Beyond Shadows with me. Then you had Mike Vittoria on bass and vocals, and Sam Agnew on guitar. They worked hard and learned all the songs I wanted to play live. We did one gig only. It went very well. The guys played their asses off and were very proud. Soon after I was working on more gigs for the summer and fall. But honestly, after that gig, I felt the energy, the brutality, the vibe wasn’t there. Felt like I was in a Midian cover band. Just didn’t have that spark. Maybe I was judging too early, and thinking about it now, I did. Wasn’t into it. I needed the original members…it’s the only way it could work. The new guys were great musicians, but it wasn’t going to work out in my head. I told the band I was taking a break. Told them to work on certain songs and when I’m ready, we’ll practice and tighten them up. Mike soon after joined a new band, Daniel was going to Europe to record music with his project, Sam was in college and working on his degree. And that was it. Midian was done once again and I was relieved. I know I didn’t handle things the right way. Wasn’t direct and honest with the guys. Not proud of my behaviour. But I did grow and learn from the experience.

CF: If you could turn back the clock and do things differently, what are some things you would do differently?

CH: With me personally? I would’ve cut off all my hair in high school, go to college or maybe would’ve joined the police department. Music would be just a hobby.

Do you have master copies of your 2 demos?

CH: I have mastered most of my recordings. I always made sure I had a master to every recording I ever played on. I do have the masters for all the Mercenari, Midian demos.

What are some of the wildest and craziest shows you saw over the years and ones that you played in?

CH: Nothing really wild. Crazy…yes. Like one time Midian was playing Escapades. One of my bassist’s friends ripped off a big piece of the stage and started to smack it over his head while we were playing. By the third song, he split that wood in half ha ha. Luckily, that nut wasn’t injured. That memory sticks with me.

Thanks for this trip down memory lane, horns up for it and any last words?

CH: Absolutely Chris…this was fun. Just like the old days. Thank you again for this interview. Hope I answered some questions you were curious about?

I would like to say to everyone reading this to tell someone you love them today. A family member, a friend, a bandmate, neighbour. Life’s too short. Love, laugh and forgive. Thank you.

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