The band name Insanity may not be a household word to many of you newer fans of death and extreme metal. But to those who were around back in the mid 80’s and were tape trading, reading print zines, you will for sure know of the band. The band has been through hell and back over the years and guitar player and main-man of the band was nice enough to answer some questions. I emailed him and if you get a chance go on You Tube to listen to incredible band and then go buy some of their stuff, but for now onto the interview
Dave, can you believe that in 2021 your band, Insanity is considered a legendary band within the underground and on top of that, the band is still active and also being talked about today?
DG: Yes and No. We are proud to have made an impact in helping to influence the evolution of extreme music from our early days with our demo in 1985, but with the bad luck of the band and line up changes, we never got to tour or release new albums as consistently as we would have liked so it’s surprising in some ways.
Now really quick, what made you pick up the guitar and what are some of your favourite guitar players?
DG: Getting into heavy music when I was a kid and learned to play guitar riffs messing around on my brother’s acoustic guitar until I got my first electric when I was about 15. When I was upfront thrashing to Metallica like in the song Whiplash, it made me want to play as much as I could. My favourite guitarist was Randy Rhoads but I was influenced by the heaviest stuff & most technical stuff. When I really got into it I started with Metallica and Slayer songs & then I took lessons for a year or two learning stuff like Eruption by Van Halen and a few leads by Randy Rhoads including the live guitar solo he played during his last tour with Ozzy.
Now for those younger fans, who may not know much about the band, please give us a history of the band and was it hard finding members back then?
DG: Insanity started in 1985 and our drummer Bud Mills started playing an early blast beat making us one of the first bands to play faster than thrash. Unfortunately, our singer/guitarist Joe DeZuniga died of a rare heart virus when he was 21 2 months before Nuclear Blast wrote to sign us in 1987. We reformed the band in the wake of his death and signed a deal to release our first album in December of 1989 if I remember correctly but it would take years for the label to get it out and they went under soon after it came out in 1994. It became a collector’s item with an original CD listed for as much as $149 on eBay. It was hard finding the right members and because of the complexity of some of the riffs, line up changes really hurt the band’s progress.
Now looking back here in 2021, can you believe a demo that was released in 1985 is still being talked about today among many people as one of the demos that started early blast beats along with a mix of technical death metal. Your thoughts on this?
DG: It’s kind of mind-blowing in a way but we kind of blew our own minds back then with how good it sounded to us as we tried to create the type of band we would be huge fans of if we weren’t in it and also to write material we would hopefully never get tired of playing. We did try to challenge ourselves to write technical riffs and still be catchy well-written songs for our ability at that age. It took us a while to learn and get tight on some riffs but it felt like the extra work was worth it when we got something down tight.
For someone like me, who was around back then, but who was on the East Coast, and for those who won’t be around back then, just how wild were live shows back then and shows that you played in?
DG: They were the best! Especially our very first show opening for Death and Sacrilege at Ruthies Inn when we only had 5 songs written. Within seconds of starting our first song, the pit was insane and the crowd was loud as hell between songs. I remember at least 6 or 7 people all stage diving at once and taking the mic stand with them and my foot pedals that were taped to the stage were bouncing around on the stage. It was pretty incredible for our first show ever!
Now I know your demo was spread everywhere through tape trading and through reviews via the many fanzines that were around back then. Was the response better than you expected?
DG: It was, considering it was really a live rehearsal recorded with one mic.
I read that in 1987, Nuclear Blast Records had contacted the band about signing the band, but the death of original singer Joe DeZuniga put a stop to those plans. Does his death still hurt you very much even to this day?
DG: I guess we could have still replied to the letter, it just didn’t seem like there was a point to after Joe was gone. It always hurts to some degree when you lose people you care about. Joe was one of the best friends I ever had and really got me into metal besides being more inspired to play the guitar.
At some point, the and band got back together and you took over the vocals and in 1993, the band released “Death After Death” on “M.B.R. Records”. What are your thoughts on this release and your job as a singer on it?
DG: Although I started doing lead vocals in 1993, the recording of Death After Death the label released had a different singer. We asked M.B.R. if we could go back into the studio to update the recording but we already went to 2 studios for the recording and then the mixing and they said they didn’t have the budget.
Now in 2004, Napalm Death covered one of your songs on their “Leaders Not Followers Part 2” release. Did you know this song was coming out and I know this got interested going in the band again? Did many people start to reach out to you to start up the band again?
DG: I did once the label contacted us. It helped, but what also helped was reforming and starting to play again and do a little touring.
I’m not gonna go over every little release, but in 2007, a 22 song DVD release came out on your own label called “Black Lung Productions”. How did this release come about?
DG: The DVD’s that were made available are mainly live footage with multiple cameras and enhanced audio like Bud Mills last show and a couple of music videos. They aren’t like mass-produced “releases” but they’ve come out pretty cool with menus and some cool extras.
How badly did the death of original drummer Bud Mills hit you at the time and did you vow at the time do to continue onward in his memory?
DG: It was pretty devastating. I used to visit him every weekend after he got sick. To be in the room when he passed is something I’ll never forget but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Yeah, that’s part of it.
In 2009, Area Death Productions released a 2 CD set of tons of old tunes and it is quite an awesome release. Is this release still for sale?
DG: Yeah they did a great job on it. No those sold out a long time ago.
Now I read you did some touring over the years hitting the West Coast, Northeast, and Midwest. For a band without a big indie label, how difficult was it for you to do these tours as they I am sure had to be all self-booked am I correct?
DG: I booked the first and last show of the tour but we had a promoter book most of the dates when we did a longer tour in the Northeast and Midwest. We’ve done a lot of shows on the west coast especially LA and Portland but those are usually 2-3 show trips.
These tours you did, how was the response to the tour overall and did you have any problems getting from venue to venue as things were not as easy back then as they are today with Onstar, Goggle directions, etc.
DG: Response to Insanity shows live has been awesome. It’s always fun to play live. I had a map app on my iPhone. We didn’t play outside the Bay Area when we were kids.
Have you ever been asked to play overseas at any time in the band’s existence?
DG: We have but we didn’t have a solid enough lineup at the time and were planning on making a change. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do as much touring as we would’ve liked.
In 2010, you released your first full length in a long, long time “Visions of Apocalypse” on your own label. How difficult was it for you guys as a band to get together and write songs that have that classic Insanity sound to it so to speak?
DG: Once again this was not an official release as much as it was finishing up the recordings we did with Bud Mills to honour his memory after he died since he got sick before we recorded again with him after we spent a bunch of rehearsals making the arrangements of the songs better. It is only available through our website and when we play a show though and we called it the “advance copy” since it isn’t the final arrangement of the songs.
Now your last release was a re-recording of your above release and that was in 2015. What made you decide to go re-record this release?
DG: Sorry for sounding redundant but we wanted to record the final arrangements of the songs that we weren’t able to do with Bud before he had to quit because he was at risk of blood clots. Buds last tracks were also done on 3 different drums sets over about a year and a half. Eventually, it was found he had cancer and the blood clots were only a symptom.
Now, are you still looking for a bass player as I saw on your website?
DG: Yes but we are continuing to record new material and I will be recording bass tracks very soon which I’m looking forward to because sometimes I’ll write a bass line that’s different from what the guitar does and that’s one of the fun things.
Now, Dave, you have seen tons of bands come and go, what advice would you give to a band starting out and what they should do with crafting their sound?
DG: Hell I don’t know, try to be original I guess. Make sure you are on the same page as your band members, try to be a team player, have fun. A lot of clichés come to mind haha!
Now besides Napalm Death, have you heard any other bands doing Insanity cover tunes?
DG: I have not heard any. Although a while back someone sent me a message and wanted to know how to play the technical riff of Blood For Blood.
Now can you believe how much the underground has changed as there are hardly any print fanzines left and tape trading is long gone and underground record stores are pretty much long gone?
DG: Yeah it makes me appreciate those days a little more I guess.
What are some of your favourite memories of the band so far?
DG: Probably the first show we ever played at Ruthies Inn. So many really most of the band members were good friends so it’s hard to pick out just a couple. One night I went out with Bud and Joe right after we recorded the demo comes to mind though. We were 4 wheelings and Bud parked on a small hill facing up toward the sky like we were at the top of a rocket ship ready for launch as we listened and it settled in that we recorded something that sounded really awesome and thinking wow that’s us!
Is Insanity an original band?
DG: Ugh of course. I don’t think we sound close to Slayer which was our biggest influence. We tried to take things to the next level.
I know you have a bunch of merchandise for sale on your website, so please plug and what is for sale there?
DG: Sure we have shirts and patches with the bloody heads logo, lots of vinyl, CDs and tapes. The website is insanity-metal.com the merch button goes to the webstore which is at insanity-metal.com/store.htm if anyone wants the direct link.
Have you ever been asked to join another band over the years?
DG: Yeah I have but other than side projects, I’ve always been drawn back to do the Insanity thing eventually.
Please plug in any other social media websites you have.
DG: People can find us on facebook but to be honest we’re not the best at social media and don’t always post regularly if there’s nothing to promote like now when we’re just working on new material and recording.
Plans for the band in 2021 and beyond.
DG: To get a new album worth of material finished is the only goal at this time.
Dave, horns up for this interview and any last words to wrap this up?
DG: Thanks for your interest and support. & THANK YOU to everyone that took the time to read this!