Where were you born and where did you grow up?
RD: I was born and grew up in Overlea, basically Eastern Baltimore County.
What sort of kid were you growing up?
RD: I was kind of a loner. I wasn’t any good at sports so I was kinda ostracized for that in school. One time at home, The Ed Sullivan Show was on and VANILLA FUDGE was on there. I think they were doing their cover of THE SUPREMES “You Keep Me Hanging On.” My dad took one look at their hair & the way they sounded and was horrified. He was calling to my mom in the other room, going “Hon! Come here, you need to see this!” I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but my dad’s adverse reaction to it was enough to make me interested.
Did you like music at a young age and what were some of the first musical styles that you heard? I imagine it was 70’s AM radio for the most part as me and you are around the same age.
RD: I guess you can incorporate some of the above answers into this. I’m 63 now. I had kids record called “Texas John Slaughter.” It was about some cowboy sheriff guy & the chorus went “Texas John Slaughter made ‘em do what they ought-er and if they didn’t, they died! Bang!” Violent lyrics right out of the gate for Ray! From there it went to 45’s by people like THE TEMPTATIONS, THE BEATLES, STONES etc. The first album I got was THE MONKEES self-titled album. Then followed “Beatles 65,” several more BEATLES albums, etc. and then in 7th grade we could bring albums to school & play them in art class. Someone brought LED ZEPPELIN II & I was amazed by it. Someone else brought the first BLACK SABBATH album in 8th grade & they wouldn’t even let them play it. Of course, I knew then that I immediately needed that.
Now FM radio started to rear its head around in the late 70’s and MTV soon after became the place to check out bands. Did you listen to much FM radio or MTV back in the day?
RD: Not really. FM Radio only when I forgot to bring a tape to play in the car. MTV I thought was more ridiculous than anything. They were always so far behind with anything. The TV shows that I’d liked came much earlier on in the ‘70’s: Don Kirchner’s Rock Concert, In Concert, Midnight Special. Seeing bands on those in the early/mid 70’s like EDGAR WINTER GROUP, DOOBIES (early with Tom Johnston & Patrick Simmons), KANSAS & yes SABBATH, MAHOGANY RUSH, THIN LIZZY etc. That all had a far more profound impact on me than MTV ever did.
Now when did you discover heavy metal and what were some of the first bands that you listened too? Are you still fans of any of those bands today?
RD: Well, for me it was sort of a seamless progression from the early hard rock to metal. I was first into bands like I said like VANILLA FUDGE, then ZEPPELIN, GRAND FUNK, SABBATH, CACTUS etc. It continued on with stuff like BUDGIE, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, THIN LIZZY, UFO, URIAH HEEP, etc, then other 70’s stuff like MOXY, APRIL WINE, LEGS DIAMOND, LONE STAR, POINT BLANK etc then PRIEST, RIOT, ACCEPT, MAIDEN, the rest of the NWOBHM etc. It was kind of like some people thinking all a sudden some brand new thing called “heavy metal” started around 1979 when it had just been growing all along.
Now I know you worked in a record store way back when. Did it stock any metal stuff and if it didn’t, did you help in getting them to stock stuff like Diamond Head, Venom, Raven, Motorhead, Saxon, etc?
RD: When I started at the store in 1979, (Record & Tape Collector) I was at an urban branch (Alameda) that dealt more with R&B, jazz etc. We didn’t have enough of a rock clientele to stock anything beyond the more major label stuff and in reality, we hardly sold any of that. The truth be known however, I’m glad this happened this way. What it did for me that first year of working there was to give me time to learn from a couple of guys there that it wasn’t just the rock world that featured some killer heavy guitar stuff. I learned about and got my taste for some killer jazz-rock fusion like RETURN TO FOREVER, COLISEUM II, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH, AL DI MEOLA, TERJE RYPDAL, etc. It taught me that there were a whole lot of great heavy guitarists and other musicians outside of just hard rock/metal and that a lot of the metal guys were influenced by these guys. After a year there, I did go to the Dundalk and White Marsh MD stores where the hard rock & metal clientele was larger and I was instrumental in bringing in a lot of lesser-known imports.
Now did you even know about mags like Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces at all and if you did, did you manage to get them stocked in the record store you worked at?
RD: We started at first getting ones in like Kerrang. That was cool and all, for information but none of that made very much of an impression on me until one day we got in an issue of Ron Quintana’s METAL MANIA. It was a b/w stapled-together zine…and it had the best content of any mag I’d ever seen. I thought “I can do something like this.” And the rest was history. 🙂
I read when we did an interview for my fanzine that you saw Judas Priest in early 1979 at a small nightclub in a shopping centre in Falls Church, VA. How was that show for ya and where many people even in attendance?
RD: It was PENTAGRAM /DC STAR/ JUDAS PRIEST. To this day it my favourite show I’ve ever been to. I was standing right in front of Glenn Tipton, watching them play in a place the size of where I’d seen only local bands. The place was packed. (lucky man you are-CF)
In that earlier interview we did, over a decade easily now, you mentioned that you were at the show where Metallica opened for Venom in NYC, NY and this was right after they had kicked out Dave Mustaine. Did you know much about Metallica at the time and it was more that you knew who Venom was and by the way how was the show? Did you go alone and how was the attendance for the show and this was at The Paramount Theater correct?
RD: No, I knew a good bit about METALLICA before that from, once again, Ron’s Metal Mania & cassettes of his KUSF Rampage Radio show. VENOM was more of a visual spectacle live where it was easy to see, just from that, that METALLICA had a whole lot of musical potential.
A few weeks after that, METALLICA played a bar near Baltimore called The Sandbar, headlining on a Sunday (as I recall) night. The girl at the door (who was wearing a bikini) wasn’t going to let us in at first because we were wearing t-shirts & didn’t meet their dress code. 😂 I said to her “Do you know what kind of music you’re featuring here tonight?” They finally let us in. The opening band played stuff like MICHAEL JACKSON. There were about 100 people there who loved them. When METALLICA came out, just about every one of them except for about 20 of us were gone. I remember James saying at one point, “There aren’t many of you, but you sure are loud!” Actually, that night METALLICA was the loudest band I’ve ever heard to this day. We were right in front of Kirk and when he was playing leads high on the neck it was so loud & penetrating that it was disorienting. I know that some of the bit of hearing damage I have now was sustained that night. I had ringing for 2 days after it. I remember Kirk had a t-shirt on with the first IRON MAIDEN album cover. One of his amps had “Fuck a nun” written on it.
What was the 1st actual fanzine that you saw or discovered at the time? Were you kinda in a way blown away because a zine-like that only had underground or unknown bands for one, and # 2 it for the most part featured only underground bands?
RD: Metal Mania (San Francisco, Ron Quintana Editor)
Now I know you did some prior writing before you broke off on your own to start off your own fanzine. Tell me about that.
RD: Nah, I didn’t break off from anything. I’d written reviews in my high school & college newspapers but I never write for anyone else’s zine before I started mine.
So now when did you start to decide that you wanted to start up your own fanzine? Obviously, by now, you had enough experience and you knew what you would need to do to start one. Looking back was it even harder than you thought it was going to be because forget interviewing bands (to me that’s easy), reviewing stuff (again that’s easy), but you would need money to publish the bloody thing, haha and that is the hard part. Where did you come up with the money to get it printed and where did you get it printed?
RD: At first I was living at home with my parents and was able to pay to get a modest # of each issue printed by saving some $ from my paychecks. Same as I moved out on my own and got married. Just saved so much from each pay to go toward it.
I know you farted around with a number of names before the name of the zine became “Enlightened Chaos” a name you weren’t thrilled with when I interviewed you the first time. Do you still not like the name?
RD: Ah, I don’t really mind it now. It was pretty original. METAL MAELSTROM, CHAOS, ENLIGHTENED CHAOS, CHAOS REALM, a blog called RAYSREALM. It’s all good. 🙂
Now when your first issue came out (1984) were you going to many shows whether they be in MD, NJ, NY, VA, etc? What were some classic early shows you went to that still stick out in your mind even these days?
RD: Actually, the first issue came out in 1983. I think we covered the “show” thing above. And you have to remember, the shows going on then weren’t “early” for me. At that point, I was 26 years old and had been going to concerts for quite a few years.
Now, who else wrote for your zine back then? Did any issues that you released just feature you and you only or did you always have other writers?
RD: I’m pretty sure at least some issues I was the exclusive writer for. But there were quite a few people who wrote things for the msg: Doug Robbins, Jim Powell, Al Tyler, Mike Maddox, Sue Nolz, David Smith, Diane Berardi, Ted Domurat, there were others, I don’t want to forget anyone but my memory isn’t great.
Now with each issue did you feel you were getting better as a writer? Did mail ever overwhelm you at any point during the zine’s existence? What are some metal musical styles you are not a fan of even to this day?
RD: I think my writing was pretty decent from the get-go. I always had a knack for it, never had any trouble writing. I’m not sure why. Neither of my parents nor anyone else in my family was ever a particularly strong writer, that I’m aware of. I always could nail essay tests & such in school. Even if I didn’t know the material on an essay test, I could make it sound good & usually pass. 😂.
As far as being overwhelmed by mail, etc, yes that did happen. A few times it got to the point where it was becoming a bit of drudgery and not fun. In fact, I can easily point to the mag and the time I was spending on it as a contributing factor in the demise of my first marriage. The time I was spending on it was out of line and is something I regret to this day. For that reason, as much as I loved the zine overall and am proud of it, I also have a small bit of dislike for it. More so, I guess for my inability to manage my time with it and the things that should’ve been more important (my family). Again, I’m very proud of the legacy the mag has had but I wish I’d had the foresight, in a few instances, to know when to say when. After a relatively short stint of doing an online blog called RAYSREALM, I started just reviewing things on Facebook, which I still do off and on, whenever I feel like it. No pressure to do a new issue, have it distributed etc. (great to hear that-Chris)
So I never knew before our first interview you did 37 issues!!! Now since it has been a long time, I’m sure you know, several book companies have put out all the copies of several zines so far, hell I’d love it to happen to me, but would you consider that if asked?
RD: Oh sure, I’d definitely consider it. Would be nice to see the legacy of it preserved.
I know you also mentioned you did tape trading back then. Do you still have most of the stuff that you traded back then and do you have any rare demos, LP’s, shirt’s etc that are worth a pretty penny these days or any rare concert t-shirts that you purchased during band’s 1980’s tours that you still have?
RD: Actually, in all the years of moving, various family things that have happened, I have absolutely none of the demo tapes, shirts etc. from back then. I sold my entire vinyl collection years ago and ended up losing my CD collection (several thousand) due to some family circumstances. I have a CD collection of a couple hundred now, to which I occasionally add some new releases and old back-catalogue things I pick up. And that’s fun for me. I still enjoy doing that. Yeah, I still like to buy CD’s when I can afford them. I know it works for a lot of people but I’ve never been able to get my head around the concept of downloading music and keeping it on a computer, phone etc. I still like to have physical copies (CD’s) and really enjoy the couple hundred I have.
Do you feel that any of your reviews were unfair and do you think you were a good interviewer and reviewer during your time doing the zine?
RD: I think pretty much everything I wrote was fair and honest at the time I wrote it. I think what I did was pretty decent. I enjoyed writing, as I still do now, and it came from the heart.
Now I know we used to trade zines and I loved reading yours and that is no ass-kissing Ray, what are some other zines that you traded with and did you get much stuff from overseas back in the day?
RD: Yours of course. 🙂. Metal Mania (San Francisco), Kick-Ass Monthly, Grinder, Gray Matter, Ptolemaic Terrascope, Guillotine, Phoenix Militia etc.
During your time writing, did any labels approach you about going some PR for them or become an A/R person for them?
RD: No, but I was contacted by Metal Maniacs Magazine to be a writer for them. I turned it down. The first thing they wanted to do was send me to see some shitty well-known band I didn’t like to do an interview and concert review. I had zero interest and turned them down. I never wanted something I enjoyed as a hobby to become drudgery or something I “had” to do.
Are there any bands that when you look back sort of shock you that they didn’t get bigger than they did?
RD: Ah, I don’t know. Some of the ones I thought would get big did: METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH. Further back, I thought JUDAS PRIEST & MAIDEN would get big and they did.
I thought ANGEL WITCH would do better back then, so there’s one. Going back into the 70’s, I’d thought BUDGIE & CRACK THE SKY would become more popular. They both had everything it took musically. But we all know that a lot of times it’s not a fair business. (I totally on board with ya there-Chris)
Thoughts on the following:
RD: Heavy metal: To me, the early bands I love were more what I’d call hard or heavy rock: SABBATH, THIN LIZZY, RUSH, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, ZEPPELIN etc. Heavy metal as such seemed to coalesce around things like JUDAS PRIEST – “Sin After Sin,” RIOT – “Narita.” SCORPIONS – “Virgin Killer,” MÖTORHEAD – “Overkill” etc.
Power Metal: I guess that would be bands like HELLOWEEN/GAMMA RAY, STRATOVARIUS, BLIND GUARDIAN etc. I’m not the hugest fan.
Thrash Metal: METALLICA, EXODUS, SLAYER, HEATHEN, etc. To me, the quality in this style has always arisen from the West coast.
Death Metal: DEATH, HELLHAMMER/CELTIC FROST, POSSESSED. But mostly DEATH & Chuck Schuldiner. That demo that opens with “Zombie Ritual.” To me, that defines it.
Glam/Hair Metal: I think of stuff like POISON & WARRANT, whom I didn’t like at all. The funny thing is, there are a few things I really like that were put in this category that I don’t think really were. KIX, who are one of my favorite bands is often considered hair metal but to me were nothing of the kind. They were dirty garage rock. The first MOTLEY CRÜE album, again more punky/garage metal. RATT, I loved the guitar players, especially Warren DiMartini. And older bands like SWEET, NY DOLLS etc.
For you, what makes a song good? Is it more the hook and the way the song sounds or is the singer or a combo of both?
RD: It’s the song itself. The melody, the catchiness of that melody, yes, hooks. It’s almost hard to quantify but it’s that memorability. That’s key.
Did you ever do any long interviews like this novel of one ha ha?
RD: Oh sure. There were long ones. Sometimes they were better but sometimes the shorter ones were good. It depended on what kind of a rapport you struck up with the person you were interviewing.
When you went to review something could you make it a short review and still get your point across?
RD: Oddly, my reviews were usually long & detailed, which was fine because that’s how I enjoyed doing it. I did have extreme regard, great respect and was a huge fan of Ron Quintana, who was the master of the SHORT review. His review of IRON MAIDEN – “Somewhere In Time” was: “Gods!!!” And I knew exactly what he meant.
In your eyes what makes for a great fanzine and could you tell when you got one in the mail that the person doing it just was going through the motions with short basic interviews and everything he reviewed was great?
RD: Oh sure. Especially in the later ‘80’s there were tons of them. The names seemed interchangeable, the covers & logos looked the same and it was all the same bands being interviewed. Each interview would ask all the different bands the same questions in the same order. There was no personality, humor etc.
What ended the zine? Did you maybe just thing I’ll take a break and start it back up sometime?
RD: I’d just had enough. It was becoming too time-consuming again, too expensive and I found I could put a review up on FB & have a larger group of people actually read it.
What there ever a band that you were so looking forward to seeing and when you went and saw them, they basically sucked the live and were just terrible?
RD: MEGADETH about 4 or 5 different times. Except for Chris Poland’s guitar playing the first time I saw them.
The best club you ever saw a show at and craziest crowd you ever saw for a live show?
RD: Best = JUDAS PRIEST, Louie’s Rock City, Bailey’s Crossroads VA, Feb ‘79
Craziest = SLAYER, The New Loft, Baltimore MD ‘84
Where do you see the future of the underground headed?
RD: Bandcamp has really been a big thing for a lot of bands. Covid has made it tough for everyone but it’ll get back to more live shows. There are a lot of good young current bands: JAKETHEHAWK, HIGH REEPER, CHURCH OF THE COSMIC SKULL, STARSCAPE, VALKYRIE, GYGAX, SKUNK…it never ends. Good!
Have you ever got overseas to go see a show?
RD: I’ve been overseas in 1995 but never to see shows. Family things, more important, really. A few record stores but no shows.
I know you went to shows with one of the band members of Have Mercy. Do you wish they had gotten bigger than they did?
RD: Oh, sure, we all have had people we knew in bands who we wish had made it further. Most of the time it doesn’t happen, though. There’s really a tremendous amount of luck involved in it.
Ray, horns up for this incredible trip down memory lane again. Any last words to wrap this up?
RD: Just keep listening to good music and supporting bands.
Oh one last question, what was the name of the band that you gave the bad review to and then showed up at your door with a new rehearsal and they sounded great ha ha?