Voices From Underground – Decaying Vision Fanzine / John Verica Chat

John Verica is someone I have known heck probably close to 30 years now. Way back in the day before the days of the internet and YouTube, John was filming tons of shows for his Decaying Vision Fanzine, which wasn’t a print zine, but a video fanzine. I thought he would make for a great interview (he did) and enjoy this trip down memory lane about the good ole days on the underground with me and John…

Have you lived in NJ all your life?

JV: Moved to the Garden State, on July 18, 1991, thirty years ago.

What sort of kid were you growing up, pre-teenager years?

JV: I was very much: young, white and well behaved, just like that Ludichrist song.

Ha Ha. Now when did you start to listen to music a lot, not necessarily metal as that’s coming next?

JV: Very early on. It began via my late mother’s influence, she was very much into rock, and a lot of the sappy singer-songwriters, of that time, the late ’60s, through the ’70s. My first exposure to live music was my mom taking me a few doors down, from our South Philly apartment to watch and listen to, the Soul Survivors, a one-hit wonder, psych/soul rock band practice, at a former bank’s space the band rented, in the late ’60s. I was exposed to classic rock and music in general, right out of the womb! My grandfather played both the violin and mandolin, which influenced me to take up initially: piano, then the trumpet. Eventually, the bass guitar.

Now, what other rock bands did you like in the early to late 70’s?

JV: I recall by 1976 and 1977, in earnest, several friends were heavy into Kiss. I on the other hand, related more to Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Led Zep, at that time. In fact, the first record I purchased was The Wall, in 1979, by Pink Floyd.

So now, how did you end up discovering heavy metal?

JV: An anvil fell onto my foot, and was very heavy. Dad joke, my apology, to your readers. Through grade school male friends initially. I delved deeper through reading hard rock magazines, in the mid to late ’70s. MTV by the early 1980s put a face to the music.

I assume these were newsstand magazines at the time am I correct.

JV: Both subscriptions and off the rack. There was an old school newsstand, located half a block from me, at one time, years ago.

What did you think of Headbanger’s Ball on MTV ha ha?

JV: That is a funny “rhetorical” question, as we both know the answer! NOT much!! I would set my VCR to tape them, and skip 90% of the content, to see that one Kreator “Toxic Trace” or Metal Church’s “Watch The Children Play” video promo at the dead end, of the two hour MTV program. Headbangers Ball was early on, often filled with way too much commercial metal for my ears and eyes.

Absolutely spot fuckin on. So now how did you discover the underground metal side of things?

JV: That is a two-prong answer. At first, through Metal Forces magazine, a British based imported magazine. They had a pen bangers friend section, often printed behind a fold-out poster. I recall seeing a very youthful Tom Warriors ad in there, from Hellhammer, around 1983! I started networking with bands and fellow fans, buying bands demos, et al. I recall contacting three bands early on; Derketa, Immolation and Morbid Angel.

Did you actually do any tape trading at all?

JV: Did I ever! Many may recall my name, without actually knowing, of a certain age, from my days of trading videotapes. Of the bands, I filmed and that other filmed. As for demo tape trading, I rarely did trade, but I have, in the ’80s and early ’90s.

Did you ever write for any fanzines back then cause I’ll be getting to videotaping next?

JV: Years later, I contributed to Bad Acid, in England. And some demo/record virtual reviews for Metal Core, about ten plus years ago. Otherwise, as far as tangible fanzines, no.

So what led to you videotaping all these early classic shows you have now? What did you use to tape the shows with?

JV: I was recovering from one hell of a bad car wreck that I was a passenger in, back in 1987; and was at the Quakertown flea market, when I came across Hallows Eve and other underground metal bands, on videotape. I thought this is AMAZING, I can do this! A late friend of mine, Chris Bledsoe, singer from Throne Of Corruption, let me utilize his father’s elaborate, shoulder boulder holder camcorder!! I was hooked and eventually purchased, a high end, at that time, camcorder. My car accident left my ability to play bass hindered, so I still wanted to be involved with underground metal; and rock/metal music in general, at that time. In essence, videography afforded me a creative outlet and made a rather negative situation, a positive, for me.

So is that where the idea for Decaying Visions video zine came from?

JV: To a degree. It was the early planted seeds that would sprout my idea of creating what I believe was the first fanzine on video, in 1988, with Thrash Metal. I, along with two partners, Marvin Horn and Nick Fantazi created that early project. We released four issues, between 1988 to 1990. Decaying Visions developed by 1990, I created it, and Christopher Bade became my new business partner.

Now obviously since we both live in NJ we got to see some unreal shows. I’ll rattle off some clubs and you tell me your memories.

Bonnie’s Roxx:
JV: Not only do we both reside in Southern, New Jersey. We are old friends, going way back, for several decades. Cool idea!! Bonnie’s off-hand: Nuclear Assault, Overkill, TT Quick, Anvil Bitch, Without Warning…Bonnies I always remember filming an Autopsy, Incantation and December Wolves show there, with those damn annoying support beam polls blocking my view..(hated that pole too-Chris) It was a cool club but hosted too many glam metal gigs. I liked how deep into the Pine Barrens Bonnies was located, way out in Atco, NJ. I was always hoping to spot the Jersey Devil in the parking lot, surrounded by pine tree forests.

City Gardens in Trenton, NJ:

JV: City Gardens….aaaahhhh. A love/hate relationship at shitty garbage as some referred to it as….I liked City Gardens and truly saw some historic, classic, timeless, underground hardcore and thrash metal gigs there. The place should be a museum today…but here’s a downer that occurred to me there. While attending and doing an interview with Kreator at the club in 1989….there was some race riot bad scene occurring outside in the gravel parking lot. I came out to check on my car after Kreator’s headling set, to find my car with a Bud beer bottle perfectly stuck in the dead centre of my car’s windshield, halfway in and halfway out. Some brutal-looking uptight skinhead guy explained what happened to me, it was just insanity driving back to South Philly with this beer bottle in my windshield, it is hilarious in reflection, in 2021 but I was hardly smirking in 1989!

Brutal. Did you attend the Venom show there, with Black Flag and Overkill?

JV: I did in fact witness that historic event. There were some major tensions between the Black Flag and Venom fans. Henry Rollins (black flag singer) was mocking Venom live on stage during their set and it was just uncalled for, that bothers me to this very day…by the way, my Decaying Visions, business partner Chris Bade, taped that Venom set and released a limited 7″ record featuring Cronos from Venom’s now-infamous in-between song banter. (it’s on YouTube as well-Chris). Venom BLEW Black Flag off the stage, PERIOD. Take that Rollins lol. Rollins wanted attention that night, be it negative.

What did you think of the 2 Slayer shows there if you were at either of them?

JV: Those Slayer gigs were the most violent and simultaneously fun thrash metal gigs of my life. There were kids swinging off that old chandelier at City Gardens during Slayer’s live set and a sea of longhaired heads banging in unison to the opening of their Hell Awaits cut. I will NEVER forget the intensity of those 1985 and 1986, Slayer gigs at City Gardens, it was black magical. (oh god yes it was Chris). Also, I never saw so many people tripping on acid before at a gig!!! Like I did at the 1986 Slayer show, in particular…I saw a Slayer fan whacked out of his mind, walk into a mirror wrecking and shattering it with his face laughing…in the parking lot! Another funny story is about a punk friend who came to the gig on my first date and my cousin; the punk guy was named David the Slayer pit at City Gardens, someone broke his nose!! He had blood gushing out and he was laughing about it and went back into the pit, with a broken God damn nose!!! After the gig, we ran into Billy Milano, when he was doing the SOD band, we chatted awhile, he was very cool. I brought a first date to the 1986 Slayer gig, no bullshit LOL. A hippie chick, she was freaked out hahahahaha. We ended up dating a few years believe it or not.

They were insane. How about Union Station in Newark, DE?

JV: Union Station was a hidden gem, and too short-lived…I recall seeing Kreator, Coroner and Toxic Trace from LI, NY there. I believe that was their name, appropriately named, to open for Kreator! (it was Toxic, who were signed to Roadracer Records at the time-cf)

Union Station was the first time I saw Deceased in 1989 and met King Fowley. He was our first interview for both the thrash metal and Decaying Visions video zines.

I was there as well. Yes, Henry Rollins coming with a pentagram on his hand chanting “Satan” was crazy. Now did you manage to videotape any of the shows there like Dark Angel/Possessed, SOD/Overkill etc?

JV: I rarely filmed at City Gardens, unless it was through permission of the band and/or the band being filmed’s the manager. My favourite footage I filmed there was Godflesh on the Grindcrusher tour in 1990. My built-in camcorder special FX was timed perfectly to their HEAVY industrial music. We did a Dark Angel video interview for my Thrash metal video fanzine, in 1989 at the Empire Rock Club in Phila, PA.

The Empire in Philadelphia, PA and did you film many shows there?

JV: That was my home away from home, in the ’80s. It existed between; 1983 to 1990. I saw so many amazing metal and rock concerts there. Especially their thrash metal Sundays. I bought my first video camera in 1990, right after the place closed!!! However, friends of mine filmed a bunch of gigs there. A guy by the name of David Rehm and Nick Fantazi. I saw you at so many of these concerts Chris. (yup $5 a week Sunday shows-Chris) When we began the thrash metal video zine, Nick had the camcorder and he did a lot of the filming, I used his camera occasionally to film and interview bands.

Anvil Bitch and to a degree Faith of Fear were are local thrash bands.

JV: House staples!!! Saw them both several times. In fact, John Plumley from Anvil Bitch I met at my Psychology class, when we were both freshmen, at Temple University, in North Philly, which was around 1985.

Pulsations Nightclub ha ha.

JV: Pulsations the disco dancing robot and mechanical UFO, floor to wall mirrored fading discotheque lol…Between 1986 to 1988 I saw several classic concerts there…never filmed there though…Slayer’s 1988 concert there ended that place hosting any live concerts lol….the fans were WILD!! The Trouble and King Diamond along with the Cro Mags/Ludichrist and Gang Green gigs stand out to me and Anthrax with Metal Church opening…with the late David Wayne on vocals! The crowd was booing Metal Church, which still pisses me off, Metal Church was great!!!! David Wayne is sorely missed, though he was a stellar vocalist. Pulsations was a peculiar location, to say the least, it felt too nice for us metalheads lol…

Now onto some of yours, I bet starting with G. Wiliker’s in NJ?

JV: Ah man, my death metal haven, G Wilikers, formerly known as Jekyll & Hyde’s…that place I really learned the ropes with filming, interviewing and the underground death metal scene in general…I have a plethora of fond metal memories from there…..My best friends at the time in the world, were the house death metal band, Goreaphobia….I filmed countless gigs there, interviewed several bands there. In fact, our debut Decaying Visions video interview was with King from Deceased, in their parking lot. One of my favourite experiences there was with old friends, Brewster, NY black metal maniacs, Profanatica. It was always mind-blowing when international & national bands would roll through to G Wilikers, the place was a sardine can, when 100 people were in there, imagine 500 people!!! Sadly, the place is a frigging laundromat today!! I can bring my concert tee-shirts to be cleaned now. It closed abruptly to live gigs, in 1994.

Now did you film any shows at G. Willikers or was it mostly band interviews?

JV: Both, but more live concerts, I shot at that location, than interviews.

Who did you film?

JV: Who didn’t I film there! Ha! Offhand: Carcass, Immolation, Incantation, Nocturnus, Violent Solution, Incantation, Deceased, Suffocation, Nuclear Death, Revenant, Nokturnel, Profanatica, Crucifier, Ex Mortis, Candlemass, Etc!

Most of, if not all are up on YouTube right?

JV: I added initially, over 1,000, ten-minute clips. I had to remove about 40% of them, the bands did want it posted there. I always filmed to share the footage, with other fans. To promote the bands. Similarly with my two video fanzines. I wanted to promote the music. “the bands did NOT want it posted there”.

What a bunch of fuckin assholes. They can suck my dick, stupid assholes. What bands were cool with leaving stuff up?

JV: I was taken aback that some of them were against having thirty-year-old footage posted, of them live, but it is their choice. A shame not to share it with their fans. Several bands, were fine with it, like Deceased and Immolation.

2 of the cool bands. How about some of the clubs in Northern NJ you went to and saw shows. Studio 1, The Fast Lane, Stone Pony, Escapades, etc you went to.

JV: Some that you listed, I went to. Studio 1 retains several metal memories. Saw some historic gigs there, years ago. Birch Hill, as well. I always remember seeing Nuclear Assault at this fancy restaurant/concert venue, I believe it was called Club Bene. (yup-Chris) There was white cloth table service, as kids were jumping off the stage and even of a few tables. The staff appears mortified! I had a hell of a nice dinner and thrash metal show, that night!

Let’s move to NY. Did you film and see any shows at The Ritz?

JV: Yes, and no. Never filmed anything at the Ritz, but I did see a few historic gigs there, like CroMags Destruction, Carnivore, etc. A mix of thrash and hardcore bands. That place was fantastic!

Memories of my favourite club, Lamour’s in Brooklyn, NY

JV: L’amours was perhaps, my favourite location to film concerts. I would set up in the back bar, which was about 6 feet above the lower floor. I would plug my camera into their outlet and set it up on a tripod. My favourite concert I filmed there was the October 6, 1990, Carnivore reunion. The late Peter Steel was on fire that night, he had a Carnivore gig shirt dipped in pigs blood that he threw out into the crowd, after stating “You all look like a bunch of AIDS victims.” I loved that moment, as I never forgot it! Another time, I brought Chris Gamble, from Goreaphobia up with me, and he was car sick from the 100-mile commute from Philly to Brooklyn. I introduced him to Mike Browning at the show. As Chris was meeting Mike, he became violently ill and threw up into his hands, as he tried to cover his mouth! Mike and I hurriedly, got of the way. His puke went all over the concert floor lol….

Is some of this stuff on YouTube?

JV: I have so many memories at L’Amours!! I did an interview with James Murphy, Trevor and Donald Tardy right out in the street outside the venue in 1990. Yes, you can see some clips on there and someone posted the three Decaying Visions, onto YouTube, where you can see interviews and live clips, that Chris Bade and I did, between 1990 to 1992. Thrash metal videozine clips are on my YouTube page, filmed between 1988 to 1990.

Now I am sure you went to some of the Milwaukee Metalfests. Did you film anything out there?

JV: I did one, in 1998. Yes, I did, with permission, via the late Don Decker. I always tried to get permission, before filming anyone live, back then. 90% of the bands, were totally cool with it. The only time I could not complete filming was when Destruction, hired that God awful indie rock singer, to replace Schmier and the temporary singer, after Schmier, on the Cracked Brain record….it was so awful, I chose to cease filming and I LOVE Destruction!

Yeah, Destruction sucked that time I was there for that. I know you went to Florida for a time. Who did you see and film down there?

JV: I frequently travelled to Florida, between 1989 to 2005. I did some fantastic interviews down there and filmed a handful of gigs. One of my favourites was, the Tampa Bay Metal Festival, it was in September of 1992. Mille from Kreator, was the MC. I filmed friends Acheron, along with Deicide, Brutality, Etc. another fun film job was at the then, final Hellwitch concert, around Halloween of 1998. I stayed with my old buddy Pat Raneri, from Hellwitch, who was also another video guy. So many of my central and South Florida friends were at that gig…Acheron was on the bill along with Monstrosity and Deicide. That was a great gig…Atheist with Roger on bass, opening for Obituary and Morbid Angel in 1990 was another stellar gig, I did. I actually went to the show with the guys in Incubus, the Nuclear Blast death metal Incubus. I have so many great metal memories from my time visiting Florida. My family still resides in Jupiter, FL and elsewhere.

One other show was at the Cuban Club in Ybor City, Florida, located in Tampa, I attended a special Deicide, Acheron, gig…there was a raffle for a fallen biker friend of Decide…I spent 5.00 extra on the entrance and won the second prize, a signed BC Rich bitch bass that Glen and the lads signed for me onstage. I introduced Acheron that night onstage as well. My buddy Mike Browning won the third prize, $150.00 in tattoos. The grand prize was this evil looking souped-up bloc engine hearse!! Man, that car was nice!!!!

Nice did you visit Ace Records while down there?

JV: Too many times! Hi Brian Keynon! Brian ran the place, years ago. My first experience there was in 1989 when Aces was located at a flea market, in Oldsmar, FL. That town was recently in the news, due to the drinking water poisoning failed attempt! I bought a bunch of demos and an Amon shirt there my first time there. Dave Vincent of Morbid Angel, at that time, was an employee there, he rang me out. In fact, I actually purchased his future and now ex-wife’s demo that day from him, the Genitorturers!! There was a fun, Morbid Angel, in-store appearance at Ace’s in 1998 too I attended in Florida. I was also in a Cannibal Corpse video for “Sentenced to Burn” I did ALOT in Florida, in that period of said time! And I lived 1,000+ miles away!

My experiences, with Morbid Angel in 1990. I ran into the band at a diner at a midnight snack…in Tampa…we hung out, ate and chatted, discussed merch knowing the guys in Ripping Corpse and bands back in NJ. At the restaurant they invited all of us to a private party at their home, when Trey, Richard Brunel and Peter Sandoval lived together…the place was wild!! All the windows were blacked out….there was incense burning throughout the place..the living room was a huge pool table…I watched Bruneal playing the guitar to their then-new altars of madness released a year prior, in 1989…and I filmed him and Trey playing in his band house’s kitchen, at the kitchen table, that footage is on YouTube, clips of it…

The death metal scene was in full swing down there at the time too am I right?

JV: YES!!! It was EXPLOSIVE! Jacksonville, located in the north of the state, to Tallahassee in the Western panhandle, to near the keys, in Coral Gables. In particular, the Tampa Bay area, was equivalent to the San Francisco Bay area. As far as a miasma of geographically concentrated underground metal bands were located.

Now if I’m not mistaken you did some road trips with Immolation or Incantation did you not?

JV: Road trips with them, no, but I did help you out, when you managed Immolation at that CBGBs NYC concert, back in 2000. However, I did a few road trips with Bloodstorm, in 1998 to the Milwaukee Metalfest, from Philly and in December 1999, from Philly to the first annual black metal festival, down in San Antonio, Texas. I did a brief stint with old friends in Absu, in the summer of 1995. Incantation and Enslaved were also on that tour. In fact, when Absu was seeking a new bassist, I suggested Chris Gamble, who was doing Bloodstorm, after disbanding Goreaphobia.

Tell everyone about this black metal festival in Texas and did anything wild happen?

JV: Yes, the 2,000-mile commute, one way, was an adventure in itself, with flooding rains in Texas and my smelly foot odour, that nearly made everyone in Bloodstorm’s van puke! At the gig, it was wild, held at Wacki’s Deli that no longer exists in San Antonio. We stayed at Bjorn of Necrovore’s and Thornspwn’s home down there. They were cool folks. At the concert was Judas Iscariot, doing a rare live appearance. When Bloodstorm was playing, some drunk guy and these women with him were taunting and heckling Chris Gamble. They actually threw bud beers at him with a beer in the cans!! The Philly came out of Chris at that point, threatened to kick the guy’s ass and started telling mother jokes about the guy the crowd was cracking up. He embarrassed him out of there. Rest of Bloodstorm’s set was flawless.

Did you film any of this?

JV: Of course!! I zoomed in on the hecklers as I was standing behind them lol…I rarely witnessed heckling at a black metal concert, that was a unique experience! Oh but I’ll end on this, Profanatica rented out a bowling alley one day in 1992. There were people bowling as the band played in an adjacent room. In between songs, bowlers were heckling them. As Paul would say to the hecklers your mothers are sucking cocks in hell, etc. THAT RULED!!

Now, what are some other road trips you did? Didn’t you do one of those Day of Death road trips?

JV: I did several road trips for metal and rock. Yes, I drove from South Philly to Buffalo, NY for that infamous, Day of Death concert. Chris Bade and Damien Glonic, who later created the Living Dead Dolls Corporation, came with me. Chris Gamble, from Goreaphobia, drove back with us. I actually turned 23 during Autopsy’s first East coast, headliner set, which ran into the next day, my date of birth, October 21. Bade and I, interviewed Eric from Autopsy in a beer storage room, at the Skyroom, an old warehouse, where the Day of Death was held. That concert was one of the very first death metal festivals, it set precedent, for all future ones. I filmed on stage, many bands that played that gig. Like Repulsion, Immolation, Deceased, Goeraphobia, Incantation, Cannibal Corpse, Etc. I ran into old and new friends that fateful weekend, in Western NY. Other road trips, were the Milwaukee Metal festival in 1998, with Bloodstorm. The San Antonio, Texas black metal Festival, in 1999. The first Relapse Records metal festival, in July of 1992, up in Providence, RI, etc. The Relapse festival was billed as the Fleet’s Fest of Freaks, I drove up with my old friends in Profanatica. We stayed up for over two days straight, that weekend. I had absolutely wild experiences, hanging out with Profanatica. The Jehovah Witnesses were in Providence, doing their annual conventions, and every hotel and motel, within 20 miles was booked up. So, Profanatica and I, ended up at this hooker, fleabag, skid row motel, way out in the deep woods, about 25 miles from Providence. It was insanity, we found human faeces in the bathroom, with drawers and bathroom knobs missing…by the time 53 hours rolled around with no sleep, we passed out in these bed bug reddened beds lol..I ended up crashing out between Aaron Amori and my old friend Jay Lawrence hahaaaa…..The Relapse festival was a blast…free beers, lots of filming, cool merchandise, old friends….Immolation and Goreaphobia were on tour together at that time, hung with them, filmed them….Amorphis was supposed to headline, but could not secure visa’s to enter the USA. Brutal Truth was there etc….Man, that was one of my favourite festivals. I did all the March Metal Meltdowns here in NJ, short commutes, compared to driving to WI and Texas!!!

Great stories. Did you ever observe bands almost come to blows over the years?

JV: Thanks, Chris! Yes, one too many. With words and fisticuffs. The wildest was the time Dave Mustaine and their original drummer, the late Gar Samuelson, got into it live on stage at the Trocadero in Philly. It was the second leg of the Peace Sells tour. Gar intentionally threw at full force his drumsticks into Dave’s head, after they had words on stage, between numbers. Dave threw his guitar at him, a few fists flew..Then roadies calmed the situation down. The band played the rest of their set, must have been towards the end of Gar Samuelson tenure, with the band, in 1987! I’ve known friends who were in well-known underground death metal bands that had a few incidents too, but I will leave that for my autobiography, one-day hahaaa….

How about any memorable L’Amour shows in Brooklyn, NY that you went to while that awesome club was open?

JV: Yes, the Carnivore reunion, on October 6, 1990, stands out in my mind. Peter Steel was extra salty that night! The time Quorthon, from Bathory was there at the Slayer gig, in 1985. The “secret” Iron Maiden, Charlotte The Harlot concert, the place was the most crowded, I experienced there! And several others. I lived 100 miles away from there, but tried to get up there when I could, back in the day!

Did you film that insane show with Slayer at the Trocadero ha ha?

JV: I tried to Mr. Araya said NO. Someone else did the whole set though, that was a crazy night at that gig. The Slayer fans tore out the second-floor bathrooms pipes, flooding the Trocadero. I recall a waterfall of urine and turds cascading down onto the soundboard below. The Trocadero was closed for an extensive period of time after the Slayer concert, for massive and costly repairs, directly due to the water damage! Needless to say, Slayer was banned from playing there again lol.

Without naming names, have you ever done any unauthorized show tapings?

JV: Yes, 1, Slayer that we just discussed, in the previous question. They were very pissed at me. The rest I always asked permission. I recall at the Manowar headlining March Metal Meltdown concert, the band’s management stated NO filming, but you can take still, non-flash photographs, which I did. The next thing I know, their road crew comes up and wants me $$$ digital camera, I refused, they took my $100.00 memory card though!!! After they gave everyone permission to take photos!! I never even used a flash lol..those jerkoffs! I still love their music!

Out of your road trips, what was the craziest one?

JV: Before I answer that question, as far as permissions with filming, it was always verbal agreements. I had a few bands and promoters actually hire me. The Levy’s hired me to film the first Stoner Hands Of Doom festival in VA and DC, in 1999, Etc. Without a doubt, with Profanatica! To the Fleets Feast of Freaks Festival, in Providence, RI, that we discussed prior, Another was the time I went up with Goreaphobia in a van, they had an opening gig for Profanaica and Incantation, at the Fortune Cookie. A friggin Chinese restaurant in CT. There were families eating Chinese food when the bands took the stage, never saw people clear out faster than that!! On the trip up to the show, Chris Gamble, who is prone to motion sickness, vomited en route, the van’s side door was open and the puke flew into one of the sleeping band member’s mouths! I am nauseous, just remembering, that magic moment of madness! Any road trip involving a bunch of band members and roadies/friends piled into a van leads to some sort of memorable event!

These are classic stories. So how many video issues of your video fanzine did you put out?

JV: We did 4, with Thrash Metal Videozine, between 1988 to 1990; and, three, with Decaying Visions, between 1990-1992. I began my own solo video zine, called The End Of Heaven in 1993 to 1994. I interviewed friends in Absu, Acheron, Bloodstorm, Impaled Nazarene, Etc, but never completed it. You should ask if any of my footage was used professionally, which it was.

Ok, answer away.

JV: You can see the footage I filmed in the film “Gummo” that was released around 1996. It features an interview I did with Profanatica, in 1992. Aragon Amori is in the 30-second clip. The documentary “Last Daze Here”, that focused on Bobby Liebling from the doom metal band, Pentagram. I filmed the footage from July of 2001, where Liebling is a half-hour late for their headlining set at a Towson, MD doom metal festival. His entire band quit on him, as he was on stage. The band got into it backstage, that was a wild experience to witness. Nocturnus, post-Mike Browning era, released footage I filmed, of them, at L’Amours in the Grind Crusher tour, in 1992, on VHS video. Profanatica used the footage in a DVD they filmed. I was hired to play a corpse, in Cannibal Corpses video, “Sentenced to Burn”, in 1998. It was filmed that Genitorturers warehouse/rehearsal space, in Tampa, Florida.

Thoughts on the following

Thrash metal:

JV: 10 out of 10, prior to saying, 1990.

Death Metal

JV: What I was musically best known for, in the ’80s and ’90s. A big fan, old the old school, because at age 53, I am old!

Me too. Thoughts on black metal then and now.

JV: In the beginning, with the earliest forms of it, in the ’80s, into the very early ’90s, it was invigorating and truly underground. Like so many sub-genres of heavy metal in general, record companies came seeking profits, over the purity of sound. Money talks, indeed. Many a band came and went, or dramatically altered their sound. To achieve commercial success. Today, I rarely listen to any new black metal. In fact, other than old friends Profanatica. I have not heard any new black metal, in at least twenty years.

Power metal

JV: Love it!! The heavier side of it. Bands like, Cirith Ungol, Brocas Helm and Manila Road. I was never big into the heavy on the keyboards, symphonic power metal bands. I enjoyed those annual Powermad, power metal festivals, once held outside Baltimore, MD. In Brooklyn, MD. About 18 years ago.

Doom metal:

JV: My favourite sub-genre, of heavy metal. A huge proponent of traditional doom, began with, as we all know, Black Sabbath, in earnest….and through the decades offered us such timeless heavy bands as Trouble, Candlemass, St. Vitus, Pentagram, Solitude Aeturnus, etc!! I would often film bands and hang out at this very cool club, that turned into a Latin dance club, called Phantasmagoria, in the 1990s. I became friendly with some of the bands, over the years in that genre, from the MD/DC doom metal areas. I consider Scott “Wino” from Spirit Caravan, The Obsessed, Vitus, etc..a friend. I cannot recommend traditional doom metal enough to others.

So now your wife ended up working for newsstand mag Metal Maniacs a few years back. Now make everyone jealous and name the famous people you have met.

JV: Well, we met a few characters in metal, over the years. Particularly, my wife was a senior journalist with, Metal Maniacs magazine, between 1995 to 2009. On our honeymoon several years ago, in London, England. I set up an interview for the magazine, with our friend Dave Hogg, the original Angel Witch percussionist. Dave provided us with a private tour, in his car, of clubs Angel Witch played in the late ’70s, and into the ’80s, in and around, old London town. We were mesmerized, in awe really. Then we had lunch at the first Hard Rock Cafe, located across from Hyde Park, where my wife interviewed Dave, about his years with Angel Witch. My wife, Sue, went by the name, Sue Nolz. She interviewed several well-known musicians in person, such as Dio, Dickinson, Halford, COC, etc over the years. At one point, in the ’90s, magazine editor Mike Greenblatt, invited her to become assistant editor. Sue was honoured but was working in marketing full time, and did not have the time to do it. Liz Ciavarella took the position. Here is one more interesting tidbit, concerning an interview Sue did. It occurred the day of September 10, 2001, in lower Manhattan, near the World Trade Towers, with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. As we know, a mere hours later, the world radically changed, with the 9/11 attacks. Bruce ended up stuck in Manhattan, with all of US air travel ceased, for a week’s time. Just a side note, it was Katherine Ludwig who invited Sue to be a journalist in 1995 after seeing her fanzine, Manic Reaction.

Yes is Liz Ciavarella and she does promos today. Any people that were particular dicks you met over the years?

JV: Oh, there have been a few lol…Thankfully, the majority have been cool. Many I lost touch with, over the years. Life and related responsibilities, often cause distancing. We tend to lose touch, often not intentionally. But yes, to reiterate, I met my fair share, of dicks. Remember kids, most people are dicks!

Is there someone you would like to meet that you haven’t yet?

JV: Yes, an Italian, former doom metal guitarist, that was an original band member of Death SS. Paul is also a distant relative of my wife, in the old country, of Italy. A chain is an interesting person to me, both inside and outside of music. Allegedly, during an incantation he was performing, a dagger flew across the room, and stabbed him in the eye. He lost his eye, due to that incident. I would be interested in picking his brain. Today, he plays jazz only. Bummer. Besides Paul Chain. It would be Diamanda Galas. I always wanted to meet her, she is as bizarre, as she is interesting.

Favourite show you have been to?

JV: Very tricky to reply properly, as I have seen literally well over 500 concerts, since 1981. One of, being my first, when I was 13 years of age, in 1981. I went to see Iron Maiden open for Judas Priest, at the Tower Theater. You never forget your first, with anything in life. It left a lifelong impression on me.

Then give me a top 10 then

JV: My top ten has been fairly consistent for several decades.
The Doors, Hawkwind, Motorhead, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rush, Porcupine Tree, Possessed, Trouble, Death SS.

You, like I, have seen the underground from almost the beginning, where do you see it headed in 2021 and beyond?

JV: So far above the ground, it is in orbit. Is there underground in 2021 or a retro, niche market? I have been out of the underground (not the 1990s NJ fanzine) for so long, that I am sincerely unaware if one still exists.

So do you have a YouTube page or a place where people can check out the stuff you have taped over the years?

JV: Yes, sir. Here is a link, to my work. I had over 1,000 clips listed but had to remove over 400.

My user name on YouTube is: gglaw42 I added 10-minute clips, due to YouTube constraints. I like to think of them, like blasts from my past. Hopefully, the footage brings back memories; and, creates new ones.

So has anything new come out in the last few years that you liked?

JV: Yes, a bunch, that I have heard. Several old favourite bands, like new Alcatraz, with Graham Bonnet, back on vocals, who has since left!! The last Immolation record, which is now about 5 years old, was the best new death metal album, I have heard in years! I like my old friend Vince from Acheron’s new band, Infidel Reich. The MSG projects, the Schenker fests, featuring, the various, original singers. That was impressive. That latest Accept is an instant headbanging classic! Outside of metal, a lot of the stoner rock bands, I’ve been a fan of for several decades, are releasing solid rock albums, such as new: Fu Manchu, Nebula, Acid King, Solace, Etc. A young, new band, formed in 2016 based in Australia, is Amyl and the Sinners….a bit of Motorhead with tits!!!

If you could book your own concert, at say L’Amour ‘s in Brooklyn, NY, give me a 5 band line-up and what album they would be touring off of?

JV: Assuming it is a 2021, modern concert. It is cool to see a mix of ’80s underground music, that still exist today. Sodom, Coroner, Venom with Cronos, Death SS; and, Exciter.

Is there any bands that you thought would be a lot bigger than they ever got?

JV: Absolutely. Several, a few are Coroner, Blackthrone, featuring Graham Bonnet, in the ’90s and more recent recording/reunion. Without a doubt Trouble, they were on their way, by 1990. UFO, believe it or not, peaked by 1979….then their powerhouse German guitarist, Schenker quits. One more, Riot. They should have been HUGE! (totally agree-cf)

So now when you look back, do you think major labels sticking their noses into signing bands like Kreator, Raven, Entombed, Testament, Exodus, etc ruined things for these bands and the many others I could name?

JV: Affirmative! Some of these bands, were like a mouse, to a mousetrap. Lured falsely in with empty promises and/or their own desires to make it big, in the music industry. A band that comes right to mind is Angel Witch. In 1980 they were bigger than Iron Maiden, on the grand scale as say, Saxon, in the NWOBHM. Mismanagement and inner band turmoil sent them into quasi-obscurity for years. They should have been HUGE! Then there are bands like Status Quo, and Uriah Heep, they were, and remain very popular everywhere, but here, in our nation. A myriad of reasons can be attributed to many of these bands, the inability to reach a certain level. And is some cases to temporarily give into, the powers that be, under their music contracts.

Favourite format. Cassette, vinyl or CD, and why?

JV: I sell all three said formats, in addition to reel-to-reels and 8 tracks, lol! I go to, since 1985, are CDs. In general, a compact disc trumps streaming in a car, at home, Et Al. Perfection to my ears, for literally, 36 years and counting.

Can you believe after all these years your still listening to this style of music?

JV: I never wavered, since the 1970s! I remember a few people over the decades telling me, “Oh, you will outgrow that music!” Can you imagine the balls on these people, saying that? First, what’s it to them what I listen to? Second, and most importantly, about their antagonistic, egocentric, fallacies. I sincerely enjoy many bands that I always have. It was always more than a passing fad to me, in many ways; it is a part of who I am. And will always be.

Rarest piece of music you own?

JV: For memorabilia, I own the original Metallica, Master Of Puppets, gold award record, presented to Marsha and Jon Zazula, of Megaforce Records. It used to hang above Jonny Z’s office desk, in the 1980s, for years. It is a Canadian award, from 1987.

That’s cool. Anything you are personally searching for?

JV: I am always seeking others metal and rock collections, to resell these days. For me, I am looking for the first Rush 7″, Garden Road, from 1973. Also, Dr Shock records, a local horror TV host.

Have you reconnected with many people from years past on Facebook?

JV: Yes, some as far back as grade school.

How good of an interviewer do you think you were and same for filming concerts?

JV: I became talented with filming, a natural, I believe. I did torture some viewers with my heavy use of built-in camera, FX, that were ahead of their time 31 years ago lol… As for interviewing, I am rather introverted; and, rarely felt comfortable doing it, unless I personally knew the band. For example, with Decaying Visions, Chris Bade primarily interviewed the bands, as I filmed. I did several interviews solo but I felt a bit of a fanboy dick doing it.

Well, it is great that people can see some of them on YouTube. If someone wants to contact you, where can they find you and please post any places that your videos are at?

JV: Thank you, Chris. My youtube is: ; I am frequently on Facebook, under my full name. I have a few online stores as well, eBay and Discogs, been doing that a while now.

John, horns up for doing this interesting and fun chat. Any last words to wrap this up?

JV: Chris, it’s been a genuine pleasure. I often feel peculiar discussing myself, but it is very cool that anyone remembers me, all these years later. Let alone are interested, in my past and present. I hope we get to hang out again when this pandemic soon ends. Thanks to everyone who took the time out, to read my interview; and keep supporting metal. Invest some money in physical products, by these various hard-working bands. Best to you Chris; and all out there.

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