Interview with Tony from Municipal Waste
While catching up with thrash revivalist Municipal Waste's frontman and master of disaster Tony Fontana during the last day of their tour with Lamb of God, we talked about their trek, learned a lot about the Virginia quartet's soon to be released album MA
So talk a little bit about the tour, Lamb of God, man, how’s it’s going?
Well, we haven’t been home for almost seven and a half weeks. We went and mixed the album right at the beginning of the tour, so we’ve been on the road forever, but today’s the last day. Last night, we played Richmond, which is our home town and that was a really crazy show. The tour’s been great. The crowd’s been really receptive to us. The crowd actually goes crazier for the new stuff, so I guess that’s a good sign, just seeing people digging our new songs. We’ve been playing a couple new songs every night just so the crowd can get used to ‘em and it’s been cool...the response has been really good.
What’s the difference between the new stuff and the old stuff? How do you see people reacting different?
Well I hate to say it's more aggressive‘cause that’s the name of the album, but it is. It’s a little bit heavier and a little bit faster and it’s got parts that make people move around. It’s definitely got some circle pit anthems on there.
Talk a little bit about the recording process. What was easy and hard to do, who you worked with, etc.?
We worked with Zeuss, who did our last album, who's famous for all those other crazy bands that he’s done. He really was stressed about making the record sound good and he wanted to be-- everyone to be happy with it. He pushed each band member really hard to get the best performances out of us. He did a really good job man. We’re so proud of it, like, really proud of this record. It came out so good.
Any highlights, song titles, any funny stories from recording?
There’s a song that’s called “Upside Down Church.” It’s the ultimate evil song, ‘cause what’s more metal and evil than an upside down Church? Nothing. Yeah! So, “Upside Down Church" and “Shredded Offering"...those are the two that we’ve been playing on this tour and they're just heavier and quicker, faster, and pissed-ter!
How do you spend your downtime on the road?
Drinking has been quite the thing on this tour. But no, that’s not all we do. There’s a lot of people who think that. But on this tour it’s really just been trying to get to the next place because almost every day off we had, our van would fuck up or we’d have a van problem. It was crazy dude. We’ve been through five vans on this tour. We broke down in the middle of the mountains in Canada. And we had to rent a truck. We rode to the show in the back of a pickup truck. We pulled up to the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto in a pickup truck. And we always say "Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up". And so the Lamb of God dudes say, “Municipal Waste is in a pickup truck.” So yeah, that’s been crazy. Usually what we do on our down time is get our fucking van fixed and try to get to the next show. And it’s so weird ‘cause we don’t break down when we have a show. But when we have a day off it’ll fucking break down. So there’s our day off, in a rest area waiting for a tow truck.
I’m sure you guys have some crazy rest area stories, stuff you’ve seen across the country.
I stayed with Lamb of God. I rode in their bus one night. And I was in the crew bus, the crew-- you know, it’s like 15 dudes and we’re all sitting up in the bus, watching movies, drinking beer. And it was five in the morning and both buses stopped at this rest area. We all poured out and it looked like just a crew of drunk zombies walking around this rest area, like a truck stop. I was like, I feel bad for the people that work here. They must probably think all these scary metal zombies are wandering around the place.
That's fodder for a film or something!.
I was looking at Randy (Lamb of God) and I was like, yeah, man everyone’s half asleep and everybody’s hair’s fucked up and it’s really funny.
Municipal Waste has always been talked about as being on the cusp of the thrash revival...talk about thrash metal in general and some of the new favorites you’ve seen and some of the old favorites you guys still keep close to your hearts.
I mean a lot of people say that we’re leading a revival or whatever. And I think that’s cool, it’s awesome that there’s bands out there doing that, you know? It’s crazy ‘cause when we started, that was it...there wasn’t anybody. We were playing it ‘cause we loved that type of music, you know? We were playing it in our basements and people’s living rooms and shit, and it’s crazy how over the past eight, almost nine years now, it's come back in full force. It’s cool to be a part of it, you know? It’s also cool, as far as being a part of it, to be able to tour with and meet bands that I used to idolize, like touring with Destruction and shit like that. It’s an honor. And I get to meet rad people all the time. And I think it’s really cool to hear that Scott Ian digs my band. Like I met Kerry King and he told me that he has the Waste in his iPod. I thought that was cool as shit, man. I love being a part of it. I love being a part of something that’s exciting and that people believe in and get behind. It’s exciting.
So for people that don’t know, why should someone come see a Municipal Waste show?
Why should people come to see us? I don’t know. I think we’re definitely a thrash band. But we have our own thing going on. We’re not trying to rip anybody off. We bring our own energy and we bring a good time. We have a fun show and we play ‘cause we love it and we have a good time up there, and I think the crowd feeds off that. You know? It’s a good time. Come out and chin up.
Any memorable shows you can tell us about? Anything that stands out in your mind?
There’s been so many shows. We toured with At The Gates. How many people can say they did that? You know, what a fucking honor. We played with shows with NOFX. We played with fucking Slayer. That rules, ‘cause we’re able to play with so many different kinds of bands. You know? So yeah, I love it, it’s just exciting. I get to see all these killer bands, that I would have to usually pay money to see. What makes us different is we don’t care about being rock stars. We’re just doing it ‘cause we like to have a good fucking time. And I mean even the people that used to be in our band are still good friends with us. I mean we did a reunion show with our first album's lineup playing the entire first album and nobody in the current band gave a fuck, you know? They’re just like, “Oh cool. I get to go see the Waste and I don’t have to play"...just cool like that. There’s no egos...we’re all just doing it ‘cause we love it. We’re having a good time. And I think that people that know our band know that about us.
What are you looking to do that you haven’t done before musically or career-wise or performance-wise with the new album?
Tour Japan. We’ve toured everywhere the world, and we’ve never done Japan. We’ve done Australia. We’ve done Iceland. We played fucking Puerto Rico. We’ve never been to Japan. It’s so weird. So that’s what I want to do damn it.
What are the touring plans for the immediate future?
We're gonna do Europe and the US tours with us headlining. We’re gonna bring out bands that we like. And we’re gonna-- then after that we’re gonna just start doing crazy shit like doing Brazil, Australia, Japan, do a proper Canada run ‘cause Canada was great on this tour.
Stemming from this experience with the Lamb of God guys, what kind of bill would you guys want to put together ultimately or what kind of bill do you guys dream of being on that you haven’t been on yet?
I want to tour with Motorhead and Slayer and Cannibal Corpse. I love Cannibal Corpse. And I think for everyone in our band, those are the three bands that we’re waiting for to call us. Go on and call us dudes. ‘Cause we love ‘em. And yeah, that’s a definite. What other dream tours? If Violence ever did a reunion, I would want to do that.
Who was probably your-- the most underrated thrash band you feel that never got the recognition they deserve?
I think Tankard is pretty underrated. I really liked that band and I don’t think a lot of people really know about them. You’d be surprised whenI tell people about Tankard and they’re like, “What?” I guess because they’re from Germany and the records are a bit harder to find. But I would say they’re pretty underrated. Like they weren’t even in that GET THRASHED movie that much, yet that was one of the first thrash bands I heard.
What initially got you into thrash metal?
I just liked the fact that it was punk. There’s a punk side to thrash, and I guess that was the gateway for me ‘cause I grew up listening to a lot of punk and hardcore and stuff like that. And then I started after hearing SOD and DRI and shit like that kind of opened the flood gates.
Do you still skateboard or have you retired?
I used to skateboard when I was kid, but I was actually more of a surfer. I lived in Florida. But yeah, I can’t do that anymore. I’m not good at all. I suck. I tried it not too long ago and it was miserable.
When you're not working in Municipal Waste isn’t on the road, what do you do back in Virginia? Well, after getting back tomorrow, I’m leaving in a week to go on a bike trip. I ride bikes a lot. Me and four of my friends are riding our bikes from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, which is pretty far. It’s gonna take seven days to do it. That’s what I do. I like to get out and just hang out with my friends. I love playing basketball and just meeting people, drinking, listening to records, going to hardcore shows. Shit like that man, I still love music so much, I go to shows almost every night when I’m in town, I’m home. When I’m not on tour and listening to bands, I’m at home watching bands or listening to records.
What’s the main thrust regarding the new album you want to really convey to everyone?
The thing that we want to convey most is that if they’re looking for another party album, go buy our last two records because we’re taking it a little bit further. We’re just trying to do something different, be a little bit more creative, and I think we actually did it. The people that have heard it say “Wow, you guys did it, you guys really made something different.” Instead of just doing another thrash record like everybody else, I think we kind of brought our own flavor to it and actually did something creative with the style of music.
Were you guys afraid of not being able to get out of the joke-metal genre and not really get taken seriously?
I don’t mind it. I mean I love having fun and I don’t give shit and if people don’t like that, then whatever. We’ll always joke around and we’ll be funny guys and do our thing. But with this record we just wanted to do something different. And yeah, you know, we’re just-- you know, it feels good to be creative. I don’t want to be a band that just relies on a gimmick. And I think our fans know that and they don’t want that. They want something different too. They want to get their asses stomped by metal.
So I guess it would be safe to say this new album is an ass stomping new direction for you guys?
Yeah, definitely. It’s ass stomping new direction.