Usurper Founder Explains Reason For Split
Guitarist/founder Rick Scythe of Chicago's USURPER has issued the following statement regarding the band's decision to split up:
"As some of you may have heard, the band I formed over 13 years ago is now over. I wrote nearly all the music and most of the lyrics. I came up with the lyrical and artwork concepts, so I feel I owe a detailed account of the life and death of USURPER. I will just try to explain things from my perspective.
"Make no mistake, this decision to end USURPER came down to me. I slammed the final nail in the USURPER coffin and this is the eulogy so to speak.
"When myself and General Diabolical Slaughter formed USURPER in 1993, the idea was to write songs and form a band that brought back the true spirit of mid-80's thrash metal, yet do it in a way that was NOT tongue-in-cheek nor simply re-hashing. As the years went on our sound developed. Thrash metal was and would always be the core of our sound, but we also had dark/haunting elements from day one which came to a peak on our 1998 album, 'Skeletal Season'.
"When 'Skeletal Season' came out, the label (Necropolis) HATED it! It was too dark and creepy and not filled with the cliches they expected. You have to realize at the time, the first 'retro thrash' explosion came out and since USURPER was the original 'retro-thrash' band, they thought it was foolish that we evolved our sound into some deeper, more experimental territories instead of taking a more light-hearted/fun approach as most of these Osmose/Necropolis retro thrash bands were doing... also the horrible production didn't help as a selling point.
"At the end of the day, 'Skeletal Season' became the best-selling USURPER album (until our 2002 release, 'Twilight Dominion') — but as we went on our first European tours in 1998 we realized that a lot of these songs didn't translate as well on the stage.
"After that album I made a conscious effort to refine our sound. To write songs with more initial impact that were shorter and to the point. I eliminated many of the experimental/haunting elements and tried to capture the essence of what USURPER was. The lyrics would still remain dark and creepy but I also felt it necessary to create metal anthems as well.
"...OK, OK, I know... 'enough of the background stuff, tell us what happened?'
"Well, here it is, things just imploded. General reached a breaking point in 2003. We replaced him with Tyrantor, who did a great job as vocalist and frontman, but had his own personal issues in his life and within the band that forced him out. Of course we got 'original' drummer Apocalyptic Warlord back in the band in mid 2003, but he NEVER played one show with USURPER in the old days. Every show and every tour we did with USURPER until then was with Dave Hellstorm (although we did have two other session guys fill in for two mini-tours — one right before and right after Hellstorm was in the band).
"Hellstorm played on more albums/recordings and did more shows than ANY/ALL other USURPER drummers combined, and to most fans Dave Hellstorm was the ONLY USURPER drummer they knew. This isn't to bash any other USURPER drummers, I'm merely stating facts.
"So to back track a bit, we released our final album 'Cryptobeast' with Tyrantor and Warlord now in the band. This album I thought kicked ass and really brought our streamlined thrashing assault to its pinnacle. Unfortunately it was the worst-selling album in our career and we did not do one tour due to lack of interest from the label. We did however do a handful of really kick ass shows, such as headlining the mainstage/day one of the 2006 Inferno festival in Oslo, Norway.
"This was rather perplexing to me, but then as the label told us... times have changed, people now download and burn things... no band is selling like they used to. For a band like CANNIBAL CORPSE, this is not really too much of an issue. For a band like SLAYER, it almost doesn't matter at all, but for a band like USURPER it really helped kill our career. We had no language in our previous contracts to adapt to this new technology, therefore anything sold as a download we did not see any money for, nor did a label have to account as an actual sale. We ended up with a lot of people hearing 'Cryptobeast', yet no one buying it... and no way of using this technology of the Internet age to our advantage.
"Needless to say, our contract ran up with Earache and we were left high and dry. We actually got some interest from a couple 'bigger' labels and a few smaller ones, yet at this time internal struggles were preventing things from progressing.
"I don't want to slag anyone, but let's just say when things were going smooth, ol' Rick Scythe is the big genius, yet as soon as things went into a bit of a slump, I felt this underlying resentment... almost like people were discontent and thought they could do things better. We actually were about to sign with a bigger label and we got an offer to tour Europe in the fall of 2007 as HEADLINERS! This reinvigorated the moral of the band. Things finally seemed to be falling into place again... yet as summer approached Warlord really stressed in a few different ways that he wanted nothing to do with the band. He didn't have a way to get to rehearsals, he didn't want to sign with a new label or do the tour.
"At this point I took my stuff out of the rehearsal room. The next night me, Jon [Necromancer; bass/vocals] and Carc [Carcass Chris; lead guitar] had a meeting. I told them we need to take the summer off and figure things out. I said in the meantime we should still try to get this contract worked out, find a drummer and then regroup in September to do the tour and work on the next album. I also said that I wanted to pursue a side project that I had in mind since right after 'Skeletal Season' came out, that was more in that vein, only even deeper and darker... as the direction USURPER might have taken in a parallel universe at that point. I told the guys, 'Please, if you want to do your own project, join another band, etc... do it now when we have time off'.
"As the summer progressed, I completely lost contact with Jon and although I was still talking to Chris, he was not sure if he did want to continue in the fall. So at this point I recorded the first NIGHTSHADE demo. And here I felt the magic again. It was a feeling I didn't have since me and the General formed USURPER in the mid-'90s. I am able to write all the music and lyrics as with USURPER, yet I have no label to please, no preconceived notions of what the songs 'should' sound like, and nobody singing my words but me. This is a direction both me and the General could have taken years ago.
"Meanwhile, since the rest of the band was undecided on what they wanted to do or downright impossible to get a hold of, I just felt what was the point of beating a dead horse... face it, USURPER is over. Yes, we have at least one more great album to release, but as for now and the foreseeable future, it ain't gonna happen.
"I'm sure Chris and Jon will do something musically, but right now I can't worry about that. I am putting 100% heart and effort into NIGHTSHADE right now. This feels right and it is time for me to move on..."
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