interviews

Interview with Lily Quan, Bayarea Music Mag

transcript of an email chain of interview questions from 2015

transcribed by the Angie Patron and used by permission of BMM

Predator

Lily Quan Since I first discovered the band and have been in contact with you I see you have had to revame the entire website. Did the content change, or just the coding end?
Vengeance’s lead singer and bassist and webmaster, Guy I had used an out of the box theme and customized it alot, and the new php update rendered it unusable, the site would crash, but luckily the way WordPress works you can keep the content, you just have to reformat it, so I had to go through page by page and fix stuff, there was no quick fix. While I was doing that I added more content I had found and rearranged some stuff and made the whole thing more accessable and aethetically pleasing. But it was not a major revamp on the content side. Someday I play to re-digitize the audio and video and that will be an upgrade, but when will I do it? I dunno.

LQ: I read some of your blog posts on your progress, and your opinion or attitude towards a lot of the music and just the scene has evolved over time. How has your opinion of your own music changed?

Guy: Well the lyrics of the early stuff are just embarassingly stupid, but it was the style of the time to do crotchrock. They just sound pretty juvenile and trite to me now. But about the time of Bad Crazy I started writing stuff I feel holds up today.

LQ What about musically?

Guy I’m very proud of our work, especially the fact we pulled off the harmony vocals and guitars live. This was a really good band and we were recognized as one of the best bands in Tampa, and certainly in Brandon. But lesser bands had more success so go figure.

LQ Does that still bother you?

Guy I rarely think about it, so no, it was just a sign of how stupid the times were. Now we are all in our 50s-60s and some of my contemporaries have reformed and are still playing that stuff that was crap when they wrote it. I think our stuff is much more musically sound than that, and I would never go back and play our old stuff, it’s kind of pathetic to see these 60+ year old guys “rocking out” at the Brass Mug like we did as teenagers. I’ve expressed this opinion and gotten a lot of hate back.

Predator

LQ: Really? In what way?

Guy: Well I responded to an invite to one of those bands’ gigs with the opinion that the reason they were playing that old crap is none of those bands progressed past keg party metal originals. Our band moved on to hard rock covers (with part vocals like Extreme, Queensryche, Queen, etc, see our video section) and then in the ’90s to alternative and classic and played the A-circuit for 20 years while no member of any of those bands, Siren, Nasty Savage, Atomic Whatsit ever did. That hit a nerve, but it’s true. No one in any of those bands had the musical chops or education to do anything but garage metal. What got on my tits was the fact they were REVISITING that lame old crap. I just thought it was stupid and useless and said so.

LQ Ouch, sounds like you burnt some bridges on some old friendships.

Guy Very few of those guys were ever my friends, much less so now. I was stone enemies with Siren’s singer Doug Lee but in the years after we ended up working together and even partnering in the construction business and he became a good friend and I came to realize what a decent and intelligent guy he was. I can’t really think of anyone else I have a real friendship with.

One of the guys I was closest with and played in various bands in addition to my own band for years, we had a major falling out and didn’t speak for a long time and then I finally had half a conversation with him and I remembered why I stopped dealing with him. I’m not going to mention his name here but never has anyone had a bigger head for less reason. I never did get along with most of the people in the “scene” except a small circle of friends who were in the really good bands. I played in as many of 4 of those bands at a time while in Vengeance Inc. and had a lot of fun. But I’ve lost contact with all of them too. I had kids late, my kids are the age of most of my contemporaries’ grandkids, and once you have young kids you lose the time for friends, unless they have kids too. My very best friend dislikes kids, and that’s a problem because my kids are like a part of me. So that’s fine, he’s entitled, but it makes it hard for us to get together.

LQ Getting back to the music, which songs are you the most proud of looking back from a distance now..

Guy Most anything from Bad Crazy I still like and feel good about. Most anything but HMSQ or the title track from Predator I hate, and even those are iffy. Malicious Intent’s genesis was so screwy I don’t know how to feel about it, it had some good songs, many of which we played live. The last one I went back and excised a bunch of my solo stuff I had put on there to fill out, it was just really lame, now it’s tighter and has some good stuff on it without the dross to take away from that.

LQ Can you talk about any specific songs?

Guy O, I feel like I’ve done this alot before because the same answers come out automatically. I like “Meltdown”, I like the arrangement and melody and think its a good song, and it’s close to my heart because I did all the instrumentation, even programming the drums. Mike did the backing vocals with me and came up with the idea for the big vocal “swell” on “dragon that you hunted”. He always had a lot of “icing on the cake” ideas to add original and fresh ideas to tracks, both compositionally and recording techniques. We all worked really well together. I always brag on the fact I kept 4 guys together for 12 years and it was only the dissolution of anywhere to play metal that finally killed the band, and 3 of use continued on for 10 more years playing covers in the A-circuit.

LQ As you say, that song “Meltdown” is almost a solo effort, which songs that rely more on the ensemble do you reflect back on as being worthwhile?

Predator

Guy: A lot actually, we did some really progressive, in an Iron Maiden type of way, songs, like “Chase the Dragon”, “Nightmare Landscape”, “Damned if you Do” etc. that had a lot of tempo changes and instrumental breaks and were pretty long songs. We pulled many of them off live and I think they hold up well and we really did them justice. Of course we would compose and rehearse, then record an entire LP, then tour the songs and record it all again, so we had these down pat. “Bad Crazy” is another song I really like, especially the break which I nicked off a West Side Story song. “Latter Days” is another song in this vein, which I think is very good, at the end we did snippets from 6-7 songs on the album all sewed together, ala “More of that Jazz” by Queen, but while they did it with tape edits, we did it live.

LQ How about the more commercial side of Vengeance Incorporated?

Guy You know I’ve done this ‘retrospective’ gig so many times I just feel like I’m repeating lines rather than my own opinion anymore, it’s like trying to critique Beatles’ songs, you’ve heard them so many times you don’t have an opinion anymore. I’ve gone through various stages with how I felt about our stuff, but at the moment it leaves me kind of cold. I have no interest in listening to it and even talking about it just seems boring now. Sorry, that’s just kind of how I feel after all this time. We had a period of renewed interest when some guy was talking about putting out a box set of all our stuff and he set up a lot of publicity interveiws, on radio, audio interviews, written ones and we covered this stuff endlessly..

LQ Well, can you humor me and just give me a taste of what you think about your more commercial side? I was struck by the very marketable music you created in addition to the “progressive” stuff you mentioned.

Guy It wasn’t calculated, but we did come up with some “singles”- “Whipped” was somewhat a blatant attempt at a marketable song, but I remember it came about organically, then we thought, ok, this could be commercial. Same with “It’s Not Over” and to a lesser extent “Goodbye ’89”, which ended up being too long for that, and “Don’t Say Goodnight” was a definite late stab at commecial viability. I think they are all decent songs that don’t suffer from trying too hard to be commercial. At the time we were very disdainful of “Living After Midnight” and “Too Hot To Handle” type stuff and we would never have laid down like that. The songs I just mentioned came about naturally in our normal writing and creative manner, we didn’t shape them to be commercial necessarily. I think they are all very melodic and have cool arrangement, especially the backing vocals. We always did work very hard on that.

LQ: Anything else you’d like to talk about?

Guy: Nothing comes to mind but I feel like I’m in a shitty mood about the whole thing and giving you a bad time instead of a decent interview, but I swear it’s not intentional. Let me think on it and I’ll get back to you when I figure out if I have anything valuable or original to say. I really feel like I owe you more.

LQ Please don’t feel that way, I love all this and you are so brutally frank and open about how you feel about stuff I really enjoy it after so many “packaged” bands giving me the same old shit. But please, yes, I would love to continue this. I’ll try to think of better questions too.

Guy: You are being very kind, thank you.

LQ: Thank you for the interview and I hope to hear from you soon!

Guy: Thank you for the opportunity and thanks for putting up with my bullcrap.