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Notch Vara
March 28th, 2002
By Angela Monger from :

Tell me a little bit about the band.
Back in the early '80s I was in another band called Seance and I used to jam with this bass player that went on to play with Riot and the drummer went on to play with Riot also and then that guy went on to play with Machine Head which they're still playing. Another bass player went to Riot so we grew up with all these musicians that are really very good. There was kind of a rivalry with Dave Lee. He had another band called the Dave Lee Band and everytime we'd see each other we'd always put our fists up like "we're going to get you." Years later, around the summer of '87, I had quit that band because I got tired of these guys and then the singer that was singing with Dave, they were already called Byfist and he asked me if I wanted to play. I said "okay, yeah I'll go jam with Dave. I've played with him before." He was always a cool dude and I liked the way he wrote. Real aggressive like the way I write. It's faster, aggressive but we can also play ballads. Not right now. If we have to we will for a long set. Way back then, you played clubs or places and you'd have to play a full three or four hours. It'd be maybe one band that opened up for 30 minutes and then you'd have to take the rest of it. We got used to it. You gotta play ballads when you play that many songs. That's the way you rest up there. Since '87 to somewhere like May or so of '91, we were doing really good. We had a few record distribution deals up in I think it was Norway or somewhere over there where we sold our second release called "You Should Have Known". I think we sold something like 150,000 copies of that thing and the year before that we made a little 7 inch 45. The quality was pretty awful because it was the first time we had gone into the studio and trusted the guy. We didn't do anything. We just let the engineer do it. It didn't come out good. That was the way it was. We opened up and played a lot of places in town and we just got fed up with the San Antonio scene. We mainly concentrated in Houston. In '90 or '91 we played in Houston a lot. At least once a month and those guys were really good over there. They really liked the metal we were playing. Over here in San Antonio at that time, there was all glam and commercial stuff. Of course we didn't fit that bill. "Ya'll are too heavy." After four years it just got to Dave and Vic. They had a falling out deal but Dave decided to quit so I said "okay let's say it's over." We hadn't played sine '91 and then Dave called everybody up to see if we wanted to jam again in 2000. Everybody just happened to be available so we got back together and we started hitting the pavement again. Now it's so much easier because of the computer like email. I'd say we started sending out the free CDs maybe half a year ago I guess. We sent out close to 1500 so far. We've been getting all sorts of record companies offering deals. Mostly from Europe though. They still like that classic heavy metal.
That's real big in Europe right now.
I know that there's a lot of people in every city that still like heavy metal but it's not like over there. Over there it's really crazy. All sorts of people are emailing. It's really cool and we get good reviews. I haven't seen a bad one yet and hopefully we never do. If we do, it's just that maybe the guy or girl didn't like that style of music. We've been busy. We've been in the studio since October and we're supposed to get the CD out but a few weeks ago Dave and I joined up with Reverend. If you go to the Reverend site you'll get an idea of what that's about. Their site is for more information. We didn't get halty with the Byfist project. It's just now we're back in the studio and we're going to be doing two CDs at the same time. One for Reverend and one for Byfist.
You're going to be very busy.
Oh yeah. Dave and I have so many songs that we've written. We're just going to go in there and record them all and just pick whichever ones we want for this one and whichever ones Dave Wayne wants for Reverend. That way we can get it going. That's what we've been doing. This April 5th we're going to be playing at Medieval Knights here in San Antonio. It's a Bang Your Head Festival. It's supposed to be two nights on Friday and Saturday. We're playing on Friday night. I think we're third up right before Gahdzilla Motor Company.
That's cool that Gahdzilla Motor Company is going to be there. I remember Jason from Dangerous Toys.
He was with Dangerous Toys and before that he was with a band called Watchtower. Those guys were really good. Back in the early '80s, maybe like '82 or '83 was when I remember seeing them. Those guys were really good. They had a different style of playing but those guys were really good musicians.
Jason seems to have a lot going on with Gahdzilla Motor Company and every once in a while Dangerous Toys hits the road. Then he's got Broken Teeth and then he's got his little KISS tribute band so he's got his hands full.
I guess that's the only way to really try to keep busy. Just like we're finding out now. With the Reverend and now the Byfist thing, we got plans to go touring but it just depends on what days are available for this other group and for this one.
Is Reverend a new band or have they been around for a while?
Actually David Wayne's from Seattle and they started the music scene right around the time when Metallica was coming out and Metallica was the one that got those guys signed originally. They were in a band called Metal Church. That's the singer from the first two albums of Metal Church. That's the singer that we're playing with now in Reverend and I think they did Reverend from '84 to '87 or '88. Something like that. Then he formed Reverend in '89 and I think they had three releases and a live album. Then he also stopped in '91. The same year we stopped he stopped also. Then he got back together in the year 2000 like we did. It's pretty strange like coincidence. He's got another project too. He's got a project called Wayne and his album is called Wayne's Metal Church. It's like David Wayne's Metal Church. He was getting in a hassle with one of the guitar players from Metal Church and he had to drop that idea. He's been busy. Then us, that's where we're at. Doing the studio work. We want to get both CDs because people have been waiting for quite a long time for the new stuff. I know a lot of people have the Adrenaline EP that we did.
That's what I have.
Is it a CD or a cassette?
It's a CD.
That cassette was no good. You record good but then when it gets transferred on to a cassette it really loses the quality. The CD came out pretty good. We're pleased with that one.
I had an opportunity to review the CD. I thought it was good.
Thanks. We like it and most everybody else does. I think the newer stuff on the CD is going to be way heavier. It still has that '80s feel but it's real heavy. Somebody was saying it's mint breaking metal. We enjoy it. When it's your God given talent to do music well I guess that's what you gotta do.
David Wayne also produced your album and Joe Floyd from Warrior engineered it.
Right. We took a little road trip. We had Dave Wayne down here and we went to a studio here and we recorded two songs which eventually came out to be on that Adrenalin EP. Dave Wayne said "these studios here don't give you any justice. We have to get you to California and Burbank. I got a buddy at a studio. You can get a good recording over there and these guys are good." We took his word and we went there. We've known Dave Wayne for quite a number of years already and we've always been friends. Everytime he's down here we put him up and when he was with Reverend we had barbecues and stuff. We hung out and partied with our buddy. He's always been a good guy. It's just pretty cool how we wound up starting to jam with him after knowing him for all these years. That's how that happened.
In 1991 you were forced to disband because of legal problems with the record label and management team.
You know how you're together with somebody. You have five guys, roadies, and you're touring in every little city. It gets to you. I know we were in Houston one time and Vic was telling us about the manager we had at the time. Right before that we had a record deal with MCA and that manager went behind our backs and got an entertainment lawyer in L. A. This guy wanted a tremendous amount of money from the record company and MCA was telling him "this was a way better deal than we offer. We don't offer this kind of money to first time bands until we know we can make some money with these guys. What you're wanting is ridiculous." That happened there. Then we got stuck. We couldn't find a deal because our hands were tied with that manager and then that lawyer. With that frustration it just led to the end of it like that. This isn't going to work because we're stuck. Can't do anything. We had the deal and we would have done it if we had known about it but the manager just pulled the wool over our eyes. He thought he was going to make some cash on the side and didn't tell us anything so it was really bad. It was just a big mess. That's the overall picture of what happened but there's a lot more stuff. There's too many details. It was 11 years ago. The past is past and we just learn from mistakes and that's why we're taking our time. With all these record labels offering stuff, we've been here before. Not just going to jump at the first one. We're gonna just take what we want. What's the best for us. We're going from there. It won't be too long I think.
Your first single was "Hourglass Of Time". You toured with bands like the Michael Schenker Group, Fates Warning, and Savatage.
Right. Savatage, Trouble, Killer Dwarves, Frank Marino, Michael Schenker Group. There's a lot of them. Manowar, Fates Warning, Reverend. There's a lot of them. Try to remember them all.
So you got to tour with Reverend and now you're in Reverend.
Yeah, that's pretty cool. You look up to the guy like man we were always Metal Church fans and then here comes David Wayne with Reverend and we get to open up for them and then we get to jam with them. That's cool. You gotta leave that door open like that. You have to be friends with everybody. In anything really because you don't want to burn bridges.
Especially in this business. You performed at Ultrasound 2001 in Burbank, CA and your set was so hot you literally set off the fire alarms.
Yeah, let me tell you about that. Actually we were interested in this label from North Carolina called LTS Records. Vince Neil from Motley Crue is backing this guy up with clothing lines and stuff. He's the one that got us to go over there. He said "hey man, even if you don't sign with my label I want you all to go over there." He paid for our entrance and registration to go so we went over there. He didn't show up. I don't know what happened. I guess we didn't sign with him and he felt that maybe we should have signed with him beforehand. It was both ways. The guy was a nice guy but we just weren't ready. We were but if he would have gone we probably would have signed with him. Since he didn't show up we were like wow because he was supposed to give us all the ins and outs. The dos and don'ts. Nobody told us anything about not having a fog machine so that's the way we always do it. We always use fog to start the show. When we came out we did a little test and we sent the fog all over the stage and the soundcheck and all. Then the guy says "you all ready?" "Yeah, do it." We jammed our set and when we finished the fire marshal from Burbank and the manager of the hotel, this was at a convention center, and all these other people came. "Who's in charge here?" We didn't know who it was. Then our bass player Ray tells Dave "hey there's some people who want to talk to you. They must be record executives or something." Dave says okay and that guy says "who is going to pay us the $250 for setting off that false fire alarm?" Dave said "what? I'm not paying you jack. We're not paying you a penny dude." He used some choice words. What happened was that they said that our fog machine set off a fire alarm so they came over and let me tell you, outside the auditorium there was a big banquet and the drinks like alcohol, sodas, and all this. This fire marshal made the hotel take all that stuff and throw it outside and they quarantined it. Those guys were pissed off. They lost thousands of dollars. All that food and beverages. I bet you they were all mad at us for that. We had a big fight about that. They tried to force us to pay but I wrote a good letter when I got home to my VISA card. We didn't have to pay anything. We got out of it but that's what it was. That's how people do remember us. "Oh yeah, you're the one that set that fire alarm off. Then all that food went to waste because they threw it all away. Those guys were all mad at you guys." That's how that happened.
Shouldn't that guy have come and see you perform before he decided whether to sign you or not?
He hadn't seen us play. That CD you got, that's what he did. We sent out a lot of them to record companies and a lot of them were interested. This guy was really interested and just kept on and kept on. He sent us over there to get exposure. We took it for what he said. No hard feelings with him. He's a good guy. We like the guy and his offer still stands. He said "hey my offer is still as good as gold for you guys. If you don't sign with somebody I'd still like to have you." The door's open. We didn't burn any bridges there. We didn't cuss him out like "how come you weren't here?" Just professional and just went on with our business and did what we had to do.
You're also going to be performing at The White Rabbit on April 27th.
Yeah, Byfist is going to be headlining that show. That's in San Antonio also. We're also going to be doing the debut of Reverend that night. After Byfist finishes, we're going to do maybe five or six songs with Reverend. Me and Dave and I think our bass player Ray are going to go ahead and do the show with Dave Wayne and the drummer Todd. It'll be our first time that we play as Reverend so it should be pretty cool. I think a lot of people are going to show up for this one. The capacity is only 900 peoplel but I'm sure it'll be packed. I'd say between here and Medieval Knights, The White Rabbit has a really nice stage and it has lights. The sound system is really good. That's where most bands would go. Bands like King's X and Megadeth. They would go there to play. It's not that big of a venue but it does get packed in there. It should be a good show though, for people that come down and check it out. See what Byfist is up to and also Reverend's first show. That should be pretty good.
Byfist is also being considered to fill the opening slot for the Udo/Wayne European tour.
Yeah, that was on a few months ago because Udo and David Wayne are signed to Nuclear Blast. The same record label. They were already in the works of doing a tour together but Udo had to finish his CD and I don't think it's done yet. We were still good buddies with Dave so he wanted us to go do a little tour in Germany so we told him sure we'll do it. That's what that is. Nothing's been confirmed yet but we just told him that we would do it.
Have you been overseas before?
Personally I have. Not as a band. I've been over there when I was an Air Force brat growing up. My dad was in the military so we travelled all over the place. I've been in Europe. I went to school in Italy so I visited Italy, Germany, Spain, France. It's pretty cool. It's totally different than over here, that's for sure.
My mom's from Switzerland so I've had the opportunity to travel to different places over there. Germany is my favorite. They've got the best beer.