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IMAGIKA - Interview with Steve Rice
By Wojtek Gabriel,
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US power thrash band Imagika
Imagika are back. The California based power thrashers disappeared from the scene for almost a decade, but returned last year and dropped a new album a few weeks back. What's most important, the previous song-writing team are still there, so if you know and like the "old" Imagika, you'll find a lot of familiar sounds on the new release. If, for some reason, you've never heard of this bunch, "Only Dark Hearts Survive" is as good album as any to start familiarising yourself with their work. But first check out my interview with Steve Rice, the band's axeman and main composer.
So, you re-united last year, after a long hiatus. Did any specific events spark the discussion about Imagika's come-back?
Just a reconnect we had while I was on tour with my other band Kill Ritual awhile back when we came to the area where we all kind of live. We were on tour with Iced Earth, so of course these assholes wanted to be on the guest list, ha-ha! So anyway Jim, our bassist played with us that night as he had done our European Kill Ritual tour and was supposed to do this tour also, but had some issues. Anyway Norm made it to the show and we had a little chat and here we go again.
OK, I read somewhere that you re-started the band only to shut up Jim who was constantly nagging you?
Yeah, the fuckin' dude was always talkin' about it. That's why we killed him in the new video. For some reason he's still breathing air. I guess I'll use my car next time. He's only 5 minutes from my house, so I'll run him over after work one of these days!
Ha-ha! And why did you actually disband back in 2010?
It pretty much just ran its course with endless member changes and the fact that we had all changed a bit as people and wanted different things. I thought some of the reasons were bullshit, but that's just me. In hindsight it was probably for the best.
You almost managed to get the previous line-up together again, minus the drummer, but you got King Diamond's Matt Thompson to do the album. How did this collaboration come about?
I've worked with Andy from King Diamond for years now, so when I was thinking drummer, Matt was already on my radar as he already did the last Kill Ritual record for us. No way I was using our old drummer again as he was a nightmare in the studio with endless edits and fixes to his playing. Just bullshit really and we needed a guy that could get it done legit. The performances speak for themselves.
I don't suppose Matt will be able to hit the road with you, so do you already know who will be the new permanent drummer?
No, because, well come on man, he's a busy guy and King Diamond ain't gonna let that happen. I don't think I want some voodoo spell caster shit from King landing on my doorstep anytime soon! Ha-ha! The drummer from Kill Ritual Seamus Gleason has takin' the stool and is a monster in his own right.
I know you all recorded your parts in your home studios. Do you like this way of working, as opposed to actually being together in studio, as a band?
Just a matter of logistics and reality these days. More cost effective and we know what the fuck we're doing after all these years and it just works. Plus, if all get together we'll be at the bar half the time and won't do shit.
The new album sounds quite organic, even the drums, which is quite rare these days, as most bands use triggers or just program the drums. So, how did you achieve this old-school sound?
This was intentional. I wanted it to sound real and like it should. We're a damn metal band not some pop or rap studio creation puke. A lot of metal bands are fake as hell these days. Backing tracks live, etc. So we kept it simple. Guitar, bass, drums, vocals and the occasional bit of bullshit effects if the tune needed it.
The album was mixed and mastered by Andy LaRocque. Were you there in studio during the process or did you just send the stuff to him?
Yes, for the initial set up of the tunes, as I was there doing drums for the new Kill Ritual CD with Seamus. Andy made it what it is and kept it real. I love the sound of the new CD. It's refreshing.
I think you always were the main songwriter in Imagika, was that the case this time around too?
Of course. Norm and I write everything and it works, so that'll never change.
The lyrics are quite dark, again. It seems Norm doesn't like to write about puppies and blue skies?
Yeah, his stuff is always pretty dark and well thought out and I worry about the guy because he might need a bit of therapy! Ha-ha! He comes up with some twisted shit.
And why did you change the band logo? Is it to mark a new chapter in the band's history?
Exactly. We wanted something that popped a bit more and had a refreshed feel.
I'm hoping "Only Dark Hearts Survive" is not just an experiment to see if it all works, and Imagika will stay on the scene for longer?
Yeah, we'll move forward if everything stays chill and the guys are all cool with it. I already have some new ideas in the works. So, I think we'll see some new Imagika in the future.
OK, the new album is out, you'll probably be playing some gigs soon. Did you have to re-learn the old songs, or do your fingers still easily find the right frets?
Nope, I had to work my ass off with Jim to remember the songs. I was a different writer then, so it was weird to go back in time. Was cool though. Brought back some memories for sure.
Are you getting another live guitarist like before to make the sound fuller in the live setting?
As of now, no. I'm a fuckin' dick to deal with on this matter since it always turns into some bullshit with a guy that wants to make it about him or how many solos he gets, etc. So fuck that at the moment.
When Imagika was on hiatus, you founded and did four albums with Kill Ritual. So, which band will take priority for you now?
Both. Kill Ritual is actually a little more my band as I write everything, even the lyrics on the new CD we have in the can. So, I put a shit load of work into that. Imagika is more a thing where we actually discuss stuff as a unit. So, two different things and approaches, but both work.
At the end I have a question about the band's beginnings. You founded Imagika in the most difficult for old-school metal times, with grunge in full swing, and the classic metal scene being pushed into the underground. So, why did you decide to play this kind of music in times, where it looked like there was absolutely no future for this genre?
Because we were young, dumb and full of cum! Trends are stupid and I didn't give one shit about Nirvana or the death of the L.A. spandex warriors' scene. We played music we dug and that was it. A lot of the Bay Area metal dudes like Death Angel and Exodus, etc. sure were scared though, as they folded shop and started looking at the Billboard charts. I don't regret a thing.
OK, that's us. Will fans be able to see you live in Europe soon?
Let's hope so! We'd love to!
Interview by Wojtek Gabriel

Official Imagika website: www.normanskinner.net/imagika
Imagika on facebook: facebook.com/imagikametalgods
Tags: Imagika, power thrash, Steve Rice, Only Dark Hearts Survive
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© 1997-2019 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved. Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations or corporations without the prior written permission.
© 1997-2019 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved.
Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations
or corporations without the prior written permission.