My partnership Patrick from Iron Wolf zine had done an interview with a very great Power Metal band from USA that stroke the scene back in the 80's with "Battle At Helm's Deep" album which offered quality and tight twine guitar lines melted with the typical American Heavy Metal vocals. Reading on an interview conducted in '04 with Michael Sabatini (drum)for the release of "Soul Taker" out in January 2004.
Hello Mike, what mighty Metal albums do you play these days ?
Well, I usually listen to the classic Metal stuff, like Priest, Maiden, Scorpions, Accept, Anvil, Riot as well as others. I really don't listen to or buy a lot of recent so-called nu-Metal bands. that's not my cup of tea so to speak.

Do you remember your first step in Metal ? Which Metal albums do you consider as timeless masterpieces ?
Around 1980, I bought an album called Metal Mania that contained songs by Iron Maiden, Riot, Rainbow, Sabbath. that's what really got me into Metal, and the rest his history. Albums I personally consider timeless are "Restless And Wild" Accept, "Screaming For Vengeance" Judas Priest, "Killers" Iron Maiden, "Fire Down Under" Riot, "Denim & Leather" Saxon, "Animal Magnetism" Scorpions. I could actually go on and on, there were so many great Metal albums produced in the early 80's.

The band was created in ’83 with you on drums, John Joseph on bass, Bob Mitchell on vocals, Pat Marinelli and Dominic Spina on guitars. How did you meet the other members ? Also, the first name of the band was WARLOC. Did you remove the K because of the German band ?
I originally met Dominic Spina in college and he was working with Pat Marinelli at the time. Bob Mitchell I knew from school and the town we grew up in. John Joseph was a friend of pat and Dominics'. Warloc was spelled without the k just to be different. We did not find out about the German Warlock until later on, so we changed it to avoid conflict.

Later, Dominic Spina was replaced by Jim Mooney. What were the reason for his departure ?
We really don't know why Dominic left. He just quit after our 1st gig. then Jim, who was a friend of pat and John Joseph, stepped in.

And the band changed its name to ATTACKER. Did you feel this name is more representative of the music of the band ?
We got the name actually from Lou Ciarlo, when he was still in Hades, since we had the song "(Call On) The Attacker". He suggested it and we took the name and him from Hades. I don't think we thought about if it was representative of the music, we just liked the name.

In ’84, you released a three song demo which got favourable press and the attention of Metal Blade. Do you remember how many copies of this tape were distributed / sold ? Were you astonished by the response ?
Honestly, I have no idea how many we sold. I know it was a lot. We were definitely surprised by how good the response was, we didn't really know what to expect, we just hoped that people liked it.

Then the track “(Call On) The Attacker” was on Metal Massacre 5 compilation LP. Did you see this apparition on Metal Massacre 5 as a first achievement for ATTACKER ? Also considering that the bands which got the best responses on Metal Massacre signed with Metal Blade or Combat…
That was probably our most exciting moment, our first piece of music to be on an album and was the stepping stone to our metal blade contract.

Why bassist John Joseph was replaced by Jimmy Schulman ?
John began slacking off and just not playing to the level we needed. When we got the Metal Blade deal, we realized that the band needed a new bass player.

Schulman didn’t last long in the band… And new bassist Lou Ciarlo re-recorded the bass tracks for the first LP. How did you find Lou Ciarlo ?
I also met Lou in college. I started hanging out with him and going to Hades rehearsals. We later began doing shows with Hades. Lou and his family are still today some of my closest friends.

Is it true that the bassist incident resulting in additional costs for the recording annoyed Metal Blade ?
I really don't know, I guess since Brian Slagel had to lay out more money, he might have been a little upset. But the album turned out better with Lou's playing on it.

There was a cover incident too, the original album cover is really fantastic ! But history told a tragic accident destroyed it at Metal Blade office. Thence the consequence was a cheesy cover for the first LP…
Yes, we heard that the cover was spotted in Metal Blades' office in not very good condition. The cover we got was never shown to us before hand. We were told it was just as good as the original. We all know how that situation turned out !

The “Battle At Helm’s Deep” LP was released in ’85. It is melodic and powerful Heavy Metal like “Disciple” or “The Hermit”, epic pieces like “Battle At Helm’s Deep” or “The Wrath Of Nevermore”, and anthems of madness like “Slayer’s Blade” or “(Call On) The Attacker”. What are your thoughts about this first album ?
I feel it was a good first album. It was very original, it did not sound like anyone else. I'm very proud of it, as well as "the second coming".

It seems ATTACKER didn’t tour for this LP, excepted for local gigs. So there was an obvious lack of support from Metal Blade…
We were supposed to do some tours, but plans kept falling through for us. I guess it was just bad luck. Metal blade really never got a chance to support or not support us. We just could not seem to get a good tour going.

How did the band feel when Bob Mitchell left ? Did you at first think that it was the end of the band ? Or had you already in the mind that the idea of a split was out of question and ATTACKER had to continue with a new vocalist ?
Well, bob did not just quit, we were not happy with some issues with him at the time and maybe he wanted to leave also, but it was mor e mutual, we did not want him anymore and I guess he was'nt happy either. Since lou and I ran the band anyway, him leaving had no impact on our future, the rest of the band was the driving force, not one person. We knew we just had to get another vocalist and move on.

How did you meet John Leone ? (who was a talented singer with a great and powerful voice) ?
I had seen John sing in a cover band in the early 80's and he impressed me. Lou got in touch with him thru a friend of his and he came down for an audition and did a great job, so we took him aboard the attacker team.

After John Leone was in the band, you recorded a three song demo. Did it get the same response as the ’84 demo ?
We got amazing responses to that demo also. Everyone loved John Leone's voice and the new songs as well.

Could you explain why Jim Mooney left after the demo and was replaced by Tom D’Amico ?
Jim just up and quit one at rehearsal because the singer, John did a scream that mirrored a solo Jim was doing. Jim did not want any interference with his solo. We told him it sounded great, but he freaked out and just left. Tom saw an ad I had in a local rehearsal studio and called me. I went to see him play and he blew me away. He was amazing.

The song “Emanon” appeared on the “L’Amour Rocks” compilation lp in ‘87 and the band signed with Mercenary. ATTACKER had to suffer from featuring on demo / compilation LP instead of getting a real deal. Did you regret not to find a suitable label with promo / tour support ?
At that time, Thrash was really happening. Finding a label for our brand of music was tough, so we went with mercenary, not knowing what would happen to the label.

“The Second Coming” LP was released in ’88. It was not Thrash, but it was more Speed Metal (“Lords Of Thunder”), straighter (“The Madness”), more intense (“Emanon”) but still melodic (“Revelations Of Evil”). I would have liked to ask how the response was for the second LP, but I wonder if it is the right question, considering the very poor distribution and promotion of Mercenary…
Review wise, it got much better reviews that the first album. Unfortunately, until the re-releases, not many people got to hear it. especially in Europe, our main market. I think it could have done well with the proper distribution at that time.

The original album cover planned was great too, but then again it was another one which was used, a military cover that turned bad in my opinion…
Yeah, that cover was confusing. it was meant to be a statement of the world super powers at the time, the U.S. and Russia. One gun was American and one Russian. "Lords Of Thunde"r was basically about that.

There wasn't a real tour to support the album. But have you good memories from the gigs you played with the band ?
I always had a great time playing with ATTACKER. We met a lot of cool people and bands throughout the years.

Because of the lack of promotion and good distribution, ATTACKER was over in ’89. With Lou Ciarlo, you formed Jersey Dogs, a Thrash Metal band which released the “Don’t Worry, Get Angry” Ep on Wild Rags and the “Thrash Ranch” LP on Grudge. Well, these two labels were as poorly distributed in Europe as Mercenary… I never found these two vinyls, so can you tell the story of Jersey Dogs ?
ATTACKER ended more because of the Thrash scene, which we were not. Lou and I loved alot of the Thrash stuff and decided to start a different heavier band. Wild Rags was a small company, but did a great job here in the states. Grudge went out of business due to the stock market troubles in 1990-91. Then the Seattle scene took over and we decided to call it quits.

What have you done after Jersey Dogs was over ?
I just played in a couple of other bands for fun, such as an Accept tribute band called Restless & Wild. And an original band called Grill.

Sadly, Jim Mooney passed away in 2000. The Metal world also lost J.D. Kimball, Paul Baloff, Chuck Shuldiner and other talented musicians these last years…What good memories do you keep of Jim ?
Jim was a very down to earth guy. We spoke on the phone very frequently right up to the time of his passing. He was a true Metal lover and was always playing his guitar. He was a good friend and I really miss talking to him.

I guess you were satisfied with the CD re-releases of “Battle At Helm’s Deep” and “The Second Coming” on Sentinel Steel in ’99 because they are really great stuffs...
Yes, I thank Denis from Sentinel Steel for doing a great job with those re-issues. It helped start the fire in us to play again.

The current news are ATTACKER is back with you on drums, Bob Mitchell on vocals, Felix Torres on bass, Pat Marinelli and Mike Benetatos on guitars… And you signed a deal with German label Iron Glory… And third album “Soul Taker” is recorded and will be out in January 2004… How does this new album sound ? And how do you feel to be back with ATTACKER ?
The new one is a mix of both previous ATTACKER album styles. I think everyone will be very impressed. It is really great fun to play the old stuff again as well as the new. It brings back some good memories.

I wish you all the best for the future ! Thank you for answering. If you have last words…
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to express myself and for remembering ATTACKER. BUY THE NEW RECORD, IT'S GREAT!!!


Franang zine 17/12//06