Here you'll find an old interview that was conducted in August 2004 by Patrick. I've decied to bring back to life many of his intervews as many of thme didn't get the feed back they deserved back in time. So here we are.
I still have good memories of the day in 1986, where I found the "Hate, Fear And Power" EP. A few days after that bomb, I returned to a records store to get the "Raging Violence"LP. These two vinyls are total raging thrashcore ! After the listening of the "Barrage Of Noise" EP, I decided to do this interview with HIRAX. It took a certain time, but here it is, Katon speaks!


Before talking about HIRAX, can you say when you started to be in Metal and also in Hardcore, as there have always been some hardcore influences in HIRAX’ music ?
In the mid 70s I started listening to heavy metal/punk hardcore music. For me, it was and still is my religion. Some of the early bands that I listened to were: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Venom, Ramones, Dead Boys, New York Dolls, the Damned… that’s where it all began for me. And even today I am still a fan of heavy music. It always inspires me.

Do you remember when HIRAX formed and how did you meet the other members ?
The original drummer Johnny Tabares and I had been friends since Jr. High School (13 years old). We both used to hang out and talk about music so we started a band. We met the bass player, Gary through some other musician friends. We finally found Scott Owen our guitar player because he was looking for a fast and heavy band. One of our roadies took us to Scott’s house and he auditioned for us in his living room. We immediately asked him to join the band. That’s when HIRAX was born…1984.

In ’84, you recorded a demo that was more Heavy/Speed Metal than the Thrash core HIRAX is known for, but the four songs of this tape are totally killer ! How was the response for this demo ?
The response for our demo was overwhelming!! As soon as we released it, people started writing us letters from all over the world. Even though it was a demo cassette tape… it helped open a lot of doors for the band. From that point on … our name began buzzing all over the underground. It wasn’t long before we were contacted by Metal Blade/Roadrunner Records… and we signed a record deal with them. The story of the HIRAX demo is legendary. To this day, people still ask us about that cassette tape.

These four songs have never appeared on the HIRAX vinyls. Why ? Is there a chance in the near future for a vinyl re-release of the ’84 demo ?
Honestly, I can’t say yes or no. So many people are interested in it… its re-release is a possibility as a special bonus. You have to understand that I am very proud of the demo tape… but the styles are completely different. Just like night and day. On the demo tape, we were more traditional melodic style heavy metal. Like early Saxon, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest style. We changed when we started to write songs for the first album, “Raging Violence” because we wanted to go in the direction of a more aggressive, faster, thrash metal!! That’s probably why we have never released the demo. It is a part of our history though, so you never know what can happen. There has been talk of a HIRAX anthology… I’m sure if this project is released… it will include the demo.

In ’84 and ’85, HIRAX played gigs opening for Death Angel, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus, Exciter, Dark Angel, Possessed… What are your memories from this time ? Did you like all the bands you opened for ?
Some of the bands we opened for… and some we supported… or they opened for us. It was a great time in heavy metal. We were all comrades, so we were and still are very supportive of each other. When you have so many great bands playing together, it only makes for a better show. We knew that we all wanted to be successful so we all played hard. Always giving 100%. All of the bands that you have mentioned are great friends of ours and we are like a family.
How did you get in touch with Metal Blade and put “Bombs of Death” on Metal Massacre 6 ?
Metal Blade contacted us. Like I’ve said before, there was a big buzz on HIRAX... Especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco. From what I hear, Metal Blade had been receiving letters about HIRAX. People had been asking them about how to get a hold of our music. So they offered us the Metal Massacre 6 compilation as well as a record deal. It was history in the making.
Did you sign with Metal Blade right after the compilation LP? Were there other labels interested ?
We signed with Metal Blade Records right around the same time as the compilation, Metal Massacre 6. For us, we were honored because they also had Roadrunner Records in Europe as a part of the company. We didn’t even think about dealing with any other labels because we were on the same roster as Slayer, Voivod, Trouble and Hellhammer. It was great to be a part of that metal scene!!

1985 was the year of the release of the “Raging Violence” LP, a massive attack and a sonic storm, the cult HIRAX album, with a lot of great tracks such as “Bloodbath”, “Suicide”, “Raging Violence”, “Warlords Command”, “Guardian Protector” or “Bombs of Death” (although I prefer the version on Metal Massacre 6)… How was received the LP ? Are you still proud of it ?
The “Raging Violence” LP is a classic thrash metal record! We were very young and raw back when we recorded it. We barely knew how to tune our guitars and had just started writing songs. We were kids… I am very proud of it though! It shows you, when you listen to our new records… such as “Barrage of Noise”, or the newest album, “The New Age of Terror” … we’ve grown musically. Some bands don’t progress… but we have !! Our music is still as fast as lightening and heavy as hell. We have become real musicians over the years. When I look back at the first two records… “Raging Violence” and “Hate, Fear and Power” I am still very proud. I have been making heavy music for a long time now. And I’m not about to stop.

Why did John Tabares leave the band ? How did you find ex-D.R.I. Eric Brecht ?
Johnny just couldn’t handle touring and making albums any more… due to personal problems, he had to leave. We were really good friends with the punk crossover metal band, D.R.I.. The singer, Kurt had told me about his brother, Eric who was looking for a band to play with. He gave me his phone number and I called Eric and set up an audition. He joined the band shortly after he tried out. He played with a lot of speed and we like that !

In 1986, the “Hate, Fear and Power” EP was a strong follower, radical thrash core, with some outstanding tracks such as “Unholy Sacrifice”, “The Plague” or “Criminal Punishment” Was it received as good as “Raging Violence”?
Yes, “Hate, Fear and Power” was well received, definitely. Even though both records are different… they have very strong similarities, the die hard fans love both records. “Hate, Fear and Power” has one of my all time favorite songs on it, “Blind Faith”, and still today in our live shows we do songs from both records. Even though those discs are out of print… when we play live, people still scream for those songs.

Was the "Hate, Fear and Power" EP sold at the price of an EP in other countries ? Because in France, it was sold at the price of an LP !

I’ve heard that from quite a few people. The difference between being in the band and working at the record label is that we have no control over what they sell our records for. Once they leave the pressing plant… it’s out of our hands. But we honestly hope that our records are sold at a fair price, because we are one of the true bands who really do care about our fans. Their support means everything to us!! We try to give them the best at everything we do. That’s why now we have better distribution than we’ve had in the early days… we want our records to be easier to buy at domestic prices rather than import prices. If our records are imported, obviously they are more expensive. That’s not fair to the fans. We are doing our best to make sure things are done right.

Why did you leave HIRAX and form Phatasm with ex-Metallica Ron McGovney ? Is Ron a very good friend of you ?
Yes, I have known Ron since the early days of Metallica. We go back a long ways…. And have been friends since the early 80s, back when he recorded the Metallica demo, “No Life Till Leather.” Phastam was a great band. It also included Gene Hoglan (drums) from Dark Angel, Death, Testament, and Strapping Young Lad. It was the perfect side project for me at the time …But Phatasm was short lived and I soon rejoined HIRAX in 1987.

Phatasm recorded a demo with Gene Hoglan on drums, played a few gigs, and then broke up. How does it happened ?

We couldn’t keep the band together because everybody else had other projects going on. There just wasn’t enough time. Gene Hoglan was a friend of mine even before he played drums. He was a fan of HIRAX and I knew him through one of our biggest supporters… and guy named Vadim Rubin. The amazing thing about Gene is that once he started playing drums... he became very good , very fast. I believe he is a natural. A man with a lot of talent. He is blessed…. And he is one of the best drummers I have ever worked with.

Are you satisfied with the “Wreckage” LP released in 2001, which features the demo and a live gig ?
Hell yes, it is a true thrash metal testament and there will never be a band like that ever again. If you can find the “Wreckage” LP, I highly suggest you to buy it. It’s a definite classic.

After Phantasm split, you were back in HIRAX… During the time you were in Phantasm, I heard about HIRAX trying Paul Baloff on vocals…
Your information is correct. Paul Baloff was in HIRAX for a short period of time. He was a very good friend of mine! I was honored that he was my replacement. I thought it would be a great thing… HIRAX would have sounded totally different with him on vocals… but it just didn’t work out. The band was based out of Los Angeles and he lived in San Francisco. I think that it was meant to be the way it is. Paul ended up going back to Exodux and I ended up going back to HIRAX.

There was not a new HIRAX album on Metal Blade in ’87, but a two song EP on Lautrec, released in “88… the songs were longer and less fast, but still typical HIRAX. Did you get a good response for this EP ?
Man, you know your HIRAX history !! Yes, there was an EP called, “Blasted in Bangkok”… there were actually three songs recorded, “Fear the War Within”, “Dying World Shock” and “The Beginning of the End.” “Fear the War Within” and “The Beginning of the End” appeared on the 2 song 7” EP on Lautrec Records… “Dying World Shock” was an extra song that wasn’t released until later.

Also in 2001, “Blasted in Bangkok” was re-released with the two songs, plus the missing third song and “Bombs of Death” (Metal Massacre 6 version). Why did you decide to re-release this stuff ?
Because the 7” on Lautrec Records was out of print and people still wanted those songs. So we released it with two extra tracks. It is called “Blasted in Bangkok” 10”/CD and is still available at Black Devil Records

What is the story behind the “Not Dead Yet” cd and pic disc released in ’88 by Metal Blade? It was not a new album, but a compilation with songs from “Raging Violence” and “Hate, Fear and Power.” Was it to close the deal with Metal Blade ?
Not really…There was a picture disc version 12” vinyl… but at the time CD had just started to be manufactured. The “Not Dead Yet” CD is very, very rare… and worth a lot of money. If you can find it… good luck. It is probably the rarest HIRAX item on the planet. The picture disc is very rare also.

HIRAX broke up in ’88. What have you done before the comeback ?
I always remained in the music industry. Either dealing with record labels, running record stores, booking shows, helping bands, etc… I have always supported heavy underground music.
You recorded a three track demo which was put on a pic disc 7”. To be honest, I only like a lot the “El Diablo Negro” song. What do you think of that demo?
I understand where you are coming from. That EP was done in a very short amount of time. Almost no time at all!! It was recorded in a few hours after a few hours of practice… with almost the whole original line up. We were in a big rush to get something new out. When I look back on it now... I wished that we had more time… but we didn’t. The band hadn’t played together in over 13 years. But no more excuses… we just wanted to make sure we had something new to get the message out that HIRAX was still alive! I would agree with you… my favorite song on that EP is “El Diablo Negro”… it is one of the high points of our live show. So a lot of other people like it as well.

The “Barrage of Noise” EP is released and I’m glad HIRAX is back to killer Thrash core ! Is the response good for the EP ?
Fucking incredible! It has breathed new life back into the band. It has spawned great reviews all over the world! As well as the die hard old fans… we have a whole new audience. So the word continues to spread about HIRAX. “Barrage of Noise” has sparked an explosion… one that can be heard loud and clear !!

Is Deep Six a good labe l? What kind of deal did you sign with them ?

Deep Six Records and Black Devil Records work very well together. Unlike most businesses… we are friends. We try to help each other out. So yes, they are a good label to work with. We continue to sell a lot of HIRAX records… vinyl and CDs throughout the universe !!

Any plan for a full LP soon or a tour ?
Now it is 2004 (the questions were done in 2003- Patrick) and we, HIRAX have just released a new album on Mausoleum Records, “The New Age of Terror.” It is our best and heaviest record to date !! 11 songs of over the top heavy metal! Headbangers will love this new THRASH ASSAULT !! In support of this new album we have begun touring all over Europe and the U.S. with more tour dates to be announced. Check the HIRAX website for updates. We will definitely be coming to France to play for all the heavy metal fans there !!!

Thank you for your time. If you have something to add…
Thank you for the great interview !! I can’t believe you know so much about the history of HIRAX ! If you would like more infomraiton/merchandise/photos/mp3s/etc. on the band, HIRAX check out the official website or snail mail – HIRAX * PO Box 1474 * Cypress, CA 90630 * USA.