By Carl Begai
How do you write a hit record? Lock a bunch of unattractive over-the-hill songwriters with shattered dreams of being spotlight superstars in a room, add money, buy auto-toon software, and hire a pretty face to sing the songs. Or, if you live in the blood and sweat world of Annihilator guitarist/founder Jeff Waters you go with your gut, hit the studio when the time feels right, and cough up an album like the highly praised rip and tear called Feast.
“This is the first record where we took a big break from getting in the studio and writing,” says Waters. “We were finished with the cycle for the last album by the fall of 2010. It was a little over two years of not going into the studio to write. Dave (Padden/vocals, guitars) and I decided that we could pump out an album every year-and-a-half, and some albums would be better than others but it would be a case of just doing the same thing over and over. We wanted to see what happened if we took some time off from the writing. I did tons of guitar clinics around the world, we did some special festival dates, I did some mixing and mastering in my studio; there just wasn’t any new Annihilator stuff coming out of that. And from what I’ve been told it paid off because everyone seems to feel that Feast has brought things up a level.”
“I think it was good that we took the time off, and if I didn’t have all that stuff to do in those two years I would have gone straight into the studio and started writing. I had lots to do and Dave kept pushing me away from it, so I just decided to go with it until the time was right.”
Waters is in a good place these days both professionally and personally these days, yet the music he cranked out for Feast is (for the most part) full-on aggressive and a great soundtrack for pissed-offedness.. Not exactly a case of the art reflecting the man this time out.
“I don’t get that either. We threw that one song ‘Perfect Angel Eyes’ in the middle of the album, but you’re right, other than that it’s more aggressive and has an ‘F-You’ vibe. It’s weird how that worked out.”
Feast’s punk attitude is equally weird and totally unexpected. Sure, the legendary thrash sound that made Annihilator famous is very much alive and seething, but there are moments where Waters sounds like he’s channelling as much of The Exploited as he is Slayer.
“You know what? That’s the one thing I didn’t realize until very recently. I did a two-and-a-half week European press trip, I did something like 113 interviews – which is way more than I’ve ever done for an album – and I repeatedly heard the question ‘Where’s this punk vibe coming from?’ And my only answer was ‘I don’t know’ (laughs). I usually get questions about my soloing and I tell them it’s blues speeded up, and even though I don’t really know the blues, I just know the stuff passed down by Angus Young and Glenn Tipton who got it from B.B. King and Chuck Berry. At least I know where that blues influence comes from. The punk stuff… no idea where that comes from.” Continue Reading