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Nuclear Hatred
It’s been quite a while since we last heard from Chris and Rob of Zamboni. And, if the recent legal troubles were an indication, it might have been the last time. The NY/NJ crossover thrash act set their sights on releasing a debut full-length album, but had to change their name to Nuclear Hatred, which is now the title of said recording. I reached out to the duo to inquire about said woes, as well as what’s been going on in the group and other such inquiries about the new offering. Check out what they had to say below, and be sure to give the album a spin as well. If you like what you hear, you can pick up it up digitally through their official Bancamp account!

Hey thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. How’ve you been? Hope all is well.

Rob:
Things have been pretty good all things considered. The whole name change thing, while it was initially a huge pain, has turned out to be more beneficial than bad. We are getting a whole lot of good press and support because of the situation.

We’ll get the big question out of the way first. What happened that you guys had to change band’s name?

Rob:
Well, Frank J. Zamboni, and Co. sent us a cease and desist via email. Apparently the old name was in violation of some trademark that they held. After doing a bit of research, we found out that there is a band called “The Zambonis” that had the same problems in the 90s, but actually fought it and ended up settling with the company, becoming an “official” band of sorts. That is why they hit us with the copyright claim.

Chris:
Not only that, but “The Zambonis” wound up working out some kind of deal with them and are essentially owned by the Frank J. Zamboni and Co., which is mainly why they’re even allowed to have that name. There was also another band initially called “Manic Zamboni” that this happened to in 2012. They also changed their name to “Bongonya” but after another few years broke up. It’s a lousy thing, lawyers and trademarks because at the end of the day, how can you trademark a word or last name (logically speaking, of course)?

I see that hasn’t stopped you from ending the new album with the track from the ‘Blood on the Ice’ demo of the same name. I take it that was fine, or was it more a fuck you response to include it? Please explain if possible.

Rob:
The album was recorded while we were still Zamboni, and it was hard enough to pull the album from all the distributors and change it to Nuclear Hatred. There was no reason for us to pull the song or change the name of it because it’s just a song about a killer zamboni. If anything, it is covered under fair use.

Chris:
Seeing as there was nothing in the letter that said we can’t use that as a song title, I take it we’re fine. They just wanted us to change the Nuclear Hatred, so that seems to be more than enough at this point. However, this certainly gives the song’s chorus “Fear the Zamboni” a completely new meaning.

What made you decide on working under the name Nuclear Hatred?

Chris:
A couple of reasons, actually. Number one is probably just the convenience of it. We have a song called Nuclear Hatred, so we figured just name it after another one of the songs. Also, it kind of represents our initial feelings about the situation. We were both really pissed that they were making us change the name we’ve had for 6 years, I guess you could say we were feeling some “nuclear hatred”.

Even though you guys now have the name Nuclear Hatred to work with, your new album still features what looks like a hockey jersey iron with two sticks and a skull in the center. How important is hockey to the two of you and the band itself?

Rob:
Again, it would have just been too much of a pain in the ass to change the album art and everything, so we left it as is. Despite what Frank J. Zamboni and Co. forced us to do, we were still Zamboni at one point, and the hockey thing just fit in for us. As I said before, we kept the song “Zamboni” on the album, so the art does still have some kind of context.

Chris:
Like the song, we weren’t forced to change anything but the Nuclear Hatred and even though it doesn’t quite fit the new narrative, it’s still something I’m proud of. If I were to change it, the hockey sticks would have probably been either erased or turned into inverted crosses, which I initially thought about doing but realized to do all that would have been a big waste of time since it wasn’t addressed in the letter, so we kept the original artwork as is with the exception of slapping the new name on it. As for hockey, I love the Rangers and the Blackhawks but I don’t really care who wins as long as it’s not the Penguins or the Islanders. The Flyers are jerks but I only hate them when they play the Rangers and I’m not crazy about the Capitals. Having said that, I hope the Blues win. After the way they played Chicago they deserve the Cup.

I know you guys had problems when it comes to drummers and have resorted to using a drum machine for live shows. How has that been working out for you two?

Chris:
The drum machine has actually been great. It is never off time and never makes mistakes. I do sometimes wish we had a live drummer, but until we can find someone who is dedicated enough to actually play shows, we are going to stick with the machine.

Rob:
A few years back at our first annual Thrash Bash BBQ show, one of the bands Roargh did that and we wound up trying it at last year’s Thrash Bash as a one-off thing and thought it worked out pretty well. Then we found out Agoraphobic Nosebleed (who has a huge following) is notorious for doing the same thing. We looked at it and said to ourselves “if a band that big can do this too and play MDF, maybe we’ve got something here.” It also builds up our abilities as far as timing and accuracy so we’ve gotten tighter because of it and it gives us a lot of room for theatrical creativity as well as an easier way to write and record songs.

In the press release it states you started recording ‘Nuclear Hatred’ in 2014, but you guys have a number of issues that delayed it. Aside Robert Padilla’s departure as drummer, what were some of the other issues if you don’t mind my asking and being nosy? Please explain what you can if possible. If you can’t, just ignore this one.

Rob:
I mixed the album myself. I also was working on fixing up a house I was moving into, plus I work full time and have an internship, so it was just hard trying to find the time to actually sit down and work on the mix. That, and we also had to finish up some tracking, which was another challenge finding time that both mine and Chris’s schedules synced up so we could meet.

Chris:
We wanted to have Robert finish the album, but he kind of fell off the face of the earth and we couldn’t reach him. In addition to all the other setbacks (which included Robert recording most of the album and then having to leave due to a family emergency), it was hard to find time in schedules to meet up due to the jobs we held at the time and distance. This process was another reason why we switched to the drum machine.

I went back and listened to the ‘SUCKS! The Stupid EP’ and there’s a very distinct difference in the group’s music. Would you say the band has evolved more into a crossover thrash style as opposed to more of a hardcore presence with some hooks thrown in?

Rob:
I mean, I would say we have definitely improved our sound. We tried a lot harder to make this album actually sound listenable, both in our musicianship and the production value of the album. We’ve always kind of had the whole crossover aesthetic, but I think tightening up our sound has kind of put us closer to the thrash side of the spectrum.

Chris:
This album is closer to the vision we have for Nuclear Hatred. On “Sucks!” we were still toying with ideas, finding our sound. I think on the debut album we finally zeroed in on the direction of the band.

How much of ‘Nuclear Hatred’ is composed of older material, and how much are new songs created specifically for this release?

Chris:
Five of the nine tracks were featured on previous releases. The song “Norman Bates” we have been playing live for quite some time, but this is the first release it has been on. The others, “Greater Evil” and “Killer Croc” were written specifically for this album.

Chris:
We wanted this to bring justice to not only the “Blood on the Ice” demo’s awful production, but we also love “Stick ’em.” The three new songs were written to show people which direction our music is moving in and because we had evolved with our playing and influences. Keep in mind between releases it had been three years, so that’s why those three are stronger songs. “The Meaning of Life” intro was something I was playing around with after seeing the infamous Lyndon B. Johnson campaign video in a journalism class and oddly enough, it fits the new name and direction really well.

You include a sample from Batman: The Animated Series on “Killer Croc” (possibly the best scene of the entire series). I gotta ask, did you guys build the song around that quote, or was the sample an afterthought? How did this track come about?

Chris:
Honestly, I just wanted to write a song about a Batman villain. We initially had a Solomon Grundy song written that almost wound up on the album, but I decided against it because I felt the music needed more work. Because I wanted to keep the Grundy song intact, I had to write new music and pick someone else from Batman’s rogues gallery. The Joker would have been too obvious and cliché, so I opted for another villain. At first I wanted to do either Two-Face or my personal favorite, Scarecrow but I felt Two-Face was also cliché and I had writer’s block when thinking of Scarecrow-based lyrics. I always got a kick out of Croc on the show and in the comics he’s really menacing – especially in the “Hush” storyline. As soon as I picked my villain I knew we were using that saple. When it came to writing the song, I watched a few Croc episodes, cranked up some Wu-Tang Clan and voila! As for the Grundy song, I’d like to tweak it and make it a thing but we’ll see what happens.

Given that and the “Stick em” lyrics about Halo with the plasma sword, is it same to assume you guys are as big a pair of dorks as the rest of us metal heads out there? (of course this includes myself) If so, what are you playing or what comics have you been reading lately?

Rob:
You could definitely say that. Lately, I’ve been playing Dark Souls III, which is one of my favorite series ever. I also just got into the game Black Desert Online, which is a pretty sweet sandbox MMORPG originally from Korea.

Rob:
I’m a big retro-gamer so when I’m not playing Tony Hawk 2-4, it’s usually a WWE game on the PS2 or Nintendo 64. Lately I’ve gotten back into “The Suffering” – which is a really underrated horror game. As for comics, I just picked up a bunch of DC titles from a church fundraiser so I’m currently on Zero Year – Dark City. I’ve also been keeping up with C.M. Punk’s Drax series, the Batman/Ninja Turtles crossover and Spider-Man vs. Deadpool. I can’t wait to read the D.C. “Rebirth” event when it kicks off.

‘Nuclear Hatred’ just dropped back in April, but you guys re already recording new material? Will those new songs be any different compared to the content on this one?

Rob:
The material we have been writing is definitely a lot angrier than the stuff on the first album. If the whole copyright situation has done anything, it has lit a fire under us and given us something to be pissed off about, which is influencing the writing a lot. We have already recorded a demo for a song that will be on the next album, but for the most part we are still in the writing stages of most of the album.

Is there anything else you want to mention before I let you go?

Rob:
#stopgiantdad2012

Chris:
Kill whitey!

Nuclear Hatred: Nuclear Hatred
Nuclear HatredInterview conducted thanks to ClawHammer PR.