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Condemned? (band)
With the latest Condemned? album upon us, I was given the opportunity to speak with band member Keith Chathum via e-mail. It didn’t take long for him to get the answers back! Below is what he had to say about Condemned 2 Death, the support it and the band are receiving, and more!

Condemned? was disbanded for so long, what exactly caused the band to get back together to put out a new release?

Well to be honest there has always been the feeling there was some Unfinished Business for Condemned?. As you mentioned we disbanded before getting a chance to record some of our best material and our current writing team met back in those early years. We started to to re-connect through the internet and later found two of us living on the same island together, so a lot of things just started to roll in place.

What was the support like for the band, on a level with the fans, or even a personal level, when word got out that you guys were recording a new album.

There has been an amazing buzz going on and a lot of people coming out of the wood works that have been fans and have kids now so it’s grown into a multi generational thing. I think we fill a niche that has been waiting to be filled. We have an international fan base that we can tie together now with the help of the web. On a personal level it’s been a dream come true as a bass player to play with Slade Anderson/Drums again and our Engineer Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Sleep) in the studio of our choice Prairie Sun in Cotati,Ca..

Condemned 2 Death was one of the original names for the group. Why did you guys decide to use it at the title of your reunion album?

Let me explain. Condemned to Death or just C2D was the first band I joined in 1983 in San Francisco. I was 17 and a headbanger totally jumping into the punk scene back when the two scenes did not mix yet. So the band recorded and toured from 1983-84 and broke up. I always wanted to come up with a more positive name asking a question not making a statement, mixing a progressive twist to the emerging punk-metal scene. So I moved to Australia in 1985 and joined Death Sentence and Vicious Circle, while there I founded CONDEMNED? with members of V.C. Les Ruminck/Guitar and Dave Ross/Drums and recorded our first album Humanoid or Biomechanoid? which became Nuclear Blast’s second album released ever. So the album is a way of respecting our roots and a classic time in the scene!

It doesn’t sound like the band has changed much musically, keeping to the original sound the band had at the beginning of it’s career, but it does feel like the album has more mature material then the earlier Condemned? songs. Do you think the time apart allowed the members to grow and cause this reunion album to benefit? Or, do you think the time may have hurt the album?

Well our core values are still there and our lives have made us stronger surviving a lot of changes that challenge your resolve. I think all our collective experiences have helped shape the band for the better and made for a more passionate album. We are really just getting started as a force we have so much more material to record. We really wanted to bring home some older songs but we are already planning the follow up this summer called Steamed Punks.

Are there any influences, from back in the day when the band first started, that came into play with the music on this release, or even any bands of today’s styles that had an impact?

Well, lets say we all listen to a diverse amount of music. And growing up during the fusion of N.W.O.B.H.M. and the emerging Speed Metal/Thrash scene was huge for us but we even started before that listening to early Rush, Sabbath, Priest and Scorpions while getting into the Sex Pistols, Dead Boys, Code of Honor and M.D.C. and D.R.I. as we started writing songs. The other influences of the spirit are more from Jello, Lemmy, Bob Marley ,Earth activists and people of individual character, the late Johnny Cash comes to mind.

Getting “Billy Anderson” as Producer/engineer who I met back in the 90’s when he first started his career was a good decision. He has really carved out a career over the years working with Neurosis, Sleep and Eye Hate God to name a few, plus he is a bass player and I knew he would capture our low end sound!

Are there any songs on Condemned 2 Death that have a strong personal connection with you or anyone in the group?

Sure, just writing some songs are very personal, “Cleansing Pool” is a song about finding a feeling of purification going to my favorite Hotsprings. Some of the new recordings we did were from an era when Slade, Rick and I were in Attitude in 1987. Rick and I recorded Attitude’s first album Kein Schlaf Bis Duetchland at the same studio we did our new album Prairie Sun! So the whole recording was a personal dream come true for all of us.

What was the writing process like for the group with Condemned 2 Death? Was there anything special or out of the ordinary you guys did to come up with the material?

So most of the material was older songs we really wanted to add some tempo changes and drum additions only Slade can do. Rick and I write individually mainly so we each had some songs we had been working on and we merged forces on “Crucified” and really am pleased with how it turned out. A lot of my current songs are personal experiences that fuel my fires. There are so many changes happening it’s hard not be outraged and needing to say something.

Were there any problems writing material, or even recording the album?

We had such a good experience as far as accomadations at the studio, living together in a farm house for 2 weeks just about. We all cooked meals together and partyed hard so the only challenge was having a bit to much medicine.

How has the fan reaction been to Condemned? since the reunion, both live and with Condemned 2 Death?

The reaction so far has been great, people have been hearing through the social network thing and gigs are just getting rolling with Spring starting. Reviews have been exciting in Europe and looking forward to going over and playing!

Are there any plans to go on tour to support the release?

Yes we are planning some west coast trips this season and are working on Europe for this fall. We would love to play as many places as possible so we will see what happens next.

what would your dream tour be in support of Condemned 2 Death?

Well to be honest, we would love to play with some of our friends playing out there again like D.R.I. and Exodus and Death Angel. I would love to see us support Rush, Bad Brains, U.K.Subs, Soulfly and US!

Has there been talk about recording a music video for anything, and if so, what song and when can we plan to see it?

We have been working with the same artist/Tattooist all these years, Greg Kulz, and he is now doing animation so our video will have elements of that in it. We are calling “Steamed Punks” which will have a lot of steam powered imagery and gadgets w/ an Animae flavor.

How did it come about that Condemned? signed to Nuclear Blast Records?

Markus and I met back when I was in Attitude and he was just starting out and it was just natural for us to release our latest double disc with the Nuclear Blast family. Since the first album is included on the bonus disc and it was Nuclear Blast’s second ever, it’s a bit of history for both of us.

what do you think of the progression of the whole Punk and Thrash scenes, together or seperately, since you guys originally broke up?

Well since we left there have been so many different sub-catagories that you need Sam Dunn/Head-bangers journey to make a documentary to figure it out! I listen to all types of music but love the resurrection of the classics D.R.I., Suicidal, Cro-Mags and C.O.C. and our label mates Agnostic Front who keep pumping it out. I listen to Tool, Motorhead, and keep up with the growing European scene like Satyricon and Finntroll. Soulfly has done some killer albums with all the cultural blends.

Are there any other plans for Condemned? in the coming months, or anything else you would like to talk about?

Hell yeah, to sum it up. Tour of the West Coast tour to start, Fall Europe tour and a follow-up album and video this summer, next year more! “We Endeavor to be severe.”

Condemned?: Condemned 2 Death
Interview conducted thanks to Nuclear Blast Records.

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