Sunday, January 18, 2015

Band Interview: KOROTORY

Interview with Darren Markoff of Korotory

Korotory formed in 1995 when the Long Island death metal scene was in its beginning stages. Describe what you remember from the local scene in that time period: band activity, zine activity, frequency of shows et cetera.
We formed at the mid to tail end of the Long Island death metal explosion. It was also during the Long Island hardcore explosion. We were right on the edge of both scenes; not quite one or the other. We had to forge our sound and name which we would do a few years later. Both scenes were incredibly important and huge and had incredible bands, shows and zines. Around this time national acts took notice and would bring their tours out here and the locals would get the shot open, which helped even more. Bands from outside Long Island befriended bands here either through word of mouth or zines or AOL chat rooms and would also come out here to do shows. Around this time the CD/flyer trading thing started in which bands would trade CDs and flyers even stickers to send out in each other’s packages, which is still an amazing idea. There was always a ton of shows going on, from the huge shows or little hole in the wall bar shows. Every weekend you could catch a ton of shows; people would show up and the scene would grow and grow. It was an amazing time for the underground. Our first few years in the scene were pretty insignificant since we didn't do very much but we did get to play shows with these bands and it was great. The seeds of what we have become would come a few years later.

Was the band formed of local scenesters who knew one another previously, or were some of the members tracked down through ads submitted to local publications? Describe how Korotory got together in the beginning.
Well the story goes like this: In June of 1995 I went to a Death show at the Roxy Music Hall in Huntington with a buddy of mine from school. We were hanging out talking; when Death came out of their bus we went over to say hey and there were three other dudes standing there. We began to talk and hit it off real well. One of those dudes was Ray Truhn our vocalist; the other was our first bassist David Glading and his twin brother. We hung out all night and decided to hang out. Later that week I called them up and we started hanging out; they came to my house and we had a lil jam session. That was the start. Over the next few months we would put out flyers in music stores and record shops. One day we got a call from a guitar player by the name of Gary Hoyt. A couple days later we went to his apartment and hung out and he showed us a bunch of his stuff and pretty much the band was born. We began jamming at LI Rock in Massapequa and started writing songs. We decided to call the band Infamy and off we went.

How long was the band named Infamy before you decided to rechristen it Korotory? Why the name change?
We were only known as Infamy for about fourteen months. There was a Death Metal band from California with the same name. They had contacted us to let us know who they were, that they had a pretty decent following in the underground scene, that they had started to make a lot of moves and if we could do them a solid to change the name. We obliged and started the process of figuring out a new name. We went through a few before finally settling on Korotory. But from the day Gary came in with the name we stuck with it. We immediately started making stickers and new demo covers and such.

Some people I was in touch with from Long Island told me there was a lot of infighting and backstabbing going on in the death metal scene, and if you were a death metal band you had to hate black metal even though there were local BM bands such as The Forgotten and Eibon. Did you see any of this happening? What stories did you hear of the infighting within the scene?
We were so on the outside of all that. We didn't really see much of the infighting or backstabbing although we had heard stories. We played with so many different bands and different genres of heavy metal that it’s hard to remember now, but we would play with anybody. As far as getting shows we just would call clubs, bars, or promoters and book ourselves; we were lucky enough to befriend all of the promoters and booking agents. Although we were new to the game we were professional and friendly. No egos or trouble so shows came real easy. Plus we did pretty well with crowds. We played the Roxy in Huntington once and had a great experience and were set up for a big show but they closed down a week before. We always had a great relationship with Crawdaddy’s and Dr. Shay’s; we also did fairly well at Voodoo Lounge and Castle Heights in Queens. Our big break came in 1998 when we became friendly with Bill from Obsessions in Randolph, New Jersey. He gave us all our first real big breaks like opening slots for Death, Iced Earth and Nevermore and helped us learn the business. I know tons of people who disliked him and called him a crook but for some reason he treated us like kings and made us who we are today, so we owe him a lot. We weren't part of the whole infighting thing since we were so on the outside of the whole thing. We just knew that the death and black metal scenes had differences, and we had our own issues trying to break through with the death metal scene because at the time our sound wasn't acceptable to their scene.

Did you ever attend shows at the old Sundance club in Bay Shore, Long Island? Or the Right Track Inn in Freeport, Long Island? I remember those clubs fondly because they were a huge part of the local and national underground.
I missed out on Sundance. By the time I was going to shows on my own Sundance was gone and the Roxy was the new hot spot. I attended a ton of shows there. As far as the Right Track Inn, I went to a few shows there and played one show there with a band I was in right before Korotory which was Negative Reaction. That place had a great vibe and decent stage. I miss those days.

How long was Negative Reaction active in Long Island? Did you release any material with them, and if so how well was it received? What happened to that band before Korotory began?
I was asked to be in Negative Reaction by its founder Ken E. Bones who had run into a mutual friend of mine and suggested me as a potential drummer for the band. Negative Reaction is very much alive and kicking and I think is in their 24th year as a band. I had met Ken and we hit it off and began jamming. We wrote a few songs and I learned a bunch of old material and away we went. I brought a few friends of mine in to fill bass and guitar spots and we began to play shows and record. I only recorded one 7" with them called SLUDGE that came out on Soundbyte House Records. There were a couple of reviews for that 7" and they were good. I mean at the time sludge metal was underground and this was groundbreaking stuff. I left the band after about a year to pursue a more thrash/death metal thing which would turn into forming Korotory six months later. We recently got back in touch through Facebook; we have had several conversations and hope to cross paths sometime in 2015

Who were the bands you most often performed with prior to 1998 when you crossed paths with Bill at Obsessions? Did you mostly get along with those bands?
We played with so many different types of heavy bands. Death metal bands like Dehumanized, PITT, Pyrexia, Repudilation and Deathkids or the more core-driven bands like Hostile Intent, Mad Circle, Irate and 12 Gauge. We also played with more groove-thrash type bands like Hollow Ground and Sonipath. All killer bands and there were a lot more bands we shared the stage with. We made friends here and there, but little by little all these bands started to fade away and dissolve. We just kept going trying to find our place in the heavy music landscape.

I was in touch with Ken Wooton Sr., having been a fan of Deathkids since the release of their debut demo. I reviewed them often for the local paper Good Times and also traded with them often. Last I heard Ken Jr. and Harley were doing InRed which is more of a traditional metal band. How did you get along with Deathkids in the 90s?
We always had a great relationship with the Deathkids camp. We never had a problem with them. They were not loved by a lot of the Death Metal bands because they were on every major show. From what I remember the bigger local bands would get mad because their time slots would shift and time would get cut for whatever reason, but we never ran into any problems with them. We actually became closer with them when they turned into InRed. We did a lot more shows with them in the last few years than in the early years. We only played with Deathkids one or two times. I remember they had the big inverted cross with lights in it. The shows were good and like I said we always got along with them. As far as InRed, we have done a few shows with them. They are a great band and we always would have fun times.

How did you get along with the other bands you mentioned playing with such as Repudilation and Sonipath?
We had our friends in the scene and we had the bands who didn't like us for one reason or another. But we just did our thing and have always done our thing. We were always more worried about the bigger picture, not who liked or didn't like us. But bands like Sonipath were great. We actually shared a studio with them in Rockville Center and got along. We went to each other’s shows and supported each other. Hollow Ground was great, 12 Gauge, Hostile Intent, Neck, all great guys, great bands and good friends.
How were the turnouts at death metal shows when you appeared live? Did you and the other bands draw sizable audiences?

When we first started some shows were way better than others but overall they were great. It all depended on the day of the week or who was playing and of course the venue. The bills were usually stacked and the fans would come out for a really good bill. Some bills were less than stellar or just a repeat of a show from a few weeks prior so that would affect turnouts. We experienced a few shows where the turnouts were horrible. It was the bands and a few friends and whoever showed up to work the club. We saw more of that as the scene started to fade in the late 90's. And it happened across the board all the heavier bands were feeling it. If you weren't alternative or nu metal or some sort of rock or cover band your crowds got smaller.
How did the band weather the smaller amount of turnouts toward the end of the 90s? Did this affect the morale of the band? Did you still have a fan base that supported you regardless?

The smaller turnouts sucked but we wouldn't let it beat us. We just played our hearts out for whoever showed up. We always gave it our all and did what we had to do. It had very little effect on the band; some shows were good and other shows were bad. The bad shows were just another practice. So we would turn the negative into a positive and make the most of it. Our fanbase was still there; maybe some of the people were gone but our friends still showed up and the true fans were always there.
Are the clubs where the band appeared still around nowadays, or did they close down for one reason or another?

All of the clubs we played back in the day are gone today. A few of the buildings exist as other places now. Crawdaddy's is Revolution which is one of the bigger places to play shows, and Dr. Shay's is The Village Pub which does shows but not like they used to. I mean they used to cram as many kids in there as possible for hardcore shows it was insane.

Were you familiar with the local label Razorback Records? I often corresponded with its founders Billy Nocera and Jill Girardi (who was previously involved in Mortal Coil records).
I believe we gave them a demo back in the day and they liked it but nothing came of it. I remember seeing them at every show promoting like crazy. They had the right idea and really did the work to get to where they got. They put out a ton of great records; a lot of them I remember buying. They are still around twenty years later and still killing it. We fully support them and everything they are doing for metal. I remember Mortal Coil Records and Zine. They used to put out incredible comps with their zines with a ton of really killer bands.

How often would you see the owners of Razorback promoting at a show, and how often were you buying their releases? Did you pick up any compilations from Mortal Coil or any copies of the zines they releases? Did you ever meet Billy and Jill of Razorback Records personally while they were out promoting? Did you know of the Long Island black metal band The Forgotten? Their frontman Ghost was friends with the Razorback staff.
We saw Razorback at a bunch of the bigger shows. Any time Internal Bleeding or Dehumanized played we would see them and if I was looking for something specific I would always check out their table and grab it. A lot of times I would just order through the mail. They were always great with sending out packages. I never bought anything from Mortal Coil but a friend of mine would give me the comps when he got the zines. I met them a few times when I bought stuff and just in passing at shows. They were always working. They really care about the scene and the bands. We need more of them in the scene. We knew of The Forgotten but didn't know them personally.

Do you remember the local Long Island outlet Slipped Disc Records and recall buying CDs there? How do you feel that the place parted company with Valley Stream several years ago? What albums and other gear do you most remember buying from Slipped Disc?
Slipped Disc was a huge part of my life until they closed. I remember buying all sorts of CDs, cassettes, posters, shirts, patches, stickers and 7" vinyls there back in the day. They had everything new, used, bootlegs, and imports; they had it all. I spent quite a lot of time and money in that place and it was such a big part of the scene. They allowed the bands to put flyers and zines and stickers by the door. They were incredible. I was sad when they closed down and they are definitely missed. I know a coffee shop is there now called Sip This. They sell Slipped Disc shirts which shows you how important the store was to people. I had Cynic's album Focus on cassette and wore it out. I actually bought the CD there on import because it had become out of print. Let see what else; I bought Death, Gorefest, Brutality, Marduk… man so much to remember everything I bought. But I went every week for a good four or five years and spent a ton of money. It really was a great place and I would always run into someone and would be there for hours. I really do miss that place.

Do you remember Uncle Phil’s in Levittown, New York. It was around in the 80s and early 90s and had tons of punk, hardcore and metal releases; toward the mid 90s it moved and then ended up closing down.
Uncle Phil's actually had a store in Massapequa near where I grew up. Me and my friends always went there and bought stuff. The basement was the metal section; it was all metal and they had everything. They eventually moved down the road into the Busy Bee Mall; we went there every day just about and bought either new or used CD's. I miss that place as well; so many great memories.
Did you ever go to record outlets in NYC like Bleecker Bob’s, Lethal CDs or Venus Records and pick up anything there?

I didn't frequent the city so much, but when I did I always went to Bleecker Bob's and would try to get some rare CD's or 7" vinyl. There were some cool shirt shops in NYC as well. I bought a bunch of rare Venom and Death shirts back in the day.

I’m relieved that when the Tower Records close to me went out of business it was replaced by a Guitar Center. This shows how important metal is in general on Long Island, to new generations of musicians. Have you gone there yet?
I have been there a few times. I really miss tower records but the fact that an instrument retailer is there is good for all musicians.

How did you and Bill from Obsessions come into contact, and what made him want to help support Korotory?
We felt like the only way to get our music out they right way was to play outside the area so we went and got a newspaper from New Jersey called The Aquarian and started looking for places to play in New York City and New Jersey. We found the number for Obsessions, called and booked our first show there. It went real well and we stayed after hours and talked shop with Bill. He saw the hunger in our eyes and began giving us the 411 on the business. We did a few more local type shows and he basically asked us to help him book a national show between two bands. Whichever one we picked he would book and we would be on the bill. The show was with Iced Earth. It was their first appearance in the area and would lead us to open for other bands and help our following. He was a major help in our longevity and knowledge of the business. Bill gave us a quick course to make us understand more than playing, there was a business we need to be aware of and how to approach promoters and club owners. He gave us all the pros and cons of how to do business and to always be professional. It was a big help and over the years has helped us out a ton. I took over the management side of the band in 2006 and used a lot of that  in dealing with all we have met. I obviously learned from others as well and started studying the business on my own but the groundwork he instilled in us early on was a major help for us.

When others in the scene said Bill had a reputation as a crook, this didn’t dissuade you from contacting him?
Not at all since he never treated us that way. He saw we wanted to achieve something and we were gonna work as hard as we had to to get there. I mean we were travelling almost two hours out of the way to play shows, because we were hungry and determined. We also felt that we need to learn as much as we could so we were gonna take everything as a lesson. If we got ripped off or whatever we would need to learn from it. We always wanted to be successful and learning is the only way to do that. Good or bad we were gonna learn something. If we would have taken anyone's advice or went against what we did, we would have been done years ago.

How much promotion went into your performance with Iced Earth and how was the attendance when the show happened? Did you and Korotory meet the band before or after the show? Who else played that show with you and Iced Earth?  Did you get to meet any of the other bands appearing that night?
The promotion was pretty good for the Iced Earth show. I mean we are talking before the social media explosion so everything was done via weekly music publications like the Aquarian and other local New Jersey papers and we sent out flyers to our mailing list and spent time in New Jersey handing out flyers. Plus the other bands on the bill promote as well. The place was not huge but the turnout was good. I would assume 500 plus for the location and the time. We got to spend time talking to the band before, during, and after the show. Matt Barlow the vocalist complimented us and Jon Schafer was swamped by people most of the night. All the bands put on great sets and it was a magical night that we will never forget. There were a few other locals on the bill that night. If I remember correctly we all hung together that night. We all had a blast.

Speaking of regular music publications, from the mid-90s to the late 2000s I had a regular column in Good Times Magazine called The Dungeon that exclusively covered extreme music. Do you remember reading it?
I read every issue of Good Times from 1992 to 2006. I had to have it to see what was going on and who was playing. It was great for looking for musicians and clubs to book, but what I loved was your column. The Dungeon helped me find new bands or helped me decide if I was gonna purchase something. You did an amazing job with that. I miss it. You should bring it back somehow; that would be amazing! I discovered a ton of bands reading The Dungeon. From national acts to locals/unsigned bands it was great. And sometimes I would be on the fence about a record and the review in The Dungeon would usually help.

How does the band feel about cross promoting? You mentioned something about this on Facebook, that Korotory is old school and feels that bands should support one another instead of stabbing each other’s backs constantly.
We are 100% old school. We come from a time when the bands cared about each other, and cared about the genre. A time when it was about a genre coming together as one and like a family. That's how we feel it should be. We love METAL; it is what we are and who we are. We wanna see the genre flourish not dissolve, and uniting is the way to continue that. Of course we wanna be successful and have our own glories of which we already have many, but we wanna see our brothers and sisters succeed as well. I guess being around for as long as we have and seeing what we have seen it all becomes clearer that there is a bigger picture and that is we need to help each other. It's a formula that seems to have worked in the past so why not now?
At what point did the band begin recording their material? Did you see label backing or release it independently?

We started recording in 1996. We went to LI Rock in Massapequa and recorded our first demo which came out fairly good considering we paid next to nothing and only recorded it on 16 tracks. Nowadays that's just the drums, but it was a great and exciting time. We sent the demo out to a few minor labels and nothing came of it, so we just started handing them out everywhere. We used to copy tons of cassettes and have covers made at a print shop. It was pretty well received and kind gave us the push we needed to really go all out.

I hung out at LI Rock and practiced there a few times. Who do you remember from recording at that studio?
The owner Larry helped us out a lot and gave us extra time and perks. We jammed there every week for three hours a session. It was a no brainer to record there when he started doing that. We miss that place a lot. It was real fun and laid back. Met a ton of bands.

Who were some of the bands you met while practicing at LI Rock?
We would interact with bands here and there. We were pretty much ‘get in and get out’ when it came to jamming. That place was always booked solid so you had to get in, set up, do your thing and get out. But we interacted with some bands; mainly if we did hang out it was with the owner Larry. We became real close. I do remember one time Stuttering John from the Howard Stern show was jamming there; I think his band had a show coming up and they were there getting ready. I ran in to him in the hall and said hey. He was really cool. But other than that, no one real exciting.

What are the songs recorded for your debut demo? Who in the band wrote and arranged them musically and lyrically?
Our first demo featured the songs Dweller Of Insanity, Bleed Them, Victory, This Bleeding Earth and Reaction Negative. The music was written by our former guitarist and cofounder Gary Hoyt, myself and our vocalist Ray Truhn. We have since re-recorded a few of those songs, and pulled riffs out of some others.

Was Gary Hoyt let go from the band or did he quit? What led to the band parting company with them?
Gary was a co-founder and with us for seventeen years before he decided to move his family to North Carolina to have a better life. New York is hard and only getting harder. He has a wife and two kids and wanted the best for them. He has family down there and decided to pick up and move to make a better life for them. He is and always will be a part of this band. He has an open ended spot in the band if he came home tomorrow and said he wants back in, it’s his even if we already had four guitarists. His writing and dedication drove this band for all seventeen years. He is our brother forever and nothing has changed between us.

Explain the lyrical content of the tracks recorded for your debut demo, and what they were inspired by? Did the inspiration for the lyrics come from social issues or personal views of the lyricist?
The lyrics came from all different angles as we were trying to really figure out our sound and direction. Being a young metal band full of piss and vinegar we kinda went with the whole dark and evil thing for a few songs. Dweller Of Insanity is about a serial killer seeking out his next victim. His mental issues cause him to think that he is guided by spirits of hell. Bleed Them had a satanic or evil vibe. Then there was a song called Victory which was about being positive and never giving in no matter what. Looking inside to find that strength to get you through your struggles. This Bleeding Earth was a social commentary about the chaos in the world from wars to political corruption. It was actually written in a fiction sense yet fast forward fifteen years and its spot on. The last track Reaction Negative is a song about people who talk shit and throw stones when they shouldn't. Being young and dealing with people talking behind your back and putting you down, telling them I don't think so and setting them straight.

Of the songs that appeared on your debut demo, which of the lyrics best represented your writing at the time? This Bleeding Earth sounds most interesting. Were there specific events that inspired that song?
Musically I would say Bleed Them is the best song on the demo for what we were going for at the time. It was a mix of Thrash and Death Metal and that's where we wanted to go. Even lyrically we were trying to push boundaries with the evil subtext kinda like a Slayer meets Deicide vibe. As far as This Bleeding Earth. I just sat with a tape of a rehearsal session and closed my eyes and began writing. I thought of a world in chaos with no order and complete anarchy running wild and ran with it. About two hours later the song was done and I was pretty happy. A week later I showed it to the guys and they loved it. It is a great song with different twists and turns musically. Starts out light builds up to a heavy crescendo then Thrash city with grooves and melody throughout. It was amazing watching that song come together the way it did. Years later when we re-recorded it we couldn't believe that we wrote that when we were so young and not as seasoned.

How many copies of your debut demo were made upon its release? Were they mostly circulated in the tape trade or were some of them submitted to labels and publications? What feedback was the band getting for the demo?
There is no honest answer for how many copies were made since we made them ourselves. We went out and bought bundles of cassettes, went a print shop and made tons of covers and made them as quickly as we could. I would estimate somewhere around 300-500 were made and circulated all over. We would hand them out everywhere: shows, malls, record stores, wherever. If we saw a metalhead or someone we thought would like it we gave them one. And we made sure to have tons ready for every show we played. We would even leave a few aside at the various places we played. We may have sent one or two to labels but nothing came of it and we would tape trade via magazines and stuff like that. We got pretty good feedback from it. I'm sure there were a lot of people who hated it or disliked it but for the most part it was good.
Do you remember the feedback you got from people who heard your demo? Did any copies circulate outside the States into other countries?

A majority of the feedback was from the people we gave the tape to at shows who would write to us or who we would run in to at other shows, and it was good. Of course there were those who hated it because it wasn't brutal enough or whatever but we take all reviews and process them the same way. All reviews good or band are good for us. We didn't get any copies outside of the US but around the States a few circulated and even those were good. To this day the mid-west and parts of the south have been most receptive to our material, though with that demo New York and New Jersey were a big deal because more people from those areas got it.

What were the reasons you decided to re-record songs from your demo? In what ways were the songs you redid improved?
The main reason was because they were good songs. We reworked some, tweaked others, got way better production and re did them. Plus with the internet now available we knew our audience would be much bigger than ever and not a lot of people may have heard these songs, or if they did they would have better versions of them. I mean ten to fifteen years later your playing is better, your songwriting skills are better and the production is better so you’re making this song you wrote as a kid into a beast of a song. We are happy with the way they turned out and they have become fan favorites. The best part is no one even knows that they are listening to songs that are as old as they are. It blows people away to find that out.

Were any other demos released before you started recording and releasing full lengths? How well did those do?
We only recorded one other demo called Process Of Elimination that came out in 2001. It had a few of the songs from the first demo and a few new songs. We were at a weird point and burned out and did not really push that demo very hard. We again did everything on our own very cheaply, but this time on CD and tried to push as many CD's as we could. The response was good for that one as well but we were not very happy with it. and actually went on hiatus a few months after we released it. We were tired and disillusioned and needed a break so on break we went.

How long was the band on hiatus before you all decided to start composing songs, recording and performing again? How was the process of getting back into the band swing after your break?
We went on hiatus from 2001 to 2005. When we started to get the bug again in 2006 we really started to get moving again. It was me, Ray, Gary and Ryan Belmont on bass. We just started going over some old stuff, reworking it, then we started to put new songs together and it all came together quickly. Before we knew it we were doing shows and getting back into the swing of the machine that is Korotory. Our following started to grow and before we knew it was time to record the first record.

What was the first thing the band recorded and released since becoming fully active again? Was this undertaking your debut CD? Describe the circumstances of its release and how well it did.
Our first album was recorded in late 2008. It was called Age Of Rebellion. We recorded it at Fullforce Studios with Joe Cincotta who has worked with Suffocation, Internal Bleeding, Pyrexia etc. We recorded the whole album in six days and he edited, mixed and mastered it in two or three days. We went in and got it done quickly because we had these songs extremely tight and knew them like the back of our hands. I literally did the drum tracks in eight hours. Everything else followed just as smoothly. We then worked out a deal with an independent label Last Resort Records to put it out and we released it in February of 2009. The response was huge. We played tons of shows behind it and did tons of promo on our own including a radio campaign with Skateboard marketing. The album got tons of downloads and sales and we got a lot of response from the radio play we were getting. We were on fire. We added guitarist Andy Fremder in January of 2009 and he helped us write and prepare for the next record.

It sounds as if Joe Cincotta is experienced in working with Long Island death metal bands. Is Fullforce Studios his recording place or is it where he and the band decided to work on the album?
Joe is one of the best producers in the metal scene, especially for Death Metal, but he does it all. He has worked with Suffocation for the better part of a decade, not only as a producer but he was there live sound guy for years. The dude is amazing. The list of bands he has worked with is huge. Fullforce is his place and it's top notch. All the work that comes out of there is incredible. Not to mention that he is beyond easy to work with and the nicest dude you will ever meet. We knew we had to work with him and we made it happen. The experience was amazing to say the least.

Where was the independent label Last Resort Records located? How much effort went into promoting Age Of Rebellion upon its release?
Last Resort Records is a Long Island based label. We got hooked up with them through Joe who is friends with the owner Sean. While we were recording Joe let Sean hear our stuff and he liked it. We played phone tag for a little bit and finally talked and made things happen. They got the record pressed and released. They did some promo for the record but we felt that we could do more so we did. We made flyers and did a radio campaign with Skateboard Marketing which pushed the record in major markets on regular radio and college radio. We debuted at #6 on the FMQB & CMJ charts for the week the record went to radio; it was incredible. For the next eight weeks we were in the top 50 on the radio charts for heavy music, which was exciting considering we were still a little band. We got great feedback from the DJ's and stations and people who started following us on Myspace and Facebook.
How many shows were scheduled in support of your debut album?  Were these shows covered as much as the album was?

We played seventy-five shows for that cycle. We basically would either book our own shows or were asked to play shows. We rarely turn down a show so we played all the time. It got crazy and we had to start saying no because the show offers we coming in like crazy. We played a lot of bigger shows at bigger places. We played with more national acts as well bands like Pro-Pain, Sworn Enemy and Vital Remains as well as tons of local shows. As 2009 was winding down we got a call from Sean; he was asked if we would like to open for Satyricon at Irving Plaza in NYC which was mind blowing. We had a meeting, said yeah and began to prepare, We had three weeks. On October 25th we played to the biggest crowd we had ever played to and ripped that place apart. There were pits all over and the crowd was full of energy. It caught us a bit off guard since we were local and more of a Thrash/Death band completely opposite of the Black Metal Satyricon was known for, but the crowd loved it and we made a bunch of fans that night.

So at that point opening for Satyricon was the band’s biggest show? Did you get to meet Satyricon before or after playing?
As far as size and venue yes it was our biggest show, Irving plaza was packed there we closed to seven or eight hundred people and the crowd was electric. The vibe was incredible. And the crowd was insane. We did not get to speak to the band at all they kind kept to themselves and Satyr (vocals/guitars/bass) was kind of being immature about a lot of stuff and wasn't happy that there were two locals on the bill. We ignored everything and just went out there and did what we did. I did get to briefly say hello to Frost the drummer.

Discuss the songs appearing on your debut that weren’t discussed previously. What was the inspiration for these pieces?
The songs are positive and uplifting and personal in subject matter. Rebel For Life is about being and individual and standing your ground. Uprising is about not following the trends or being a follow along. Transmogrify, an old song re-worked, is about having inner strength and to rise above anything that oppresses you. ATM (Anti Trend Machine) is our song about being against trends and being trend free for as long as we have. The Strange Ways Of MisLis is about a relationship that was based on lies and games and getting back at the person. Unity is another one like ATM about standing against trends and bringing the metal scene together and united against the mainstream as is Revolution. That one kinda tells a tale about our loyalty to metal and the fans. I guess you could say the running theme is to be yourself and don't follow anyone or anything because you think you have to do it.
Describe the second full length released by the band following Age Of Rebellion.

Our second record is God Less America. We stepped up everything on that record. Heavier, Faster, Groovier, more death metal elements. It's a much more extreme record. The songs had similar lyrical content and a little bit of a dark side as well. We wrote the record through 09 and into 2010 and recorded it in spring of  2010 at Full Force studios again. We once again got it done really quick like eight or nine days. We went and got artwork done and prepared it for release. In July of 2010 we were asked to open for Exodus, Malevolent Creation, Holy Grail and Bonded By Blood. It was a massive show and an honor. We decided that we would release the record the night of the show and that's what we did. So August 2010 the record came out. That night was magic we had an incredible set and then sold a ton of records. We met a lot of people that night and made a bunch of contacts. Most importantly we won over the bands and crew on the tour. All of whom had amazing things to say and hung out with us all night.

Was opening for Exodus another milestone for the band? Name other established bands you appeared with before or since.
Forget that they are thrash pioneers because that's a given. The honor of being the one local band that is going to open for them in the #1 market in the country is mind blowing and speaks volumes. And we were beyond honored to be that band. It is a night that we will remember forever. To answer the other part of your question we have been lucky enough to open for amazing bands such as Nevermore, Iced Earth, D.R.I., Malevolent Creation, Deceased, Warbringer, Lazarus AD, Diamond Plate, Landmine Marathon, Black Anvil, Bonded by Blood, Holy Grail, Hexen, Rattlehead, Mantic Ritual, Sworn Enemy, Havok, Pro-Pain, Six Feet Under, Vital Remains, Hammerfall, Bloodclot!, Hypocrisy, Hate, Scar Symmetry, Chthonic, The Empire Shall Fall, Swashbuckle, Acraussicud and Generation Kill. Sometimes I look at some of the band names and can't believe it but we are grateful and cannot wait to add even more names to the list.

Who designed the artwork for God Less America? How many artists did you contact before settling on one to do the album cover?
The artwork was done by an artist from Malaysia by the name of Jumali Kitani. I was looking at his artwork for over a year as we had become friends on social media. When we were doing the record I had begun going through his website and found the cover and contacted him immediately. I told him to hold it for me and showed it to the band; a few days later we set up all the paperwork and payments to buy it from him. It is an amazing piece of work that has gotten a good amount of attention.
Did the independent and metal mainstream press notice any appreciable differences between Age Of Rebellion and your previous work?

The media definitely noticed the difference between the two records. Also, God Less America was a much more extreme record with more speed and brutality. There was still tons of groove but we added more thrash and blast beats and even heavier breaks. We wanted to take everything to the next level and push as hard as we can. We knew we had to outdo ourselves. Even when we went to record we told Joe to get us even better sounds than he did previously. We are extremely proud of that record and always will be it is our Thrashterpiece.

In what ways were your lyrics evolving in the songs recorded for Age Of Rebellion, that you mentioned earlier? Were there any indications yet that the band was going to address larger social issues?
Lyrically we knew we couldn't do the same thing all over again or it would get stale quick. Ascending is a song about standing up to people who put you down and ascending to your greatness. It’s a song about the power of inner strength. This Is War is a song about going into battle all guns blazing and taking no prisoners. We want the listeners to paint the picture of what the war is either fictional or nonfictional. Dweller Of Insanity is a reworking of the song from our first demo from 1996. We did nothing to the lyrics; we left them all dark and twisted as they were. Same with This Bleeding Earth. Out For Blood is a song about getting revenge through success and putting down those who have tried to crush you. Organized Hypocrisy is about the Catholic church with its scandal and hypocrisy. For an organization that preaches about how great and incredible they are they have more problems and demons then the ones they are fighting against and we just wanted to bring that to the table. We The Enslaved is a political song about how the government has lost all respect and care for any of its citizens. They seem to do the complete opposite of what they should be doing to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness Bigger Than God is our anthem of the record a shout out to our metal family for sticking by us and flying the flag of metal with us.

In 2011 and 2012 the band experienced a few lineup changes. Who departed from Korotory and who was welcomed into the fold at that time?
When we went on our end of year hiatus in 2010 we had our first batch of lineup changes. We parted ways with Ryan and a few days later Andy left. In 2011 we added Chris and our bassist Brett Weatherston. That line up lasted through 2012 when Gary left. We replaced him with Matt Scriva. That line up would record the Chapter III album. In May 2013 I got sick and was having some issues I was dealing with so I had left the band. At that point the band went on hiatus. In Jan of 2014 I called Ray and Chris and we decided to start again. and here we are. We are looking to fill the last two spots and then we will begin playing shows again.

How has the current lineup been working together since it solidified? Are the newest members learning the older songs as well as the previous members of the band?
We have had so many lineup changes since 2010; even as I write this we have had another lineup change as Chris Clemente has left the band to focus on some personal business which we are 100% supportive of. We have just added guitarist Eddie Becker to the band who we thought was going to be our new second guitarist but now has assumed the role of main guitarist. Eddie is doing an amazing job learning the material; he has about a half dozen songs down and has begun writing with us. So the future is looking good.

How much of a response was your 2012 EP Chapter III: The Conquering greeted with? Is this available for internet streaming?
Chapter III was met with a great amount of enthusiasm. People seem to really like it and have really raved about the songs which we are very happy about. We decided to put the album out in digital format for FREE for the fans. We plan on doing hard copies in the near future but wanted to get it out since we sat on it for almost a year due to those lineup changes. Anyone reading this who would like to download it can go to korotory.bandcamp.com/album/chapter-iii-the-conquering and get your copy today.

Describe the making of your third and current full length and how much promotion has gone into it. Did your lyrical and musical arrangements continue to improve while this recording was put together?
Chapter III was a weird album to make but a great experience. We basically wrote and recorded everything on the fly at our bassist at the time Brett's home studio. We spent a lot of time recording, rerecording, editing and mixing. It took almost a year to make. Musically it was a slight evolution but still sounded like us with heaviness, groove, thrashiness and blast. We added some melody and more use of overdubs. Brett did a great job and the whole band did really good performances. Lyrically it was a much more angry record dealing with confronting backstabbers and shit-talkers (Spineless) and how technology has made humans like zombies (Dehumanization), as well as calling out people who have ripped you off or stole from you (Absolute Zero) and finally a song about standing up to the crooked government (Rise).

How do you imagine the band will progress and grow on future recordings?
The future is wide open. We are beyond ready to make more of an impact over the next bunch of years. We want to make our band bigger and push our music beyond any boundaries. We want to get our name out everywhere and make an effort to give our worldwide fanbase a taste of us at our best, both on record and on stage. We want to merchandise as much as we can and make as much of an impact on the metal world as we can. Of course no band wants to think about the end, but we know it will come, so we want to make as big of an impact as we can with every aspect of our band.

Korotory

 
-Dave Wolff