Introduce the readers to the bands and projects you have been involved in, and the material released by each one
My name is Regis 7.7.7 Whyte. I was born in 1968, began my involvement in underground music in 1983/84 when the first French publication devoted to hard rock and heavy metal music Enfer Magazine was published. In the spring of 1984 I hosted my first local radio show Impact on Radio Leon 91.5 FM downtown Lyon City, France. We were very much into underground stuff back then and literally gave airplay to hundreds of unknown acts worldwide. From 1987 to 1990 I began working for the record chain stores F.N.A.C. in Lyon City and Paris. In 1993/94 I started my own metal band as a vocalist, Varech))), which mixed doom, death and thrash metal with keyboards. We made one demo and one live tape, then split up in 1995. We briefly reformed in 2015 to record a full length album, but the human factor totally destroyed that new incarnation of the band. Now it's only me and a brand new multiplayer and sound engineer Ludo Tournier of Vacuum Tehiru. He played years with Exhumer, Forbidden Site and Himinbjorg, and was a live soundman for bands like Deicide, Vader, Belphegor, Arkhon Infaustus and Nehemah.
In 1994 I launched my experimental music project Kabbal Karma which mixed surreal keys with dark overtones, eerie vocals, gothic industrial atmosphere, samples and so on. I released three albums on my label Empyrical Archivoid Recordings: “In Crepuscular Philosophy of Inner Accomplishment”, “Dismal Choirs of Limbo” and “Artshitexture Shitsculpture”. Three other albums were recorded but never released until now. Read about them at Kabbal Karma’s Myspace profile.
In 1998/99 I started another side project, Tod Sphincter Tod in a cyber punk/electro clash mold. We recorded one full album entitled “Hellektronanism” also released on Empyrical Archivoid Recordings. www.myspace.com/tst666
In 2008/09 I sung on a full length by Mad Ripper “188 Hate, Jack Is Back” which was in an old school heavy/power/thrash style, but it wasn’t released until now.
In 2017 I launched a new studio project (((S°O°S))); we are about to release our full album in the coming weeks and play some live shows in the coming months.
Was Enfer Magazine your introduction to underground music? What else were you reading in those days?
Enfer was the first paper publication in France dedicated to those genres, but before 1983 only. “Wango Tango”, a national radio show on WRTL AM hosted by Francis Zegut, opened the way making us discover Riot, Gary Moore, Accept and Revolver etc. After that came Metal Attack, Hard Rock and Hard Force magazines. I discovered Metal Forces from the UK while I was spending one month in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. Nowadays we got Rock Hard (French edition), Metallian and My Rock magazines, all being distributed nationwide.
Do you read independent fanzines or webzines to keep up with unsigned bands? Which do you recommend?
There are tons of great bands in France, in all styles possible. My current recommendations would be all the bands coming out from the Vacuum Tehiru Recording Studio and masterminded by Ludo Tournier, such as She' Ein Bo Mahshavah, Vacuum Tehiru, Daath Shadow and Cainan Dawn. I used to collaborate as a writer with the oldest French webzine No Noise///No Good, but I don’t have the time to write articles as I used to.
What did you write for No Noise///No Good while you a staff member? Is that magazine still in publication?
No Noise///No Good is still active. I wrote some historical articles about the birth of the heavy sound from Blue Cheer to modern sludge, from doom, stoner, doom/industrial, drone, doomcore and so on, and another one on the war metal scene from Bathory's “The Return” to Blasphemophager. I did a couple of live reports of Agnostic Front, Mercyless etc. I don’t have the time to do it anymore; it's too time consuming.
Who did you air regularly on Impact Radio Leon 91.5? Were you allowed to air local and unsigned bands people hadn’t heard of?
Believe it or not, when “Love at First Sting” by Scorpions came out in 1984 as well as “Defenders of the Faith” by Judas Priest we were the only radio program that received those records for promotional airplay. Long after that they gave heavy rotation to “Still Loving You” but most of them had never heard of Scorpions. Among our favorites we put on “Impact” were New Jersey's The Beast, Candlemass (“Witchcraft” demo), Hell, Scarab, Golgotha and Dragonslayer from the UK, Enforcer and Metal Wolf from the USA, Charged, GBH, the UK punk band Attack and so on.
Did you meet any local bands while you hosted Impact? Who did you get to interview while you were with them?
For Impact I did an interview with Jason Newsted in February of 1987; I was in touch with him while he was still in Flotsam And Jetsam. I immediately felt what he told many years later, that he was constantly mistreated by Metallica. Seeing what those guys are capable of nowadays, regarding the black market ticket selling, unfortunately I’m not surprised they are the worst greedy bastards you could ever imagine today. I interviewed some French bands along with Vulcain, Oxen Killer, Vytal and Predator.
What did you and Newsted discuss when you interviewed him?
That was 32 years ago, a long time ago. He mainly told me he was torn between his ambitions to really achieve something in music at a higher level, but had to leave behind Flotsam And Jetsam where he was the main song writer, lyricist and publicist. And that it was heartbreaking to replace Cliff Burton because he had met his doom, and he had to replace somebody that just couldn’t be replaced. He was a huge fan of his duties as a bass player.
What was it like working at the F.N.A.C. stores? What made you decide to start working in bands after that? Was your experience as a deejay and working at a record chain helpful?
I was mostly listening to the bands on Earache Records: Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Entombed, Morbid Angel, Unseen Terror, Confessor, Carcass and Nocturnus. I was also into hardcore and punk and saw many bands in Paris including Henry Rollins, Suicidal Tendencies, M.D.C., Beatnigs, Krull and Flitox and M.S.T. I left that job simply because I always wanted to join the most creative side of things: the bands who were creating the music. Working both for radio and the record distribution stores helps you out for things to come.
Tell the readers about how you founded Empyrical Archivoid Recordings. What are the genres you support through the label and how much distribution you have to this day?
Empyrical Archivoid Recordings was created to publish all three records of Kabbal Karma and the one record from Tod Sphincter Tod. Back then it was distributed by French mail orders like Darkside Distro and Adipocere Records. Nowadays I have launched a new label, Krometal Wreckordz, to release my album with S°O°S, “A Weird Mass Celebration.” I have secured a deal with the American distro MVD Entertainment and I hope it works out properly.
How much material did you release with your doom/death metal band VARECH))) while they were active? Is any of this material still available for purchase?
The VARECH))) album “Coldead Marble Memories” was pressed in a promo carton board CD format and all inserted with issue #101 of the German magazine Legacy Mag. A few copies are still available for six dollars including shipping through my PayPal address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why did it take so long for the Mad Ripper full length to be released? Has it been received well since it came out?
“188 Hate, Jack Is Back” was never released until this day because Norby Lang the main band member wasn't satisfied with it, especially his drum parts, so maybe I will release it by myself one day.
You mention S°O°S is a theatrical metal band. What do you mean by that, in terms of your music and stage presence? Who is working with you in S°O°S? Do the other members have experience playing in other bands before hooking up with you?
That’s my own definition of it anyway, since my ambition is to incorporate a full time magician on stage, some spitfires, a stripper on and so on. This past summer I have found some musicians to play live with me. We got Sista Saturn on guitar, Sister Praz on guitar, Sista Randolf on bass and Sista Skinbasher on drums. They don’t want to talk about their mutual musical backgrounds, as we are all supposed to be anonymous behind our masks.
Describe the making of “A Weird Mass Celebration” and mention who worked on it with you.
After recording VARECH))) I continued working with producer Nard Tibo of Convulsound Recording Studios. “A Weird Mass Celebration” was played, arranged, produced and mastered by top notch metal/rock producers and musicians: Brett Caldas of Tower Studio who worked with Megadeth, Pain Of Salvation, Devin Townsend Project, Septic Flesh, Haken and Xerath, Jon Phibbs of Orchestral Metal Studio who worked with Moonspell, Amorphis, Dragonforce, Angra, Kreator and Hatesphere, Nard Tibo who worked with Sick Of It All, Biohazard, Benighted, Misery Index, Valiant Torr, VARECH))) and The Sevengates, Christian Gonzalez a remixer from Grosso Gadgetto Studio, and on final LP/CD masterings, Ludovic Tournier of Vacuum Tehiru Studio.
Talk about how the music and lyrics of “A Weird Mass Celebration” were written. Where did the inspiration come from?
Concerning the lyrics, “Prophecy For Agony” is a personal comment about the former members of VARECH))). They were just followers and didn’t like me and Nard Tibo taking leadership of the band. They didn’t participate in paying bills except for only one of them. “I Saw This World” is my dark vision of today's world and the human condition on Earth. That subject is often exposed through “Everything Ends Up In Tears” and “A Fateful Ballad” but always in a poetic or metaphorical manner. “Rats Supremacy” is a metaphor that says underground music can suddenly rise aboveground.
How did you secure your distribution deal with MVD Entertainment for the album’s release? Are you confident they’ll do a good job with the band?
I have been prospecting labels for months now, and the least I can say is that even if your album is top notch and you paid everything, many labels ask you some extra money to “sign” you. With VARECH))), three were interested: Massacre Records, Die Hard Entertainment and another label I forgot the name of. They were asking for 2200 to 5000 euros. A band from Lyon City, France called Dreamscape accepted such a rip off deal with Massacre Records recently. I thought I would be better off creating my own new label and distribute as much as possible. MVD Entertainment is kind of a mainstream distributor for indies, so I don't know what to expect.
You have a song from the album featured on Imperative Music Compilation DVD Volume XVI. How did this come about and how much has it created a buzz for “A Weird Mass Celebration”?
About the compilation coming out from Brazil, you just have to pay once again, but it's a fair deal with a circulation of 3000 copies. It’s a good promo to start with; the only problem is that they were four months late for release date.
How much funds do you have distributing on your own independent label? Does social media streaming also help you financially? Is Imperative Music Compilation the only compilation you have appeared on to date?
The VARECH))) operation cost 10,000 euros. You don't earn from the internet, you just get some free exposure and publicity. Imperative Music Compilation is the only compilation DVD we’re on. For the moment I won’t pay to be on some audio samplers.
What is the official release date for “A Weird Mass Celebration”? If the band has included the new songs in their recent live shows, how have they been received? How soon after the album’s release do you plan to start playing shows?
There's no release date yet because MVD is very slow. We just got our live lineup together and we must rehearse to play a minimum 45 minute set. The current live line up will play all ten songs for the album. I guess we’ll start playing around January of 2020.