Along with Eyehategod, North Carolina's Buzzov*en helped to define sludge metal in the early '90s. Marrying feedback to creepy movie samples, the band, led by Kirk Fisher, carved a swath of mayhem and mischief across the Eastern seaboard with their live show. Buzzov*en left bloody noses, broken mic stands, and irate club owners in their wake, in what has been described as Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War. After the release of 1994's Sore on Roadrunner Records, Fisher began a destructive cycle of drug addiction that plagued him and the band for a decade. Sporadic EPs and albums were released on labels that eventually folded, and now Fisher is in the process of cleaning up and reorganizing his life. Much like Dax Riggs after the demise of Acid Bath, Fisher is pursuing a solo acoustic blues act, K-Lloyd. Jello Biafra and his Alternative Tentacles label released Welcome to Violence, a compilation of the band's early out-of-print records. Now Relapse has followed suit with Violence from the Vault, formerly lost recordings from the Sore period. Fisher was eager to tell me about the old days, the clashes with the past, hope for the future, and taking things one day at a time.
Why was Violence from the Vault never released until now?
Just never really tried to do anything with it and had honestly lost track of my master of it. I regained a decent copy of it and thought, "Why not see about getting it out?"
Did Roadrunner not offer to release it back then? How about Allied?
It was done as more of a demo for a second release that never came to be on Roadrunner. I never really pursued releasing it because I was more into pushing the ...At a Loss line-up with Dixie [Collins, bass] and Ramzi [drums].
Are you satisfied that it was recorded onto CD un-remastered from the original cassette? Would you have rather had it remastered instead?
I like the rawness of it. I think it gives some quality that goes with the whole idea that it was kinda dug up. I mean, they are good songs; I think one of 'em we redid for Gospel...II, and that's what I wanted people to hear.
I read a review that brought up the debate of remastering or not. Not remastering lets you hear the rawness and power, but it ends up sounding like a bad mp3 recording that drops out in parts (I'm paraphrasing here.) What do you think?
I don't know, man. I'm one for a good, thick-sounding recording, too, but you know, I don't see what everyone is talking about. I think it sounds fine, considering ― and what you hear took some cleaning up by Billy Anderson, so my opinion is if it's too raw, sorry. I think it's meant to be more for fans, and maybe some people will dig it who have never heard Buzzov*en as well. Most everything is outta print except for Welcome to Violence on Alternative Tentacles, but that may be changing very soon!
Arik Roper said once in an interview that you were his inspiration for his hillbilly characters that he's now famous for. He used to do flyers and T-shirts for the band, and you introduced them to the guys in Sleep. What was it like working with Arik back then?
Arik is a great guy. I met him at a party in Richmond, and we used to crash at his apartment in NY. He lived like right in the middle of a major dope spot back in the day, and he said when we were coming to town he would tell his roommates to hide their weed, etc. Arik has quite a career, and his music stuff started with the astronaut shirt he did for us. My only complaint is he's always too busy to get to do anything anymore these days. I'm sure, though, if we do a new Buzzov*en record and give him enough notice, he would do it. I'm happy for him 'cause he's an awesome artist.
What was the scene (or lack thereof) like in Charlotte when the band first started? I remember the days in the early '90s of going to Tremont, the Milestone, Jeremiah's, Heretics, and other clubs around Charlotte. I think more metal bands came back then than now!
Yeah, there wasn't much of a scene back then. I used to do shows at the Milestone Club, and that's how I met a lot of the Bay Area bands that I'm still friends with to this day. We had a house over on Oakland Avenue in the Elizabeth neighbourhood, and we really kinda stayed there a lot 'cause if we didn't ― well, if I didn't ― I would tend to find or get into trouble. We weren't exactly welcomed with open arms at all clubs around Charlotte. The scene was what it was. Antiseen was from here, too, but they were the same way: they kinda kept to their own unless they were playing a show. Me and Brian Hill drove up to a club in Hickory called Cadillacs and saw Alice in Chains once, and another time it was Pantera opening for Prong. Charlotte and the Carolinas will always love their '80s hair metal bands like Dokken, Ratt, Poison, etc.
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