MASSACRE – Definitely Back from Beyond

MASSACRE – Definitely Back from Beyond

Twenty-two years is a long time to wait to take care of unfinished business. In the case of Florida death metal legends MASSACRE and their new album, "Back From Beyond", it’s most certainly better late than never.

Not that MASSACRE’s band members stalled their comeback intentionally, nor were they sitting around doing nothing. For his part, bassist Terry Butler spent time in the pit and on the road with Six Feet Under and Obituary, yet MASSACRE was always bubbling under the surface in the minds of the fans.

"Back from Beyond" is now out on the market and in this interview Terry Butler talks about the new album, his other previous and current bands, vinyl, "Spiritual Healing" and the bass.


Massacre have been an on and off band. What is different this time and why is now and with this band configuration the right time and band to make a new album?

Well it just kind of came together casually is the best way to describe it. Ever since we played our last show on the Inhuman Condition tour in ’92 people have been asking me when is Massacre coming back. I just happened to be talking to Rick one day in 2011 and mentioned to him how cool it would be to play some shows to celebrate the 20th anniversary of From Beyond. He was interested so one thing led to another and we started rehearsing and playing some live shows and it sounded killer. I guess the planets finally aligned for us and here we are22 years later. It’s the right time because this line is perfect for reforming. Everyone is focused, serious and one the same page. We are a team and ready to tour and record more albums.

Ed Webb has replaced Kam Lee on vocals. What has he brought into the band that Kam didn’t have and is there anything Kam had that you don’t have now with Ed?

Wow that is a loaded question ha-ha! I will give you the G- rated answer. Ed brings a great range and very powerful vocals, a professional attitude; he is not an egomaniac, is humble, doesn’t have delusions of grandeur, and didn’t invent vokills.

Rick wasn’t part of the 07 – 08 reunion as it was solely you only as an original member in the beginning. What happened there and why did you two decide to start all over again?

The reason for that was that I believed the line of bullshit that the former vocalist was feeding me.  How that whole thing came about was I was in a band called Denial Fiend with Kam. I decided to give it a shot working with him. The band was put together by the guitarist Sam Williams. It’s his band and he asked Kam and me to join. Shortly after the first cd came out we had a tour set up opening for Vital Remains in Europe. A few weeks before the tour starts we find out that Kam’s passport has been revoked. He was in trouble with the government. Sam was talking to the promoter and they came up with the idea of Massacre doing a reunion tour and Denial Fiend would open. The advances from the Massacre shows would pay off Kam’s passport and Denial Fiend could tour and make up for the cancelled Vital Remains tour.  I immediately inquired about Rick doing the tour and I was told that Rick was a drug addict and he wasn’t playing guitar anymore. Of course it was a lie. I should have called Rick about it. That’s my fault. That reunion tour was only to get Kam out of trouble, nothing more. It was never meant to go any further than that. It couldn’t anyhow, kam was already causing trouble in the Denial Fiend camp and it was bleeding over to the Massacre shows.  The 2011 reformation was done for the right reasons and at the right time. We reformed originally to celebrate the 20th anniversary of From Beyond. It just blossomed from there.


You released the "Condemned to the Shadows" EP almost two years ago. This is an EP with two of the tracks from the new album – how did the fans respond to that EP and why did you release it?

The response was extremely positive for the 7". We had these 2 songs written when we got signed so we figured that we would record these 2 to show everybody that we were serious and to wet their appetite. 

The writing and recording process of "Back from Beyond", can you take us through that, please.

Absolutely, we took our time and everybody chipped in, it was a group effort. Sometimes someone would bring something to practice other times we wrote stuff on the spot. Rick was on a roll and was just churning out these brutal catchy riffs each one better than the next. We wrote in-between a few tours of South America. We didn’t want to rush things. After all it was 22 years since the last album so what was a few more months going to hurt.  


When you recorded "Back from Beyond", did you get that same feeling you had when you recorded "From Beyond" or was this on a completely different level?

They were both very exciting in different ways. When Bill and I finished the Spiritual healing tour in Europe I contacted Rick about reforming Massacre. We went into the studio a few months later and recorded From Beyond. It was exciting to start up Massacre again and get out there and tour, especially how things ended in Death for Bill, rick and me. Massacre should have had an album out years before that.  To be part of Earache and put out an album that was that strong was exciting. Recording Back From Beyond was exciting because it was from scratch. We wrote all new songs had fresh new ideas. Rick and I were recording with new members in the band so it was cool seeing how they contributed and to hear their ideas. I mean just the mere fact that Massacre was dead in the grave and a few years later were signed to a label and recording an album was a miracle.

Lately record labels have started to release a lot of different LP versions, different colours and stuff. The most extreme example is the latest Carcass, which has been released in 26 different versions on vinyl so far. But most weird, they have started to release the different colours and versions on different labels, and often in the same area or countries. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Unfortunately that’s par for the course these days. Labels partner up to generate more sales. If you release the album in more colours the collectors have to collect them all so that generates more records sales. This is all a back lash from illegal down loading. Even Back From Beyond has 4 different colours. I’m fine with it myself.

I am a proud member of a Facebook page for extreme metal vinyl collectors. The page has over 3000 members and there is a VIP club there and to become a VIP you need to own a copy of "From Beyond" LP + 7 inch. Anything you want to say to the VIPs and the rest of the vinyl collectors?

That is awesome ha-ha, that’s a great way to become a VIP. I love collecting records. I’ve been collecting since the early ‘80s I have around 5000 records myself. I will have to look for the page. I glad we did that for From Beyond. I remember suggesting that we do that. That stems from the record collector in me. I thought that it would be something different.


You’ve worked with people like Chuck Schuldiner, Kam Lee and Chris Barnes, people with quite strong personalities. I’m sure it was not easy all the time, but what was it like working with them and how did you deal with it?

What is it with singers… lol!!! I enjoyed working with Chuck the most for obvious reasons. We were friends and had a lot in common.  Yes he was difficult, and a bit of a diva at times but it was always for the benefit of the band. I can’t speak for his actions after I left ha-ha but that’s how it was for my tenure in Death.  As for the other 2 it was more about them rather than the band.  It didn’t start out that way in the beginning with them but that changed over time. It’s a shame really.

You also play bass in a few other bands plus you played in Six Feet Under for a long time. What is the biggest difference of being a member and playing in Massacre compared to being a member of Obituary, Denial Fiend and Six Feet Under?

Well Obituary and Massacre are pretty similar as far as attitude and the band dynamic. What I mean is that it’s an everyone has a voice atmosphere. It’s a democracy if you will.  Musically, yes both bands are death metal but there are differences with song style. I’ve known the Obituary guys for over 25 years and we get along great. The same for Massacre I’ve known Rick for almost 30 years and we have a great report. Denial Fiend is more of the same; Sam Williams and I are good friends and get along great. We had a setback when Kam tried to ruin the band but we recovered and found Rob Rampy and Blaine Cook respectively. Musically Denial Fiend is the most challenging. You might not realize while you’re listening but the rhythms are pretty complex and challenging.  Six Feet Under was good at the beginning and for a while but things lost their way when it became more about Chris rather than the music. Having my brother in law Greg in the band certainly helped with the stressful times.

You have been a part of the metal scene for a long time and you have fans all over the world. I know there’s a while since it happened, but do you remember which bands and albums made you interested in metal in the first place?

Yes it’s been awhile lol. I would have to say the first band that got me into metal in general was Judas Priest on British Steel. As far as underground metal It would have to be Venom, Angel Witch, Savatage, Raven, Motorhead, Exciter.


I have a colleague who almost snapped when I told that I should have an interview with you. You played on one of his favorite album, "Spiritual Healing" by Death. Do you have something to say about this album now today, and how does it feel to have been part of such a killer album, with such a legendary band?

Well tell him I’m flattered ha-ha. I have very fond memories of that album and time. I look back and I’m proud of what we did, proud to have co-written 4 songs with Chuck. It was a transitional album we were bringing in a little more melody and technicality to the songs. Being very hands on with that album and having worked side by side with Chuck is something I will always remember.

"Spiritual Healing" is by many fans seen as a very significant release. How do you see "Spiritual Healing" compared with the other Death albums?

I like all the Death releases but my favorites are the first 4. They are chock full of riffs. The later albums are good but it got to scale orientated for me. Doing scales and putting a crazy drum beat behind it is cool but I would rather hear a killer rhythm I can remember and hum later. Leprosy to me is the epitome of Death. Brutally crushing rhythms, killer vocals, great drumming and the combination of Rick’s mayhem whammy and Chuck’s melodic leads was such great contrast. To me that was truly an all-star band.


When did you start playing bass? Who/what inspired you to pick it up?

Basically right out of high school I bought a bass, I think I was around 18, a late bloomer. Early on it was bands in general that inspired me to play bass. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be Slayer, Motorhead, and Venom.  Later I started paying attention to players more. Geezer Butler, Steve Harris, Bob Daisley, Phil Lynott are my influences now.

What kind of role do you think the bass should have in a band; Primus, AC/DC, or a bit of both?

Both bands and styles are cool but I prefer something in the middle. Geezer is a perfect example of this; he holds down a rhythm and pics his spots and shreds your face off. I love that. I have a drummer mentality when it comes fills. It’s the same theory.  Obviously it depends on the type of music you’re playing. Imagine if Les Claypool was in AC/DC and he was throwing bass runs everywhere over the top of Back in Black. It would ruin the song. 

What would you say characterizes your bass playing, technically and musically? 

I would like to think I’m a pretty good bass player. I’m playing classic Death metal so it’s not like Rush. I like to be tight with the drummer and keep the grove and pick spots to do runs. I have a great bass tone so people know me for that as well.  I use a lot chords to thicken things up courtesy of Lemmy.

Do you have any formal music training?

No, I taught myself to read music and studied some theory. It’s rock n roll.

Any tips for developing and maintaining technique and musical creativity?

First and foremost I would say practice your ass off. Figure out if you want to use a pick or your fingers or both. Just because you’re playing Death Metal doesn’t mean you should only think of that type of playing only. Fool around with other types of playing. Try funk, rock n roll, reggae all these styles can be used in your arsenal. Why not learn as much as you can.

Tips on how to give a bass riff that extra cool sound or groove?

Sometimes a slide up into a riff or slide out can give it that extra little spice. Some notes can be bent up or down a little or even wiggled to give some flavour to a note. You can hear Geezer Butler do that at times. If there is space in the riff do a run to get to the next riff do it.


How do you prepare for a gig?

Everyone has their own rituals but myself I like to be at the club or venue for the whole production. After sound check I like to remain there and hang backstage and listen to my favourite tunes. I like to watch the fans come in and check out the merchandise. I don’t get nervous before shows. About 20 mins before stage time I will start warming up the fingers and hands.

How about touring, any tips on how to keep delivering through weeks on the road? 

You have to remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself. The actual playing isn’t that demanding, I mean we are only up there for 45mins to 1 ½ hours. It’s the lack of sleep, staying up partying, long drives to the show, long flights that take it out of you. You need to eat healthy as well, and stay hydrated. Keep your immune system up. You can’t play if you sick.

Is the right musical gear important for you? What kind of gear do you use?

Yes, it should be for every player. Sometimes you get stuck with something you’re not familiar with but you have to use it. I prefer Ampeg myself. I’ve been using Ampeg since ’88. I prefer an 8×10 cabinet with a SVTII pro head. It more power than I will ever need.

How would your dream rig look like?

It would be a wall of 8×10 Ampeg cabinets with SVTII heads and a big rack off effects lol.  

How many strings on the bass, and why?

I prefer 4 strings myself. Even in Massacre with our tuning to b I use 4 strings. Hey if Jaco Pastorious, Geddy Lee, Geezer Butler and Steve Harris only needed 4 then so do I.

Pick or fingers? Why?

I like to switch back and forth sometimes. It depends on the song. Some songs are more conducive for fingers and vice versa. A song like Defeat Remains from the album From Beyond feels better playing with my fingers whereas the song From Beyond is better with a pick. From Beyond is more straight forward fast picking like a Slayer song.  Defeat has more of a groove and is a little more open rhythmically.


Mention three bass players within metal that has a style you like, and what you like about them.

Ok for starts Alex Webster for obvious reasons. Lemmy, because he plays heavy. He’s using chords and his bass tone is sick. Timmy Grabber from Mercyful Fate, Very tasteful bass runs.

If you were to choose three bass players (not necessarily within metal) who have inspired you, who would that be? Tell a little on how they’ve inspired you.

Phil Lynott first and foremost is my favourite Bass player/ musician. His song writing and lyrics are incredible. He’s a story teller. His vocal phrasings are very soulful and passionate. He is a great bass player as well.

John Paul Jones is amazing as well.  Again his song writing and bass playing are one of the reasons I love Zeppelin. He plays multiple instruments as well.

Geezer Butler is a close second to Phil ha-ha. Talk about song writing and tasty bass licks. He has that in spades. Plus we share the same name lol.