Pretoria's longest surviving and most well known Metal band, agreed to break their recluse status and grant us this interview. Read on about one of the icons of South African Metal.
CRUSADER: As far as I know only one demo has been released, the self titled one in 1992 on Inhouse Records, why have the releases been so sparse?
STRYDER: There was actually another song which was released through TEAL TRUTONE called " Pouring rain" which was on a compilation album called FREEDOM. This song did very well for us commercially, though it was a ballad and not very indicative of our style at all. STRYDER have lots of recorded material but we have not released it because we feel that it just isn't good enough - not song wise but recording wise. We feel that it is very easy to go out and record something - lots of SA bands do that, but very few actually achieve quality recordings. SA metal bands for example have released some of the worst recordings that I have ever heard - and we learnt not to make that mistake again after Inhouse records. By the way that recording is not a demo but an actual EP with three of the tracks being live studio recordings
CRUSADER: Before being called Stryder you were called Aragorn, When did Aragorn form, break up and what caused the break up? Stryder still uses some Aragorn songs, sometimes only the song titles (Out of Control) and sometimes the music but with different lyrics (Anthem of the Dead). Why is this so? Is there any chance of you ever reviving the classic Aragorn like "Rock You ('till you die)", "Digital Breath" and "On The Run"?
STRYDER : The answer is no those songs will never be revived by STRYDER because they simply aren't our songs. Aragorn was a completely different band albeit that all of the members were at one time or another with Aragorn. The only member of STRYDER that was with Aragorn when "Digital breath" and "On the run "were written was Jorge. The songs like "The Anthem of the dead " and "Out of control" were Willy 's ideas and when we formed STRYDER we re- wrote them and I changed the lyrics. As to when Aragorn formed I'd say that it must have been at around 1987 and broke up in about 1989 - the reason - probably the old SA music syndrome disease i.e. egos.
CRUSADER: Stryder has gone through many line up changes through the years, but the core band of Carlos, Jorge and Willie has always stayed the same. What were the reasons for the departure of the past members? After your gig on the 13th, I noticed that you were back to four piece (no Rhythm Guitarist), is this a permanent change?
STRYDER: The original members of STRYDER were always Jorge, Willy, and Carlos (me- ha ha ha.....)The rhythm guitarists were always an addition to us and we used them when we thought was necessary. Jacques was probably the only one that ever stayed with us on a constant basis , but he immigrated to Canada in 1993. Pierre was also with us for a time and he left because he wanted to do his own thing musically. As for drummers Manny was our drummer but we used Harry as our "second" drummer. Manny got married, had kids and moved to the coast - poor guy. Our current drummer- Nick joined us about five years ago and since then he has become an integral part of STRYDER, writing the songs with us and occasionally helping me out with the lyrics (when I let him that is ). We decided to keep to a four piece format after Pierre left us almost three years ago, and we have never looked back. The band has become tighter and also we understand each other better than ever on stage so this definitely a permanent arrangement.
CRUSADER: Stryder are one of South Africa's longest lasting and most respected Metal bands. What kept you going through all these years?
STRYDER: Stubbornness and nothing to do on a Saturday night. Seriously we have never thought about it we just kept on playing - so long as the people kept coming to our shows and rocking we just carried on making music. Also we enjoy playing there is absolutely no high - not even coke that can beat playing to a bunch metal heads - they really rule (the blood is fun too- ha ha)
CRUSADER: Stryder has in my memory covered bands such as Black Sabbath, Metallica, Metal Church, Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne. Some of the songs are still used and some not. "Seek and Destroy" and "Paranoid" have survived since the Aragorn days, but I only saw you perform "Judas Priest's - Deceiver" once. What makes you decide what to cover?
STRYDER: Well the covers have been the same since we started and we have dropped most except for five which we still do play. Sometimes we get asked to play the others and usually we do. You see we never rehearse the covers - the only time we do is at the gigs. The reason that we still do is because they were songs that influenced us in some way or other and they are songs that are classics. We never play the covers the way the original band played them - we change them so that they fit into our style. As for choosing what to cover as I've just said we still cover the same songs since the beginning and we most certainly will not be covering any new material, at gigs the crowd decides which ones we play.
CRUSADER: Why do you play this music?
STRYDER: Is there any other type of music? Simply put - because we love it. Metal is such a diverse and wonderful form that you can carry on playing and experimenting with it for years.
CRUSADER : Being in the Metal scene for so long in this country, how would you say it changed and how did it effect your style of music.
STRYDER: The metal scene has most definitely changed over the years - now there isn't a metal scene to speak of at all. It used to be that on any given weekend there was a metal band playing somewhere even in Pretoria, nowadays you have to search to find a metal gig. I think that the music has also changed from the power metal days of the early '90's to the fusion of rap/jazz/metal of today. Metal as such does not exist anymore, the dividing lines have become much more blurred. Styles such as death metal and speed metal although still played are not very popular, audiences are asking for a bigger variety within their styles and if bands can't do that then they die. Unfortunately that is the problem with the SA metal scene - bands just do not learn to adapt or die. This has obviously affected our own style in that we have mixed in a little of jazz, progressive and even death to make our style more current also we listen to a wide range of music outside metal which influence our style.
CRUSADER: You mentioned at your last gig that we saw that STRYDER is working on a CD. Can you tell us more about it.
STRYDER: This is what we call our tooth extraction process. It's probably just as painful. I don't want to tell you too much about it except that the CD is slowly being worked on and that two songs were put on a pre - mix version and sent to a few fans for comments. We then listen to what they like or dislike and work on it. This is a slow process, but one that will yield a product that we think will be worth buying. I hope it will be worth everybody waiting so long for a STRYDER album, but we can promise you that there will be some rocking stuff on it.
CRUSADER: Do you read any porno magazines and which once your favourite?
STRYDER: No the internet smut sites are a lot better and if you've got a really good printer you can even print your own mags and make money - a heavy metal porno mag!!!! We could sell it outside Hatfield Baptist church on a Sunday - ha, ha, ha..........as the stomach turns.....
CRUSADER: Are you still serious about the band or do you do it more for the love of the music?
STRYDER: Well I don't think that you can afford to be too serious about a metal band in SA - there just isn't a market to speak of. I think that we are all as serious as can be about the band. We've realised that we have to make a living and that we have to eat and that by playing music full time you just can't live (unless you play stuff like Just Jinger or Amersham - yechhh!!). If you check out how badly attended the metal gigs are then you will realise that to be serious about a metal band in this country is very noble and all that but it is also very stupid. I metal heads - keep the faith. To the SA metal bands we'd like to say - play with your hearts, but listen to your fans. Put on a show - make the people want to come back - make them not want to go to raves - make them rock - you guys are the future of metal in this country. We've done our part now it's your turn. If anyone wants to email us please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org