Ten years ago (!) on Summer of 2001, I did an interview with the -back then- reunited Warlord. It was originally published on the webzine I was writing back then called Metal Disorder. The site is no more and the interview was somehow lost in time. Thanks to Bill Tsamis I got it again in my hands so I am re publishing it again.
An Interview with William J Tsamis, Mark Zonder, and Joacim Cans by CountRaven - Summer 2001
MD: Great to have Warlord again active in the metal world. How would you guys feel if you were simple fans of a group and one day you suddenly learn that this group is active again (especially if this group was one of your favourites?).
William: Thanks Chris for the interview. With regard to your question, remember, this Warlord situation is a "project," not a "reunion." This is important. When I say "project," I mean that this is esentially a collaboration of artists in the music world who know "exactly" what Warlord is supposed to sound like. The core of that collaboration is Mark and I, of course -- and with Joacim, we all know the essence and potential of the Warlord sound. So, however "Warlord" has been idealized by the fans -- the dark, power epic metal -- this is what we will try to accomplish through this project . . . the "ultimate Warlord."
Joacim: As a huge fan of Warlord, and of William and Mark as musicians, it's a dream come true to see Warlord rising from the ashes. I've been playing around with the thought for a long time how Warlord would sound today, if they still were around. I guess I'll get my answer soon enough. To be a part of Warlord was not something I could imagine, not even in my wildest dreams. I'm honoured to be "one of them" now, and I will do everything that I'm capable of to deliver vocals worthy of a Warlord release.
Mark: I always thought Warlord did not have its just due. We never had the proper chance to really show what the band is capable of. Now we will be able to show the fans the true potential of Warlord.
MD: All those years a real myth has been built through the name of Warlord. Your few songs (just 12), and the hard to find vinyl versions of your albums, and the rumours about the reasons of your breaking up back in the middle 80s. All this stuff has kept the myth alive all those years. Do you think that this myth will stop after the reunion; do you think that people will start to refer to Warlord as "another reunited band?"
William: Probably. People are nostalgic. And that's fine. But I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would like to hear what the "ultimate Warlord" will sound like.
Mark: I think that after this many years, it is very exciting that it will be back together. I do not know many other bands that have done this. I am quite excited.
MD: Okay, I am sure that most of the people who had spent some time searching about the history of Warlord, would have been informed of the reasons that Warlord finished their conquest and broke up after the release of [Cannons of Destruction]. But in case there is someone younger reading this interview, can you mention in a few words the reasons that you broke up?
William: Well, Mark and I always knew the potential of Warlord. Other people in the metal world knew the potential of Warlord. And it was all the more frustrating not being able to find a vocalist who had the talent and attitude flowing through his veins. When you know that you have something phenomenal, but you can't express it properly, it becomes frustrating and discouraging, and ultimately tensions arise, etc. I don't really think it's a unique story or anything. I think a lot of talented bands had a similar situation.
Mark: I think Bill sizes it up pretty good.
MD: Finding suitable members for the band was always a big problem - am I right? Is that the reason why Warlord never gave any live shows? Why didn't you manage to give any live shows even during the period that you were a full band? After all, "Cannons of Destruction" was recorded live. So, what happened?
William: Warlord was never really a full band at any one given time. The reason we didn't go out and do shows after the video is because our vocalist, Rick Cunningham, was inconsistent in carrying the songs live. The last thing we wanted is to go out and sound like hell. Rick couldn't cut it. It would have been better for us to play live without a singer. [Note: This is something that the band actually considered at one point.] In fact, one thing that made our "music" more interesting is that we almost always practiced without a singer. So in order to spice up the songs a bit, we would do things that made the songs more interesting.
Mark: To go out live, you need to be prepared musically and the singer we had could not carry it off. We did not want to embarass the name of Warlord.
MD: Let's go a little bit further into your past in order to learn some things that many people many would want to know. I have learned that the whole story of your reunion started after a proposal of a record label to release you very first demo tape on vinyl. Do you remember anything from those early days that you can share with us?
William: Yes, we have a very early demo tape, and this guy from OPM Records [Note: James Cranford] wanted to print the songs from that tape on vinyl. The songs on that tape are "Winds of Thor," "Black Mass," "Child of the Damned," "Soliloquy," "The Rainbow," and the "City Walls of Troy." It's pretty wild stuff. I remember that after we recorded those songs, we must have listened to the tape a thousand times, asking ourselves the question, "Do we really sound that good?" It was amazing, that is, having a demo tape back then.
Mark: We had many demos that we can't find. I can remember about 10 songs that are not on tape. We do have some very raw stuff.
MD: Did you record the demo with the same line up as the one on "Deliver Us From Evil?"
MD: So will this demo finally be released on vinyl?
William: Well, I talked to OPM and the problem is that nobody can find any type of original master tape. Everyone has either a second, third, or fourth generation copy. So I don't think it will be released.
MD: In the original version of your debut album "Deliver Us From Evil," there are only the lyrics of the title track. Why you have not included the lyrics of the other songs? (I still remember myself very clearly, hanging a paper and a pen trying to write down the rest of the lyrics as I was listening to the rest of the songs again and again!)
William: Well, Mark and I come out of the late 70s metal scene - and if you remember, back then, remember, it was not uniform for bands to put their lyrics on the album. I think I must have listened to Judas Priest's "Exciter" a thousand times before I could figure out what Halford was saying. What's really funny is the Japanese version of "Deliver Us From Evil." They took it upon themselves to try and interpret the lyrics to every song from our album and put "all" the lyrics on the insert, and there were so many mistakes. The lyrics sheet for the Japanese "Deliver Us" is a classic.
MD: The years have passed. In 1996 we all were very happy when we noticed a great cover of Warlord's classic "Child of the Damned" on the debut album of the yet unknown Swedish band HammerFall. Joacim, why did HammerFall decide to cover this particular song?
Joacim: When I joined HammerFall back in 1996, I found out pretty soon that that both Oscar and I had the same influences when it came to metal bands from the 80s. One of those was, of course, Warlord. We sat down and spoke about a possibility to include a cover on the debut album and agreed on either a Warlord classic or a Stormwitch song. After listening through loads of different songs we decided that "Child of the Damned" was a song that fit perfectly to the HammerFall sound. Another aspect is that we wanted to do a song by a band more or less unknown for the new generation of metal fans that never experienced the 80s nor had a clue about what bands were rulers of the underground at that time. The most important thing for us, when picking cover songs, is that we can perform the song in a professional way and in a respectful way. A way to pay homage to bands that meant a lot to us. There are too many cover versions of various songs out there today that are no more than slaughtered versions. Always show respect to the composer!
MD: Joacim - Have you ever imagined that some glorious day you will be the official singer of the reunion of Warlord?
Joacim: Maybe I played around with the thought when I was a teenager how it would be to be there on stage with Destroyer and Thunder Child. I guess we all had similar dreams going through the rough and confusing teenage years. Maybe I wasn't that confused after all :-))
MD: William, when you first heard the cover of "Child of the Damned" by HammerFall, did you ever think of the possibility that someday, in a possible reunion, this guy could catch the microphone and drive the Warlord back to the battle?
William: Well, honestly, when I first heard HammerFall's "Child of the Damned," it wasn't the first time that a band had covered "Child of the Damned" -- of course, I thought the HammerFall version was awesome, and I thought the vocalist was phenomenal. But what really surprised me about HammerFall were their other songs like "The Dragon Lies Bleeding," "Metal Age," HammerFall," etc. The whole CD blew me away. In fact, it reminded me very much of the time when I first heard Yngwie. I "knew" immediately that HammerFall would be big. They have all the components necessary for the ultimate power metal band, and they demonstrate this on their album "Renegade," which is one of my favourite albums of all time. They combine so many influences, yet they have their own identifiable sound. The Warlord project is not designed to conflict with either HammerFall or Fates Warning.
MD: William and Mark - You are now together again. Have you missed the old days of Warlord all this period that you were doing such different things?
William: Well, personally, I would say that those were some of the best days of my life. Although those were tough times - tough for anybody who wants to be a musician - they were great times. There are great stories to tell. One thing, though, I would say, is that whenever we focused just on the music, everything was just right. We were focused. We used to play songs in rehearsal, and it was like we were taken away to another place. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. All I can say is that, "You had to be there." It was a very interesting time.
Mark: There was a very united feeling back then. I met with Bill, three months ago, and it was the first time we saw each other for about 17 years. And it was like no time had passed. The same feelings were back. A very powerful, tight, united energy focused toward the band. I look back at the old days with some of the happiest and greatest feelings of my whole life.
MD: William, if someone told you, let's say 5 years ago, that Warlord may reunite someday, would you believe it?
William: Probably not. Although there had always been a sense of doing another project, the timing was never right for it -- I just couldn't see it happening. Plus, I figured that Mark was way too busy with Fates Warning to do anything like this. And I generally have a fairly pessimistic outlook on things anyway . . . so I would look at the circumstances and simply say, "Impossibile."
MD: Although you have been far away from the fire all these years, I know the fire was still burning inside. I remember that Mark had said in an old interview in the magazine "Metal Invader" that if Warlord will ever get together again, the music will be 100% "Warlord" - nothing more and nothing less. Is this what we should expect from the new Warlord project?
William: Yes, you are absolutely right! The recordings so far sound incredible like "Warlord" - but sophisticated and well produced. This is how we always wanted it to sound, but we just never had the opportunity or the money. But yes, this project will be dark, power epic metal, exactly like Warlord, but I would say, even "more" like Warlord. It's the "ultimate Warlord." It's the "idealized Warlord." The Warlord fans will love it . . . and I'll let Mark answer the rest of your question.
Mark: This will be 100% "Warlord." It will not be Fates Warning meets Warlord with a touch of HammerFall. With Bill at the helm, you know "exactly" what you are going to get. Then add the rest of the line-up, a great singer, and some serious tight production, and it should be miles from the old recordings. The first three songs are simply amazing. Tight, in your face, and driving. Very, very much "Warlord."
MD: William, you have made another marvellous group called Lordian Guard, together with your wife. What has happened to this project?
William: Well, my wife Vidonne has sadly gone through incredible torment after three failed spinal surgeries. She has not been in good health at all, although she had another spinal reconstruction in October 2000. One more surgery and she's supposed to be back to good health, but we'll see. [Note: Three leading neurosurgeons in the Southeastern United States have confirmed that certain nerve routes leading to critical abdominal muscles are, in fact, paralyzed and irreparable - Vidonne's 11 year struggle against spinal degeneration appears to be over, although microsurgery and nerve grafts have been posited -- however, she is too weary to pursue such experimental procedures which can open another Pandora's Box. Aug 10, 2001.] As far as Lordian Guard, that's just a name. It's just "me." I'll always compose and play music - under what name, I do not know. We'll see . . .
MD: In the songs of Lordian Guard, the music is very common to the music of "Warlord," although you had used a drum machine. Shall we take it as a result of the fact that you never managed to find a drummer like Mark?
William: Not really. I never bothered looking for a drummer. First, it wasn't a live project. Second, I knew that it would be practically impossible to find a drummer like Mark. And third, even if I did find a drummer like Mark, people would say the "the drummer" isn't as good as Mark. So, the critics can go ahead and blame a machine instead of a human being. Lordian Guard is just a studio project where I have a chance to play all all instruments. [Note: Apart from the exceptional drum work and voice work, William is playing guitars, bass, and keyboards for the new Warlord project]
MD: Mark and Joacim - Will you manage to work with Warlord alongside your other bands?
Joacim: I don't see a problem from my point of view. It's all about how you manage your time. At the moment we are just doing some festivals around europe and I can work full time with the Warlord project, without interfering with my main priority - HammerFall.
Mark: There will not be any conflicts. There is a lot of time in the day to do music. I do it all day long and have a couple of other projects going on as well. It is just a matter of managing time. No problem.
MD: Now that Warlord is back, will there be any re-releases of your earlier albums? I don't know if you know that, but the original vinyl copies of a record with the name of "Warlord" on it very expensive.
William: Yes, I know. I've seen Warlord vinyl go for over $100 numerous times. As far as releases of the old material, I really don't know since that would be up to Metal Blade Records.
Joacim: I paid over $20 for "Deliver Us" . . . back in the 80's :-) Worth every penny!
Mark: There could be a release of "Deliver Us" on CD with some possible extra tracks, as it was never done on CD. Also, with the "new" Warlord project, there will probably be some interest in it. More to come later.
MD: What is your opinion about the tribute album to Warlord by Underground Symphony Records? If someone says to you to take part in a tribute album, in which artist/band tribute would you choose to take part?
William: I really like the Warlord Tribute album [Note: "Glory to the King"] a lot. It's interesting to hear bands interpret your songs in different ways. When I first heard Projecto's version of "Deliver Us From Evil" I got chills -- I like the whole thing, all the songs. As far as "me" hypothetically beig part of a tribute album, I mean, I could do it -- but I wouldn't aggressively pursue something like that. I'm not really interested in doing tributes.
Mark: I was flattered that someone thought enough of Warlord to do a tribute.
MD: I do not know if you know it, but Warlord is a very favorite band here in Greece. Any special message for the fans in Greece that kept the flame burning all those years?
William: We have always appreciated the strong support from the Greek fans. Personally, I have a strong connection to the fans in Greece since I am Greek, and I am proud of my heritage. One thing I do know, however, after hearing the initial recordings for this project, is that the Greeks will be struck down when they hear this album. It is the "ultimate Warlord." It is dark, mysterious, epic, powerful, intricate, yet with the great melodic themes that were so typical of Warlord. And with the great production quality, I'm certain that "no one" will be disappointed.
Mark: Warlord has always had a special place in our hearts for the Greek fans. Thank you for your support.
MD: Okay, I do not have anything more to ask. I wish you good luck to the new conquest. I wish that we may see Warlord live here in Greece someday, and I wish the best for the new album.
William: Well, thank you Chris for the interview, and all the best with your endeavors. To the fans, thank you for being so generous and kind with your letters all these years.
Joacim: I just want to thank William and Mark for putting their trust in me as the new vocalist. To the fans, it's tought to write something when I am one of you. Keep the flame burning for the Heavy Metal Revolution . . . it's "stronger than all."
Mark: Thank you again for your help. The record should be out soon, as we are working very hard, and we are dying to have the Warlord fans get a hold it it. Thanks.