Gloria Cavalera had an idea. It was to put two bands she managed—Brazilian death kingpins Sepultura and American thrashers Sacred Reich—on a totally kick-ass North American tour to show the Clash of the Titans tour what was up. Why the beef with that legendary metal run? Because Sepultura couldn’t get on it, which is a huge mistake that we all ended up benefiting from.
Cavalera wrangled up NYHC legends Sick of it All and Brit grind trailblazers Napalm Death and put together a tour for the ages. Along the way, the New Titans on the Bloc package pissed off the New Kids on the Block, was ground zero for tons of violent clashes with skinheads, and had a lot of sweatpants and fanny packs involved.
From July 18 to September 7, 1991, this was the wildest tour going; today, we gathered up Sick of it All vocalist Lou Koller, Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury, Sacred Reich bassist/vocalist Phil Rind, and Sepultura guitarist/vocalist Max Cavalera to go down memory lane with us and revisit all the glory and all the chaos. And talk about when Gloria was arrested. And the time a riot broke out. And the time another riot broke out.
How did the tour come about?
Phil Rind: We were touring with Sepultura in Europe prior to that tour. I think after Europe we were coming back to the States and Gloria wanted to put together a cool package, and she came up with Napalm Death and Sick of it All. Which was pretty awesome. You have a hardcore band, you have grindcore legends… it worked out really good. It was awesome, and if you were a fan of any one of the bands you could go and you could find out about some other bands that maybe you hadn’t heard of. They played different kinds of music but I think all the bands were really good, and it was a really great show.
Shane Embury: We had just done a successful Grindcrusher tour with Godflesh and Nocturnus. The Harmony [Corruption] album was doing great as the first proper release. Max had brought us down to Brazil in May of 1990 to support them for three shows, so we had established a strong friendship. I guess the stars all aligned, and we seemed like a good band for the package. We were very excited about this also as we were gonna share a bus with Sick of it All, who I have been a fan of forever. We had just lost Micky [Harris], our drummer, so this was Danny Herrera’s first proper tour.
Lou Koller: It’s interesting, the way we got on it. It started at a New Music Seminar, I don’t know if it was that year or the year before, but Sepultura played, and they played with King Diamond at the Ritz. The next night, we were playing a show, and we didn’t know, but the guys from Sepultura came to our show. We had a great show, it was down on 42nd Street… They came to that show, then the next day my brother Pete, the guitar player, is working in the Roadrunner mailroom. And, typical Sick of it All, we play a huge New York show and then we go right back to work, so we’re miserable the next day. The guys from Sepultura came in the mailroom, and were like, “We want to meet the guy from Sick of it All.” “You were great last night.” My brother told us how they were saying Sick of it All have influenced them, and my brother, just off the cuff, goes, “If you guys love us that much, take us on tour.” Then a month or two later, it was like, “Hey, Sepultura want you to do this big tour with them” [laughs]. We were like, “Holy shit.”
Cavalera: Well, as far as I remember, I think we were scheduled to do a tour with Slayer and then we got kicked out for… we don’t know what happened, but we got kicked out of that tour. We couldn’t get on Clash of the Titans either. I think it was Gloria’s idea, she said, “To hell with that, we’ll make our own tour and call it “New Titans on the Bloc,” and it was making fun of the name “Clash of the Titans.” The lineup was amazing; it was great. Sepultura, Napalm Death, Sick of it All, and Sacred Reich. Just killer underground bands, with a great name, at a great time. One of the coolest things was the mix of the styles. You had Sick of it All from hardcore, Napalm Death from grindcore, then you had Sepultura and Sacred Reich, which was more like thrash kind of stuff. That was really cool. Especially when we played a lot of the east coast shows, there was a lot of violence, skinheads came to the shows [laughs]. I remember one of the shows, I think the guitar player of Sick of it All jumped in the crowd with a mic stand and started beating people up. That was in Allentown. It was crazy. It was just nuts. But it was a fun tour too, man. It was great. We had a great time; I love all those guys, they’re all great guys, and the vibe in the tour was really friendly, everybody loved each other, everybody was wearing each others’ band’s… it was the time, what was in style was the sweatpants with the band [name on them] and fanny packs, everybody had fanny packs. It was part of our uniform, you know? [laughs] I had one, Gloria had one, all the guys in the band, the crew, everybody had one. Everybody had the Sepultura sweatpants or the Napalm Death sweatpants or the Sacred Reich sweatpants. It was a lot of fun on that tour.
I remember you guys wearing a lot of fanny packs back then in pictures.
Cavalera: Oh, yeah [laughs]. So cool. I actually have one, I bought it last year. I’m bringing it back. That and the bullet belt, right? Bullet belt with fanny pack on top of it.
I understand as far as the name of the tour goes, Gloria dropped the K on the end of “Block” so the New Kids on the Block couldn’t complain, but they did file a cease and desist letter, which was ignored. What do you know about that?
Rind: I don’t know about the legal BS. I remember making the joke to Gloria, because they were doing the New Titans on the tour, and there was the New Kids on the Block, so I go, there should be New Titans on the Block, and she was like, yeah. I don’t know, legally, what are they going to do? What’s the phrase, you can’t get blood from a stone? I don’t really know about the legal stuff, but who cares? I just ignore that kind of stuff.
Embury: I don’t remember anything about that, but it’s a long time ago. I’m never really interested in such things, so it could have been, but I don’t remember.
Koller: I didn’t know much about it, just what you just said is all I knew. It’s pretty weird. Why would they care, you know?
Cavalera: Gloria would know better about that. She deals with all the business side of things. But I think something like that did happen. That’s pretty funny, actually. The original idea was really similar to what happened to the Ozzfest; I think Sharon submitted Ozzy for Lollapalooza, and they all laughed at her, saying, “We don’t want this guy on Lollapalooza, he’s an old, washed-up rock star.” So she just did Ozzfest instead and it became bigger than Lollapalooza. It was kind of a similar situation: I think we got kicked out of the Slayer tour and we were submitted to Clash of the Titans and we couldn’t get on that either, they put Alice in Chains in there instead, and we were just like, “Okay, we’re just doing our own tour.” And I think it’s been kind of like that ever since. We just do our thing, which is more basic, more to the point, we just do our own tours, and it’s been pretty cool, forever. Last year we did Return to Roots with Immolation and Full of Hell, then we had Suffocation with Soulfly and Battlecross, we had Soulfly with Cattle Decapitation, so you just go your own path. A lot of times those big bands end up not calling and you can not get on big tours all the time, so you just have to do your thing. So that kinda paved the road for it; after New Titans on the Bloc we just kinda started doing our own. Even though after that we did a Ministry tour and a Pantera tour and we did a bunch of Ozzfests and stuff like that, but I think we still always wanted to also pave our own road and do things our own way. It was cool, there was a logo, there was jackets, tour books, I’m sure Gloria has some of that stuff in our storage somewhere. For me it was just great to see Napalm Death at that time, and Sick of it All… oh man, every night was just brutal, brutal. Sick of it All came in and just destroy everything, then Napalm Death came in, and Sacred Reich live was amazing, they were always great live. So we had a really tough spot, man. It was tough. We had to really put our A-game on, which I think we did. We did deliver great shows at that time. But it was a great fucking bill. I hope we can do more bills like that. I hope for that. That’s what metal is missing right now; more tours like that. We need more of that right now more than ever.
On Gloria’s blog, she said the tour initially kind of annoyed some people behind the scenes, because Sepultura’s record label didn’t want to support it because of one of the bands on the package. Do you know what band that was or what that was all about?
Koller: No, I didn’t know that. Maybe they didn’t want Pete to leave the mailroom, he was doing too good a job [laughs].
Rind: I have no idea about that, at all.
Embury: Hmm, not too sure about that, either. Roadrunner were very supportive back in the day, at least that’s the impression I got.
Cavalera: No, I’m not sure. I’m kinda going to go out on a limb and say it’s either Napalm or Sick of it All, you know? [laughs] Unless somebody had something against Sacred Reich. I don’t know. I know there was something like I think the owner of the label was against us doing the tour and then the tour became a huge success and then he was proved wrong after that. I wish we could have made that package go to Europe. That would have been really cool too. But we ended up just doing it in the States.
What was the order of the bands on the tour? Sick of it All opened and Sepultura headlined?
Embury: Sick of it All, Napalm, Sacred Reich, Sepultura. Although trying to follow Sick of it All is impossible, such is the energy of those guys.
Rind: Yeah, Sick of it All then Napalm then us then Sepultura. And looking back… we didn’t hang out that much with the Napalm Death dudes. Obviously we’d see each other, every day, but we didn’t hang out that much. Barney [Greenway, vocalist] was really friendly, and Mitch [Harris, guitarist]. They were all nice dudes, but when I look back now I think, I wonder if those guys were fucking just pissed at us? I wonder. I never asked anybody about it, I never talked about it. But those guys were founders of a whole thing, a whole wave of music. I just wonder if they looked at us like, “Oh, it’s the same manager that manages Sepultura, so those guys get a better slot.” You know, somewhere in the back of my mind I kinda feel like that, but I don’t know if I just made it up. I still see Barney, we played a cruise with them, Barge to Hell. He’s one of the super nicest dudes you could ever meet. He’s always nice and he never brought it up. But I wonder if I spoke to Shane and asked Shane about it, he might say yeah, it was fucking bullshit. It would be hard to argue with. At the time I didn’t really think about it. I was just some dude in a band. But I wonder. I wonder.
Embury: Perhaps back at the time, being young, we may have had thoughts, but looking back at it for me, they were more established at the time. It doesn’t really matter; I certainly understand the mechanics of a tour like that more now than I did when I was 23.
The tour was kind of infamous for lots of troubles with fights, with skinheads in particular. Why were skins drawn to this tour? Was it a product of the era?
Koller: That tour, the first show we played was Allentown. It started in a riot and ended in a riot in Seattle, but it wasn’t with skinheads, it was with metalheads. Unity; equal opportunity fights on that tour. When I look at it, the bands weren’t that different, you know? Sacred Reich were very thrash, Sepultura was like a mix of a death metal and thrash and had hardcore, and then you had Napalm Death and us. But I think bringing all those fans together… I know particularly in Boston, the marquee had it listed Sepultura, Sick of it All, Napalm Death… when in reality we were going on first every night. I guess some of the punk and hardcore fans took offense on behalf of that, so there was trouble there. But it was weird; they gave shit to Sacred Reich, but when Sepultura came on, they were all happy and going crazy. But I think it was like you said: A product of the time. And, you know how it is, it’s kinda tribal, the skinhead guys are there and they want to prove they were the craziest and toughest, or the metalheads did, or whatever, but to us the shows that weren’t riots were amazing. Because of Sepultura, we got to play on an Indian reservation, which I’ve never done. We played some places in Texas that were insane, and since we did it with Sepultura, we still have a following in all those cities. It was great. We shared a bus with Napalm Death, who we became great friends with, and found out we all have the same stupid sense of humour.
Embury: Well, I know Biohazard played on a couple of the shows in Pennsylvania; Sick of it All probably attracted a few of the [morons], since it’s always been, unfortunately, linked to the New York hardcore scene, although both those bands, of course, don’t endorse such bullshit. I remember a few fights and Mitch from Napalm was right in, as well as a few of the Sick of it All boys and Toby [Morse], who later sang for H2O, was out with us as well… A lot of tours in the U.S. we played had that shit. The ’90s had skinhead problems; it’s intimidation and they have nothing else better to do than demonstrate how dumb they are.
Cavalera: I think Sick of it All maybe dragged in some hardcore kids for sure, but maybe some of the other skinheads showed up also. I just know that there was a fight in Allentown. I saw it on the side of the stage, I just saw Pete [Koller, Sick of it All guitarist] get off the stage with a mic stand and beat a guy in the crowd; it was a skinhead [laughs]. I’d never seen anything like that in my life, so I was like, “Holy shit!” He stopped playing guitar, grabbed the mic stand, jumped in the crowd, and beat the shit out of the guy. Not until, of course, I had Marc Rizzo in my band, and then I saw a lot of that, because Marc beats a lot of people up, too. He gets in fights all the time. He bit a guy’s ears off in our bus one night, did a Mike Tyson on him. But yeah, sonically, it was great, Napalm was just out of control with blastbeats and as brutal as you can get, and Sick of it All were New York hardcore legends, full-on. And the nicest people, too. Everybody got along so good, man. It was cool. The tour, the crew, we all party on each others’ bus. The Sepultura bus was where the heavy stuff was played. After we played a show, we had to listen to stuff that was 10 times heavier than what we played. So it’d be like Terrorizer, Godflesh, Morbid Angel, Carcass, that would play all night long, together with a lot of drinking. That’s why my memory of that time is kind of in sepia colour [laughs]. Flashbacks of sepia, that’s what I remember of that time. A lot of drinking, just a lot of fun, man. Everybody was dedicating songs to each other. A lot of great memories from that tour. I remember the drummer of Sick of it All, there was one night where he died his hair with a hair dye and jumped in a pool and got a reaction and his whole face swelled up. He looked like the Elephant Man. It was crazy; I’d never seen anything like that. I felt sorry for the guy. His whole face the next day was all swollen and shit. I guess the chlorine reacted to the hair die. It was crazy.
Rind: It’s funny that you mention that, because I was thinking today because we were going to talk about it, and I was thinking, what stood out? All the fucking fights. It started straight away. I think Allentown was the first one, and there was a bunch of skinheads, and I remember sitting on the bus and Wiley [Arnett] our guitar player came out and said, “You might want to go in there and protect your gear.” I was like, “What?” He was like, “There’s a riot. The Sick of it All guys pepper sprayed the crowd and jumped in after him.” I walked inside, and it smells like pepper spray, and there was these Nazis… I go, “Take the biggest black security guard you have and stick right him in the middle. These guys aren’t going to sieg heil around that guy.” And The Channel in Boston, there was another huge fight, and I stopped the show in the middle of it, because these skinheads were beating up a long-hair guy. After the show, Wiley and two of our crew guys went out looking for those dudes, and followed them out to their car, and knocked one of them out, and the other guy went running and grabbed like 30 more guys and started chasing them. I could see them off in the distance, and I was like, “Holy shit!” I ran in the club and was like, “Come on, they’re being chased!” Everybody was coming off the buses… it was really fucked up [laughs]. And in Mexico there was a problem, the former mayor of the town was very religious, and they were protesting the show with a bunch of bible-thumpers. The kids were camping out, it was at Red Rock State Park in New Mexico, outside of Gallup, and the cops came through in the middle of the night rousting the kids with drug dogs, they were citing the guy for a line because the doors were open late… there was nobody around. The thing ran like one minute over and they pulled the plug, which set Max fucking crazy: [imitating Max] “Fucking destroy this place!”
Cavalera: Yeah, from what I remember there was a newspaper article that came out that said Sacred Reich was a Nazi band and Sepultura was a Satanic band, and telling people to boycott the show. The show went on, and there was a lot of Native Americans, people came from the reservations and stuff, and the police show up and they were trying to cut the show down, and there was an argument, and they cut the power in the middle of our set, so we couldn’t play anymore. I guess one of our crew, he’s dead now, Leo, he got arrested, and the police were talking to a lot of us, and the police were like, “If anybody says one more thing, they’re going to jail.” Then Gloria, of course, had to say something, so she gets arrested, so she’s going to jail, Leo’s going to jail. It was a mess. It was just a mess. And the crowd rioted, of course. They want more metal. You can’t just pull the plug on Sepultura like that. They want to have their metal, you know? [laughs] Heads are going to roll now. So there was a riot, and it was just crazy. I don’t remember if it was this tour or not but we did have a show where we all got really drunk and I remember that I introduced “Symptom of the Universe” twice. We played Sabbath and three songs later I introduced the song again. My brother [Iggor, then-Sepultura drummer] wanted to kill me. Robb Flynn [of Machine Head] was really drunk and he fell over all the Marshall stacks, fell on his back, and took all the Marshall stacks with him. I think the Metallica guys were there. It was a disastrous night. We drank a lot of Mudslides that night. It was one of those crazy rock and roll nights, and it might have been a New Titans show. It would have fit that tour perfectly.
Rind: [In Gallup] they arrested Gloria and one of our crew guys, and I ran up there to get in the cops’ faces; she was like, “Just back off, they’ll take you too.” It was the city cops, the state cops, the sheriff’s department… all these people were there, looking for trouble. And we ran on the bus and grabbed all the video cameras and they totally backed off. It was just after Rodney King. We were like, “What the fuck?” In Seattle, too, I’m looking out the window of the bus and I see a fight in front of the club. The Sick of it All guys and the Napalm dudes were sharing a bus, and they were fighting with our friends from Forced Entry, who we had toured with, who had come to the show. I’m like, “What the fuck?!” I run down with Tim, our guitar tech—Tim follows me so I don’t get beat up—I run down there, and I’m trying to break it up, and Tim’s roughing people up, I’m like, “I’m trying to break it up, dude!” He’s like, “I’m just here to protect you, Phil.” I was like, “It’s all my friends fighting! Stop! What’s going on?”
So why were they fighting?
Rind: I don’t know! To this day I don’t know. But eventually I broke it up. I was just like, fuck, man, what’s going on? Tensions are running high. But look what kind of music it is. I remember years ago going to a U2 concert, I think it was [the] Zoo TV [tour], I was like, oh, shit, look at this! Everyone’s happy, I feel like everyone’s on ecstasy and we could all hug and shit. I was used to being at metal shows; I was just waiting for a fight to break out every five minutes. I was like, wow, this is kinda cool.
Shane, what do you remember about Allentown?
Embury: That’s one show in particular that was quite scary. We had played [Dead Kennedys cover] “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” as well, and there was an air of violence in the crowd, but I kept mostly out of it. I am not a fighter, I’m afraid, and the Sick of it All and Biohazard boys are more than capable, and, well, Mitch [Harris, Napalm Death guitarist], too [laughs].
Koller: Allentown, that was a unique thing. We used to play Allentown and it went from having a few white power skinheads, and every year we’d play there there’d seem to be more and more of them. At that show in particular, there was a huge amount of them. And they didn’t like anybody. They definitely didn’t like us; as soon as we got on they were yelling some very rude things. I’ll tell you what it was: The one I remember in particular was a guy jumped up on the barricade and he was holding himself up and they’re spitting at us, and then he yells, “Go back to Jew York, you nigger lovers.” What am I going to do? I hit him in the face. So a huge riot breaks out, these guys are coming over the barricade, next thing I know, I see a flash next to me, it’s my brother diving off the barricades and hitting people in the face, my bass player’s swinging his bass like an axe, our drummer at the time was our friend EK [Eric Komst] because Armand [Majidi, Sick of it All drummer] wasn’t there, he was swinging his cymbal stand, this big fight breaks out, somebody maces everybody, the crowd and us… I remember being in the dressing room upstairs and the road manager comes running up and he starts screaming at us, and he says, “I don’t care what they said to you or what they threw at you, this is a rock and roll show, and you’re off this fucking tour!” Two seconds later, Iggor and Max come running in and go, “You guys okay? What happened?” We tell them what happened, and they all stepped outside, and next thing we know, that road manager was thrown off the tour. Sepultura’s one of those bands, they were on the rise, they were getting really big, but they treated every band equally. I remember in Minneapolis, our sound guy, who worked for Napalm Death, was saying that he was worried about making everybody too loud, and Iggor was in the dressing room, and he was like, “Use the whole PA if you want. We’re not afraid of anything.” I was like, “That is fucking cool.” He wasn’t afraid to let you do what your band does. He said stuff to us like, “We got you on this tour because we love the way Sick of it All is. Be Sick of it All. Don’t turn down the sound because you don’t want to offend the headliner.” They had no precedents like that, where you can use 10 percent of the PA and two percent off the lights. That was something we tried to do when we take younger bands out: We treat them the way we want to be treated.
Phil, why do you think skinheads in particular caused trouble at this tour?
Rind: We didn’t have a major problem with skinheads, maybe once or twice, and our name is “Sacred Reich,” it’s the worst. I don’t know if it was because it’s a bigger show. It was just a few shows but the shit was so out of hand it totally stuck in your mind.
And Biohazard was added to the bill, at least for one night?
Rind: The first show was at the Ritz in New York, and I know White Zombie played. They had just made their record with Geffen, and it wasn’t out yet. They obviously got huge. I think Biohazard played New York and also played Allentown.
Koller: I know they played the New York show. I don’t remember why we didn’t play the New York show, I think because they already had Biohazard and White Zombie booked just for that show.
Cavalera: Yeah, I think that did happen. At the New York show, we had Biohazard on the bill. Maybe White Zombie also; that makes sense. Biohazard was great at that time. I think the show was at The Ritz. It was incredible, there was a lot of people. I think Biohazard came on before everybody, and they were amazing, that was right before, I think, Urban Discipline, so it was early, just amazing live band, just great. White Zombie also was always really entertaining, really cool to watch.
Shane, what do you remember about White Zombie playing one of the shows?
Embury: [Laughs] You might be right… remember, I drank back then! I will tell you, I drank so much after an L.A. show with Brujeria and Fear Factory that the next day I played a show without actually moving on stage as I was so hung over. That’s on video somewhere.
Lou, what do you recall about the Gallup show?
Koller: As far as our show went, it was amazing. We’d never played to these people, they’d never heard of us. It was at an outdoor… I wouldn’t even call it a rodeo ring, it was just outdoors. It was amazing. The kids, when they went into a circle pit, it kicked up so much dust. Then, I remember religious protesters in the parking lot. It was great, somewhere I had a flyer, I’ve been looking for it for years, it was this form flyer where they would type in… it would say “Don’t go see the band” then it would say “Sick of it All” typed in or “Napalm Death” “because they” then it would have a list: Devil worshipping, drugs we promote, all this stuff. I don’t remember why but the police came backstage, sheriffs or whatever, and I don’t know what the controversy was, but next thing you know they’re arresting Gloria. I know that all of us had to run and we had to try to keep Max calm, like, “You’ll go to fucking jail, too, Max; calm down.” Gloria’s telling everybody, “Keep Max calm!” That’s all I remember. I can’t remember for the life of me why they came backstage or what their problem was with all of us. There was no violence, at least that I know of, the promoter was cool as shit with all of us, I remember being fed amazing that day. Everybody was great. I just remember that’s where they took Gloria away, and she got released later that night.
That command, “Keep Max calm,” seems like a very tall order to me under those circumstances.
Koller: Yeah… Yeah.
That was also the show where, Lou, you challenged some guy to come on stage and fight you?
Koller: [laughs] You know, when people talk shit to you, you call them out, and they usually back down. I don’t remember getting into a fight on stage, but, yeah [laughs], I remember yelling at them. You know where I got that from? A Twisted Sister show at a Reading Festival, and people were throwing shit at him. I had a live album from that, and we’d just listen to him talking to the audience. Dee Snider, people throwing shit, and he goes, “If you’re so tough, and you want to throw shit, come meet me over here after our set.” That’s frickin’ bold, man.
Rind: Oh, shit, I missed that. That’s fucking funny. It’s funny, I just saw those [Sick of it All] guys, I think it was last year. The crazy thing is to go out all these years later and see people doing their thing.
What was the relationship between the bands like before the tour and how did that change during the tour?
Koller: We really didn’t know the other bands personally. I had met the original [bassist] of Napalm Death years ago, Nik, he was in New York and Danny Lilker from Nuclear Assault brought him to see us rehearse, because he was really into our demo, which is weird. But I never met anyone else from Napalm Death; we met the day we got on the bus to share it with each other, and like I said, it was great, because it turned out that they had the same stupid sense of humour. We had a lot of fun with those guys. Sepultura guys turned out to be great, Sacred Reich, I just saw them this summer when I was on the Warped Tour, they came out to the shows. It was good to see them. I think it’s because of the nature of Sepultura’s camp and how they were all inclusive to everybody and really treated you as an equal, I think that was really cool and that made everybody relaxed.
Rind: We had toured quite a bit with Sepultura; we had just done two months with them. And we snuck them into France once, they came with us on the bus, we played their first show in the U.S. with them; they opened for us and King Diamond in New York. And obviously Gloria was managing them and she was our manager, so we were really close with those guys. We mostly stuck to ourselves, for the most part. We hung out a little bit with the Sick of it All guys and the Napalm guys, but those guys were sharing a bus, so I’m sure they got very familiar with each other. And it was nine weeks in the U.S… it was a pretty long tour. After watching all the bands every night, it was a full day of just total assault on your face with all the music. I was really a big fan of Sepultura, especially at that time, for Arise. So I saw them for over four months every night. It was pretty outrageous. It was really great. I have an immense amount of respect for those guys, and for Sick of it All, and for Napalm Death. Just an immense amount of respect.
Embury: We bonded with Sick of it All as we had never actually met. Sepultura we were already great friends with; the Sacred Reich guys were nice, too. It was, as many a tour can be, a great experience, a hell of a lot of fun, and friendship-forming.
Cavalera: I always used to hang out a lot with Mitch from Napalm. We’d been friends forever. I have footage of him changing Zyon’s diaper when Zyon was three months old. I have the camera, and he’s grabbing the poop. It’s the whole ordeal, man, you know? So I hung out a lot with Mitch, and with Shane too, and the Sacred Reich guys were always close. I remember that we went to Venezuela with that same show, there was one show in Venezuela, maybe it was without Sick of it All. That was killer, that was like 3,000 fans going totally insane. It was one of the greatest South American shows we ever did. I think there was one show in Tijuana too.
I understand Sepultura had a thing for Heineken and would drink Napalm Death’s…
Embury: I think back then we’re on Budweiser and I drank at the time; no one on that tour could stand a chance with me on the beer, so I don’t know about that, and Jesse [Pintado, guitarist] and Mitch were in fine form. Also, we didn’t get much beer as were were support, but it was a crazy two months sharing the bus with Sick of it All—it was great, a comedy day in and day out.
Cavalera: That has to be Paulo [Jr., Sepultura bassist] and Andreas [Kisser, Sepultura guitarist]. I never drink beer, I don’t like beer. I like vodka, I like the hard stuff. Gloria was kind of like my bartender at that time. She was manager/bartender. Before every Sepultura show I used to drink three plastic cups of vodka and orange juice, Screwdrivers. She’d make them for me. So a lot of that footage where you see me jumping like the Tasmanian Devil, it was all charged by vodka [laughs]. But I could see us stealing their beer for sure, yeah. That would happen. Easily. We’re a bunch of mercenaries. A bunch of pirates, that’s what it felt like: We came and took over the towns, raping and pillaging. Just pirates, man. Just barbarians, and move to the next city and do the same. It was out of control every night.
What was the importance of this tour for your band?
Koller: For us, it opened us up to a whole other audience, a huge different audience, it got us on a national… it put our name out there, and people who would come to shows would say, “I never liked hardcore” or never heard of it, “then I’d seen you guys live…” Because our live performance, and I say this for any genre of music, but hardcore in particular, if you listen to it on record, you might be bored, you might not understand it, but if you see it live, you’ll get everything. You’ll be like, “Oh, now I get it” [laughs]. So it put Sick of it All as a national name instead of just in the hardcore scene. It broke us out way wider than we ever could have just touring on our own, you know?
Rind: At that time, it was the biggest and best tour we had done in the U.S. All the shows seemed to be outrageous. I remember the show at the Palladium in Los Angeles as being one of the best shows we’d ever played at that point, at least in the U.S. Like three pits were going. It was funny, because we had just signed with Hollywood Records, and Michael Eisner, who was the head of Disney at the time, was there. I was thinking, this has gotta be just nuts for him. He doesn’t hang out at metal shows, I’m sure. It was just a lot of fun, I think all the shows were great, all the bands were great. Later on we toured with Danzig, we toured with Pantera, and did some really cool tours. But this tour was just kind of a fucking traveling circus with all the crazy shit going on. It was pretty memorable.
Embury: It elevated us to a level where when we released Utopia Banished the following year we were headlining the same clubs we had supported Sepultura in on the New Titans tour, and we will forever be grateful to those guys.
Cavalera: I think it made us realize you don’t need the big managers and the big tours, you can just do it yourself. It’s kind of like a punk mentality. If you’re rejected on this big thing, just do it on your own, don’t depend on it. I think that’s the coolest thing about that tour: We got turned down on those big tours? Well, fuck it: We’ll do our own. We just make our own tour and control our own destiny. It’s much cooler like that. Also, the music barriers that tour broke. Sepultura, we always loved hardcore and metal. And having Sick of it All and Napalm Death on the same bill, it’s a true testament to how open-minded we are and how much we love both styles and we’re not afraid to mix them. So, for me, it was extremely amazing to have Sick of it All and Napalm Death and Sacred Reich and Sepultura on the same lineup. It’s just awesome. Breaking barriers. I think a lot of times before that, hardcore bands stay with hardcore bands and metal bands only play with metal bands. I think that tour changed that a little bit; I think more metal bands played with hardcore bands after that, which is the way it’s supposed to be.