Here's the answer: Anthrax, S.O.D., Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth,
Malformed Earthborn, Hemlock and The Ravenous. If you're reading this
interview, you already know the question. Sure, it may perpetuate a
tired cliche but it really is true: if you look up metalhead in the
dictionary, you'll find a picture of Danny Lilker giving the sign of the
devil. No seriously, you will. Try it. No? Well I don't know what
dictionary you're using, but if that's not what you see, then it should
be. Few have done more to support the cause of underground metal than
Lilker. With this in mind, the Metal Update caught up with the
legendary bassist to talk Nuclear Assault.
METAL UPDATE: Nuclear Assault is back together?
DANNY LILKER: Yeah, pretty much.
METAL UPDATE: Are you guys going to do another record?
DL: Yeah, man. We're in the process of writing music. The thing is, in
the middle of the songwriting process, I moved away from New York City,
about 360 miles. So, in the meantime we're writing a bunch of stuff.
Now we're not able to write as much as we had. But we're still jamming
some shit, and it definitely sounds like the old stuff, so we shall see.
MU: Now, when you say, "the old stuff" - Nuclear Assault went through a
few style changes along the way - so what would you compare it to?
DL: The stuff around 'Survive' and 'Handle with Care', that era.
MU: So it will be a thrash metal record?
DL: Hell yeah.
MU: So more metal, less punk?
DL: Yeah, pretty much. Nothing we write sounds that much like punk,
MU: I think that when Nuclear Assault started there was a little bit of
a hardcore thing going on.
DL: Well, sure. I mean, it was just a lot more raw on 'Game Over'. I
guess we got a little more refined. I mean, we still have a lot of
hardcore elements, but maybe it's just 'cause the sound is just raw like
MU: Back in the day, when D.R.I. and C.O.C. and the Cro-Mags were out
there, that was sort of one thing, and then there was like the metal
thing. Which side of the fence were you guys on when you started
DL: Oh, I'd say the metal side. We just had a lot of hardcore
influences. It just had the lyrics that mean something, and some of the
musical influences a little bit, but we were always primarily a metal
band. I wouldn't say anything to the contrary.
MU: Let me ask you a broad, general question. Which term better
describes you: "musician" or "metalhead"?
DL: I'm just a metalhead, man. I don't care anything about having my
face in a magazine or any of that crap. I enjoy playing bass, and
people tell me I'm good, but I don't. . . I'm not one of those people
that sits there and practices all day and gets those musicians
magazines, man. You know, I'm pretty casual about it.
MU: You've been able to make a living off of metal music for a very
long time, true or false?
DL: Well, that's kind of a gray area, man. I lived with my parents for
a while. You know, you live with your parents, you don't have to worry
about paying rent because you're out on tour so much. But I should say
true because I didn't have a job for the longest time.
MU: Have you had a day job recently?
DL: Well, yeah. I had a day job not too long ago, in Rochester, where I
moved to before we started the tour, because you gotta pay the rent,
MU: So you're not getting rich off of playing heavy metal?
DL: Nah, man. We don't play no Limp Bizkit gay shit, man, we play the
heavy stuff. And you ain't gonna get rich off that stuff because it's
not trendy and popular.
MU: You used to play with bands like S.O.D. and Anthrax, and a lot of
the bands from that era, as time went on, they started selling out -
Testament was doing ballads for the radio - a lot of them started
softening up. But the bands you've been in, Nuclear Assault, Brutal
Truth, just keep getting heavier and heavier. Talk about that.
DL: I just follow my heart, man. If you want to make money, don't even
bother playing this shit in the first place, you know. Just do
whatever's popular at the time, or whatever. If you're going to play
stuff because you enjoy playing it, then don't do it half-assed. Don't
say, "Well, maybe we can make some money if we write a couple of
ballads," because you know what? There's plenty of fucking soft rock
bands and power-ballad bands who do that shit professionally and
MU: So when all the other bands around Nuclear Assault started going
softer, did you consciously decide to go heavier?
DL: Not really. Sure, you sort of have a sense of the other bands
around you, you get mentioned in the same group in magazines and shit,
but for the most part you just do what you do. And if people like it,
great, and if not, oh well. It's the only way to really fucking do
MU: Are you a sports fan?
DL: Not as much as I used to be. But I still appreciate baseball and
MU: All right, so when a guy goes into the hall of fame who played on
multiple teams, then it has to be decided which team he is inducted
under. If you were inducted into a metal hall of fame, would you go in
for Anthrax, S.O.D., Nuclear Assault or Brutal Truth? Another way of
asking this is what would be the band you think is the most important in
history that you've been a part of?
DL: That's hard to say because S.O.D. is the most popular, but Brutal
Truth was the most groundbreaking. I'd hope for Brutal Truth because we
did the craziest shit. We took things to another level. It didn't sell
as much as the other bands, but it would be the band that would be the
MU: Is that the band that you are most proud of in your career so far?
DL: I don't know, man. I don't want to say that as far as "most" proud
of because that almost looks like you're not liking other shit. But,
maybe, yeah, just because it was so wacky. We definitely took shit by
the throat and took it somewhere else.
MU: So what's behind the Nuclear Assault reunion?
DL: We're trying to kill nu metal.
MU: Why did you decide now was the time?
DL: Because after I left the first time, I was busy with Brutal Truth
until '98, then we broke up. Then S.O.D. came back and then that
trickled out by March 2000. And then I was lucky enough to meet the
woman I'm spending the rest of my life with, so I got to see her a bunch
and get to know her and get to love her and get married. And now it's
time to do some stuff again.
MU: Wasn't John Connelly saying stuff like he wasn't that into metal and
stuff over the years? Am I right about that?
DL: Oh yeah, you're totally right.
MU: What changed, why is he into it now?
DL: He may not listen to it, but he enjoys playing it and always did.
There's a difference.
MU: So for him it's more about reviving Nuclear Assault than it is that
he's a metalhead and he just wants to jam?
DL: It's fun. It's a simple as that. It's a good time.
MU: You seem like the type of guy who's hard to bullshit - if someone
were a poser and trying to hide it from you, I think you'd see right
through that. Right?
DL: It ends up being one of those things where you're sitting around
drinking beer and smoking pot and listening to music, and somebody goes,
"Put on some Dokken." Well, ok, you've had a chance.
MU: So Connelly's doing it for the right reasons?
DL: Yeah, absolutely, man. He's doing it because - whatever reasons he
has. He's not doing it because he's a diehard metalhead anymore, but he
wants to play the music and it's fun.
MU: Let's talk about the diehard metalhead thing. You're known as being
really up on the scene, what are you listening to these days?
DL: Ah, fuck man. When me and my wife are home, we watch TV man, we
don't even listen to music.
MU: What are you watching on TV?
DL: Star Trek: Enterprise, Animal Precinct, Trauma: Life in the ER for
the blood and guts, The Simpsons and King of the Hill. That's it.
MU: How psyched were you that in the last S.O.D. album you were all
drawn as Simpsons characters?
DL: That's a bit Charlie did. Charlie drew that shit as kinda like a
tribute to them.
MU: I know this is all crap, but what did you think about the whole
Anthrax Behind The Music thing?
DL: I got a little dissed on that.
MU: Are you still bitter about that or is it in the past?
DL: It's not that I'm still bitter about it, but it's not something I'll
forget either. Let me ask you, did you watch that and go, "What the
fuck? How come Danny wasn't on it?"
MU: They mentioned your name. Did you see it?
DL: Yeah, I saw it.
MU: They mentioned your name, but you weren't interviewed in it. What
do you want to say about what happened there?
DL: I'm not going to start a bunch of shit, man. I was angry at the
time because they made it seem like I was only in the band for five
minutes, and wasn't even on 'Fistful Of Metal' when I wrote most of it,
which is why I was pissed. But you know what? It's in the past and I'm
not going to fucking go ranting and raving.
MU: Give us the scoop on what to expect from Nuclear Assault.
DL: We're going to be doing some shows, not a hell of a lot, we're not
going to go on a month-long tour. We have music written. We're fucking
jamming with the whole band, write a few more songs, then we do intend
on recording a studio album.
MU: What label?
DL: We're still looking at that. It might be the same label as the live
album, it might not.
SCREAMING FERRET RECORDS
Interview: Eric German [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Metal Update Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ email@example.com ]
Webmaster: RED [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]