Exclusive interview – Danny Lilker: ”That song Vengeance was not about Anthrax”

The legend speaks.


Nuclear Assault’s final tour has just begun. The thrash metal legends played Sweden Rock Festival recently, and this tuesday Danny Lilker will spend in Stockholm signing his biography Perpetual Conversion at Sound Pollution, Stora Nygatan 18 in Stockholm, sponsored by Close-Up Magazine.

Bara Metal recently had an interview with the one and only – bass player Danny Lilker.

Back in 1984-85. Did you ever sit down writing revenge lyrics toward Anthrax for firing you? If so – did those words ever turn into a song?

– Haha! No. Never did. That song Vengeance was not about Anthrax, it was John’s lyrics and he was just telling a made-up story. The best ”revenge” was forming a ground-breaking crossover thrash metal band!

Obviously. And then you recorded the SOD-album with Scott Ian and Benante, after that break up from Anthrax. No hard feelings at that time?

– No, because by then they had also tossed Neil Turbin, who was the guy who wanted me out. In a way, I can say that my invitation to play in S.O.D. was Scott and Charlie saying ”We fucked up and threw out the wrong guy, but it wouldn’t be fair to Frank Bello to get you back in Anthrax, so let’s do this instead.”

About your new album. In the process of making Pounder, what were your goals? Like, when was a song good enough for Nuclear Assault to be included, and how much material did you leave out?

– Once we decided to just do just four songs, it was quite simple. Since we no longer all live relatively close to each other, I simply wrote three of the songs, the faster ones, and John had Died In Your Arms ready anyway. Since I hadn’t had any reason to write in the Nuclear style for many years, it was fairly easy to come up with a few tunes worth of riffs.

– As far as how it was determined whether a song was good enough, that was easy enough. Did it sound like good old 80s thrash? Yes? Good enough! There were no leftover parts or complete songs on my end, I just wrote as much as I could and made sure it was up to our standards.

Most of us were expecting a full length album from you, and it turns out to be an EP. Good enough, but what made you decide upon an EP instead of a full length?

– That had to do with the limits we had on time as well as the geographical ones. We don’t have the luxury of jamming all the time since only Erik and I live in the same town, Rochester, NY. So, we decided to be realistic: We wanted to have new stuff out by the time we were doing all these European shows, and there simply wasn’t enough time to write, rehearse, record and mix 45 minutes of music. Or let’s say not without sacrificing quality control anyway.

– So, we decided that a 4-song EP was perfect because it was a short enough amount of music to get down well and record, as well as enough new material to sprinkle into the set and still be able to play a whole bunch of older material that we knew everyone would want to hear. A win-win as far as I’m concerned.

And will you play new songs från Pounder live? Any favourite?

– Yes, right now we have rehearsed Analog Man and Died In Your Arms, and next soundcheck we get we will go over the other two. Too early to declare any favorites, let’s see what you guys think.

Original guitarist Anthony Bramante is not a part of Nuclear Assault and has not been since 2002. Why not?

– Anthony’s job makes it impossible for him to get away enough to tour, so when we started being active again back in 2002 he wasn’t able to participate. He did come onstage with us about five years ago in Brooklyn and do a couple of tunes though. Anthony was never one of the songwriters anyway, so there isn’t any big difference in our style with or without him.

And what does he do for a living?

– USPS postman.

I’ve read that you were not satisfied with Third World Genocide, your last album. It wasn’t the great final album you had expected. Is this true, and in that case – why not? What went wrong?

– Part of that is my faul. I wasn’t completely inspired. But in general, it was my feeling that the album wasn’t intense enough and had too many outside influences and silly shit, like a funny country song and a funny old-school punk song. It was more of a case of a small label really wanting to releasee an album by us, but it wasn’t the time for it at that point. That album is a big reason we are releasing stuff now.

– I didn’t want to go out like that, like they say.

I cannot find your first albums on Spotify – how come? Will that change?

– I have no idea, I can’t keep up with Spotify and Pandora and all that shit. I assume it has something to do with licensing deals and so on. But honestly I’ve never bothered keeping up with all that. I’m just the bass player – haha!

Why is this tour your final tour? The desire for Nuclear Assault to come and play in your fan’s home towns will not end by 2015 – or is it not economically worth it?

– Ha, it must be kept in mind that we are not spring chickens, as they say. The physical demands of playing thrash metal take more of a toll on people in their 50s than people in their 20s or 30s. We will play until we fall apart, but I can say personally for example that I now get a lot of pain in my left shoulder from wearing the strap and head banging! Anyway, it’s probable that it will spill over to next year, but only in places we haven’t been recently.

I saw you play live in Gothenburg, with Dark Angel, in october 1989. Is the touring from the 80’s a blur or do you remember any special moments – particularly in Sweden?

– It’s really been a long time obviously, but I do remember entering Sweden from Denmark on one of those tours on our night liner…we got some Elephant beers at the border, and I didn’t realize how strong they were, I had three before getting up to piss and I almost fell over!


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