Canadian AGGRESSION is one of these bands I remember from my fanzine reading years. Never got round to hearing them back in the days though. Now that they are back I grabbed the opportunity to interview them. Questions answered by Denis ‘Sasquatch’ Barthe (guitar) (original member). © 2015 Anders Ekdahl
Back in the days when I was into reading fanzines I often came upon your name. What hindered you from breaking big?
-There were multiple reasons but the one thing that stands out is drug consumption. At some point, when drugs take over your lives, it is difficult to continue maintaining jam space payments, musical equipment, showing up for practices, etc… It’s the one thing that truly destroyed us. And it had an impact on some of us and some of us never recouped from it and eventually some of us died from it. Jail time didn’t help either. We partied pretty hard…
When did you decide to give it a go again and what are your ambitions this time around?
-I guess there was always a willingness to do it – it was just a matter of finding the right guys. Since I’m no longer in Montreal (exited in 1992), I was unable to get it going with some of the original guys beside the reunion we did in 2005/2006 for a some shows. The offers kept coming for shows, interviews, recordings, etc… So with the assistance of some my Vancouver musical friends especially Brian Langley (Infernal Majesty/Tyrants Blood) who is with me in Cradle To Grave and Darin Wall (88 Mile Trip/ex-Entropia), we were able to recruit amazing musicians that are able to reproduce and deliver the Aggression sound without any compromises. Ryan Murray Idris is an incredible drummer and I would not be surprised if a bigger band try to snatch him from us. i have nothing but respect for Dave Watson’s guitar antics abilities. Not to take anything away from some of the other guitar players I played with in the past but this guy is truly amazing.
How different is the metal scene today compared to when you first started?
-You could say it is entirely different or that it is just the same. It’s all about opening your mind to new things or staying put, with the mindset that nothing good was done since 1986. But it is the same: the bands rivalry, the bands brotherhood, the struggle to be creative and innovative, the ability to promote ourselves, going the extra mile to accomplishing your dreams whatever they may be… It’s pretty much the same… It was never easy back then, and it ain’t easy these days. However with true passion for music and metal, it is possible to become popular and “make it”. Even in 2015. If you’re not making it, you’re not good enough… As simple as that.
How does it feel to write AGGRESSION songs in 2015 compared to when you first started?
-Hahaha – well we haven’t tried yet. I have a bunch of jam session recordings from 84’/85’/86′ that I would like to work on with this new Aggression edition and release it in 2016 but I’m pretty sure that we can write new songs that would still carry the old thrash flag… I have tons of riffs in the memory bank 🙂 There are 2 newish songs that I think will do really well once the band starts working on them: “Unleashing The Ghost” and “Holidays In Sodom”…
Looking at old photos I wonder how much of a foot you had in the punk scene?
-Quite a bit to be honest… We were often at punk/hardcore shows. Some of our favourite bands were Broken Bones, COC, Discharge, GBH, Verbal Abuse, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Minor Threat and so many more while playing shows with DRI, Agnostic Front, Crumbsuckers and so many more… My personal all time favourite bands are Van Halen, Venom and The Ramones so there will always be some punk influence in what we do… As long as I’m involved…
What kind of aesthetic was/is there to the band AGGRESSION?
-Aggression is a musical channel that releases your daily frustrations… Nothing else… In the past or in the future…
How important was art work when you released demos? Was it ok with just a hand drawn cover?
-Our manager at the time, Johnny Hart, was really professional when it comes to artwork so he was always looking for something tasty. I was for myself looking for the most demonic pictures/artwork/images available and I’m the same today so is most of the current band members. Brian and Darin have a keen eye for good artwork so we follow their guidance. And to specifically answer your question, hand drawn covers were unacceptable unless narcotics alter your judgement skills and everything start looking like Away’s artwork or H.R. Giger…
Why is it that we don’t see Canadian metal bands breaking big like US bands do?
-Could be a talent factor against a population factor. You would have to compare Canada to let’s say Texas to have a true comparison. But some Canadian metal bands did really well and are still relevant today: Exciter first 2 records are amazing, Anvil “Metal On Metal” and “Forged In Fire” are amazing, Voivod, Annihilator, Sacrifice, Slaughter, Razor and so many others… I think it’s a matter of population versus the output of creativity. When I think of US Metal, I think of Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and their legacy… It’s almost comparing Van Halen to Rush. Van Halen was more successful but Rush ain’t too shabby….
What kind of crowd do you draw when you play live today? What is like to be on stage today playing the old songs?
-Our first show in 10 years will be this upcoming March so we expect to see a mix of old school thrash metal guys with Cryptic Slaughter patches and new school metal heads with Kataklysm shirts out there. It’s awesome to see the mix of people this music brings together – anything is possible. Playing the songs is nice – knowing that 30 years later, it still pretty relevant… But it hurts a lot playing it… So fast!!!
What does the future hold?
-This year we will continue to play shows. We have the “Defenders Of The Old” Metal Festival in NYC on March 13 followed by our USA East Coast tour and another show with Sacrifice in Vancouver April 17. We will probably play the US West Coast and Eastern Canada later in the year. 2016 will be dedicated to the release of the first new Aggression music since 1987. It’s going to be solid and we expect people to have their mind blown by it. We might tackle Europe in 2016 as well. This band is here to stay and we are looking forward to make an impact on the metal community worldwide.