Interview: Municipal Waste
I feel like now more than ever, the world needs a fucking Waste record to take your mind off of all the fucking bullshit going on right now.
Municipal Waste have just returned with their latest album Electrified Brain and it sees the thrash metal masters in fine form with another high octane collection of thrash anthems, ready set to be the soundtrack to all manner of stage diving and circle pit chaos in a live setting. Gavin Brown caught up with Municipal Waste vocalist Tony Foresta to hear all about Electrified Brain and the return of the band as well as Municipal Waste’s return to playing live and their vast touring schedule which has included playing gigs with everyone from Exodus to Circle Jerks, crazy tour stories and his new band Heaven’s Gate.
E&D: Your new album Electrified Brain is out now. Are you excited to be getting the new album out and was it a therapeutic experience making the album?
Tony: Yeah, I think finishing it was a therapeutic experience. I think it’s the longest we’ve ever worked on a record. I think I did vocal demos four times for the record. It’s crazy. It was very therapeutic hearing the final product once Joel Grind got the mastering done, and we could actually hear what like the finished version sounded like, it was like all this hard work paid off. We’re real happy with it. It’s about time the fucking thing is coming out. It feels like it’s been forever.
E&D: It’s been five years since you last released a full length album, do you feel reenergised as a band just now?
Tony: Yeah, I mean, we were never not active, we put out an EP. I feel realistically, the record should have been out two years ago but with COVID and me moving, everything got so crazy, it was kind of pointless to rush a release. I don’t want to stick with the habit of doing one record every five years. I do like, putting out EPs and stuff in between and keeping it interesting.
E&D: With The Last Rager, was it fun to release an EP instead of an album and would you do that again?
Tony: I think we’re going to do that again because an LP is like fifteen songs and a lot of work. I feel like people are listening to music differently nowadays with streaming and stuff so the need for an LP every other year is not really a thing anymore.
E&D: Do you feel that Electrified Brain go could be your heaviest album to date?
Tony: Production wise, absolutely. I feel like that’s the general consensus with most people that have heard it. I really liked the production on The Last Rager as well but Arthur and Joel really fucking went above and beyond making it thicker sounding and we just definitely wanted to have a raw sound to it as well. I feel like Arthur especially was able to balance the two and make us happy with what we got.
E&D: Obviously you’ve worked with Joel a lot before but would you work with Arthur again?
Tony: Oh, absolutely. I certainly hope we can afford him as everybody’s trying to work on him now but now he’s a fucking great dude man, and we love the vibe working with him and we all clicked really well. So yeah, we’ll definitely work with him again in the future if we’re lucky enough.
E&D: What’s the feedback to the new material been like so far?
Tony: Like you said, people that saying it’s the heaviest yet. They’re really happy with it and the songs, they’re still catchy, but there’s just a different kind of edge to it which is great. That’s kind of what we’re going for. I feel like people are stoked on it. I feel like now more than ever, the world needs a fucking Waste record to take your mind off of all the fucking bullshit going on right now. Maybe just relax a little bit, unwind. Hopefully this record will throw a little bit of fun, or maybe just more positive energy out in the world right now. I think everyone needs that.
E&D: You’ve played some live shows recently, how have they been and have you been playing much material from the new album?
Tony: We played a couple of songs. We’re so busy right now. We just came back so whenever we put out a new song, we’ll start playing that as well to stack them on the set list. We’re going to try to have a heavy setlist of newer material because I feel like people have seen us play our other shit enough times now. It’s good to get out there and play play some of these new songs.
E&D: How was the experience of playing shows with Circle Jerks and Negative Approach at the end of last year and what were some of the highlights?
Tony: That was an awesome tour. I wish we could have done the whole thing, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us at the time. That was definitely one of my favourite tours I’ve ever done. I mean, Circle Jerks are such a huge influence, so being able to see them play every night, and be able to hang out with Negative Approach and just kick it with those guys. It was a little scary at first because COVID was still kind of popping off pretty hard and actually the Negative Approach guys didn’t finish that leg of the tour because they end up getting COVID, so the last couple of shows were a little scary, just trying to stay healthy and safe. It got a little hairy at the end there, but even with a couple hiccups with Negative Approach getting sick. It was still one of my favourite tours we’ve ever done.
E&D: Did you ever think like when you were first starting in bands, you’d be you’d be touring with bands like Circle Jerks and Negative Approach?
Tony: If you told me in 2001, I’d be touring with Circle Jerks and Negative Approach, I would have been like, I don’t think that’s possible. I wouldn’t even have thought I’d be playing music in 2001, so yeah, it’s an honour and every day is a blessing. It’s just really fucking cool to be out here doing what we love.
E&D: Was the tour with Obituary and Gatecreeper at the start of the year a great experience as well?
Tony: Oh, yeah, Obituary is also a huge influence on us. Gatecreeper are just really good friends of ours. I talk to Eric all the fucking time and Iron Reagan did a tour with them when both bands were first starting out. We really hit it off and just kept in touch, so being able to finally do Municipal Waste and Gatecreeper with Obituary, hot shit! It was fucking incredible. This band from Richmond, Enforced opened up and they’re a great crossover/thrash band. They’re killing it right now, so yeah, that bill, that whole lineup was just fucking stacked from start to finish.
E&D: You’ve got some live shows coming up too with some amazing bands like Exodus, Voivod, Integrity and At The Gates. Are you looking forward to getting back on the road and playing those shows?
Tony: Oh, yeah! I feel like we’re just such a fucking lucky band and I guess we did it on purpose, as far as having the sound and playing the music we play, we’re just lucky enough to be able to do bills like that. We can play with Circle Jerks, then we can go out with At The Gates, and we can play with The Exploited, then we can go and play with fucking Morbid Angel. You know what I mean? We can play so many different shows and crowds, and it works for some strange reason. I feel like we’re extremely privileged and lucky to be able to play shows like that. The crowds for the most part are very accepting of it, and they understand that we’re out here. We love music and we’ll play with everybody. We’re here to party and have a good time. How cool is that, that we’re able to do that? I mean, I can think about it all the time. We did a tour with Crowbar recently, and if you listen to both bands, it doesn’t make any sense, but when you see it live, it can work, and you can just tell with the crowd, people don’t want to sit through the same fucking kind of bands all the time. It’s cool sometimes, but it’s nice to mix it up sometimes, shake it around a little bit. Keep things interesting. I feel like that helps out especially with us because we have short attention spans.
E&D: I saw Municipal Waste on the Persistence Tour a few years ago with Suicidal Tendencies and Agnostic Front and even though it was mostly hardcore, it was a good good mix of bands and the energy is of course, exactly the same. How did you enjoy that tour?
Tony: Yeah, that was awesome. Being able to just share it with Agnostic Front, hanging out with those guys every night, sitting up all night with Roger and just talking about records and he’s showing me photos of his Misfits record collection. For me being like, a fan of Agnostic Front and be able to nerd out on music and records with him was just a really cool experience. It was really awesome.
E&D: You’re also coming back to Europe supporting Anthrax later in the year. You must be excited about that tour as well?
Tony: Obviously, Anthrax are a big influence on us, and they’re playing I think the Among The Living Tour reunion. Two of my favourite records are Among The Living and Slaughter Of The Soul by At The Gates and we’re playing with those bands and they’re playing the whole album and that’s so fucking crazy. I can’t wait to get back over in Europe. It’s been a few years now, our last show before the pandemic was in Germany. And it was with Toxic Holocaust and Skeletal Remains. We did a whole Europe tour and that was the last time we came over there. We are ready to get back and to be able to play on such a fucking stacked bill, it’s gonna shred!
E&D: Municipal Waste are obviously known for their insane live shows. What’s the craziest reaction to the band that you’ve ever witnessed?
Tony: One time we played and everyone stood and did nothing! We were like wow, that’s weird!
E&D: What have been some of the craziest things that you’ve seen at your shows?
Tony: I’ve seen people light themselves on fire, jumping off balconies, people getting naked, wheelchair crowd surfing. People come in and they get nice and inebriated and start to loosen up a little bit, let go of all their inhibitions, and we encourage that, you know, as long as nobody’s getting violated or anything. We want people to come out and unwind, especially after these past couple of years. I think now more than ever, the world needs to unwind a little bit and have a good time. So come on out, take your clothes off!
E&D: Do you think that because of the past couple of years, people are ready to enjoy themselves at show more thane ever?
Tony: I hope so. It definitely seems like it. Since we’ve started playing again, the crowd energy has actually risen a lot so it’s fucking cool. It’s real fun to play shows for sure, we missed it and we missed seeing everyone. It means a lot to us.
E&D: Aside from your own shows, what have been some of the best shows that you’ve ever seen as a fan?
Tony: I think one of the earlier Hellfests was really cool.I think it was one of Morbid Angels first reunion shows, and At The Gates played that too, right when they got back together. That was a really cool one. The first show I ever went to was a Beastie Boys show. I’m a huge Beastie Boys fan, so that that was like my all time favourite, the first time I ever went to a concert and that set the bar pretty high, and Rollins Band opened up here so that was pretty cool.
E&D: Was that the Check Your Head tour?
Tony: That was actually the first show of the Check Your Head tour!
E&D: Can you tell us a bit about your other new band Heaven’s Gate as well. What type of music you play and what you’re up to with with that band?
Tony: Oh, yeah, we just started playing. We’ve been practising for like a year, secretly. We’ve been practising at the Cannibal Corpse spot. I moved to Florida, so this band is just with all Florida guys that live near me. It’s like our local band, but it’s all pretty heavy hitter musicians. They’re in other cool bands. Paul plays with Cannibal Corpse. Mike Goi plays in Warthog and he was in hardcore band called Ajax. He’s in a bunch of shit. Our bass player, Jeff, was in a hardcore band called Reversal Of Man. It’s pretty much straightforward, almost like powerviolence with a little bit death metal/little bit. Hardcore mix. Definitely a lot more abrasive than other bands I have done. It’s pretty pissed off sounding. We played our first show here in St. Petersburg, Florida where they set up some skate ramps and was a free outdoor show, hot and sweaty!
E&D: Have Iron Reagan got any plans for new music and touring in the future as well?
Tony: Well, since I’ve relocated to Florida, it’s been a lot harder to do two out of town bands, so that’s been on the backburner, especially with moving and me doing this other band. It’s just not really on the cards right now. Everybody’s got their own shit going on. For the past couple of years, the main focus was like getting this fucking Waste album, so as far as doing any other thing out of town, I just don’t think I have the energy in it. Not saying we won’t do it again in the future but it’s definitely not really anybody’s priority at the moment.
E&D: Would you ever pull double duty and do a show or even a tour with Municipal Waste and Heaven’s Gate and did you ever do that with Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan?
Tony: No, way too much work! I’ll blow my voice out, then one set would suffer. I like keeping the shit separate. It’s a lot of work. Maybe if I played a different instrument, if I was playing guitar or something in Heaven’s Gate, but just singing two sets would be weird for me.
E&D: What have been some of the highlights from your your musical career with all your different bands so far and what moments have stood out for you?
Tony: Oh man, I’ve said this before, but just getting a record done and completing it. My wall is covered with records I’ve done and there is something rewarding about finishing a record and being able to birth it into the world. I’m really proud of that. There’s been a ton of career highlights, being being a band for over twenty years, it’s just like simple shit like that. The first time you get the vinyl in your hands, that feeling is so rewarding. That to me that’s like the best part of being in a band. I mean, playing shows of course, touring. meeting friends all over the world is also amazing too, but there’s also just something about the creative process and just unleashing music on people. It’s pretty fucking rewarding.
E&D: And you still get as excited each time a new album comes out, like with this new album?
Tony: I’ll answer this honestly, and I would say maybe towards the end there when I was doing two bands full time, it wasn’t as special to me. It kind of wore out because I was just overworked but that’s gone now. I’m in love again. I love it and it’s just such a rewarding experience and it means a world to be able to creatively push something out and I hope people realise that when they hear this record, how hard we worked on it and how important it is.
E&D: Thank you very much for talking to me man. I can’t wait to see you with Anthrax in September!
Tony: Cool, which show you’re going to?
E&D: I think it’s gonna be in Leeds.
Tony: Leeds, that’s the place where the crowdsurfers get naked! We played this one time. This dude in Leeds got naked, man fuck it was probably for Hazardous Mutation and this fucker gets naked and they kick them out right? Then, we can see from the stage, out the window, I think it was snowing outside, and this poor guy was standing out in the fucking snow naked and we start start chanting naked guy back. We’re looking forward to getting back there!