Tuesday, August 17, 2010


History binds the past to the present and provides a link to the future. Each event, choice and action providing a link which forms a chain connecting things together - and if we choose to take hold of the current link we are bound to all parts thereof. 

With an impressive and accomplished "rap sheet" as it were, Cleanse Your Demons has bounded out from Toronto, Canada, sporting a new 3 track demo and carrying the insight and experience (along with the wounds) that come from being a link  themselves.

It's with a great deal of pleasure that Glorious Times introduces Cleanse Your Demons, and invites you to take hold of a hand that extends to the future, whilst steadfastly extends another back to the ground work that is our collective glorious past.


 We recently conducted an interview with Nick Sagias, one of the founding members of this band, and figured we'd introduce this interview by having him remind us of when it was that Overthrow was formed and some of his recollections from that time period...

Overthrow live at the Apocalypse Club in Toronto
Photo: Susan Campbell

NICK: Overthrow was formed in 1987 by Wayne Powell (drums), Derek Rockall (guitar) & myself, Nick on bass & vocals. We just started jamming and writing and getting better at our instruments at which point we needed to take it to the next level, so we found Ian Mumble and proceeded to play many shows and record the demo with Brian Taylor. After the demo, by the end of 1989, Derek left the band and we replaced him with Ken Wakefield and went on to record our first cd at Morrisound Studios with both Tom Morris & Scott Burns.

GT: How did you and the other guys in Overthrow meet originally?

NICK: Wayne and I went to school together, since grade one; we grew up right around the corner from each other and got into a lot of the same music together. We started playing music around 14 years old with whatever we could find, we jammed with other friends we grew up with until we started to get more serious and focused about the style we wanted to play. Then out of nowhere, Derek moved into the neighborhood and we just started hanging out and had the same excitement and drive to make some thrash metal. Ken we actually knew through Derek because they went to the same school and we would go watch Ken play Metallica riffs instead of going to class. Ian was a friend of one of my cousins and also a friend of ours knew him so we asked him down.

GT: How did you meet up with Ron Sumners and Epidemic Records and get him to release the "Bodily Domination" demo?

NICK: Well, actually it was Ron who was brought to us through a mutual friend. Ron had quit Slaughter and after a couple of years not playing he wanted to start his own label and was brought to one of our rehearsals. He was impressed with our rehearsal and told us his plans for a label (Epidemic Records) and he wanted to start with recording and releasing what became the “Bodily Domination” demo. From then on Ron has been and still is one of my closest friends. His creativity and his enthusiasm is infectious and inspirational.

GT: Can you give a little background and describe the sound Overthrow had, influences, etc?

NICK: We all had our different influences and for different reasons. Overall sound wise there are the obvious influences like Kreator and Dark Angel and even lyrically, I am I big fan of Gene Hoglan’s lyrics on “Darkness Descends” and “Leave Scars”, I think they helped me be much more expressive with my writing. Musically, big on the German thrash (Destruction, Sodom, Holy Moses, Kreator) and some of the bay area bands (Possessed, Vio-lence), of course Sacrifice was a big influence as well as VoiVod, Slayer, I think most of those were pretty obvious, we didn’t stray much at the beginning.

GT: What sort of progression in sound from the demo to the "Within Suffering" cd was there?

NICK: I would say the demo was pretty straight ahead fast thrash, very fast. It’s just what we wanted to do, play fast and scream. After we recorded the demo and started playing more, we started adding a few slower parts and getting more technical. We were still young and we wanted to top what we did before that, which resulted in an old song being resurrected (Under The Skin) and we just played it as fast as we could. At the time it was a lot of fun and listening back it’s like a blast beat for the whole song, especially live. Of course the technical side started coming out more as we were writing material for the “Within Suffering” cd and the slow parts just seemed like a natural thing to do after going so fast all the time so songs like “All That Remains” with the mid paced tempo and “Repressed Hostility” or “Abduction Of Life” with the slow crushing paces or breakdowns, needed to come out and we were all very happy with the songs. I think we put out a pretty balanced cd sonically, whereas the demo was just in your face, not that that’s a bad thing but I guess we wanted some sort of progression and maturity to come across.

GT: In keeping with Glorious Times' reminiscent philosophies, would you share any interesting stories from your time in Overthrow?

NICK: Well, there this one time, when we went to Florida to record the “Within Suffering” cd, we tried to set up some shows with Cynic and Atheist but there were too many scheduling problems so the Paul or Sean suggested a local band and we got on a bill in Miami as kind of a warm up for the studio. Well, it was kinda nuts, I think we went on at like 3am and there were still other bands. As we were setting up, there was a section behind the stage where most of the gear was and made it easy to put up and tear down, my bass was back there and as I stepped off the back of the stage I stepped on this uneven part and fractured my ankle, I was in so much pain, still not having realized it was fractured, so we still played and it was the worst show I have ever played. Then we went to the hospital, I found out I fractured the tip of the bone and there was nothing they could do, so off to Tampa we went to record the cd. By the time we got there Wayne got strep throat and there we were, in the studio with Tom Morris me with my leg which I had to keep elevated most of the time because of the intense swelling and Wayne battling strep throat. Due to our independent label budget we knew how many days we had and how many for each thing we needed to do, so we had decided to do the bass and drums together, to save time. I can only imagine what was going through Tom’s head watching us hobble in. haha

GT: Overthrow ended because you were leaving for Holland to join Pestilence, any regret in ending Overthrow and not sticking it out to see what you could progress to with that band?

NICK: Not really, no regrets at all. Between the time we recorded the cd, and it’s release, we were having differences of styles we wanted to move towards and no new material had been written during that whole time, not that we needed to because we still had to support the “within suffering” cd, so it wasn’t on the top of the list. The problem kinda came when we did start trying writing new material. Wayne and I were getting more influences by the death metal bands, Obituary standing out most, and wanted some really brutal heavy slow stuff like on “slowly we rot” and Ian and Ken wanted a more Slayer, Megadeth writing approach. There was also a disagreement about staying tuned to the standard tuning and tuning down. I don’t know why we couldn’t work it out or mix the styles but I think changing my vocal style from the thrash style to death metal style also didn’t fit with other members of the bands vision. I do not regret not writing a second Overthrow cd at all.


Ron Sumners (Slaughter) selling his Epidemic Rec. merch at Lollapalooza

GT: How did you get to meet the guys in Pestilence and get the tryout offer anyways?

NICK: Well, the same mutual friend who brought Ron Sumners to us, was writing to Martin at the time and Martin had written him that he had left Pestilence. I loved Martin’s vocals on “Consuming Impulse” and the style of that whole cd and when he told me Martin left the band I called Roadrunner and told them I wanted to talk to Patrick (Mameli) about joining the band and sent off the recordings I played on and a demo we did on a four track of “Out of the Body”. At his time, they were already talking to Josh from Suffocation and I had a chance to talk to Josh as well and he told me he was going out to join Autopsy. I left the decision up to him because he was the first choice, so after he was sure that he wasn’t going to join Pestilence, I was in.

GT: Can you recall what your first impressions were upon arriving in Holland?

NICK: WOW, well, I was only 20 years old at the time so this was a huge deal, it’s funny how you think you know everything at that age. I found it very nice there. It was quiet, yet there was still a bit of a nightlife in the small town where I stayed. Metal shows would come through and the food was amazing. So, I think I was kind of overwhelmed by the whole idea and the situation.

GT: What were the first rehearsals with them like?

NICK: Patrick had already sent me rehearsals of the new songs without vocals, so I knew what I was getting into. We worked pretty much on new songs for the most part and then a show in Belgium came up to open for Obituary and Morbid Angel, so I had to learn a handful of old tracks as well, which would have been inevitable, but I wanted to focus on the new stuff as we were only two months away from recording. The rehearsals were fine, pretty much what you’d expect.

GT: Do you recall any good stories from the live shows you did with them?

NICK: Well, there was just the one show in Belgium, the only story I could really say was that Biohazard went on before us and Bobby was jumping around so much he put a whole in the stage where he was jumping, so that put a slight delay in the show, yeah, I know, kinda boring.

GT: Care to discuss how the end with them came about and the events leading up to that?

NICK: Sure, why not, might as well. Before we left for Florida to record with Scott Burns, Patrick M and I had a couple of arguments and there were some mixed feelings on both sides about continuing to work together, so, when we had gotten to Tampa, Atheist were recording the second cd with Tony and I was telling them how great a player he was. Anyway, inevitably, we got into another argument and they decided to get Tony to record the tracks, which is kinda why I was pointing them in that direction. I was trying to leave without fucking them up recording their third cd. Because even while in Holland, I was already starting to write new lyrics and songs that was gonna end up being Soulstorm.


GT: How soon after you moved back to Toronto did the idea for Soulstorm spring forth?

NICK: Like I was saying, while I was in Holland I was writing stuff that wasn’t Pestilence style nor did I want it to be, it was clear to me that I was burned out on the technical style. I really just wanted to have pummeling riffs and not be so concerned with how technical we could be, we were creating moods, through the music, through the lyrics. I believe during the 6 weeks I had to stay in Florida while Pestilence finished their cd, I had pretty much organized the band (Dave Mitchell – guitar, and my brother John Sagias – drums) and had pretty much written what was to become the “control” demo. I was lucky and happy that my good friend Ron liked it and wanted to release it. So, as soon as I came back to Toronto, we were already jamming and got Rick right away, everything just clicked and started moving fast.

GT: Did you give any consideration to reforming Overthrow or was that already a thing of the past and you wanted to keep moving forward?

NICK: No, I never thought about it even for a second. By this time my Celtic Frost influences came fully into the foreground and we were listening to bands like carcass, obituary, morbid angel, entombed and this slightly influential band named Godflesh. So, yes, basically I wanted to move into a direction that was building up for some time, to include some of my industrial influences (Swans, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Ministry). Since, at the time, there was only godflesh, we kinda stood out but the comparisons were inevitable because nobody else was doing it.

GT: How did you come together with the other guys that would make up Soulstorm?

NICK: Dave Mitchell, who incidentally is the “mutual friend” in both cases mentioned earlier and I had jammed a few times before I left for Holland and it was primitive and raw, which is kinda what we wanted. So, when I made my decision to find a way out of the Pestilence situation, he (Dave) was the first one I called and asked if he wanted to do this style of music when I got home. My next call was to my brother and asked him to play drums. So, I knew Dave from the Overthrow days and I put it all together when I was waiting out my sentence in Florida. Rick entered the picture almost immediately as I had known him for years as well. (long story short – the first version of Soulstorm (’89) was a kind of Dag Nasty sounding band which featured my brother John on drums, Rick on guitar, Bob Average (Schizoid) on guitar, me on bass and on vocals former Disaster/Serenity vocalist Adam Sewell (later to form Monster Voodoo Machine) we played a handful of shows until I left because Overthrow was getting more shows and gearing up to record the cd, after I left, they changed the named, which was mine, and became Totentanz. Then Rick left and was available for soulstorm immediately. Totentanz then became Monster Voodoo Machine

GT: How well was Soulstorm received at first?

NICK: Actually, extremely well! Though musically it sounded like nothing I played before, everyone was really impressed by the sound we created and mood at our live shows. We were also one of the early bands to play in B tuning (another point of conflict on the future of Overthrow) and as a rule I did not want to use any double bass kick drums in Soulstorm, I wanted it to be heavy without double bass kicks. I also added distortion to my bass sound which not many bands were doing at the time (one of my Blacky from VoiVod influences) and the vocals got sicker and darker and so did the lyrics. We had a lot of people excited about Soulstorm who helped us out a lot and as a result we got to open for KMFDM, Entombed, Grave and Massacre to name a few.

GT: How many releases did Soulstorm have? Can we grab a list so interested parties can get their paleontological gear out and start to dig?

NICK: December 1991 – “Control” demo

September 1992 – “Darkness Visible” (Epidemic)

March 1993 – “Darkness Visible” (licensed to Metal Blade/Music For Nations)

September 1994 – “From Euphoria To Paranoia” (Cargo Records)

December 1994 – “In Moments Of Weakness” (split 7” with Mundane) “Severed” demo version – clear burgundy vinyl – limited to 1000 copies (Utopian Vision Music)

March 1996 – “A New Level Of Surrender” – contains demo versions of “Transitional” and “Mute” – clear blue vinyl – limited to 300 copies (Fever Pitch Records)

January 1997 – “A Step Towards Healing” – “Mass Murder Culture” and “Suck (abrasive)” taken the cd ”From Euphoria to Paranoia” and demo versions of “Perfect” and “Anti” – clear green vinyl – limited to 100 copies (Bodybag Records)

June 1998 – “Under The Killing Sun” – (Sweet Tooth Recordings)

GT: Did Soulstorm tour?

NICK: We did a Canadian tour with Sacrifice and a US tour with Thought Industry. We also did another full Canadian tour with Monster Voodoo Machine. We did a bunch of Ontario tours with Malhavoc. We did a bunch of dates with Skrew & Chemlab. We also did a select bunch of dates with some shitty band too stuck up and crap to even be mentioned and even got kicked off a New York show and our hometown Toronto show (Genitorturers, please do not print their name, fuck it, I don’t care, ask me about that some day… haha)

GT: Any good stories from your days in Soulstorm?

NICK: I think the tours were great and a lot of fun. The early soulstorm days when it was the core line up. Oh, here’s a lovely story I would love to share; in ’93 we played at the Milwaukee Metalfest (#7), well, this was the same year that metal blade released our cd, so this was their actual first opportunity to see us live. It was so long ago I forget who was on before us but there were the two stages in different parts of the Eagle auditorium(?). somehow, after the band before us finished, the guys from Testament (needing an ego boost) took all of the amps that we were all sharing on our stage, their stage was all fully equipped and went well for all the other bands before them but Excrement, I mean Testament, wanted more fuckin amps, for what? You can only plug into one fuckin head! So, I’m left scrambling just to find a guitar amp let alone my own bass amp, finally after some pleading Frank from Suffocation let us use his guitar head and next thing you know we’re on, I didn’t even get a bass amp, what was left onstage was this little stupid combo amp with, seriously, 2” inch speakers that were blown. When we got offstage I got into this huge yelling match with Buck Chilly and his entourage, I had to get pulled away by my band, the looks on their self-righteous faces when I stood up to them was priceless. We still got offered a deal with Metal Blade but that’s not the point, when everyone is sharing the same back line as in festivals, you don’t fuckin pull that sneaky shit! I don’t care what band you are! This unfortunately affected our good friends in Thought Industry as well who went on after us, because Ice-T was so impressed with all of the amps Testament needed just for show, he had to use them too. So, fuck them for pretending to be all hardcore and down with the scene and end up fuckin bands over! (whew, what a rant, but I’ve never really told too many people (and never media) about that bullshit, you can use it if you want, I could care less what any of those bands think.


GT: How did the whole thing with Monster Voodoo Machine come about?

NICK: I’ve known Adam (Sewell) since just before we did the Overthrow demo. He worked at the Record Peddlar where Brian Taylor also worked, and Ron and I would go and talk to Brian about the demo and every time we’d restock when the demo sold out, they really helped push it in the early days. I was also already good friends with Terry Landry who I met through Rick long before we were all in bands. I also knew Jason Cuddy who ironically I met through another friend and they went to school together and we ended up working at the same shitty job when we were like 16 years old. Darren (Quinn) is actually the one who hooked me up with the job; we started hanging out maybe around ’94, and especially once we toured together. When Soulstorm went on hiatus in Sept '95 and I moved to North Carolina for a year, I kept in contact with Darren and when I came home to visit he helped out on a recording then I got the offer to play keyboards for Monster Voodoo Machine which resulted in “The Pirate Satellite” cd and the side project – def.con.sound.system. for which we did a Canadian tour with us ending in L.A. for Foundation Forum 7. Darren went to play with Raggadeth and did not participate in def.con – I think due to this and doing a stripped down metal record, which Darren recorded on, somehow there was a miscommunication with them and I went from the not needed keyboard player (I went back to a stripped down non-industrial Soulstorm) to playing bass on the Ozzfest ’98 tour as well as across Canada on the first Queens Of The Stone Age tour. (the bassist at the time being Chris Harris who played on the second Soulstorm cd and toured with us in support of MVM in ’94, he switched to guitar for the ozzfest MVM shows).

GT: Was it nice change of pace to be in a band where you weren't the main man?

NICK: Very, very much so. At that point in my life I knew I could do both Soulstorm and Monster Voodoo Machine, I still had my outlet and knew my position in MVM. I never intended to be a singer, I wanted to be a bass player. The singing came out of necessity that we needed it to be done and since I was writing lyrics anyway, it just happened, and the fact that I could scream too was a bonus, haha - my really early influences were Steve Harris and Roger Waters, even Gene Simmons – what impressed me was the fact that they wrote most of the songs and lyrics, even if they weren’t the singer like in Iron Maiden or some of the stuff David Gilmour sings that Roger Waters wrote. Writing was a big part of what I wanted to do as well as play bass. The singing all happened out of necessity.

Adam Sewell (Monster Voodoo Machine) and Nick Sagias
MVM reunion show June 2010; Photo: Brian Pattison

GT: Did you record anything in studio with MVM or did you just play live with them?

NICK: The only recordings with Monster Voodoo Machine I did was on the “Direct Reaction” cd, I just did a bunch of backing vocals and a few other vocal parts that we worked on specifically.

GT: Any good tales for us from this era?

NICK: Here’s another crazy story; while we were recording the vocal parts for the MVM cd, it was around midnight and I was coming into the room to hear the tracks I just recorded and then, out of nowhere 3 guys with ski masks and a gun come in and tell us to put our hands up. Well, we thought it was a joke, that was quickly shattered by one of the guys saying, “this isn’t a joke” and they took us into the office and tied us up with duct tape and proceeded to rob the studio. Two guys robbed the place out of the back while the guy with the gun watched over us; it lasted about half an hour. That was fucked up.

Monster Voodoo Machine reunion June 2010
Photo: Brian Pattison

GT: Was there any temptation to join them on stage for a song or two at the recent reunion gig?

NICK: None at all. If they asked me, I would’ve done it or do back ups for a song I really like but that was the defining Monster Voodoo Machine line-up. The 1994 “Suffer System” line up who did the first Marilyn Manson tour and toured with Fight and did some Carcass dates and who Soulstorm toured Canada with in ’94. That was the strongest most cohesive line up of MVM, so I just like to sit back and watch them do their thing.

the drive to creativity

CYD live 2010, Photo: Brian Pattison

GT: Why start a band again after some years away from metal?

NICK: Well, when Soulstorm finally imploded in Dec '99. I stopped playing live and writing (sort of) and didn’t even barely touch my instruments, let alone rehearsing with anybody. So from that time until around 2006, I was trying to get out. Quit music. The only thing is, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop doing what I was intended to do. At this point in my life and having talked with many other artists of all styles and mediums, I realized that what I do is a gift. It is also a curse in some sense because it can torture you on many levels, but you can never forget that not everybody can do this. Everyone is great at something, and sometimes these things aren’t what we love to do but knowing now that what I do is driven from a deeper place and desire really puts it in perspective. For example I can paint hundreds of art pieces and write a hundred songs but if nobody sees them or hears them, then what’s the point? I ran into Wayne in 2006 by chance, and he asked me if I wanted to jam. So, with no agenda, we began rehearsing and writing all different styles, fucking around basically. I had some ideas of what I wanted the new band to express and the moods I wanted to create but it took some time to get comfortable with and actually figuring out and doing what that band has become AntiTrust Division. When I started rehearsing with Wayne there were heavy songs, Sabbathy songs, and some kinda Ramones kinda punk rock thing we assembled but I wanted it to be much more than a rock band because at the time, this is all we were writing and rehearsing, it was raw. When I started adding keyboards and some loop based songs is when it all clicked for me, musically and lyrically and the art I was doing at the time. Then out of nowhere, I got an email from Rick asking if I wanted to record vocals for a track of his. The furthest thing from my mind was metal (much to Wayne’s disappointment but still heavily into what we’ve created with ATD). I thought it would be fun to do and I wanted to return to the really sick brutal style of vocals like on the first Soulstorm cd but without any kind of 'singy' clean vocals. Just sick and raw. After I finished the vocals at Rick’s he sent me the track all mixed and it sounded great and then he says, “ok, here’s the next song” and I went into this thinking it was a one off but we did the first three songs that make up our first demo recordings in 3 – 3hour sessions. Then he wanted to take it to the next level, at which point Wayne already had heard it and was on board immediately. So, there we were, playing metal again and it felt great, not forced or contrived.

GT: Did it bring back memories when you started jamming with Wayne again?

NICK: It just felt really comfortable and we know how to play off each other. Of course I’m following Wayne but it’s to the point of, I know his style and what he’s gonna do, most of the time, (fuckin drummers, haha). Even after all these years, it just feels natural and I never have to worry about him not being there behind me holding it down.

GT: When did Cleanse Your Demons form and how did you come to meet the other guys and convince them to get CYD started?

NICK: CYD started in January of 2010. I guess it could’ve started in December but because of the holidays we didn’t get together until the new year, which turned out to be quite fitting for the new band we were about to create. The funny thing is; I didn’t have to convince anybody, they had to convince me. Rick and Wayne wanted to play some loud metal and Wayne had been dying to for a while, so when he heard it & a few other close friends really liked it, I decided to go for it. There’s a whole other dark side that needs to come out,  and this was the perfect outlet. Also maybe some of the excitement of re-issuing the Overthrow cd played some part in wanting to have an outlet for heavy, crushing and aggressive music to be played.

CYD live; Photo: Brian Pattison

GT: For people completely unaware, can you try to describe the Cleanse Your Demons sound?

NICK: Doom, dark, death, crushing. We wanted this to be straight forward metal, heavy and direct. No clean vocals. No keyboards. No industrial anything. Just four guys hammering out crushing riffs. Not a continuation of Overthrow or Soulstorm but it’s own entity. I think it’s proving to be as such already, some of the new tracks we’ve begun writing will show that.

GT: How did the band settle upon it's name?

NICK: The name came from the song “Kingdom Of Rats”. That was the first song we recorded and when Rick wanted to do more songs, he wanted a name for the project, so he suggested “Cleanse Your Demons” which was a line that really stuck out for him. We threw around a few other names but nothing had quite the same ring and kind of really express what we were doing.

GT: What are shows like in Toronto compared to the Overthrow days 1989-1991? Any bands from those days stick out in your mind...specifically Alan wants to know stuff about "Sons Of Ishmael", as he used to write to Tim Freeborn (vocals)..

NICK: It’s always tough to talk about a scene. There are always a lot of bands at various time periods. Some overlap, some continue where another has left off. Local bands have decent draws, it’s up and down. The bigger out of town bands – those shows are usually packed but harder for local bands to get on due to the large package tours. It’s kind of tough for me to gauge also for the fact that I’ve kind of limited myself in metal shows in early 2000 until about 2006 when Celtic Frost came through and Sacrifice reunited. Since then I’ve been to a lot more shows, big and small, and the turn outs have been great. Metal really made a great comeback.

GT: So far, how has the demo been received? Getting any airplay?

NICK: So far we’ve had very enthusiastic feedback for both the demo and the latest track we recorded (”Soulless”). It feels like people are very receptive to the fact that I’ve returned to playing and singing metal again. It felt very natural right from the beginning and I think that is conveyed in the rawness of the first for songs that represent what we are about. As far as airplay, we’ve only had the demo available at the shows and have not sent many out really, mostly to a few industry people.

(since doing this interview Glorious Times has decided to change this and lend a hand to promote this band, already having been successful in getting the band some air time and into the hands of various zine editors, both paper and digital)

GT: Are you guys planning any live dates outside of Toronto?

NICK: We’re working on doing some out of town shows. Right now, we are focusing playing a few local shows maybe a few just outside the city and kind of start building the name up from our live shows, so when we go out of town people will want to come out.

GT: Any final statements Nick?

NICK: Well, I remember reading an interview with Martin Van Drunen a short while back and he was talking about how the vocals are better and stronger now than when he was younger and when I first started rehearsing with Wayne again we were doing heavy stuff and the screaming just felt natural and I noticed I had more control over what I wanted to do and knowing how to do it. So working off that, I would apply it to the whole band. We all know exactly what we want to do musically and know how to execute it. We look forward to playing a lot more now that we’ve been writing more material as well as recording it. So you can at least look forward to hearing a few new tracks very soon that will be crushingly heavy as we begin to define our sound.

CYD live; Photo: Brian Pattison


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