Thursday, April 4, 2013


Glorious Times had a bit of a catch-up chat with an old friend from the GT-era Tampa days: Chris Messina. Chris plays guitar in Florida based grind band Swamp Gas, a festering stink of aural assault if there ever was one! It's been a long time since those humid days riding the initial waves of extreme music in what was to be known as "the death metal capital of the world" - check it out...
GT - When did you guys get it together under the name Swamp Gas?

Chris - We started Swamp Gas in late 1995, but Brian,Robert,and myself had been jamming for years under different band names. The three of us had been jamming since 1989, starting with death/thrash to death metal in the beginning, then finally going to grindcore.

 Chris, March 3 2013 at Rack'em Billiards, Cape Coral FL - (photo - Carianne Hensler)

GT - How did you know the other members?

Chris - I was friends with Robert's younger brother Ricky, and I knew they had a killer Death/Thrash band going. They needed a bassist, so I went out and bought a bass and an amp and joined the band.

GT - You mentioned that you started Swamp Gas in 1995 but had been playing before that in several other incarnations of the same band - can you give some of the band names?

ChrisMe, Brian and Robert have been jamming together since 1988. We started out as a really technical death metal band. Our old songs had like 25 riffs that never repeated, kinda funny cause now we play grind and have like 6 or 7 riffs a song...haha! Some of the old band names were Relentless Abuse, Constant Gripping Fear, Carrion and Amputation. The name Swamp Gas came up as a joke but it stuck with us.

GT - When did you move to Cape Coral, weren't you living in Tampa when we met the first time?

Chris - I have been in Cape Coral for the past 3 years, but the band is from Fort Myers. We were never a Tampa Bay band.

GT – When did you move to Florida?

ChrisI moved to Florida in August of 88. I am originally from Long Island, NY.

 Brian and Kelly,
March 3 2013 at Rack'em Billiards, Cape Coral FL - (photo - Carianne Hensler)

GT – I ended up living in Long Island for a short time myself. You mentioned you moved from Long Island in '88 - why was that? Family move?

Chris - I moved to Fort Myers with my family in August 88. It was a bit of a culture shock for me (no more Slipped Disc Records). We had to drive 2 hours to go see a show or to find a good record store. In 1994 I moved to Denver for about a year, I wrote most of the songs for the first Swamp Gas release "Marsh Tango" during that time.

GT - You ever hear from Billy, when is the last time you saw him?

Chris - I hear from Billy every now and then. He lives in Ft Lauderdale now. I plan on releasing a Death/Doom demo we recorded together in 1995 (Antarctica) when I lived in Denver for a while. Lenzig from Cephalic Carnage was also involved in the project. This demo was my first serious attempt at recording and mixing. It came out pretty good for a 4 track cassette recording.

GT - You seem to be continuing the love of the old grind style, drawing obvious influences from many of the pioneering bands - that means song structure even though it's grind (minimalist perhaps) whereas so many of the newer acts simply string together a few chords and riffs, scream and think it's whatever they think it is...

Chris - Exactly !!!....New school grind bands seemed to have lost touch with the roots of grindcore. The same thing happened in the hardcore scene a few years ago. Most of these new- schooler's have never even heard of S.O.B., Heresy, Gism, Undinism, Vomit Spawn, Mob 47, and Sore Throat...It's real easy to buy an Assuck t-shirt on Ebay nowadays...hahahaha!!!

Brian and Kelly, March 3 2013 at Rack'em Billiards, Cape Coral FL - (photo - Carianne Hensler)

GT - What do you think about the state of affairs of this style, since bands like AGx have been so prolific and consistent yet the scene is littered with mundane bands that don't deliver, yet seem to be hoisted up on to some sort of weird pedestal enough to be featured on so many of these cash-in "fests"?

Chris - Grindcore seems to be on the upswing the last couple of years which I see as a good thing. To play grindcore it takes a true love for the game and resistance to all trends. To me personally, Grindcore is the most raw and pure music there is. As for these "cash in" fests you speak of, just last weekend my friend Mitch called me from the MDF and said how our bands (Swamp Gas and Ulcer) were better than half the bands that played and by looking at the line-up I had to agree.

 Brian at The Brass Mug, Tampa FL

GT - What's the connection with Ulcer? They've been a band took us by surprise surely, really intense and underrated as all hell. Did you play in the band at any time?

Chris - Ulcer were from Ft. Myers and Mitch was a really good friend. He played second guitar in my old hardcore band Clubber Lang and he also played a few shows for Swamp Gas on bass. To this day we are still very good friends, and still play shows together. Both the Gas and Ulcer have been around forever and we always support each other. Hopefully they will be releasing a new album on Brute Productions, the same label we are on.

GT – Since we're on the subject, what's your take on the weird evolution of the "extreme music fest"?

Chris - I think they are good for metal as a whole. They bring a bunch of good bands spanning many genres of metal for a common cause. I have no problem with them.

Chris, March 3 2013 at Rack'em Billiards, Cape Coral FL - (photo - Carianne Hensler)

GT - It's good to see people pulling back to the founding attitude when so much of this stuff is not even noteworthy. How did we let it get out of hand like this or would you say perhaps it's just a symptom of how popular this music ultimately became to a certain extent?

Chris - Like it or not you can not stop evolution. Nothing stays the same, but it is nice to see there are a few of us who still hold on to those "Glorious Times"...There is your plug old friend !!!

GT - Like many of us, do you simply find yourself falling back on the old guard pioneers for the apparent lack of talent out there?

Chris - I have never stopped listening to those old records, and I never will.

March 3 2013 at Rack'em Billiards, Cape Coral FL - (photo - Carianne Hensler)

GT - If you had to name,say, 5 of your best, most loved releases from the 80's, what are they and why? Has there been anything really that has hit you really hard in the last decade /decade and a half?

Chris - Well this is a VERY difficult question to ask, but I will do my best. For the 80's I would say Motorhead "No Remorse" just for the fact that it was a greatest hits and had all the good shit on it. Or I could say "Orgasmatron" because it was a great comeback album. Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" simply for the reason that it defined a new genre of metal. Another favorite was Agnostic Front's "Liberty And Justice For.." That album showed that hardcore bands could play fast and sound tight as hell. I probably listened to that album a thousand times.

 Napalm Death "Peel Sessions" in my opinion was and still is the ultimate grindcore release. The speed and production blew me away. Cryptic Slaughter's "Money Talks" was fucking amazing. That was the album that made me seek out faster bands and brought me to grindcore. Bathory "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" was just so fucking raw and nasty. I consider it the the ultimate Black Metal album.

In the last decade I kinda just jammed out to old shit because things got stale but I am really into 324, Noisear, Maruta, Ulcer (Tampa), Magrudergrind, Bloody Phoenix...pretty much all grind or crusty stuff.

 Swamp Gas out front of Rack'em Billiards. - (photo - Carianne Hensler)

GT - Some of these bands are not releasing what we'd call empowering material in their latter years (or with random new releases by original GT era acts many years after debut records for example) a musician do you think it's even honorable to slap a logo on a release that bares little resemblance to the old blood-line, or jam out another record that sounds nothing like the band at all?

Chris - My old friend, are we talking about the 2012 Terrorizer album?...I could have written a better Terrorizer album in one day...And I am not joking !!! 

GT - What have been some of your memorable moments as a gig-goer, musician, and connoisseur...?

Chris - I have many of those moments...but one of the best was seeing Napalm Death, Atheist and Nocturnus at Club Detroit when ND was in Tampa recording "Harmony Corruption". Years later Mitch Harris told me that was his FIRST show with ND....Atheist had Roger Patterson on bass and Nocturnus was still good at that time. A fucking classic GT moment...Oh and you were there too !!!

 Swamp Gas at The Crowbar, Ybor City FL

GT - Has Swamp Gas played outside Florida?

Chris - We have played the Milwaukee Metal Fest twice and a show in Chicago, everything else has been in Florida. Mitch from Ulcer played bass in Milwaukee and Chicago for us.

GT - Can you tell us about the Swamp Gas discography?

Chris - Our first release was a rehearsal demo we did on a 4 track recorder in our warehouse back in 1994. It came out really good and it made the rounds on the tape trading scene for a while.

Next was "Marsh Tango" recorded at Digital Sanctuary sometime in the summer of 96. We recorded all the music live with a drum machine so it went really fast. We spent $330...Recorded and mixed in 11 hours and it sounded great. We probably gave away or sold like 2000 copies of that EP. "Marsh Tango" was supposed to be released by United Guttural Records (a label based in Atlanta GA). It was going to be a split cd with Denver's Mentally Murdered. United Guttural never released it.

Sometime around 1999-200 we recorded the "Divine Economics" demo for Earache Records. Recorded and mixed at Crystal Sounds in Naples FL, in one night, for $90. It came out great but we never released it. By the time the Earache thing blew over we had a real drummer, Rich Perkins.

The 'Corporate Blasphemy' line-up.

Our first official full length album was to be called "Explanations For The Unexplainable" and was recorded at Digital Sanctuary. We recorded 15 songs and we were ready for final mixing. The studio was shut down very quickly because of a divorce and the owner's wife sold everything: even all the bands master tapes (hard drives) that were stored there. We tried like hell to get our masters but could not track them down. The only thing we had was a rough vocal mix of the entire album and a rough final mix of 4 songs that became the "Corporate Blasphemy" EP. 

Finally we have "Operation Frantic" which was recorded and mixed in my home studio. This release took a long time to finish because I was now working in a digital audio workstation (DAW). It was a whole new universe for me and it took a while, but I was happy with the result. The album was released by Brute Productions in Asia (a label based out of Bangkok, Thailand). Soon we will record the next full length "Miss Chernobyl" it is already written and ready to record. There has also been talk of a Swamp Gas/Ulcer split EP. I would love to see this come out on vinyl.

Here's the official Swamp Gas pages - so you know what to do - there's some possible releases in the works as well - that we're not at liberty to reveal just yet (provided they actually come to fruition) - if they do, it'll be another worthy notch to add to the GC belt in general and Swamp Gas' in particular. So keep your eyes on this band.





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