Not On My Watch!

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Coldsteel is a Long Island, NY melodic thrash band that were formed in the 1980’s and they released a bunch of demos before their full length album, Freakboy, came out in 1992, on the now defunct Turbo Music. I used to see Coldsteel in NY and they always put on an energetic set and connected to their fanbase due to their down to earth and fun personalities. Vocalist, Troy Norr, actually became a family friend and came to my parents house a bunch of times and the band were nice enough to include my brother and myself in their album thanks list. Anyway the band could thrash with the best of them, like Overkill and had enough Anthrax style in your face gang choruses to stomp people in the pit too. The other side of the band were their incredible melodic edge with beautiful solos, bass lines and some excellent vocal variations, by Troy.

I have said this in the past and will say it again.  Years ago it was tough to get a record deal.  I remember when Coldsteel got their record contract and how me and my family were so proud of Troy and the band.  The problem for Coldsteel, is by the time they go their record deal, the NY area, as well as other areas in and around the U.S. were now pushing forth with death metal and melodic thrash was kinda being forgotten about.  Had Freakboy come out in like `88/89, things could have been different for the band. The band were set to tour Europe, in support of Freakboy, however Turbo Music went out of business and Coldsteel broke up.

Last year Troy put the band back together.

The band went back and remastered Freakboy and also released a remastered demo Anthology, putting together their past demos onto 1 cd.  Both reissues are stunning, equipped with lyrics, photos, liner notes and the remastered sound, on both, make their incredible catchy songs stand out even more.  The band released America Idle, earlier this year, on StormSpell Records-their brand new 5 song EP and is some of the best material the band has ever written.  The strong melodies and choruses are still ever present.  However, the band came biting back with a bit more ferocity to their thrash attack and this is one of my favorite releases of the year.  Troy and the boys showing the world that they can still play their brand of melodic thrash, into their 40’s, with plenty of gusto.  You need to go out and support Coldsteel! So fire up a Sicilian pepperoni pizza, crack open some cold ones and read this in-depth interview with Troy Norr, vocalist for Coldsteel.

Congratulations, Troy, on the release of America Idle! It’s awesome, how has the response been from fans and critics?  How do the new songs go over live?  Where do you think your strongest fan base is?

Thanks Frank for the praise! The response for the most part has been extremely positive. Some critics aren’t into our more classic sound on this EP but that’s ok. You cannot please everyone all of the time. Since the release of the EP, Coldsteel has performed once in the beginning of April. Starting Sept 24th, Coldsteel will be on tour with Helloween from NY, Canada, Midwest, WA and CA. The tour consists of 10 dates and should be a blast! Our strongest fanbase has been in Europe but this time, I think more Americans have caught onto some Coldsteel.

What was the conceptual approach to the EP and how the lyrics tie in with the cover?

The concept of America Idle really is a snapshot of how Americans feel regarding their treatment by their government through some of the most difficult economic times this country has faced in decades. The lyrics of the title track, “America Idle” tie directly to the cover. There is a speech recited by 11 people that is almost verbatim to a speech Abraham Lincoln gave during his term. Lincoln on the cover is crying because if he was alive he most certainly would be crying having witnessed the decline of the great nation he once led. The chorus of the song states “We’re not afraid” and  “On our crusade”. These gang shouts are directed to the people of the US to let them know they are responsible for maintaining adequate government officials to lead our country. If that is not possible, the people need to remove them.

Ok-so why reform? How long do you think this will last, do you think you guys have enough energy to create another full length album?

Why reform? If not, our country will sink further into an idyllic state. The funny thing is there are many Reagan haters coming out of the closet stating he wasn’t so bad after all. Even some state he was one of the better presidents! Go figure! As for another full length album? I really don’t know.  Coldsteel is touring with Helloween and possibly playing the Headbangers Open Air Festival Next July and I may call it a day after that. I really wanted to see Coldsteel perform at least 1 European Festival and it looks like that will happen!

If you’re writing newer music, how is it coming along and what’s the difference compared to your past releases?

The only music I have been working on has been music for a debut  record for the band THEM. Another band I have been performing in. THEM’s material has King Diamond influence and sounds nothing like Coldsteel! If it comes out, it will be sometime in 2015.

I noticed a bit more aggression on the EP, than past releases? Do you agree? Also how long did it take for you to get your vocals back in shape for recording and for live shows? You sound great on the cd, what do you use in the recording studio, little reverb and EQ?

Yes, there is more aggression on this EP. I am also 20 years older from the last release! My voice definitely has matured over the years. Since I have been performing with the band THEM for 3.5 years it did not take long as all to get my vocals back to sing aggressively. There isn’t much used on my voice. A little compression, eq, and reverb is about right. Thanks for the kudos! \m/

How do you like recording in the digital age, your shit was all analog back in the day? Easier, more frustrating? How were you able to still keep things sounding organic as opposed to being over produced?

It is a million times easier for sure! There were some things that had to be redone until it was perfect but there are many phrases that just flowed the first time so we kept them! It wasn’t difficult to stick to that formula.

Let’s talk about the Demo and Freakboy remasters?  What went into obtaining the master tapes in order to remaster them?  How arduous a task was it to remaster both of them and decide on bonus material for Freakboy? Why was the original album cover of Freakboy not included in the cd booklet?

I had to locate the master reels. They were all located on Long Island after all these years! To remaster them, they first had to be brought to a studio in NYC that still had a tape deck! They baked the reels (literally) and then transferred the analog music to digital. It came out great! The bonus track was crackdown and I re recorded that song in 2011 since in 1991 I had chronic Laryngitis and could not sing the song correctly. I also added alternate parts to a few other songs that were bothering me over the years. The original album artwork was not included because it was never what we envisioned as a band. In addition, I could not locate the original artwork.

The scene has obviously changed. Do you feel for the better? Does going to the shows and seeing all these young bastards at the show make you feel older or younger?

The scene definitely has changed drastically. I feel old but I still jump into the pit from time to time. It’s still fun! The scene is not better or worse. It has just evolved and that is something everyone has to accept.

What are you doing for a living now? How do you manage the band, job and family life? How many times a week are you going to band practice?

I am an IT Director for a medical practice in Long Island, NY. I have a very difficult time managing everything and am quote tired as of late. Band practice is once a week but I sing several times a week. More so as I am preparing for this tour.

Any touring/show plans and will StormSpell Records offer any assistance for touring, merch etc…? Also when playing live do you use the club mic, do you have your own and or do you use a cordless mic?

As I stated earlier in this interview we are touring with Helloween this fall. Stormspell is not offering assistance and this entire tour is self financed. I always use my own mic and have both wired and wireless. I just recently invested in an in ear wireless monitor system with custom ear buds. I invested in this specifically for the tour. 

How has the local scene, in L.I. NY, welcomed you guys back and had the fans been calling for a reunion for a while?

The local scene on long island exists in Suffolk County for sure! There are definitely a number of people looking forward to a Coldsteel reunion show/tour for quite some time. It’s totally different now. We are looking to play a little and bow out gracefully putting the name Coldsteel out to pasture the correct way. If there is a decent demand for a full length record, I am sure we will do one. But if not, that is ok. It’s been a great ride even for a short time!

Do you have any plans to grow back the mullet or has that bad boy been laid to rest for years?

I am not a mullet type of guy anymore. Long hair is just not for me. I love metal and that is all that matters to me. I do not have tats or piercings but love to listen and perform metal. The mullet is definitely not coming back. lol

What’s with those faces that you’re making in the pictures, inside the cd? Are they meant to be goofy or are you really trying to look like a tough guy?

As you know me personally from back in the day, I am a goofy, whacky, funny guy. I am not an angry person at all. However, going with the theme of this record I felt it mandatory to get the point across with the expression on my face. At first my band mates were against it but it grew on everyone.

What/Why do you think has been one of the many reasons you guys have been so important to the NY thrash scene?  How are you guys still able to craft such memorable songs and still maintain originality?  I love the entire EP, my favorite track is Blood Secrets. So catchy with your vocal patterns and the riff while it’s thrashing along. How are vocal patterns constructed? Do you wait until the song is finished to come up with the phrasing?

Well, I wouldn’t say we were so important to the NY Thrash scene. In fact a number of critics have called us never weres. Again, that’s ok. I do not care about what people say and only listen to what is in my heart and head. Since there aren’t many thrash bands from NY, we are definitely one of the better known ones that have resurfaced. The material on the EP is a mixture of material from 20 years ago coupled with brand new material. I am glad you dig it. I have always been a believer that vocals have to be somewhat catchy in metal. I always wait until the music is final before writing vocals melodies. Lyrics are the last thing I write once the vocal melodies are down.

Any final comments/thoughts for our readers?

Anyone who purchased our EP, I would like to say from the band… Thank you and if you are around during our tour, come over and say hey! In closing coldsteelny.com is your resource for Coldsteel history, merchandise and tunes. Peace!

 

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