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KNAC.COM Exclusive: Interview With Nuclear Assault Bassist Dan Lilker

By Chris Hawkins, Contributor
Monday, January 27, 2003 @ 3:14 PM


Bassist Dan Lilker On Being Ba

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Having been on everyoneís wish list for reunions, John Connelly, Dan Lilker and company have finally delivered and resurrected on of the greatest Thrash bands, Nuclear Assault. The Nuke guys were always pushing the boundaries of their genre until their demise in the early Ď90s. It was a pleasure to speak with a True Metal icon, Dan Lilker, who has participated in countless bands such as Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, S.O.D., Brutal Truth, and The Ravenous to just name a few. It sounds like 2003 will be a busy year for the band as they are just starting a North American tour before they venture to Europe. Read on to find out more of what is to come from Dan Lilker and Nuclear Assault.

KNAC.COM: So tonight is the first night of the tour?
LILKER: Yeah, there are a few warm-up shows in the Northeast before we head down to Texas. The actual shows away from this area arenít until next weekend. Weíre just doing a few shows around here, but yeah you can say it just started.

KNAC.COM: Are you guys just playing by yourselves?
LILKER: No, thereís All That Remains on the rest of the shows. Origin was supposed to be on the rest of the shows starting in Texas, butÖ

KNAC.COM: Oh noÖ
LILKER: Yeah, there were some problems. I canít really comment on it. Itís not my business. Well, thereís a new band called Vehemence thatís on the shows from San Antonio until Phoenix. When we finally hit the west coast, thereís a new band called Crematorium on the rest of the shows up until Seattle.

KNAC.COM: It sounds like a solid lineup.
LILKER: Yeah, I mean obviously I know about the modern sound having played with Brutal Truth. By having bands with a modern sound, itís good to mix the old and the new. It should be cool.

KNAC.COM: The No Mercy Festival that youíre doing in Europe has a killer lineup as well.
LILKER: Yeah, thatís going to be a lot of fun. I canít wait for that in the beginning of April.

KNAC.COM: The obvious question is what was the impetus for getting Nuclear Assault back together?
LILKER: Yeah, thatís pretty obvious [Laughs]. Well, a lot of it had to do with me and what I had time for because I left the band in í92 and went to do Brutal Truth. That went on until í98. The band broke up. People werenít getting along. As soon as that band broke up, S.O.D. started doing stuff again. We released Bigger Than the Devil and started doing shows. That is around March of 2000. Ironically, at one of the last shows that S.O.D. did, I wound up meeting the woman that I end up marrying. So instead of playing in a band for a couple of years, I was actually courting and getting to know my other half that Iím going to spend the rest of my life with. I got a phone call in February of 2002 of last year after weíre already married and established so itís okay to start doing some shows again, right? [Laughs] I got a phone call from our biggest fan, Eric, from the band Candy Striper Death Orgy. Heís actually here tonight because this is the first show in Massachusetts where theyíre from. He would call me every few years asking if Iíd do the band again, and Iíd tell him I was too busy. Finally, after ten years it seemed like it would be fun to play some good old Thrash again. So a lot of it had to do with me having the time to do it right.

KNAC.COM: How was the reaction at the reunion shows of last year?
LILKER: That was pretty good. With the Internet now, when you get home from the gig thereís already stuff on message boards about it. Between that and magazine reviews, people could tell we still had it. Thatís an important part with all these Thrash bands coming back out. You want to make sure people can still play at the intensity they once did, and we can, no problem.

KNAC.COM: Is there a date yet for the live album thatís in the works to be released?
LILKER: Itís going to be released very soon. I donít have the release date yet. That also was done in this part of the country, in Massachusetts last May on Screaming Ferret Records. That guy is a good friend of Ericís, the guy who originally called me about getting Nuclear Assault back together. It should be cool. Some people have been asking why weíre putting a live album out. The answer to that is because itís very easy to put out rather than waiting to write all our new stuff, find a label, record the record, and wait for it to come out. You can record a live album and have it come out much quicker.

KNAC.COM: Is Screaming Ferret going to be your official label, or are they just putting this live album out?
LILKER: Weíll wait and see. They seem to be doing well. Thereís an advantage to that. Theyíre a smaller label so weíre going to be getting a lot of attention, where if youíre on Century Media or Metal Blade youíre in competition with 30 bands of the same fashion. I donít know. We shall see.

KNAC.COM: Thereís definitely an advantage of being a big fish in a small pond.
Dan. Oh yeah, especially now with the Internet. You donít have to worry about paying 75 bucks for an ad in Metal Maniacs as much as keeping up with your own web site. You pay a server 50 bucks for six months and advertise as much as you want. I think that makes a big difference now. It made everything a bit smaller.

KNAC.COM: What about reissues? Itís almost impossible to find the older stuff on CD.
LILKER: Survive is a really hard one to find because that was on IRS and they did not get it re-pressed. You shouldnít have so much of a problem finding Handle with Care and the combination Game Over/The Plague CDs. It gets complicated because youíve got to talk to the label that owns the rights to it. They donít care about it anymore, BUT they still own it and they still want to make money off of it. It gets a little messy trying to re-release some of that stuff.

KNAC.COM: What would you pinpoint as your fondest memory of Nuclear Assault back in the day?
LILKER: Probably the first time we went to Europe, which would be April of 1987. Thatís something you dream about. Thereís enough people caring about you that you can actually take a free flight to a foreign country and different worlds. The first time in Japan, too, was great. There are memories of different records, where you were at the time and things like that. I would definitely say conquering foreign territory is a pretty cool American way to put it. [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Nuclear Assault has always injected the music with political themes. What are your thoughts on the climate of today?
LILKER: Well, thereís always something to talk about! [Laughs] Back in 1985, a year after we formed, we realized this is cool, but letís put a message to the music and not just write about typical Metal stuff. It made it more interesting. Thereís always something to talk about. I mean, if it was S.O.D., weíd write a song called ďKill YourselfĒ or something, but Nuclear Assault has always had a more restrained approach.

KNAC.COM: What are your feelings on a lot of the Thrash bands reuniting?
LILKER: As long as the band still has it, I think itís great. Some people might say itís a fashion or a trend, but weíve had like 7 years of Nu- Metal. I think itís time people are exposed to what I feel is proper Metal. Iím kind of opinionated about that, but itís me.

KNAC.COM: I definitely agree with you on that. When I spoke with you after the release of Bigger than the Devil, one of the focal points of that chat was how much Limp Bizkit sucks! [Laughs]
LILKER: Yeah, well I havenít changed have I? [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Is there any new material in the works?
LILKER: We have stuff written, but weíve only gotten to that point. We havenít jammed it with the whole band, but I can tell you already itís going to sound like the good old days of the Ď80s. Itís along the lines of Survive and Handle with Care. Itís not as raw as Game Over, but very focused and intense. It will kick peopleís asses. Donít worry. Iíll be surprised if Nuclear Assault fans donít like it. Itís no great departure, but itís fresh.

KNAC.COM: I have to ask about S.O.D. Is it on ice indefinitely?
LILKER: Probably, indefinitely. More than likely. Yeah, that kind of went down bad in the end with people screaming at each other. Not me, Iím not a screamer. Iíll tell you what, Iím sure if there was some great paycheck, everyone would get along fine. [Laughs] Thatís just my cynical opinion. Take it or leave it.

KNAC.COM: Are you doing anything else with Killjoy. The Ravenous CD was insane!
LILKER: Thatís funny you asked that, dude. We finished the second full-length Ravenous yesterday! I did it where I live in Rochester, NY. Our new album should be called Blood Delirium. Itís going to feature hit songs like, ďBaptized by Demonís Piss.Ē Everythingís like that. Never forget, man, a corpse is forever!

KNAC.COM: There are a lot of projects for old school and newer fans alike to look forward to.
LILKER: What is old is new again, and what is new is old again.

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For Nuclear Assault tour dates, please click here.

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(Photos Courtesy of Chris Kondra)


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