Rod Segal is about Pre-Cynic band Seaweed
During the 80’s, when the death metal scene started, Florida became quickly the hotbed of that music. Pioneers, such as Mantas/Death, Morbid Angel, Xecutioner/Obituary, Hellwitch, R.A.V.A.G.E./Atheist opened the doors for younger bands. For example for Cynic. But! I think, very few people know about the past of that guys, called Seaweed. Former guitarist Rod Segal was so kind to hold us a little death metal history.
So Rod, thanks a lot for accepting my interview request, how up to you these days? Do you still consider yourself a metalhead or you don’t show any interest in metal yet?
I don’t listen to as much metal as I once did. I listen to about every type of music that involves real intruments.
Do you still remember how did you get in touch with music and particularly with hard rock/heavy metal? What did you find so exciting, interesting in that music?
When I was a kid, I just listened to what was on the radio and my father’s collection. My father actually had a pretty good taste in music, although I didn’t realize it then. At some point, some kids in the neighborhood when I was 12 or so, started to listen to some things like Ozzy/Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, and Rush. It was a group of kids who were looking for something a little bit different. It seemed like all that stuff was similar at the beginning.
One night, on the one late night metal radio show that was on for 2 hours once a week played Metallica. A couple of us loved it immediately. We were able to get demos. We also had our own fanzine. Eventually, we began looking for some things that had elements of Metallica that we liked. So we discovered Anthrax and Megadeth and it only got heavier from there during our teenage years.
When did you decide becoming a musician? Did you pick up guitars right from the start or…?
I played trumpet in the school band when I was young. Right around the time I started liking heavier music, I got braces and couldn’t play trumpet. I was damn good, too. That’s when I picked up guitar. I really didn’t know much about how to play at all and had no real direction other than to experiment and learn. Paul Masvidal had to teach me some very basic things just to make the one track.
Which guitarists did have the biggest effect on you? Were you self-taught by the way?
Mostly self taught. If I had taken up guitar when I took up trumpet, I’d have had a lot easier time. I’ve never progressed too much further than a few years after Seaweed. I think the person who made me want to play an electric guitar was Eddie Van Halen. I learned to sound great tapping before I knew a major chord. It was all tapping, bar chords, and power chords. In retrospect, if I had started with something blusier, I would have been a better player.
EVH has no soul, in my opinion. His playing is all theatrics and no feel. I wish I would have started with Zep or Cream or Sabbath. Those players have so much more feel than EVH. Eventually I can to love Kirk Hammett and Dave Mustaine, but I would have better off if I never heard EVH at all. In fact, I hope to never hear Van Halen ever again.
Were you involved in the underground scene back in the day? Did you perhaps take part in the tapetrading/fanzine circuit?
I did have a fanzine with Reid Hansen. We traded in demos and live tapes with people all around America and the world. The most interesting thing that happened was getting a list of well known death metal musicians through trading tapes. It also had a ’code’ that got you free long distance phone calls. We called Suicidal Tendencies and all the guys in Metallica. I acted like a real journalist on the phone to interview James Hetfield after Ride the Lightning came out. I also spoke to Kirk Hammett, but he was about to leave to go see Rush, and I never got him back on the phone. Later, we pretended to be adult journalists to interview Suicidal Tendencies and the local Hardcore Punk place. They took us seriuosly. We were 13.
Being based in Miami, do you agree with that Florida became the epicentre of the emerging death metal genre in the late 1980’s?
No. I disagree. We were out of the loop on everything down there back then. No one really listened to death metal in the early 80’s in Miami. There was Death a few hours North, but most of the Florida scene was glam bullshit back then.
What were your views on that movement? What kind of memories do you have from those times, when influential bands, such as Mantas/Death, Morbid Angel, Xecutioner/Obituary, Hellwitch, Atheist, Massacre etc. started popping up?
A few of those started to pop up when we were really into that music, but by the time some of those bands were popular, I was in college and no longer involved in the scene.
How do you view, that leading the way throughout the 80’s there were metal bands, such as Stranger (formerly known as Lynxx, and later Romeo), Savatage (formerly known as Avatar), Siren, Powersurge, Purgatory (later known as Iced Earth), Oblivion etc., some of them would eventually sign major label deals during the 80’s, Stranger signing with Epic/CBS Records in 1981, and Savatage signing with Atlantic Records in 1985, did they open the doors for other bands, both locally and nationally?
Somewhat, but the reason there was a tape trading scene was that the bands we liked best did not have major label interest. We were involved in the scene pretty early. The bands we listened to in our day were Slayer, Celtic Frost, Voivod, Death, Kreator, and some other ones I’m sure I forgot.
What were the venues, clubs in Miami for metal those times?
None. The only place to see metal was at parties and minor festival/get togethers. The Cameo theater got some very good hardcore punk bands and maybe something more metal once in a while.
How about other Florida scenes, such as Brandon, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota etc.?
I was never involved in these scenes, but the guys from Death came down to Miami and met us all including Paul Masvidal. I believe they met at Reid’s house.
In 1986 you joined forces with drummer Sean Reinert, guitarist Paul Masvidal and singer Reed Hanson to form Seaweed. How old were all of you at this point? How did you get together?
The truth is that we got together quite a bit earlier than that, but put out that one song, The Seaweed Creature, a little later. It had already been recorded and Paul and Sean had already moved on to better things by the time anyone heard that track.
Before Seaweed came into being, Sean and Paul played in a band called Crypha, is that correct? Did they get to know each other 1984 at Gulliver Academy?
All four of us knew each other at Gulliver Academy. Sean and Paul’s band ran was already around and working on things by the time we recorded The Seaweed Creature. I didn’t remember the name of their band or if they even had a name yet.
Were you friends? Did all of you know each other earlier?
We were all friends when we were in 7th and 8th grade at Gulliver.
What were your musical background, interest, influences? Did you have a similar musical taste or did all of you have several, different faves, influences etc.?
We were all listening to death metal at this time. We wouldn’t listen to anything else besides a little bit of harcore punk like C.O.C. and D.R.I. and some others.
Was the whole death metal scene still in its infacy or would you say, that the death metal scene started trying its wings?
As far as we knew, it was in its infancy. We were able to get some Slayer and Metallica records at the store, but that was it at the beginning. Eventually one store started carrying the European bands, but yes, it was in its infancy.
Were already Paul and Sean engaged, enthusiastic musicians? Did they have a clear vision, what they wanted to achieve Seaweed with?
They were both already very good. The Seaweed project was just that – a project. We started experimenting with the sounds in Reid’s house with the limited equipment we had. We did the effects with a simple tape recorder that had a slower mode. Paul and Sean had to work with Reid and I to get us up to playing with them. Many years later, Paul and Sean still said I was behind the whole time with my guitar playing. It was not really up to their standards.
How about the songwriting? How did you write your originals?
The song, The Seaweed Creature was based upon a little doodle Reid would play on an acoustic guitar before he could play at all. This little melody was all he could play on two strings on the old classical guitar sitting around his house. Paul heard this and kinda liked it, so he based the riff of that song on the little doodle. Many years later, Reid started listening to more mellow fingerstyle acoustic guitar players and became very good on an acoustic guitar. At the time, he just played those two strings with no idea of what he was doing.
Did you also do any covers as well?
We played some covers when messing around, but never recorded them.
In 1986 you released a one song effort titled The Seaweed Creature. Did you record it in a studio or at your rehearsal room? How did it sound like?
We recorded it in a strangely good acoustic room in Reid Hansen’s house. We just experimented until we got the sound to seem decent in person. It was recorded in a very simple manner with only one track of us all playing live.
How come that you released only this song? Didn’t you have more material written or…?
We were a band that was just for fun. Sean and Paul had bigger ideas by then and went off to music school.
Was it recorded only for yourselves or was it also shopped around in the tapetrading network to make a name for the band?
Were all of you satisifed with that track? Did it represent what was Seaweed about?
Reid and I were happy we were able to put somthing decent out but Sean and Paul were not satisfied, as they were better musicians who were classically trained.
Seaweed was short lived act, existed only one year. What kind of reasons did lead to the band’s dissolve?
The band was never meant to be a long term thing. It was four friends messing around.
Sean and Paul went on to form Cynic, but what happened with you and Reed Hanson? Were you joined by drummer Chris Lee and guitarist Brian Bender at one point?
At this point, Chris and Brian began to play with us. They eventually moved on to more punk pursuits and had a band called Not Dead Yet.
Didn’t you think about to continue the band without Sean and Paul? Did you perhaps start searching/auditioning new singers, writing new material etc.?
No. We were young and didn’t have aspirations as professional musicians in a real band. Reid and I just did a project with Paul and Sean called Seaweed.
Did you remain in touch with Sean and Paul after the Seaweed story came to an end? How do you find their career as Cynic?
A few years later, we lost track of Paul and Sean until the internet got us back in touch. Reid has gone to see them play a few times and so has Chris. I’ve recently spoken with Paul on Facebook. He’s a mellow fellow, even more now than then. I believe he and Sean had a falling out? I stand with Paul. He was the cooler guy and the more reasonable one. Sean’s drumming may be more recognized, but I assure you it was/is Paul who has the most talent and the most passion for the music.
Rod, thanks a lot for your answers! Any final thoughts for the Hungarian readers?
I find it interestning that the track from that band still remains around and that people even know about it. I attribute that to the success of Cynic and Paul and Sean in general.