„I never really intended to return to the metal scene”

E-mail interview with ex-Overkill drummer Sid Falck

(Hungarian version comes tomorrow)

Before I make an interview with somebody I usually read about her/him everything so this way I get answers to a lot of my questions. Well, If you dont’t mind I don’t ask Robert „Sid” Falck – drummer of Paul Di’Anno’s Battlezone, Overkill, Infectus 13 – what was the first instrument that he played on (piano), whereof did he get his nickname (from Bobby Gustafson), or why did he left Overkill (because he didn’t enjoyed anymore what he did). I was rather interested in things that I didn’t read about his life and career before.

Sid, first of all, after two heart surgeries, how are you doing?

Well, it’s four at this point. I had a couple of blockages, one 100%, so on April 27, I had surgery to open up my coronary/iliac arteries. At the end of the surgery, they discovered that I had developed a big blood clot just below my right knee. So, they had to call a different surgeon in and prepare a different operating room, and I then had a second surgery that day, where they cut my leg and artery open to remove the clot. It’s taking a long time to recover, but I’m still here, so I can’t bitch too much.

You grew up in Aarhus, Denmark. Do you remember your local or international idols who moved you to play music?

Growing up, I listened to bands like Slade, Frank Zappa, Colosseum, and stuff like that. When I first heard Rainbow, I knew that I wanted to play heavier music. Lots of people influenced me, but as a drummer, no one influenced me more than Cozy Powell.

How was the Danish rock/metal scene in the late 70’s/early 80’s?

There wasn’t any scene, haha. It was all radio pop. By ‘81-‘82 there was starting to be bands around who played the heavier music, but really no places to play.

You were 20 years old when you moved to London. Why did you decide to do that? Couldn’t you reach any success at home? Many, later becoming world famous Danish heavy metal bands started that time: Pretty Maids, Artillery, Witch Cross, Alien Force, Mercyful Fate…

I moved to England because playing music was the only thing I wanted to do, so staying in Denmark to be in a pop band wasn’t an option. As I said, there were no places for heavy Danish bands to play. Most of the bands you just mentioned, ended up getting signed by non-Danish labels, and it really wasn’t until they reached a certain level of success outside of Denmark, Danish promoters we’re forced to take them seriously, and book them.

Your first band in England was Paul Di’Anno’s Battlezone. Did you play in any other bands before (in Denmark)?

Yeah, I played in a few bands: Pentagon, Network… to name a few.

What was Di’Anno like then? What kind of personality did he have?

Paul was Paul back then, just like now, haha. Like any other situation, there were personality clashes. It’s inevitable when you have 5 guys whose primary concern is to drink beer and have fun, haha. I don’t even know how to describe Paul’s personality or any of our personalities for that matter… We were 5 guys who at times had a great time hanging out drinking and playing music, other times it wasn’t that great… No difference than in any other similar situation.

Paul Di’Anno’s Battlezone

Have you been in touch with him since then?

After I left Battlezone, we didn’t have any contact for a lot of years. Really, it hasn’t been until the last few years, where he and I have both been dealing with health issues, where we’ve actually occasionally corresponded via messages.

You transferred to Overkill during Battlezone’s American tour in 1987. Was it a challenge for a hard rock/heavy metal drummer to get the rhythm of thrash?

Well… I’d told our English manager prior to the U.S. tour that I wanted to leave. He „requested” that I do the North American tour, then I could leave. So I did. I took about a year and then, via a mutual friend, I was invited to audition for Overkill in December of 1987 and was invited to join them. And yes, it was a huge challenge coming from a pretty standard structure of hard rock/metal, and have to try to figure out thrash structure and crazy time changes, with it’s much more outside the box structure.

Can you describe what is the main characteristic of your playing on drums? The equipments you use, the technics or the rhythms you play?

I’m not a hundred percent sure what you mean by „characteristics” but I’m very much an old school hard rock drummer, which means that, before anything else, as a drummer, my responsibility is to find and lay down a rhythm that works for the song, that complement the parts, and not try to show every single skill I’ve acquired, and try to cram every crazy thing into every bar of the song, to prove how badass of a drummer I am. If it works best for the song to only do a beat with no fills, that’s what you do.

Conversely, there may be times where being a little busier than what you’d normally do work best. These days it appears that everyone is more concerned with showboating and the song comes a distant second. As far as equipment, I’ve used different set-ups. On Under the Influence album I used Pearl drums and Sabian cymbals, on The Years of Decay I used Pearl drums and Paiste cymbals, on Horrorscope I used a custom made Remo kit and Paiste cymbals.

Is there any Overkill song that you are especially proud of, because it is better than the others – thanks to your job?

Hahahaha, that’s pretty much impossible to answer. I mean… who’s to say that if someone else had recorded the same songs they wouldn’t have come out 10 times better? There are certainly songs I’m very happy with as far as both my performance and the songs overall. Songs like The Years of Decay, Evil Never Dies, Who Tends the Fire, Nice Day for a Funeral… to name a couple.

You said in an interview that you left Overkill because you didn’t like what you did anymore. Could you explain it a bit more concrete: did you have personal conflicts with the others, did you not agree with the musical direction, was the treadwheel of album making, touring too fast, or did you want to go on your own way?

Hahahaha, I’ve never said I left because I didn’t like what I was doing. I’ve said that I wasn’t having fun. A distinct difference. Was there conflicts? Of course, there was… Every band has conflicts. It’s impossible to avoid when you have 4 or 5 creative individuals. But, despite all the stories on the internet, there weren’t any hate or stuff like that. I thoroughly enjoyed recording albums and touring. I just wasn’t having fun. It’s really that simple.

What kind of relation do you have with your ex-bandmates since then?

Well… considering that when I left, I didn’t do so on the best of terms. Primarily because I didn’t give them much notice, and left about a third into the Horrorscope tour. In retrospect, it was obviously a douchy way of doing it, and if I could do it over, I certainly would do it differently. But, to quote Dave Linsk: it is what it is. Because of that, we didn’t speak for a lot of years. However, we patched things up and talk/message regularly these days.

I suppose you follow Overkill’s career. Which of their later albums do you consider particularly good?

I think that although some of the albums have sometimes gone a little left or right of the „Overkill center line” they’ve all constantly been Overkill. The one album I think definitely stand shoulder to shoulder with The Years of Decay and Horrorscope, in terms of being a complete album from start to finish, performance, production etc. is Ironbound. That’s an amazing album.

After the Overkill period you played in Mike Tramp’s Freak Of Nature for a short time. When did it happen precisely? Were there any personal or musical differences between you and them?

I basically finished up with Overkill and a week later I flew to Los Angeles and started working with Mike, whom I already knew, needless to say. And I think it was really just a case of me not being in the right mental frame of mind. I felt emotionally burned out and that, I’m sure, was pretty evident. So it was pretty much clear quickly that Mike and I working together wasn’t going to be sustainable, so Mike decided to get someone younger and inexperienced, but who was hungrier for the whole rock and roll circus.

You started your own band Infectus 13 in 2013. You worked on your debut album for quite a long time and in 2016 – because of your health problems – you held up the band. You put it in motion again last year with a changed line up and you started composing the songs partly from zero. Until now we could hear two own songs and some covers from you. Is there any hope for publishing your long awaited debut Last Rites in the close future?

Ahhh yes, Infectus 13… Well it’s difficult to put into words the disappointment I feel that the album never happened… or haven’t happened yet. There’re been so many delays… Every time it seemed that as a unit, we were finally making headroom, something would happen… either a new health issue for me or someone lost interest in being a part of the project, but didn’t express it out loud, so we/I ended up having to start over several times.

It’s been exceptionally frustrating to say the least… Currently (this week) I’m hanging out with Bob Barnak (Infectus 13 singer) and his family in New Jersey. Although like all of us, Bob has gone through periods where he was less gung ho than at other times, He’s also been the one person who, if I ask if he’s still in, and if he says, yes, I never have to worry about him just blowing smoke up my ass.

Basically, he’s stood next to me through everything these last 4 years, and he’s the main reason I even considered doing the whole music thing again, because I really love how he does things and how aggressive he makes songs, while still maintaining melody and intelligibility.

So over this last week, I think we’ve decided that while it sucks it’s taken this long, we’re going to keep trying to get this done… Find the right people who actually WANT to do it with him and me, while also understanding that „they” have to put in an effort as well.

I am positively not going to remotely give any more predicted time frames for I13 the album will ever get finished, or if it would even still be Last Rites. All I know right now is that both Bob and I are currently thinking that it’s still worth trying to finish it. Only time will tell if we succeed.

You’ve got the nickname Sid during the Overkill era. You said in an interview that with Infectus 13 you want to close a period in your life and to start a new chapter. Does it mean you left Sid behind and you are Robert again or isn’t there any connection between these things?

Well… there’s no possible way that I can or would even want to „close” the era of my life that involved Overkill. I’m very proud of, and happy with what I was part of during those years. I think what I said was that, I wanted to be remembered for something more recent after I’m gone.

I still go by Sid… mostly just because that’s what everyone calls me, haha. Obviously as is well known, my real name is Bob and always has been, but I’ve been called much worse than Sid or Bob, so no: I have no intention of trying to resurrect using my given name, hahahaha.

Meanwhile, you started a project called Hail Mary with your ex-bandmate Bobby Gustafson and Raven singer/bassist John Gallagher. You published the song To Hell and Back in 2016 and its incomings went to a charity fund that helped a couple. The wife, Cheri Pogue have lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident, the husband, Steve Pogue is the guitarist of Infectus 13. You and Bobby had already wanted to make something together for a long time, so it was a sad apropos for it. Will you continue the work together, will there be additional Hail Mary songs or another Gustafson-Falck project?

Well, Hail Mary actually came about as a charity project and was Gustafson’s idea. As you mentioned, there’s always been that whole „one day we should try something again for the hell of it”. As far as if there’s going to be anything besides the song To Hell and Back… I couldn’t tell you. When it was announced that Bobby, John and I were going to do the song, there was quite a big buzz amongst „fans”, but then when it came time for people to spend $2 to pay for a download where every single penny went to someone who really needed the help… It was like no one had never heard of the project, and sales were frankly, very disappointing. So, will there be more? I honestly don’t have any idea right now.

In line with these, you played as a guest musician on the single and EP of Australian atmospheric black/folk band called Elkenwood. How did it come?

I have been good friends with one of the guitar players, Nic Williams, for quite a few years. So basically one day she just asked if I would be willing to record a song with them. And I said that as long as their regular drummer, Liam, was ok with it, I would. Obviously it’s a little different than what I normally would play, but that’s why it can be fun to do stuff like that. It didn’t really end up sounding like I thought it would, but then again, this wasn’t my vision.

Can you imagine performing on stage as a heavy metal drummer again?

Oh, I could definitely imagine doing a show here or there, if the circumstances were right. But I couldn’t see myself touring again like in the „old” days. It’s just not something I think my body would appreciate it, hahahaha.

Where do you live now?

I still live in the States, in the south central part of the country.

You are a huge animal lover. How many dogs do you have at home?

Hahahaha, more like an animal fanatic. Currently, I have 2 former stray dogs.

Did you return from the civil life onto the heavy metal scene in the last couple of years? Have you found the balance between the two?

Well… really, beyond the fact that I posted on my personal Facebook page that I intended to try to do one more album… as sort of my more recent legacy. I never really intended to return to the metal scene. Primarily because I honestly never thought anyone would give a fuck things just took on a life of its own, hahahaha. But of course, that’s also why it’s so upsetting that, at least as of right now, the album isn’t finishes.

Sid, thank you for the interview and I wish you good health and good songs in the future!

Thank you very much!

Sid Falck – today
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