Πέμπτη 24 Οκτωβρίου 2019

Bleed for the Godz: AGENT STEEL / John Cyriis interview - The Story...

Agent Steel. John Cyriis. Speed Metal… Names and words that complement each other and create something different, unique and groundbreaking. And as it happens most of the times, this kind of “different, unique and groundbreaking” things, have a special and different aura surrounding them. Something that seems out of this world…

Lunatic, unreal, unstoppable, ferocious, the music of Agent Steel is a fascinating example of metal majesty. Skeptics Apocalypse and Unstoppable Force are two albums out of this world… Just like the concept that surrounds them. But everything surrounding the name Agent Steel seems unreal, unique and insane. And behind every unique act, album and musician, lies a story filled with those elements, and you only need a narrator to reveal it.  

John Cyriis, founder and singer of Agent Steel, will tell us this story, how he started, his early works, talks about his connection with Dave Mustaine and Megadeth, the conflicts, the music, METAL, the end and rebirth of Agent Steel, things you never knew and things you just imagined. 

We worked on this (very long) interview for many months and the highest credit goes to John himself, who actually did it and delivered an interview that ended as a long story of more than 7000 words…

Furthermore, you will read the details of the new, upcoming Agent Steel album, No Other Godz Before Me, the songs and a description for each one of them.

The Communicative Channel is open…

By Andreas Andreou

Part I

When did you start playing music and what about the first bands you joined before Agent Steel? There are names like Medusa, Sceptre and Vermin, related with you…

J.C.: I have been into music from an early age (this proving now, to be a curse). My father used to play opera all day long, every day, so I guess the first music I was exposed to regularly was opera. However, I actually started playing music when I was 11 years old. I sat around after school, playing acoustic guitar, and drawing pictures of flying disks.

In the early ‘80s, after I put the guitar down, I bought an SM58 microphone that was on sale for 80 bucks at Guitar Center, and I began auditioning for bands as a singer. One of the first bands I auditioned as a vocalist for was Medusa, but they didn’t like me much. I wasn’t posy enough for them, and there was already one guy who wore a mask in the band, so they decided to have nothing to do with me… hahaha!

Soon thereafter, I auditioned for a band who called themselves Vermin. These gentlemen seemed like pretty nice guys - of course not as posy as Medusa - and kick ass musicians as well. I joined Vermin and performed with the outfit for a while, all the whole, I began organizing the earliest incarnation of Agent Steel.

Before I put the guitar away permanently, I joined as a guitar player a band that was formed by a brother team - bassist and drummer. The band was called Sceptre. They were really nice guys, and some of the best musicians I’d ever met, let alone played with. There was a super star magical quality about them that was classic of the breed of musicians that become mega stars. They were a blast to be in the company of, no hang-ups, no drug problems of other handicaps that stifle the life success of a lot of musicians - just great musicians with a wholesome attitude toward life and music in general; the really unique element to their personal demeanor was the fact that - despite their appreciating various genres of musical talent - they really liked “Heavy Music!” I think that they were the first to really convert me to one of my favorite bands of all time, that being Mercyful Fate from Denmark. These brothers had some really great, kick-ass original music, which had really inspired me to continue as a full-time musician and gave me the motivation to push my way forward into actualizing music as a lifelong career.

However, during rehearsals with my mates, there was always a thriving incentive to put down the guitar, and sing the drummer’s lyrics, because every vocalist we had auditioned just didn’t seem to fit the part as to representing the lyrics and the music we had rehearsed, and polished, into a fine diamond.

We placed a “vocalist wanted” ad in the Recycler Magazine (a newspaper format type advertisement rag, by which many of L.A.’s legendary bands such as Mötley Crüe networked with unemployed musicians, who sought to form or join serious bands), and so, in came an avalanche of callers responding to the ad, most who seemed even less competent - many ever more posey - than the previous herd of vocalists who auditioned. Just as we seemed to give up all hope, in came a call from a vocalist, who said his name was Butch Say. On the first call, Butch seemed kind of easy-go-lucky, and even less serious than others who had previously called. However, there seemed to be a magic about his voice, almost a soothing kind of hypnotic quality to it, positive, in the strongest sense of the word. It was almost like he made you feel at ease and relaxed when he spoke. So of course, we invited him to rehearsals to give him a shot.

When Butch arrived at rehearsal at first contact, the person definitely fit the voice I’d heard on the phone. He was all around a really nice guy and not surprising, a really great singer; the rest was history. We recorded the legendary Sceptre demo, which included my song “Taken by Force”, the song which landed a hot-spot on one of the first Metal Massacre compilation albums (note: Metal Massacre IV by Metal Blade Records, 1983) and which also appeared on the first Agent Steel effort, the Skeptics Apocalypse album. The Scepter, which was inclusive of my work, also recorded four other songs, including “144,000 Gone” (another Skeptics track) the title track of the very first and foremost Agent Steel demo; another Scepter jewel was a song called “Find a Way” written by Phil Sardo, the multi-talented drummer/guitarist who founded Sceptre alongside his brother Antone - both some of the best musician friends I’d ever had - and with whom I had privilege to share many heavy music stages with.

Is it true that you briefly joined Dave Mustaine's Megadeth on vocals in 1983? If so, what happened?

J.C.: Dave (Mustaine) and his then-drummer Dijon Carruthers, were big fans of my vocal works. They somehow got my home phone number, and started calling my house multitudinous times during each-and-every day. My parents would say, “We like Dave; he seems like a really nice boy, but please ask him and Dijon not to leave so many long messages on our answering machine, asking you to join the band; once is enough!” At the end of every day, there doesn’t seem to be much space left on the tape for relatives, friends, and work to leave their messages. My mom would reiterate “Please, give Dave and Dijon a chance”, or “Please just go ahead and join the band already, because it just doesn’t seem as if they’re going to give up their daily calling agenda until you finally join.”

After weeks, and weeks, of daily incoming calls, I decided to join Megadeth as a vocalist, to let my parents have some peace, anyway. I learned the Megadeth setlist, and even wrote lyrics for numerous songs, which we polished into a precious gem, by way of intensive rehearsals. Everything seemed to go pretty well in the band, within the band, with the music… as I really enjoyed the company, professionalism, and witnessing the daily all out kick-ass shredding executed by Dave Mustaine, Dave Ellefson, and of course, I needn’t leave out the percussion majesty of Mr. Dijon Carruthers.

It was very cool, as there was a mutual respect between us which made me feel certain that the band was headed for guaranteed super-stardom. Every rehearsal felt like a conquering exposé of gallant nights, securing their platforms on the highest stages, ready to take over the fucking world. However, the end to that story is quite sad, as we became a rather close and tight - as a band - and I took a liking for the Daves I hadn’t experienced since I parted ways with my bro’s, “the Sceptre guys.”

One day I came home, sadly learning of the news from my mom, that the Daves had dropped by, and left with her an envelope filled with my lyrics that I had left in Dave Ellefson’s van. She went on to explain how Dave Mustaine said that he would probably regret this move he was making but he was not prepared to launch the first Megadeth album with my lyrical subjects, touching on the entire Alien concept, etc… and my lyrical obsession with the possibility of life existing on other planets was a bit much for his mind that preferred subjects touching on human endeavors and politics. He further went on to explain that his vision for Megadeth was more politically and socially oriented, adding that I was a great singer and a nice friend, but they felt they needed to move on. He and Dave Ellefson were very polite and respectfully forthcoming with my mom, reiterating the fact that they were certain that I would succeed in whatever I did with my life, especially if I continued to pursue a life as a vocalist in the metal music genre.

To tell you the truth, I kinda felt relieved at Daves move, because despite Dave being a phenomenal guitarist in all respects, and Dave Ellefson being one of the absolute monsters of metal music bass guitar majesty, I had my heart set on fronting a two-guitar band, which Megadeth was not at that time. So…that is where I had plowed forward to initiate Agent Steel.

Agent Steel was formed in 1984 by you and Chuck Profus, right?

J.C.: Correction, I started Agent Steel with a little help from a friend Mr. Bill Simmons, a super talented guitarist/songwriter, who surprisingly enough, was one of the first -ever- Agent Steel guitarists. Well, that is before the band was officially called “Agent Steel”. The band we launched in those earliest of days was called Martyr, as we played the L.A. club circuit extensively. There were other prominent musicians in the band, such as another super talented guitarist, that being Mr. Brett Phillips; also onboard was drummer extraordinaire, Mr. Eric Keck. All this metal history was manifest in the early ‘80s, when Chuck Profus was still in diapers, so to say... hahaha!

It wasn’t until much later - say around late 1983 - which Chuckles officially joined the band, and later Juan Garcia was asked to leave Abattoir and join the already-seasoned by guitarist virtuosos Mr. Mark Marshal and Mr. John Gott - the truest kicking ass - second extension of Agent Steel. However, I must say that, it wasn’t until after Juan joined the band, that things started moving at a more rapid and forward motion. This, also taking into consideration the fact that Mr. Juan Garcia, has always been one of the hardest workers in the metal scene, not to mention a super nice guy, and cherished life-long friend and comrade; Juan is one of the most adept metal guitarists and metal entrepreneurs of our day.

How did you shop labels with the first two demo tapes?

I would like to add the fact that the original Agent Steel demo was first shipped to the Netherlands, to Mr. Metal Mike of Aardschok magazine (a Netherlands Metal music publication), where upon receiving much support from the magazines staff, soon thereafter, bolted up to the ultra-heights of many national European charts; in fact, most albums by bands on actual labels, failed to understand, (or did they!?) the impact that the demo had on the international metal community. And so, there began the catalyst by which the Agent Steel brand started taking flight and strangely about to manifest and reinvent itself… over 3 decades later, via the forthcoming album No Other Godz Before Me, scheduled for release shortly!  

How about the actual connection with Abattoir from Los Angeles? You sung on their demo before Agent Steel and Juan Garcia played guitars on both bands. That was short, but what’s the complete story of you and Abattoir?

J.C.: It was 1983 and I had just thrown in my towel as a guitarist, selling all my custom Charvel guitars made from African Birds Eye maple wood, personally engineered and handcrafted by Grover Jackson himself, twelve Marshall cabinets, and six custom tweaked Marshal heads, rewired by an electronics lab specialized in tweaking the original tone of the head, metamorphosing the Marshall head to sound like a rocket engine. This I did, all for the purpose of buying someone very special, a very special gift. After completing the mission - buying my special person the gift I had so long planned to buy - I had around 80 bucks left. However, since I had been living my life as a musician from a very young age, I decided not to completely throw in the towel as a musician. This last hope of continuing on my musical mission, brought on the recollection of driving my friends around while listening to metal on the car’s cassette deck, which was usually loaded with all the likes of classic metal such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden etc... as well as other hard rock outfits such as Triumph and Rush; my friends would comment on the music and my singing along to the tunes, saying “Whoa, shit man, you can actually hit those notes!” they would always go on and on saying “Wow man, you can sing just like these guys…for real man!”

One of my close friends actually pissed me off one day, stating “Listen, honestly, not to be taken offensively man, but when I listen to you singing along to these bands, it makes me think you are actually a better singer than a guitarist!”; Ha, I almost threw him outta my car after he made this statement. And that was the cue; I picked up a few extra bucks from my dad, clasped it in with the 80 bucks I had saved after selling all my guitar equipment and bought myself an SM58 microphone from the West L.A. Guitar Center. The following day, I went on my first audition. A musician’s wanted ad which read something like, “Metal singer wanted; influences are Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, etc.”

At that instance, I saw flashes of light before my eyes, and my heart skipped a few beats right adding insult to survival’s salvation. It was right at that very moment that it all seemed to make sense. So I motioned to call the number listed on the ad. Upon dialing the number, heart still skipping, some guy answered the phone; he actually spoke very soft, a surprising behavior for most metal heads; the person at the other end of the phone, was in fact very kind, again, a quality I was not used to, when dealing with musicians in general, other than the greats - such as “the Daves” - which isn’t the actual character trait you usually get when dealing with Metal heads, even back in the day.

It seems as though the metal musicians who are “the real deal” are actually some of the softest spoken, nicest metal musicians on this planet, as were the Daves. My experience with David Mustaine, contrary to what some would say about him being arrogant, tyrannical, and hard to work with, was not at all the impression I had as a result of my interactions with him. The impression I got was that Dave is a very profound artist, a sensitive human being, with a great sense of compassion and love, for his friends, and humanity in general… A quality I admired and appreciated in him.

Continuing; I seemed to get along pretty well with the guy I spoke to on the phone and after about an hour or so, discussing our agreeing musical taste, I was officially invited to audition. I didn’t know the name of the band, as the gentleman on the phone - upon my asking – said that I would find out soon enough who the band was at the audition.

I journeyed to a neighborhood east of Santa Monica, the beach town where I lived, to a hood in L.A. called Alhambra. It was a nice part of L.A., as people weren’t as snotty as they were in Santa Monica. The journey to Alhambra took a good forty minutes to an hour, and despite having lived in L.A. for over 15 years, I had never been to that neck of the woods before, so to say. Upon arriving at the audition, I was escorted out of my car by two astute metal gentlemen, whose names were Rico and Juan. These two seemed friendly enough, that I felt at ease, and despite being far from home, and in a town I had never been prior to this journey, (as with any neighborhood in L.A. even by the coast one has to be vigilant that one isn’t being led into an ambush of some sort), Rico and Juan - the band’s head roadies - assured me that they would gladly direct me to the rehearsal area… with pleasure and all due respect.

The place seemed as a business where I believe carpet was sold, but I don’t remember that detail exactly. I entered into what seemed like a business space displaying a drum set hoisted by a riser, where Ron, the band’s drummer, played out the bands rehearsals.

I met the band, starting with Mark, a slender, very calm and friendly, almost guru-like guitarist, and bassist Mel, who kind of looked like a guy one could visualize as being both a speed metal musician and/or a member of Mötley Crüe or Skid Row! A strange dichotomy, indeed a very nice guy.

My audition included “Ace of Spades” of Motörhead, which I never imagined I would sing, and various originals from the band’s “then” catalog, I had to cold read on the spot, straight from 8 and 10 sheets of paper… I read through the lyrics, creating melodies on the spot, hoping to get through the audition in one piece, and from where I stood, I could only hope that Juan and Rico did their very best, not to bust out laughing. The audition seemed to go quite well, and the guys seemed to like the way I interpreted their lyrics. Notwithstanding, they seemed very impressed by my courage and determination to land the gig, so upon finishing up the blasting through the short modified for auditions setlist, they instantly huddled about 10 feet away from me, after which Mel (the bassist), approached me sporting a smile saying, “You got the job, man. We want you to get onstage with us and Slayer at the Country Club in two weeks, can you pull it off?” I told him that I could, and thanked them for having me. “Great,” Mel said, “Welcome to Abattoir.”

Together, we pulled off the show, and despite the fact we were together for such a short time, we certainly demonstrated our metal majesty, and the rest is pretty much history…

Part II

More or less, the history is known, so let’s have a quick look to the releases that are widely known as the apotheosis of speed metal. The essence of that rare metal sub-genre that many times is lost within debates among metal fans, press, articles and the musicians themselves.

Skeptics Apocalypse, the debut album of Agent Steel, was originally meant to be a 12” EP but eventually it ended as a full-length album with a running time of 30 minutes. It was recorded with a low budget in various locations during December 1984 – February 1985, and was produced by Jay Jones. Jones also worked with Abbatoir for Vicious Attack and Megadeth for Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!, bands that were all connected that period. The recording line-up was John Cyriis (vocals), Juan Garcia (guitar), Kurt Colfelt (guitar, also known as Kurt Kilfelt), George Robb (bass) and Chuck Profus (drums). The album was released by Combat Records in the June of 1985 but wasn’t fully supported by the label with touring. However the feedback from the audience was amazing, the album was an ultra-metal shocking release that had an impact at the metal scene of the mid-80s, and “144,000 Gone” track was a successful song and received a lot of radio airplay. Often described as “Iron Maiden on speed” the album appeals to thrash metal fans, power metal fans and also classic metal fans.

Few months later, Combat Records released Mad Locust Rising EP, where Bernie Versailles replaced Kilfelt on guitar (that went on to form Holy Terror) and bassist Mike Zaputil replaced George Robb after the recordings of the EP.

As it is mentioned over the years in many interviews, the band’s main influences were Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, while Juan Garcia adds Michael Schenker as an additional personal influence. Actually, Bernie Versailles has said that Iron Maiden is the best band ever, while Juan said it is both Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (source: Steel Conjuring ‘zine, 2000). John Cyriis would add that Queensrÿche’s EP and Warning had an impact on him, and if you haven’t thought about it, you can locate a strong Geoff Tate-influence on the song “Still Searchin’” from Unstoppable Force, the second full-length album of Agent Steel.

With a new line-up and when the time for that album arrived, the budget was bigger, so the band entered Morrisound Studios at Tampa, Florida. The albums was recorded between March-June 1986, engineered by Tom and Jim Morris and produced by Dan Johnson who was also working with Crimson Glory for their debut album, while previously he produced the early Savatage releases, Sirens and The Dungeons Are Calling. The album was finally released in March of 1987.

Part III

John Cyriis remembers…

J.C.: I remember the recording sessions of the Mad Locust Rising EP was extremely irritable, as I was in L.A, which is not my favorite place on the planet. Perhaps that is why the music I wrote for Mad Locust Rising came out seeming so pissed off, heavy and fast; I guess that’s how I felt at the fucking time; irritated, and pissed off.

I certainly felt at a whole hell of a lot better at the Unstoppable Force recording sessions. First of all, the album was recorded in Tampa, Florida, not L.A. Therefore, travelling to Tampa to record, not only got me a break from L.A., but I got to know a city in the US that I came to really like. There are a lot of positive things I can say about the state of Florida especially considering the positive experience I had at that location during the recording of Unstoppable Force. Actually, there are a lot of positive things to say about California as well, but California in general is just not my cup of tea.

One very important thing I’d like to bring up about Unstoppable Force’s recording sessions: The man who produced Unstoppable Force, Dan Johnson, was simultaneously finishing up the recording of the debut Crimson Glory album. It did not occur to me at the time of recording Unstoppable Force that it would have seriously handicapped the final vocal mix that appears on the album to this very day! Again, I didn’t think it was much of an issue at the time, as the Crimson Glory camp seemed like standup gentlemen, as we didn’t have a problem with them so I never suspected what Dan Johnson would do to the final mix on my vocals.

It seems now obvious that ole Dan mixed down Midnight’s vocals with lots of effects, whereas the final mix of Unstoppable Force vocals were mixed down very dry. Another words, my vocals final mixdown sounded as if it had little to no effects added to that final mix. Anyone who listens to Crimson Glory, will find it very obvious that the vocals are heavily saturated, if not drowning, in effects; whereas most of the people who ever mixed down Agent Steel records had strangely left the final mixes with a dry vocal sound, almost as if to challenge me (perhaps inspired to expedite by “someone”) to perform at my very, very best, due to premeditating the application of “NO EFFECTS” to the final mix of every recorded vocal I have ever performed!; another words, I have had to live with releases that contain less effects than would normally be applied to in studio recordings of metal vocal performances being as necessary luxury all metal singers, especially such as Midnight obviously completely indulged in.

Hmm… I wonder what would happen if someday, I could record an album, where an engineer wouldn’t conspire against me by mixing down my vocals with no effects, but instead apply my vocals their merited rights to a healthy portion of effects, that I may finally showcase my vocal control with a colored by bit of added animation, which would in turn afford me the luxury of finally being able to engage in fair combat with my vocal peers.

What happened and in the following tour, Juan and Bernie was off the band? And why did you split Agent Steel in 1988?

J.C.: The band, which at that point in time and space primarily consisted of me and Chuck Profus, moved to Tampa, Florida. Juan, Bernie, and bassist Michael Zaputil, wanted to stay in L.A., as in turn, Chuck and I, had decided that we wanted to change our location and life by relocating to a thriving, fresh, and true metal scene, which was at the time just beginning to metamorphose… in the Tampa, Bay Area, late ‘80s USA. The Tampa scene was not as stagnant, or as shit-stained a drug-parched hair-band, poser/glam-rock, prostitute cabal, as was L.A. So we hoisted the sails and journeyed eastward to speed metal paradise up, out and away from the liquid shit pools of Hollywood!

Adding; I don’t like Hollywood, so I wanted to get as far away as I could from there. I figured the furthest side of the country away from the shithole of Hollywood was the closest I wanted to be from that stinking butthole ever again. It not a coincidence that one of my favorite metal songs of all time is “Burn Hollywood Burn” by the mighty Exodus!

However, I got to state here and now that not every native of L.A. is a trendy, arrogant, plastic, two-faced asshole as it would seem, as there are certainly some fine people out there, but in my opinion, not enough of them to render L.A. as the place I would choose to hang my hat.

Long story short, Agent Steel was buried alive by Combat Records, who put the band on suspension for no legitimate, justifiable reason. Why they did so, remains a mystery to this very day. There are many conspiracy theories’ that dabble with the answer as to why Combat Records buried the Agent Steel band in 1987; however, there are many theories as to why this happened - including a few of my own - but all the same, no substantial proof as of this writing have been brought out supported by facts, to support the more popular theories which are in truth actual cover ups to the real factual based truth!

What is “suspension”?

J.C.: “Suspension”, is when a record label freezes a recording artist’s contract, like putting a noose around an artist’s neck, legally, where they are bound to the remainder of the duration of the contract they signed, yet not permitted to go free to record for another label, and simultaneously rejected by their current label from recording for the entire duration of the bands contract; i.e., the label expedites the right to suspension and not allotting the original recording contracts obligation to put the band into the studio to record. Therefore, the artist’s career is basically over! This at least until the expiration of the contract. Unfortunately, I had signed a seven-year contract with Combat Records - it was bad luck, like breaking a mirror - and being forced to endure 7 years of bad luck; I really got the shaft! I was truth and severity that Combat Records buried Agent Steel that we would not be free to seek out and be free to record for another label, or record another record for Combat, until after 1993. That was the end of the line for me folks…
I heard I wasn’t alone however, I heard the same was done to Metallica by Electra, and a few other bands by other labels; but these other, wealthier bands had big money, to retain big lawyers, to enact justice on their behalf, and I certainly did not!

Adding insult to injury, or better yet assassination of my musical career I must state here and now that, to this very day, I have never collected one-dollar of royalties for the three classic Agent Steel releases, one of which, I have gathered by reliable sources, actually reached platinum status (that album being: Unstoppable Force).
As for now, this is my first record deal since that tragic time in 1987, and I have hopes that Plastic Head Distribution / Dissonance Productions will finally do me some justice, and support Agent Steel the way it should be supported, or at least pay me the royalties every artist deserves to be paid resulting from the sales of their product. Everyone at the label seem like reasonable blokes, so at this point, I feel very positive about the future of Agent Steel.

You formed Pontius Prophet for just a year in 1988, after Agent Steel, using the name "Father Damien", keeping also Agent Steel's drummer Chuck Profus and latest touring guitarist, Michael Hill. Why didn't you try to release an album besides the 2-song demo?

J.C.: That was an experimental band, just for fun. We thought, “Why not show up our peers by demonstrating that we could create something of a darker genre as well?” So, we did it, and if people liked it. Father Damien would like to thank you all for the support! Hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did.

Then in 1990, you appear again under the name "Max Kobol" and the band Black Reign in 1990, with a 3-song demo, and Chuck Profus again with you. May I ask the general idea behind Black Reign and why did this incarnation also failed to move on?

J.C.: Again, Black Reign was another experimental band I joined just for fun. The music and lyrics were not mine. I just performed vocal duties to help a friend out, who wanted to finally release a demo after many years of playing live shows in local New Jersey and New York clubs. Due to the act he was so talented, I wanted to help out, so I recorded my voice on his demo.

So far, it seems that you were changing names like you wanted to hide from something. I guess that your true identity is not known in the public, besides rumors. And despite the glorious legacy of Agent Steel, you didn't want to keep a connection with the past for a long time. Why did this happen?

J.C.: I’d like to make it clear that all these pseudonyms are fiction. They were created by others, either as nicknames, or those who wish to ridicule and slander my person for some twisted, unknown sadistic reason; most created as some sort of gag. These sadists should get a life. These pseudonyms, are not real nor are they my legal names.

I won't ask you your real name, but how would you describe your entity?

J.C.: I’m just a person who seeks solace and peace in life, whilst searching for answers, like everyone else. I’m a student in this evolving universe, nothing more, nothing less…

Where is the best place to live and how do you see United States that last years?

J.C.: This is planet earth; it really sucks here, so most places are pretty much the same, unless, of course, you live in countries who enforce extreme dictatorships, hardline extreme and radical religious views etc. Other than that, it’s up to each individual to make his/her decision as to what suits them or doesn’t. Every corner of the planet has its negative and positive qualities. There are positive and negative elements in every country on this planet and that includes the United States. It is neither the best place in the world, nor is it the worst... It just is, just like every other place on this ball of dust in which we live, in a mass universe of trillions of stars and constellations. Who knows what lies beyond the outer rims of the cosmos? Do you? If you do know, please tell me as soon as possible! I’m curious!

In late ‘90s, guitarists Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles joined forces with bassist Mike Zaputil, drummer Chuck Profus and new singer Bruce Hall. After few demos under the name Agents of Steel, there was a new album titled Omega Conspiracy and the band's name was Agent Steel. It was released in 1999 and the same lyrical themes were also present. What were you doing that period and when did you notice that the band had a new face without you? Did they ever contacted you?

J.C.: No, they never did try to contact me, contrary to what they claim. And, they knew perfectly well where to contact me, but instead, they did everything they could to avoid me.

I first discovered the truth behind their looting of my band name and brand, when I walked into Tower Records in Tokyo, Japan, in the year 2000. By default, and pure coincidence, I went to the “A” section of the CDs, and saw an Agent Steel section. I rifled through the various CDs in that bins inventory and saw for the first time an album called Omega Conspiracy. I was absolutely shocked. I purchased the CD, took it home to have a listen, where I was brought to an even more state of shock. What I heard I couldn’t believe. I have covered this subject extensively in other interviews, as I feel to lengthy a subject to cover here, for the sake of relevancy, if for nothing else. I will say that I think it was a great down-point in the history of the band. That didn’t need to happen. But since it did, they would have been smarter to call it something else, as by all means it was not Agent Steel! That’s all I have to say for now. I’m completely focused on the current Agent Steel album, and the future of the band/brand I have relaunched, proudly so.

Agent Steel kept going without Chuck Profus for two more studio albums and few more years. In 2010 you joined Agent Steel again but finally you performed few shows with them, in Japan and Sweden. How did this happen and why it didn't last?

J.C.: The reunion didn’t last because of Bernie’s greed which drove him to the point of wanting to bring me back just to render the band name and his own name significant by relaunching the band with my inclusion as the path with other vocalists had proven themselves fruitless… and so all the while, plotting the hidden agenda of eventually booting me out, re-hijacking the name, and thereafter, putting the final nail into my coffin by taking my place as front man; this he engineered as the final attempts to drive the final smiting to my legacy, and music career in all hopes that succeed in erasing my person/name, as he had set out to do from the very first audition in 1986. I recently got some info but am not sure of its validity, which brings to light many unanswered questions about Bernie’s true intent in the band from the git-go. I was told that he knew Bruce Hall as far back as 1986 and was out auditioning for bands to straddle some good musicians that he and Bruce could gather some blokes to start up a super band! I don’t know the validity of these claims as I believed he was sincere in his membership and dedication to the Steel at the time, so…!?

Continuing: therefore, upon my discovering Bernie’s intentions in 2011, I simply pulled the plug, and walked away; although it was difficult to do so as it was difficult to accept the final distancing between me and my ages long once best bro Juan Garcia. It was not overnight to say the least that it took for me to finally accept… This time, it was truly over!

Even more disheartening, was learning that they had planned on performing at Rock Hard Festival (after the Japan shows) without me, after getting the gig based on my rejoining them. That is when I had to finally accept that I was completely betrayed by my band mates and friends that I actually held in very close consideration… But wait!

However, the rest of the band continued under the name "Masters of Metal". Was it an easy solution for them to avoid legal issues with the name and did you talk with them again?

J.C.: No, can’t say I did. They did what they did, and so, I’m doing what I’m doing. I wish them the very best. I think they’re very talented musicians. I’m really just focused on this new incarnation of the band, and developing into a positive musical entity what I am working with as of the current moment.

Part IV

To change the story for a while, did you have any contact with extraterrestrial intelligence?

J.C: Hahaha… If I had, I would no longer be on this planet. However, one should never give up hope!

Which are the beliefs and philosophy of the entity known as John Cyriis?

J.C.: Believe in everything… For humans have the power to create, and so anything is possible, positive or negative; we have the freewill to make it thus so… but beware… and worship nothing, thus no other should be above thyself!

Back to the story. Suddenly, in 2018 you appear again and many shows were announced. Until now, just one happened, at Keep It True Festival in Germany. I was there. What I saw was a good vocal performance but there was a weird aura all around the place. What should we wait in the future live shows?

J.C.: First, I’d like to thank Oliver Weinsheimer for allotting me… the greatest vocal audition of my life. All hail and praise the great Oli, for giving me that opportunity, as it even landed me my current record deal. I must say, I do owe him a lot. Thank you Oli! You will never be forgotten, as you have a place in my heart, as you set before me a great step ladder to a bright and brilliant future of hope that to express myself once again... and hopefully transcending all the negativity I’ve experienced in the music business turning it all into something positive… Thanks bro!

I have covered the story of what happened at KIT in a different interview, and the above is really all that I have to say about KIT. What I’ve said is the whole kitten-caboose. There’s really not much to say about it anymore.

For all future live shows, we’ll just have to leave undescribed, as a surprise for all the fans to see for themselves, what transcendence is all about. If you go to Etrurian Legion Metal Promotion’s website, you can buy tickets to our upcoming shows.

What will be the final title for your new album and what kind of details can you reveal to us? Can you reveal us the songs?

J.C.: No Other Godz Before Me is an evolving continuation of the sounds and concepts created in the ‘80s, finally fronted again by my Communicative Channel transmissions! I prefer to allow the fan and listener in general, the brow dripping wait, to get briefed as to what has been achieved within the cosmic fabric of the No Other Godz Before Me recording.

Here is the full official track list thus far:

1. “Passage to Afron-V”: An eerie album introduction, which brings the listener to the fifth dimension euphoria, introducing Agent Steel fans to a place called “Afron-V”
2. “No Other Godz Before Me”: A polemicist’s dissertation about survival of the fittest.
3. “Ill Wind That Bloweth”: A classic soliloquy written by bassist Joe McGuigan, depicting magical spells released by druid priests in 4th century BCE.
4. “Carousel of Vagrant Souls”: Written as a cosmic microfiche, explaining the issuing of passports to souls descending to the Milky Way galaxy, concentration camp of the universe.
5. “The Devil's Greatest Trick”: The Devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world that he does not exist; his greatest trick for the twenty-first century has changed into convincing the world into believing that he actually does…
6. “Constellation”: A classic song of hope.
7. “Separation of Church and Fate”: The epitome of a drop-box for metal conspiracy theorists, by which the lyrics express discontent with the current politically-correct castigating state, existing within the social and political climate of most nations.
8. “No Way Out”: A song describing the damned-if-you-do’s, and the damned-if-you-don’ts of the ever-contradictive life patterns will live out on earth.
9. “Outer Space Connection”: An eerie speed metal composition, with a lyrical theme filled with anthems resembling “Bleed for the Godz”.
10. “Time Machine”: A song about going back in time, and reversing choices made at different periods of our lives, if one had access to an actual time machine.
11. “A Sinister Turn of Events”: Just when you think something has manifest for the worst, and turn to stone out of the blue is applied an unseen alchemy, which completely reverses the order of outcomes, leading toward a climax, which will reveal an unexpected, differential, alternate future ( ~~ ).
12. “The Way of the Mechanism”: Another song written by bassist Joe McGuigan, whose lyrical content covers the daily frustrations of robotic life, manipulated by those in charge, affront our worldly manipulated society.
13. “Trespassers”: This is a bonus track, Agent Steel’s first song covering the topic of Crop Circles storyline based in rural Britain.
14. “Entrance to Afron-V”: A continuation/follow-up to the earie intro “Passage to Afron-V” which will close the album, and will be attached a continuation as the forecast clip that will open the next album.

The album will be out just in time for the holidays – get ready!

How about the future in general? Can something be pre-decided and what should we expect?

J.C.: The true Agent Steel has been reactivated and relaunched. It is catalyzed and therefore official, upon the release of No Other Godz Before Me. Take a listen folks, and be certain that Agent Steel has in fact returned, and will continue with a follow-up to No Other Godz Before Me (already titled) to be delivered in 2021.
Looking forward to seeing you all on the 2020 world tour!

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