The Soldiers From Hell Are Back!

We review many good music CDs each month. But to find a good heavy metal CD in this huge pile of CDs is like finding a needle in a haystack. With “Soldiers From Hell”, we found this needle, and I can easily say that “Soldiers From Hell” sounds even better than their wonderful debut “Satan’s Playground”. BLACK WIDOW USA can be proud on what they’ve accomplished here. And we, for our part, are damn proud to have the chance to talk to singer and frontwoman Cat about their past, their new CD and their future...

Singer and frontwoman CAT

Can you give us an update of what happened inbetween the release of "Satan's Playground" and the new album "Soldiers From Hell"?
Cat: "After some good sales, good press and some interest with "Satan's Playground", it was enough to fuel the fire for our second CD. We had written and performed some of the new material, when opening for WASP and had gotten a good reaction, so we decided to keep writing…We also wanted to have a CD, that had a more pro-production and greater sound quality than we had with "Satan’s Playground". Our friend Joe Hasselvander from RAVEN was recording in a studio in Virginia and asked that we visit him there, while he was in town for the session. Our drummer Tommy was blown away by the sound of the RAVEN tracks, the atmosphere of the studio and the engineers. It wasn't a hard choice to make, when it came to choosing Assembly Line Studios with Kevin Guiterrez and Ben McCall at the helm. So for the month of July 2007, we became fast friends with Assembly Line."

How did you get in touch with JAB Productions, who released the new album?
Cat: "JAB is Johnny, our guitarist's own production company, so that was an easy choice, too! We released the CD independently, but if there are any major labels reading this, please give us a call! As our goal is to perform for European audiences and it is so vital that we secure a label."

You played quite some gigs, supporting bands like STRATOVARIUS, SAXON, SEVEN WITCHES, DECEASED, MICHAEL SCHENKER and LESLIE WEST. Do you have any fond memories, that you want to share with us, when you see these names again?
Cat: "I think, we'd all agree that meeting the legends SAXON was probably one of the highlights of our performance career so far. They are gracious, appreciative and fun guys - the tour bus was a riot! In 2005, we played four gigs across the country with SEVEN WITCHES, and James Rivera and Jack Frost never failed to impress us. Our friend King Fowley of DECEASED gave us the opportunity to play with them and they are legends in their own right. For me, personally, standing on the same stage with Blackie Lawless (WASP) was a memory, I'll never forget. We recently saw his/their performance of "The Crimson Idol" and I was mesmerized! We are so privileged to have shared the same road."

Bassplayer Wayne Meredith

In the meantime, you also hired in a new bass player, called Wayne Turpin. What happened to your previous bass player Dean Meredith? Why did he leave the band?
Cat: "‘Mean Dean’ Meredith was a guy we respected and loved. He just wanted a different path for his musical aspirations. He was, and is, happiest, when he's doing cover material in a band, that play's occasionally. He just wasn't headed where we were. We're still in touch and he is one of our greatest supporters."

How did you find newcomer Wayne Turpin?
Cat: "Wayne had auditioned for us previously and, needless to say, the audition didn't go so well. He fit us personally, but not musically. Six months or so later, he asked to audition again and he really stepped up to the plate on that audition. Wayne had been playing in a cover band and was looking for something that would take him further - voila! He's stuck with us through everything."

Did he play in any other bands, before he joined BLACK WIDOW USA?
Cat: "Wayne was in EIGHT DAY MOURNING (a cover band, that’s still playing in this area), DUSK and TEN LASHES."

You recorded "Soldiers From Hell" with him. Did the new 'recruit' also contribute some writing to this new album?
Cat: "Definitely! The intro to the song "Soldiers From Hell" shows his creativity. While Johnny and Tommy remained the musical mind, Wayne's contributions were many. He's our ‘Lucky #7’! (as in we've had seven bassists!)"

Guitarist John Anthony

What have the reactions been like to "Soldiers From Hell" so far?
Cat: "We have had such positive response from those, who were familiar with "Satan's Playground". It seems like the reviewers have given us such kudos for the writing, the production and the feel of "Soldiers From Hell". We continue to sell in Germany, the Scandinavian countries and Japan. We're trying to get out there as much as possible, but as you know, the music scene is very different, even from the "Satan’s Playground" release. I am on the internet many unhealthy hours to promote our music. Our club scene is almost non-existent, especially for original bands. The club owners make it hard to just perform. Most clubs in our area ask you to sell 50-100 tickets to your shows (if you're backing up nationals, that is often US$30.00 for a ticket - it's hard to ask your friends to spend that amount of money!). The smaller clubs will pay only the door, which is usually $5.00 a person. So if you get five people (don't laugh!), you don't even end up with gas money for one person in the band! We don't play locally, because of those factors and in the technology age, it's just not viable to play, when you can spend your efforts on linking up on the internet. Thanks to you and Metal Maidens, we have had much success on MySpace. Anyway, back to the question now: "Soldiers From Hell" has had a great reaction so far..."

Can you also tell us how the album is selling, or is it still a bit too early to tell?
Cat: "The official release date was January 2008 and six months into it, we're very pleased with the sales and the downloads. We're too young to be in it for the money, but we're pleased that we get sales from all over the world. It's still a little too early to have gotten every metalhead in the world to buy it yet. We have some high-end distributors though, so ask me again in a few months and keep playing "Comfort In The Dark", when Metal Maidens’ My Space page is opened!"

Can you tell us more about the artwork of the CD? What caught our attention was the tombstone with the spider ( the black widow)...
Cat: "I hope, this doesn't mean bad news for the band?! Me, too! No, it's just an artist's concept - just creepy!"

What's your favorite song from the new album, and why?
Cat: "I love the lyrics in "Comfort In The Dark" and I think with the intro of "Moon Shadow", it's powerful, yet rhythmical. I always told the boys that was our radio hit! But I think "Soldiers From Hell" has an emotion about it, that stirs my soul every time, I hear it. It's like a journey to me. I'm really proud of that one. Johnny, our guitarist, told me, that my vocals were ‘haunting’ on it and knowing Johnny, any compliment is a good one!"

"Soldiers From Hell" CD cover

Which new songs will be added to the setlist of your upcoming live shows?
Cat: "At our CD release party, we played everything on the CD, except "The Serpent" (acoustic) and "When Angels Cry", which is hard to do live. For a longer set, we'll probably include a couple from "Satan's Playground". Right now, we're taking a break, but Johnny has been writing..."

The CD received the full score on metalmaidens.com, which caused quite an emotional reaction from you. Something to do with tears, if I'm not mistaken. Any explanation here? After all, the CD really deserves the full score from the beginning to the end, so we're very sorry, that we have ruined your make up that day!
Cat: "And I do wear a lot of eye makeup! I looked like a racoon, when I was finished reading your kind words... You know, because you have your own passions in Metal Maidens, what it's like to put your heart and soul on the line for something that you are passionate about. When I read the review, it made me feel that all the hard work, writing, re-writing, rehearsing, fighting, loving, giving up so much time, was worth it. And, Toine, when we read some reviews, we know that the reviewer just listened to each song a little bit, but you, you really listened...Your comments on each song showed the love you have for music. Okay, I am truly a ‘metal maiden’ and females are allowed to cry...even in metal..."

What are your future plans now the album has been released?
Cat: "Currently, we're taking a little break and Johnny is focusing on his upcoming wedding to Tracy in the Islands, but when the dust has settled, we'll be back writing. Meanwhile, I am chained to the computer, searching out label interest, management, tour possibilities, etc. etc. Help!"

Drummer Tommy Azzinaro

Any goals set for the band right now?
Cat: "We would like to be able to tour in Europe, to secure a label, that believes in us and to reach the metal masses..."

I also read, that you have signed with Extreme Music Agency in the UK for bookings. How did that came about?
Cat: "Unfortunately, the agent that we were working with has severed ties with EMA, so we will be pursuing other booking agencies."

Are there any plans to play live shows in Europe already?
Cat: "No, we're counting on Metal Maidens to put a fest together! Seriously, we have to be on a label or know somebody, that can get us into that part of our goal..."

How did the CD release party at Mac's The Club in Essex go?
Cat: "Mac's was a great show for us: lots of friends, a great stage, great sound, good back-up bands, DIVISION and TWIST OF FAITE, and was such fun for us. We hadn't played out for a while (last time with WASP), so there was a magical feel to being on stage again. It was also our first live show with Wayne, so the excitement was even enhanced! Tommy set the show up and he did a great job! Everything ran so smoothly (doing metalfests, you know that smoothly is hardly ever a word, that's used!) And thanks to our many friends, who banged their heads right along with us!"

Are there any important shows on the agenda for the band?
Cat: "Not at this time.. Got any for us to do????"

Many of today’s musicians also play with other bands, besides their own band. Do you guys have any ‘side’ bands?
Cat: "No. It's not something any of us would be comfortable with. We feel that the dedication that it takes to keep a band like us productive, requires full concentration on one band alone. I know musicians that do that and it makes me wonder where their allegiance is..."

Is there anything you'd like to add to this interview? Maybe there’s something we forgot to ask, which would be essential enough to mention here?
Cat: "You are so professional and thorough, that I can't think of any thing you've missed."

The last words are for Cat and BLACK WIDOW USA...
Cat: "Many Metal Maiden fans will read this interview and for that, we are very grateful that you keep carrying the torch for, not only females in metal, but for the metal community. When I first started singing in a metal band, it was unheard of for females to attempt JUDAS PRIEST or IRON MAIDEN. I had to prove myself over and over again. With Metal Maidens, females no longer have to prove their weight in metal...Thank you for recognizing and applauding all the women and their men. Of course, we would like everyone to hear our music, to listen to the words that may touch your heart, to be a part of our passion. Please listen to the music of our souls... Many thanks, Cat."

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Toine van Poorten, Metal Maidens 'zine / May 2008.

Visit their official website at: www.blackwidowmetal.com/
or My Space at: www.myspace.com/blackwidowusa

Contact BLACK WIDOW USA at:
P.O. Box 455
Burtonsville, MD 20866-0455,
USA.
Email: BlackWidowRoxx@aol.com

*Also read our 2004 interview with singer Cat here: 2004 interview with BLACK WIDOW USA