The band is called BLACK WIDOW USA, their album is entitled "Satan's Playground" and they play heavy metal of the purest kind. That's the description of BLACK WIDOW USA in short. And when you take the time to have a good listen to this great album, you'll realize that this band is really something special. The flashing guitar solos, the high pinching vocals of singer Cat and the enormous power of all the songs, provides you the best in the new class of the US Metal scene. BLACK WIDOW USA already opened for bands like QUIET RIOT, UDO, SAXON and Y&T in the USA and right now, they're ready to profile themselves to the European market. We're more than glad to give them a hand and introduce the band a bit closer to you. Named after a venomous spider, they will definitely make a lot of victims here too, so don't say we didn't warn you! We proudly present you the story of BLACK WIDOW USA so far....
When did you get together as a band, and who were in this first line up?
CAT: "BLACK WIDOW USA was formed in 1997. I had kind of retired, but Tommy wanted to get back into it and he hooked up with Neal Vaught (bass), who was my best friends Tracy's boyfriend at that time. So, I couldn't resist once I heard them play and we advertised for a guitarist. In walked this guitarist, who looked like Blackie Lawless (WASP) and I was hooked! It didn't hurt, that he could also tear up a guitar!"
Did some of the band members play in other bands before they joined BLACK WIDOW?
CAT: "Tommy and I had STEELWYNCH, Dean was in REBEL SOULS, and Johnny played in an Los Angeles band, called SINISTER."
Who came up with the band name, which is the name of a small but very poisonous spider?
CAT: "Like all bands, there comes a time when you have to decide on a name. We just sat at a table and started throwing names out, stupid things like "CHERRY AND THE PITS", "CRUE-ELLA DEVILLE" (MOTLEY CRUE and CINDERELLA!) with a few cool names, too, but we wanted something dark and ominous, so Johnny came up with BLACK WIDOW. We knew it was right."
You started out as a metal cover band in the early years. Can you name us a few covers, that you played back then?
Cat: "We did some JUDAS PRIEST ("Metal Gods"), IRON MAIDEN ("Flight Of Icarus"), ACCEPT ("Balls To The Wall"), SAXON ("Princess Of The Night").... You get the picture!"
Who can we see as your biggest influences, and maybe you can point at some influences for each band member individually?
CAT: "We all grew up with traditional metal, and our writing reflects that. I'd have to say that Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson are my main influences. It was always a challenge to hit those Halford notes and to hold out those Dickinson notes, 'til I turned blue! Tom's drum Gods are John Bonham and Tommy Aldridge and more recently, Klaus Sperling of PRIMAL FEAR. Johnny admires Michael Schenker and Randy Rhoads. Dean is a fan of anyone, who plays hard and heavy!"
You seem to have difficulties in finding the right bass player. In your biography, I see about four different names (Neal Vaught, Michael Francis, Tom Davis and Barry Novisel), before you hired Dean Meredith for the job. What happened to them?
CAT: "Ask any band: it's always the bass players! Neal chose to play with a band that was all-original at a time, when we were just having fun playing covers and has since retired. Michael was asked to leave, so he could deal with some personal demons. Tom D. graciously kept BLACK WIDOW USA alive by filling in for us for nearly two years, until we could find a permanent replacement, which we thought would be Barry, but we were so wrong. We appreciated all of them and we wish them all the best in their lives...."
What about the bands Dean played in, before he joined BLACK WIDOW USA? We read about some Southern rock and speed metal bands. Sounds interesting!
CAT: "Dean achieved his previous success in a LYNYRD SKYNYRD cover band and did some recording with a speed metal original band in the local area. He's pretty diversified in his playing ability, but he's too laid-back with the Southern stuff and he slays on our metal! You can tell where his passion is!!!"
When this line up got together, you recorded a DOKKEN cover on the compilation album "The Second Coming, A Millennium Tribute To Hard Rock/ Heavy metal Of The 80's". How did you actually manage to get on this album?
CAT: "I saw an ad in Metal Edge, that this company was looking to put a compilation together of 80's bands. We had a three song demo of covers (AC/DC's "Sin City", METALLICA's "Enter Sandman", and "When Heaven Comes Down" by DOKKEN), so I sent it in. We were chosen from thousands of entries to be on the CD..."
Which other bands were on this compilation and what label did release it?
CAT: "Other bands included CAGE, AMERICAN DOG, PREMONITION, WRAITH, TEMPERED STEEL, RED HOT (MOTLEY CRUE cover band) and MUDBONE... It's still available through VersaillesRecords.com."
Guitarplayer John Anthony played in a band, called SINISTER. Mention this name in Holland, and you'll make friends in the Dutch death metal scene, because over here we have a quite successful death metal band, called SINISTER. What kind of music did he play with the US band SINISTER?
CAT: "I haven't heard it for years, but for the time, mid-80's, it was pretty progressive and heavy with well-written music and lyrics, and a lot of guitar! It's funny, that when we heard of your SINISTER, we all wondered if it was any of the former US members... It wasn't, of course!"
Cat, your biography tells us, you can't even mention the name of the first band that you played in, simply because it sounded so horrible. I'm afraid you can't get away with that in this interview, you made us very curious. Please unfold this mystery name for us here?!
CAT: "I don't think you're ready for this and I can't believe that my honesty is getting the better of me! There was a guitar god in my area, named Mike Mooney, so it was MIKE MOONEY'S AVOCADO!! Yeah, the fruit/vegetable thing! Stop laughing so hard!!!!"
What kind of music did you play with "the band with the horrible name"??
CAT: "Oh, this will really take me back: JIMI HENDRIX, CREAM, JANIS JOPLIN and BLUE CHEER!!"
I compared the sound of BLACK WIDOW USA almost immediately to a band, called ICRI'S WITCH, which I liked very much. Have you ever heard about this band, which later changed its name into ELLIS?
CAT: "No, I haven't, but my curiosity is up! I plan on finding it somewhere, so I can hear it."
What's the response of the press like towards your debut album "Satan's Playground" until now?
CAT: "We have been so pleased with the reviews that we've gotten, especially from Europe. Of course, there are comparisons to other bands, and we often wonder about some of those comparisons. It's so hard to hear your own music as others do, and it's refreshing to go back and listen to what the reviewer hears. We've posted some on our website: http://www.blackwidowmetal.com."
Have there been any negative reactions too, and how do you actually deal with those in general? Do you try to learn from it or do you want to forget about it as quickly as possible?
CAT: "Whenever you put yourself out there, you have to be prepared for the criticism, good and bad. Fortunately, we've had very little negative responses. Of course, we want to learn from it, but you have to consider the source, and that it's one person's opinion, either way. And if we do get something negative, Johnny will remind me that there's no crying in Heavy Metal!"
What's the metal scene like in Maryland? Are there many clubs, where you can play live?
CAT: "I wish I could tell you that there was a scene in Maryland, but I can't lie! There is one small club, The Hot Spot, that we play, because they actually take metal there! One club has gone to the old 'pay to play', where they charge the bands money up-front to play. It's not that they're good or popular, it's just that they came up with the money! Very bad scene in this general area..."
Can you name us a few other, well known, metal bands coming from this area?
CAT: "There are a few bands in the Virginia area, that you might be familiar with. Our good friend, King Fowley, has two bands, DECEASED and OCTOBER 31 that are killer! Also, there's DIVISION and TWISTED TOWER DIRE. You might remember an eighties band, called KIX, who are from this area. They're now playing locally as FUNNY MONEY... Other than that..."
With which bands did you share the stage already?
CAT: "SAXON, UDO, SLAUGHTER, JACKYL, GREAT WHITE, RATT, Y&T, QUIET RIOT and more recently at the Metalfests in Tampa and New Jersey, we played with TESTAMENT, M.O.D., Jon Oliva of SAVATAGE, SEVEN WITCHES, PAIN MUSEUM, OBITUARY, PRONG, HATE ETERNAL, JAG PANZER and more..."
Do you still like to play covers on stage, and maybe you can name us a few songs, that you do live?
CAT: "When we do club dates, we still play SAXON's "Princess Of The Night'. We had the opportunity to hang out with Biff and the boys. What a great fun bunch of guys they are! It was one of our best moments!"
I'm sure, you can tell us some nice stories about the life on the road with BLACK WIDOW USA.... There must have happened some hilarious things over the years, that you want to share with our readers?
CAT: "There's way too many Spinal Tap moments and so much laughter!!! I don't know if I can tell you some of the stories, that involved the police. Let's just say, that when my friend Nancy told me that someone in the hotel had called the police, my response was "finally". I didn't want to call the cops on my own band, but at 8:00 am, after a night of loud partying and general destruction, I was ready for it to end! I have to always remember to bring bail money!"
If I take a look at the impressive list of bands, you supported over the years, I conclude that you've build up quite some experience already. Are there any bands from which you learned things that are needful to know in the life of a rock star?
CAT: "I think Tommy, Johnny, and I learned a lot the night we spent with SAXON. How to be gracious and appreciative of every person, who comes to see you. You know, SAXON headlines huge festivals in Europe and they come to the States and play small club dates, but there is no doubt in my mind that they appreciate every one there. When we met DIO, his kind words and mannerisms were that of a man, who has learned that he has the power to create every emotion through his music and yet, he doesnt take advantage of that power. If it wasn't for that one kid, who bought your first album and then the ones after that, we would all be just another "brick in the wall"."
With which band(s) did you have the best experiences while playing live, and maybe you can also point at some bands that were not that easy to deal with?
CAT: "Best, I would say SAXON and their road crew, RATT with Jizzy Pearl and SLAUGHTER. Not that easy, I'd like to mention JACKYL and especially their road crew, and RATT with Stephen Pearcy. Well, enough said about it."
Do you have any fond memories about a certain gig, and maybe you can tell us a bit more about this particular gig?
CAT: "The festival in Tampa was the first big festival we ever did, and so that's very special to me. We'd been working so hard to get some recognition and to get on the road, that when I verified that we were doing the show, I told Johnny to "get out your flip-flops, we're going to Florida!". Of course, he didn't believe me, but when he knew it was going to happen, the look on his face was worth a million dollars and so was the trip and the festival! I kept saying to myself, "I was born to do this"!!"
Do you have any (future) touring plans or is touring just a sort of on-going situation?
CAT: "Right now, because we're new, we don't have any concrete plans, we just hope to get accepted on any tour or high-profile show we can get on. Our goal is to get to Europe as soon as possible!! We want to see, if the reputation is true! We would be so honored to be playing Europe!!!"
When can we see BLACK WIDOW USA live on stage here in Europe, or don't you have any plans at all in that direction?
CAT: "We have great intentions of playing Europe, and with the help of supporters, like yourselves and your readers, we hope to make it a reality. Thanks so much for your interest!!"
Who wrote the lyrics for this album, and can you tell us what they are about?
CAT: "Black Sunshine" (written by Johnny) - about the direction we¡¦re heading, if we don't get our shit together;
"Silent Scream" (written by Johnny);
"Ends Of The Earth" (written by Cat) - about a promise made to all of us;
"Blackjack" (written by Johnny) - about getting taken advantage of;
"Now It's Over" (written by Johnny) - dedicated to his first wife, Sharon, who passed away;
"Satan's Playground" (written by Johnny) - about Satan having a field day with us;
"Brain Damage" (written by Cat) - dedicated to Johnny;
"Winds Of Fire" (written by Cat) - another "warning" song - perfect for getting on your motorcycle and riding;
"You're Guilty" (written by Cat) - "You committed Rock and Roll!" ;
"The Unknown" (written by Cat) - "Love never dies...";
"Night Chills" (written by Johnny) - facing personal night terrors;
"Heavy Metal Warrior" (written by Johnny) - dedicated to all the Heavy Metal Keepers of the Faith!
How many copies did you sell of your debut album already?
CAT: "We've sent so many out for promotion, that it's hard to tell! It's not in the thousands yet, but after this article, who knows?"
Can you tell us a bit more about the drawing on the CD sleeve, which is some kind of horror version of a merry go-round?
CAT: "We met the artist, Joe Gadreau, while we were having dinner at a favorite restaurant. He was the waiter! We didn't know he was even into metal, although the long hair and earrings kind of gave it away. We mentioned we were in a band and that led to talk about the CD and that we were looking for artwork. He went to his car and brought back this portfolio of fantasy art. Well, you can't tell, when you meet someone if they're bullshit or not, so we exchanged numbers and I told him what concept I had and left it at that. He called a few days later and brought over the sketch to rehearsal and we were all blown away! He likes to call it kismet or fate, that we met that way. Yes, it is a horror version of a carousel. This picture is just perfect for "Satan's Playground!"
Do you want to represent anything special here? I recognised a bunch of animals, that seem to destroy the horse in the carousel. Maybe you can explain this to us?
CAT: "Johnny's tattoo artist, Ann, was interested in doing some artwork for the CD and she submitted some designs. We thought this would be good for the disc. I don't think we really wanted to say anything here. We just liked the panthers tearing at a wooden horse. It's some strange symbolism somewhere, I'm sure. We didn't really think that much into it. I'm glad you noticed it! You must have an artists streak in you. No other interviewer has mentioned it before. Thank you!"
What's your favorite song on "Satan's Playground" and why? As you could read in my review, my choice would be CD closer "Heavy Metal Warrior"...
CAT: "I would choose "Ends Of The Earth" for its lyric content, but "Satan's Playground" for performance. It has all the emotions and passions, that we can all relate to, the darkness, and yet, the hope and I just love to sing it!"
The album is out for about a year now. Are you already writing, or maybe even recording some new songs for the next album, or is it still too early to give us some information about that? What can we expect from the new songs?
CAT: "We're already performing some new songs that tend to be heavier and stronger that what we've written in the past. New influences like PRIMAL FEAR and HAMMERFALL are creeping into our style also. We're getting more aggressive with our writing and our pre-rehearsal jams are turning into structured songs! We can't wait for the next CD!"
Cat, we are a magazine, that is totally dedicated to the female musicians in the (hard)rock and (heavy)metal scene. Do you think, the ladies still need the attention that we give them, or do you feel you're getting the recognition, that you earn so much, already?
Cat: "Let's face it, metal is a male-dominated genre. Your magazine allows recognition for females that love the music and express themselves by being performers. It brings a fresh light to otherwise over-looked singers in the metal realm. It makes what we do be taken seriously. We have to thank DORO and LITA FORD for being fore-runners to the metal torch.... Imagine when they came on the scene, how hard it was to break through that testosterone barrier! So please give the good ones attention and the others an 'A' for effort, but please keep on doing what you're doing for all the 'maidens' and all the 'masters'!! And thank you for including BLACK WIDOW USA!"
Do you play an instrument besides singing, by the way?
CAT: "No, although I do have a baby grand piano in my living room, that I keep promising myself I have to learn how to play. I can't even read music... Should I admit that?"
We are a magazine, based in The Netherlands. What else do you know about our country, besides our famous (and beautiful) windmills, tulips (from Amsterdam) and the fact that we walk on wooden shoes (which isn't true, by the way!)?
CAT: "With apologies, I have to plead ignorance... My impressions are only those that I see from travel shows and magazines! I would like to visit Amsterdam and see how decadent it really is! Hopefully, this time next year, BLACK WIDOW will have plans to be in your beautiful country... I knew about the wooden shoes, but how about those cute little white hats that turn up at the corners??? (just kidding!)"
Do you have any hobbies or interests, besides playing music?
CAT: "I used to like to read, but now all I read is computer screens! My hobby is pushing this band!!!! My main interest will always be my daughter, Tiffany...."
What's the best joke, you¡¦ve heard in the past few weeks?
CAT: "Probably that we, the US, will continue to increase military presence in Iraq.... Seriously, I haven't heard any great jokes, but with my circle of friends, there's a laugh a minute!"
How important is the internet for a band like BLACK WIDOW USA, and where can people find your website?
CAT: "If this question was asked five years ago, I'd say "what's internet?", but now it is vital to represent the band and to keep fans informed. With lightning speed, we can communicate with every part of our world (as long as they have electricity!). So, I hope, with lightning speed, your readers will visit http://www.blackwidowmetal.com and come in and play!"
What are the future plans for BLACK WIDOW USA in the short and long term?
CAT: "Get out on the road, more exposure, write, get picked up by a label, record, get on the road, get on the road, get on the road, go on the airplane to get the the European roads!"
Maybe you want to add something to this interview, which is essential for the full story of BLACK WIDOW USA?
CAT: "Only that we want to make it happen, so that we can be a part of metal history. This way, we can share our love for this passionate form of expression and that we can join the legions of those, who believe in the music!!!"
Do you have any messages for our readers?
CAT: "Please appreciate what this magazine means to you. That you can read about bands that you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to hear about, like BLACK WIDOW USA! And to know that this is a labor of love for the owners and the writers that bring it to you and to never give up on the music of your heart!!!"
The final words are for you....
Cat: "Always remember what this music means to you and how it makes you feel. I hope BLACK WIDOW USA will be a part of that! Thank you!!!!"
Discography BLACK WIDOW USA
*Satan's Playground ('03; JAB Productions)
*Soldiers From Hell ('08; independent) NEW RELEASE!!!!
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,