WOLFEBLITZER: The Year Of The Wolfe

Wow, what a great new talent, there is on this planet! After discovering IGNITOR, TWILIGHT ODYSSEY and WÜLF GANG, we also traced down this band from Houston, Texas, called WOLFEBLITZER – another US Metal band, that overwhelmed us with their great, powerful sound! Heavy Metal is dead?!?? Yeah, right! And I’m the bloody King!! The songs, that we heard by this band are the living proof that Heavy Metal is alive and kicking!! Let’s introduce this band a bit closer to you, because before you’ll know it, they are one of the most promising Heavy Metal bands in the scene. MM proudly presents you WOLFEBLITZER, a band that started their career under the name of VALOR....

When did WOLFEBLITZER get together and how did you meet up?
Val: “Lee Seals (the guitarist) and I started the band in 1993, while living in Long Beach, California. We had already been married for seven years and had been writing and playing together all that time. Lee had always played bass in bands before, but he always wanted to play guitar so we needed to shift gears a little. The WOLFEBLITZER of today is quite different than the original WOLFEBLITZER. For the current Houston version of WOLFEBLITZER, we put out ads and told everybody we were looking for members. We answered Tim Castro's ad, Tim Welch answered our ad and we met Ajax (our new, additional guitarist) through a mutual friend at a club.”

Did any of you play in other bands, before they joined WOLFEBLITZER?
Val: “All of us have a rich musical background, metal and otherwise. For instance, I was a ‘wedding singer’ for a couple of years with my cousin's band, PRIORITY ONE and did lots of other things: campus band ENCORE and back yard metal band MAIDSTONE. Lee and I met, when I answered an ad for a singer for the band VALOR. Lee played with locals from Carson, California WHITE STALLION and jammed blues tunes with underground blues shredder, Barry Ratliff (R.I.P.). Tim Castro (drummer) toured with different jazz outfits and has played with Houston local bar band BUSTER GRUV. Tim Welch (bassist) has played for several years in cover bands in Houston, the most recent before WOLFEBLITZER, were DOWNLOAD and WICKED CAROUSEL. Ajax Rodriguez (guitarist), the newest addition to the band, played with local BLACK SABBATH and JUDAS PRIEST tribute bands in Houston. So really the WOLFEBLITZER of today is a convergence of many different experiences of it's individual members.”

Can you tell us a bit more about VALOR?
Val: “The band VALOR was founded in the mid 80's by Bob Hansen (guitarist) and Mike Garcia (drummer) and was based in Long Beach, California. I answered an ad they placed and got the gig, believe it or not, they were already named VALOR before they ever met me, Val! The music was very upbeat and melodic, but hard driving metal. Sometimes it reminded me of VAN HALEN or BLACK SABBATH and yet, at other times, THE SCORPIONS. We practiced very hard and this showed, when we hit the stages in L.A.and Hollywood. As with all bands, the members changed over time and I think we played with four different drummers and Valor had two guitarists, first Bob Hansen, then Adam Marsh.”

Did you record anything as VALOR?
Val: “Yes, but it was nothing fancy, I believe we have some four-track recordings of some rehearsals somewhere.....”

Why did this band actually split up?
Val: “The first version of VALOR split over personality differences. We all lived together and practiced together, I think it was too much. I regret that because we were really great friends at one time. The second real version of VALOR was me, Lee on bass, Adam Marsh on guitar and Jeff Young on drums. Adam decided to quit music for some reason, so that was that.”

Who came up with the name WOLFEBLITZER (which is a very cool name by the way) and why?
Val: “To be honest, it is a man's name - his name is Wolf Blitzer. Wolf Blitzer, the man is an American news reporter for CNN. Lee and I were watching coverage of the Gulf War one day and we heard "This is Wolf Blitzer reporting live from the Pentagon" (or something like that) and it was just one of those moments. Lee and I agreed that his name sounded like bad ass metal band. People who are familiar with Wolf Blitzer, the man, get a big kick when they hear our band's name. In fact, we get some of Mr. Blitzer's email from people wanting to discuss political issues. We may start to publish some of this correspon-dence on our website, because it's just so funny! I wonder, if Wolf Blitzer receives WOLFEBLITZER mail, maybe I can ask him that someday!”

Who are your musical influences and maybe you can also point at some influences of the band members individually?
Val: “First of all, old school metal is the foundation of this band, although each of our members have been influenced by forces outside of metal as well. As a singer, I desire to trace the vocal inflections of Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Klaus Meine, David Coverdale and Bruce Dickinson, just to name a few. These are the voices that speak to me. Lee's influences are George Lynch of DOKKEN, Mathias Jabs (SCORPIONS) and on a more bluesy note, STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN. Tim Castro has studied under Chester Thompson, one time drummer of GENESIS. He also enjoys Max Roach, Lovie Smith, KROKUS, BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST and the SCORPIONS. Tim Welch has probably played every brand of rock and metal there is. He enjoys some of the ‘grungier’ side of things. He's about the only one in the band, who became influenced greatly by the Seattle grunge era, and names bands like BUSH, FILTER, SILVER CHAIR and NIRVANA as those, he enjoys a lot. He does have deep roots in metal and names BLACK SABBATH as one of his very favorites. Ajax Rodriguez is very into progressive metal and at times, darker sounding metal. Some of his influences include Paul Gilbert, SYMPHONY X, FATES WARNING and MESHUGGAH. He currently studies under a fantastic Houston shredder, Joel Gregoire of the band STRIDE and counts him as his primary influence at the moment.”

How would you describe the music of WOLFEBLITZER yourself?
Val: “WOLFEBLITZER's music is what my generation of metal heads wants to hear. It's catchy but not wimpy. It's chunky, but not devilish. It is straight-forward, not complicated at all, but still interesting to listen to. It's not for everybody, but if you just want to bang your head and grit your teeth in a grimace, this music is for you. With the addition of our newest member, Ajax Rodriguez, the music is on it's way to attaining an unprecedented level. WOLFEBLITZER's music can be very ‘mean’, but it also has a more gentle, retrospective side. I know this is good music, because even if I were not in WOLFE-BLITZER, I would love this band.”

Who writes the lyrics of WOLFEBLITZER, and what are they about?
Val: “I write the majority of the lyrics, but lately we have invited the other members to contribute and it's working out rather well. In general, we comment on our own human exeperiences and also paint it with a wide brush at times. The songs on the demo CD are "Hell's Present", "Holdin On" and "Lonely World". "Hell's Present" is about the arson fires we witnessed in California in the early nineties, where literally thousands of homes were destroyed by the maniacal actions of just a couple of people. The first couple of verses are told from the perspective of the victims and fire fighters and the last verse gives a possible profile of the perpetrator. "Holdin On" was written about a woman I knew of who was deathly ill for several months, but she would just not let go of her life even though each day was in agony. My opinion was that she was too afraid to die because she did not know what awaited her on the other side. There's a hopeful side to the song, because it gives us an opportunity to comfort and be of some use to someone. "Lonely World" is just a smart ass commentary about nothing in particular, but it is sure a lot of fun to play and sing!”

What are the reactions like of the press towards your three track demo so far?
Val: “We are truly stunned and astounded by the reaction we are getting, especially from Europe and South America. We always knew there was still an audience for what we call ‘True Metal’, but we had no idea so many people were still holding the torch and endeavoring to pass it along! We have received favorable reviews from Italy, Greece, Holland, Brazil and Costa Rica just to name a few.”

How many copies have you sold of your demo CD so far?
Val: “We lost count... We are not on a label nor do we have management, so we've been distributing the CDs on our own. People, who are interested in buying one, can e-mail us at: info@wolfeblitzer.com.”

After this brief introduction, I'd like to go back to the past for a few moments, if I may. What was it like to be part of the L.A. metal scene for some years, and in which way was it different than the Texas heavy metal scene?
Val: “All the hype the world hears about the L.A. metal scene in the 80's is all true. If you placed an ad for a shredding guitar player, you would get dozens of responses, because it was such a hot bed of talent back then. On top of all the talent, there was a climate that everyone was just a star, everybody acted the part, dressed the part and lived the part. There were some really awesome bands that never got noticed, because there was literally an ocean of bands and only the very lucky, well connected ones got the limelight. It was dog-eat-dog out there, but it was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. Houston on the other hand is quite different. First of all, all the true metalers are quite mature in their attitudes and their music. We stick together out here as opposed to devouring one another. Even though Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation, the metal community is pretty tight knit. But, it was a big challenge to find just the right people for our project in Houston, because all the good players were already over-committed. But it was worth the wait.....”

I noticed a rather impresive list of metal giants, you've met over the years. There must be some nice stories you want to share with us about hanging out with people like Rob Halford, Nicko McBrain, George Lynch, Paul Gilbert and Chris Holmes, to name but a few?
Val: “Oh yeah, you'd run into big names on a regular basis, if you were just around in the clubs in L.A. Most of the time, we'd meet them at the big music trade show, called NAMM. They'd be there endorsing whatever and we'd be there like little puppy dogs, panting with our tongues out. We'd try to act cool, but I almost messed my pants when I met Halford, who was most gracious to me, by the way. We were walking around at one of these trade shows and I spotted Nicko. We just walked up to him and started talking. The guy was extremely cool. This was basically the same way we met George Lynch and Paul Gilbert as well. Chris Holmes became friends with our VALOR guitarist, Bob Hansen. Chris came to see VALOR once at The Waters Club in San Pedro, but they wouldn't let him in because he forgot his identification! Recently, George Lynch passed through Houston and played a club that we play all the time here, called Forgetta Bout It. At the end of the show there was an orchestrated black out which was supposed to enable George to make a quick getaway to his tour bus, but I spotted him and followed him to the bus. He was running and I was running right behind him. I am a typical crazed rock fan sometimes, I just wanted him to sign my flyer from the show. He was trying to shake me, but couldn't. We got to the tour bus and he was trying to get rid of me, because supposedly he had a very important call to make, so he started throwing tour paraphenalia at me, thinking that would make me happy! He gave me a written song list, iternarary of his tour with YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, tour posters from other towns and he eventually did sign my flyer. Hey, persistence pays, ha!”

Did you support any famous bands in your L.A./ Hollywood period?
Val: “Our friends back in those days were local unknowns. Many of their individual members went on to accomplish great things though. People, who were around in those days might have heard of POSSUM DETH, ACCOMPLIS, FRENZY, XERUS, BABYLON STEEL, RAPIER, Mikey Guerrero dubbed the "Tapping Ninja" by JENNIFER BATTEN and we were friends with the all-female metal band DRIVEN STEEL.”

Did you learn anything from these bands, and with which band(s) did you have the nicest experiences?
Val: “We learn something from everyone we come into contact with. We learned that no matter how great you think you are, there's always somebody better. We learned that the most successful bands are the ones, who can simply stay together. We learned that if you are nice to people, they'll be nice to you. Our best experiences were with POSSUM DETH, ACCOMPLICE and FRENZY. These guys are all complete virtuosos in their playing but they partied very hard. We would do shows in the back yard, in the living room, wherever and all the while I stood in amazement at the talent I witnessed there!”

Were there also any bad experiences as well, without throwing mud of course?
Val: “Just the usual stuff involving too much alcohol, jealousy and immature nonsense, having to say you're sorry the next day, or maybe not...... We never fought with other bands. There were bands of the death metal genre, who didn't want to play with us because I was a chick and our stuff could be quite melodic. They thought we were too wimpy to share the same stage!”

Are there any funny stories, that you want to share with us about 'life on the road' or individual gigs?
Val: “Nah, I haven't been ‘on the road’, but on July 9th of this year, we played a warm up show, opening for LIVE NUDE CHICKS, and WARTORN at the Forgetta Bout It club in Houston. For a couple of days, I felt somewhat congested in my throat. No big deal, just irritating. So we started our set, and about the end of “Hell's Present”, I really just wanted to spit. All I had onstage was my beer bottle and I wasn't about to spit that junk in my beer. So, I did the only logical thing and spit on the stage floor right in front of the drums! I really meant to come back later with a wet towel to wipe it up but instead I got all distracted after the show, since I was very sweaty and hot. So I guess the following band WARTORN had a little surprise waiting there! Sorry guys, sorry Frankie! Back in the L.A. days, I worked for an alcoholism recovery home for awhile and we were doing a benefit show for the home. My boss was friends with BLACK SABBATH drummer, Bill Ward, so we shared the stage with his band that time. Ozzy was supposed to come up and do some songs, but he never took the stage and we wondered why. Well, we found out he was passed out drunk or stoned or something in the tour bus in the parking lot. I guess it wouldn't have been very good coming up drunk at an alcohol free function!”

Then 1996 came - the year you decided to take a sabbatical absence of eight long years, before returning to the music scene again. Who made this decision, and did you really stay away from the whole music scene for the full eight years, or did you write new songs or play an occassional show?
Val: “When Lee and I opted out of the scene in 1996, we went all the way. To be completely honest, it was my decision to put the brakes on and stop. It was starting to feel pointless and our direction seemed a little aimless. We were practicing in a very dark garage in Long Beach and it started to feel like a chore going to practice, kind of depressing. Grunge was taking over America and the metal party was over. It seemed the music scene was done with me and I was done with it for the time being. Lee fiddled around on the guitar composing some very lovely acoustical pieces and I sang at church and that was it.”

In 2002 you relocated from L.A. to Houston, Texas. Why was that, and how did you deal with this giant step?
Val: “During the day, I work for a very successful steamship company, Mediterranean Shipping Company. They were beefing up their Houston Operation, augmenting the California operation and they offered employees to relocate. We were tired of the L.A. traffic, high cost of living and some of the California politics at that time, so it was an easy decision to make to move to Houston.”

To my opinion, Texas always had (and will have) one of the richest metal scenes in the entire world. Was it easy for you to get in contact with the metalheads in Houston and surroundings?
Val: “Once our minds were made up to get back into the game, I really didn't have a plan. I went on line and found a website ‘Houston Bands’ and just started sending out emails to local bands, from A to Z. We needed a drummer, we needed a bassist and another guitarist to complete the project. From this initial correspondence, we met people who we consider to be instrumental in our momentum right now. People were so glad to help, hooking us up with musicians, live shows, club owners, practice space, everything we needed really. I will always be grateful to the local Houston metal scene for being so gracious to us ‘newcomers’ and providing the fuel to unleash the caged beast!”

What's the metal scene like today in Houston? I get the feeling, that heavy metal is still huge over there, or am I wrong and is this just wishful thinking?
Val: “There are pockets of hugeness, but unless we had really big names out here, we probably couldn't fill a stadium just for the sake of having a local metal fest or something. We do enjoy some of the best national acts and international acts on a stadium basis. But we go out to the clubs and there is definitely a vibe that we are all on the verge of something very great, our hearts are definetily woven together for one purpose. To show the world that Houston metal is alive and well and ready to fill the void. We have all brands of metal here, but really only handfulls of any given genre. You can find great metal in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, but you may have to dig a little. Houston, in particular is very exciting to me when it comes to music. There's a lot of soul here (soul as in spirit). I think it's something about the soil or the humidity that makes people play music with such conviction and sincerity.”

Are there any good record stores in Houston, where you can buy your metal CDs?
Val:“Diamondhead Records, Sound Waves and Sound Exchange are the ones that come to mind.”

Did you play many gigs in the Texas area already, and can you give us some names of bands you supported?
Val: “We’ve done quite a few local shows already. We have played with MINDCRIME, the best QUEENSRYCHE tribute around. Some of the other bands are called MYSTIC CROSS, VICTIM, SACRED GROUND, Z-LOT-Z, WARTORN, DEWAR, TROUBLEMAKER and LIVE NUDE CHICKS. These are bands we've done shows with. We haven't really branched out of Houston yet, but we are certainly looking forward to expanding our horizons. The way things are going, I wouldn't be surprised if we hit Europe before we hit Austin, Texas!” What can people expect, when they go to see a WOLFEBLITZER gig?
Val: “Right now we are extremely basic, with our music and our personalities being the key attractions. We do have plans to beef up the show, but this will come with time and the proper backing. People can expect to rock the way they used to when they come to see our band. There's not really any darkness to our show or our presentation, we just like to get into a ‘fun zone’ and take everyone with us. The response to our live presentations have been very favorable. There has not been a show, where people were not screaming after every song.”

Do you also play any cover songs live?
Val: “We mess around with covers occasionally. We do "Diamonds And Rust" (JUDAS PRIEST) and our own version of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE’s "Somebody To Love". We have a metal version of THE TEMPTATIONS "Get Ready" and BEE GEES’ "Stayin Alive". It's fun for us to take a song, that's not really metal and make it extremely cool metal!”

What's your favorite WOLFEBLITZER song and why?
Val: “That is an extremely hard question to answer because Lee and I have written so many songs together and of course we think they are all good! We are picky with our songs, so we have probably thrown away more songs than we have kept. I go through my phases though and right now I am fixated on a song we wrote called "A Matter Of Importance". It starts out pretty mellow and reminds me of the band TRIUMPH, but then it seques into a very heavy riff and sounds like DIO. The theme of the song is a call to maintain a childlike faith while seeking the answers to life’s important questions. We have not recorded it, but I will push to record it when the time comes to do a full length album.”

Maybe you can give us your top five of all time favorite (metal) songs?
Val: 1)“Queen Of The Ryche” (QUEENSRYCHE); 2)“For Whom The Bell Tolls” (METALLICA); 3)“Freewheel Burnin” (JUDAS PRIEST); 4)“Damned” (OVERKILL); 5)“A Piece Of Me” (SKID ROW).
Lee: 1)“Queen Of The Ryche” (QUEENSRYCHE); 2)“Unchain The Night” (DOKKEN); 3)“Rock You Like A Hurricane” (SCORPIONS); 4)“Hall Of The Mountain King” (SAVATAGE).
Tim C: 1)“Rescue Me” (Y&T); 2)“Burning Bones Of War” (KROKUS); 3)“Hell Bent For Leather” (JUDAS PRIEST); 4)“Black Out” (SCORPIONS); 5)“Balls To The Wall” (ACCEPT).
Ajax: 1)“Metal Thrashing Mad” (ANTHRAX); 2)“The Drapery” (OPETH); 3)“The Apparition” (FATES WARNING).

Tim, you played in a band called WICKED CAROUSEL. What kind of music did you play, did you record anything and why did you actually leave this band?
Tim W: “This band was formed by accident in the mid nineties. The musician friends got together to jam, and pound out covers of angst-filled radio rock of that time. The effect was grungy and edgy and sometimes got so fast-paced, that WICKED CAROUSEL would often be paired with speed metal thrash bands for live performances. We often wore heavy make up and participated in ‘on stage antics’. WICKED CAROUSEL's drummer hit the drums so hard that there was a constant show of wood splinters, broken cymbals and drum heads strewn around at any given time. The originals were a bit schizophrenic coupling the raw grungy sound with traditional BLACK SABBATH type of riffs as well. This three piece band never recorded nor seemed to have a definite direction, but could at times, offer up a very exhilirating live performance. After about three years, every one was tired and burned out, so that was that.”

What are the future plans for WOLFEBLITZER, in short and long term?
Val: “Short term, we plan on going into the studio in the next couple of months to record some additional material. We will then proceed to distribute the product to some labels and other contacts with a specific focus to Europe and South America. I would like to put together a "Women Of Metal" show here in The States. I already put together a "Houston's Women Of Metal" show earlier this year and it was very well received. I would love to do a show with the band SINERGY, and other bands like them. I heard SINERGY recently and was totally blown away by the vocal power - a combined show with WOLFEBLITZER would be quite spectacular. All of us have the ‘arena’ dream - playing for a sweaty mass of humanity uncountable at a large stadium or arena, that's how our music is written and presented..... Ultimately, we would like to tour and make a nice living with our music for awhile.”

Would you ever consider returning to L.A., if you got the chance or are you satisfied with what you have now in Houston?
Val: “Right now, Houston is a great place to be musically, so we are very content with our situation. I do miss the Mexican food in L.A. though and our family members and Disneyland and Dodger's Stadium, but there’s always plenty to do in Houston and the unpredictable weather keeps things very interesting!”

If you could go on tour with any band of your choice, which band would you like to pick?
Val: “JUDAS PRIEST or HANDS DOWN!”
Lee: “JUDAS PRIEST or SCORPIONS.”
Tim W: “JUDAS PRIEST.”
Tim C: “JUDAS PRIEST.”
Ajax : “JAG PANZER, AGENT STEEL or OMEN (of Dallas).”

When can we see WOLFEBLITZER live in Europe?
Val: “As soon as possible!!! WOLFEBLITZER wants nothing more than to set our feet on European soil. Everything we are doing right now seems to be pointing in the direction of Europe. If anyone needs a kick ass old school metal band to do a metal fest or something, let us know!! We are working very hard to guarantee a show you will never forget!”

Val, we are a magazine, dedicated to the female musicians in the hard rock and heavy metal. Do you think that women still need that kind of attention or do you feel that women already get the respect and dedication, they earn?
Val: “We - ‘Women Of Metal’ are a rare breed, so when the public is actually presented with those who can hold their own, it's an anomaly to say the least. Metal, as an art form, is not for the faint of heart nor for the meek. So to be a woman in metal, you must not only be determined, but also be fiercely in love with your art. The metal community should not only recognize, but support and embrace them. Women provide a balance and can most definitely rock.”

We are based in The Netherlands. What more do you know about our beautiful country, besides the fact that we have beautiful tulip fields and delicious cheese?
Val: “I had a very dear Dutch friend in college, Carline Brandt, who I have lost touch with but I never forgot her. She was free spirited and had a very good heart. I always thought everyone from The Netherlands would be exactly the same way. I look forward to seeing The Netherlands, I believe it will be very beautiful and the people will be very warm toward us. I also like the fact that The Netherlands (and Europe, in general) has great taste in metal!”

Do you know any Dutch musicians, that you like a lot?
Val: “Regretfully, I do not, but maybe you can make some recommendations. We would love to hear the Dutch brand of metal!” (note editor: Alex and Eddie van Halen (VAN HALEN), and Adrian Vandenberg (ex WHITESNAKE) would have been a good option!)

How important is the internet for the evolution of a band as WOLFEBLITZER?
Val: “It’s probably the one main tool, which is currently enabling us to obtain connections with kindred spirits of true metal throughout the world. Without this valuable tool, we would not be getting the international exposure, which we are enjoying now and the absence of this tool is why no one ever heard of WOLFEBLITZER when we were at it in the early 90's.”

Is there anything you'd like to add to this interview?
Val: “WOLFEBLITZER is made up of miracles. Like the miracle of all our band members being over thirty-five years old and still desiring and able to rock as hard as we do. Like the miracle of Lee and I ‘retiring’ and ‘coming back from the dead’ eight years later. Most of our current members at one time or another quit the scene alltogether, but WOLFEBLITZER was a force that drew us all in and made us believe we could accomplish something more powerful than ourselves. This band is a gift to ourselves, that others get to share! It draws from the past, but brings it all very much into the present. Our final offering to you, the fans, is a combination of dreams, work, sweat, pain and sheer love for the true spirit of metal! We salute you all for remaining true to the roots of metal... Be assured, we hear you calling!”

Do you have any messages for the readers of Metal Maidens?
Val: “WOLFEBLITZER shares your heart. We know what it is to have a yearning for good metal and to have that yearning satisfied. We are fans, just like you and encourage you to embrace your dreams. Life is too short to forsake them.”

Your last words....
Val: “Toine and Rita, you have been very great to our band and we are very grateful for the wonderful work you do in the form of your magazine and special events you sponsor. Keep up the good work and thank you very much for the support you have given our band and for ‘Women of Metal’ all over the world!”

Website: http://www.wolfeblitzer.com

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Toine van Poorten, 2004.

This interview was published in Metal Maidens #37/October 2004.