Interview: Municipal Waste guitarist Ryan Waste ready to get back to band’s trademark punk-metal attack

Reviewing music is a pretentious business. Just look around the Web and you’ll find scads of half-educated, opinionated dolts like me trying to find something meaningful to say about every damn album that plops onto their desks.

Thing is, most of our smart-guy opinions are 99 percent crap. “Oh yes, most people think ‘Deliverance’ is about a man drowning his beloved, but it’s really about a time when Mikael Akerfeldt couldn’t get it up in Japan.” But is it really? Every music review is subjective, so perhaps the reviewer is subconsciously being influenced by the time he couldn’t get it up in Japan. You see? There’s no “truth” in most music reviews, but there’s a ton of bogus-intellectual claptrap and self-congratulatory yap. Take it from me, I know.

And that, my friends, is why I love bands like Municipal Waste. You don’t have to rack your brain on a song like “Knife Fight” or “Blood Hunger,” cuz everything you need to know about the meaning of the song is right there in the title. What’s “Poseur Disposer” about? It’s about a thing that friggin’ shreds poseurs, that’s what it’s about, baby.

But being straightforward lyrically doesn’t mean Municipal Waste is musically simple. On the contrary; it takes a lot of work to cram so many riffs and hooks into a 47 second song like “Dropped Out” or to hammer out a 13 second manic masterpiece like “Death Prank.”

The Richmond, Va. band’s first album, “Waste Em All” was like “Reign in Blood” boiled down to a shorter, even-nastier thrashing machine, with an S.O.D. sense of goofy black humor and a Dead Kennedy’s viciousness in Ryan Waste’s unrelenting riffage. It was fun — mosh-out, head-bang, kick-butt fun.

“Hazardous Mutation” was also a blast — and sonically very much like Metallica on meth (check out “Unleash the Bastards” and tell me that doesn’t sound like “Kill Em All” Metallica if James had given up singing and grabbed a hard-core punk to be Met’s new frontman).

“The Art of Partying” — to make yet another comparison — is “Seasons in the Abyss” at supersonic speed, musically intricate and rifftastic, but not nearly as self-serious as “Seasons.” I mean really, “The Inebriator” is totally “Dead Skin Mask” — but sixteen times faster and not nearly so full-of-itself. And the title track, “The Art of Partying” is amazingly crushing and fun — it’s music for smashing the furniture and throwing the TV out the hotel room window.

While Municipal Waste evolved its sound over the years, there’s a sense that Ryan Waste feels the band strayed too far from its dirty punk roots and gross-out humor on their 2009 release, “Massive Aggressive.”  In a recent interview, Waste said the band — which is recording tracks for its next album — wanted to get back to the feel of their earlier thrash epics.

“It sounds like an old Waste record,” Ryan Waste said of the new material. “We’re bringing the old Waste and bringing the old themes back. We’re keeping the music heavy. (Lyrically), it’s still tongue in cheek — songs about death, with our sense of humor.

“We’re producing it,” Ryan Waste said. “We’re not a pretentious band; we don’t need a big-name producer to make Municipal Waste sound like Municipal Waste.”

The band was about half-way through the recording process at the time of the interview, Ryan Waste said. “It’s totally written, but I’m trying to put some (guitar) spice in it,” he said.

It’s hard to fault Municipal Waste for wanting to broaden their lyrical horizons on “Massive Aggressive;” after all, the band was heavily inspired by punks like Dead Kennedys and D.R.I. — and god knows those guys weren’t afraid of tackling political and social issues in their songs.

“Massive Aggressive” dealt with some pretty serious topics, such as media manipulation, environmental destruction and religion. To be fair, the songs were good and the attitude on “Massive Aggressive” was definitely punk — but the songs lacked the short, brutal sucker punch of “Waste Em All” and “The Art of Partying.”

The upcoming album won’t be quite as thematically serious as “Massive Aggressive” tracks like “Upside Down Cross,” Ryan Waste said.

“We’re not trying to be a serious band,” he said. “We’re just being ourselves. The songs will be more like the quick head kicks of “Waste Em All,” Waste said.

“We started out with songs that were three minutes-plus,” Ryan Waste said of the new material. “We forced ourselves to write some shorter songs.” Keeping the intensity of punk rock at the core of Municipal Waste is crucial to the band, because they’re passionate about punk rock, he said.

“Me and Tony grew up listening to punk,” he said. “The only kind of metalheads I like are the ones that appreciate punk. I always considered Municipal Waste a punk band … it’s a (mixing) of punk rock with heavy metal.”

On previous albums, the band sped through the recording process — something they didn’t want to do with the new album, Ryan Waste said.

“We’ve never really took the time like we did on this record,” he said. “… We took the year off from touring to record. Everything we’ve done has been rushed and we didn’t want to rush this one.”

The time off from touring was needed as well; after a brutal touring schedule for “Massive Aggressive,” the band members needed time recharge themselves and get ready to write and record the as-yet-unnamed new album.

“We had a rough year touring (in 2010); it was non-stop,” Ryan Waste said. “Everyone needed some time off. You don’t want to come home and practice (after) you’ve been sitting in the (tour) van for a year.”

The new album, which is due early next year, will be the band’s first with Nuclear Blast records. “Massive Attack” was the last album the band recorded for their three-album deal with Earache.

Having a new label gave the band new energy, Ryan Waste said.

“We’ve got something to prove. You want to do your best to show it has gotten better,” he said.

Currently, the band has only one show booked in the near future — a Nov. 4 show at NYC’s Gramercy Theatre, as one of the headliners of the “Metal Suckfest.” Ryan Waste said he is starting to get anxious to get back on the road.

“I’m actually missing touring now,” he said. “We usually go out a lot more … You’re not a band unless you’re a live band. It’s feeding off the energy (of the crowd).”


1 Comment

  1. Each Municipal Waste album has a theme of sorts where Hazardous Mutation was focused on 80s horror and songs that offered meta-commentary on the awesomeness of thrash and The Art of Partying was about what its title suggested Massive Aggressive is more of a mixed bag though the primary themes are violence and destruction with a tiny bit of political awareness thrown in Media Skeptic Wrong Answer .

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