Body Count burst onto the metal scene like a storm. From day one they lived and breathed controversy with the release of their debut album of the same name. As soon as the first single “Cop Killer” hit the airwaves, they found their album being pulled from stores and the band being banned from the Sunset strip for life. With Lead Sing Ice-T at the helm, who is no stranger to this controversy, they forged on like an out of control locomotive taking down anyone in their way. Twenty-five years later they have not lost any momentum, and have brought back what metal has been missing for years; Anger, aggression and brutal heavy riffs. With a FTW attitude and a middle finger salute Body Count is taking no prisoners and leaving a trail of blood in their path. Schecter Guitars caught up with Ernie C., Vince Price and Juan of The Dead at their video shoot to talk about the new album and their weapons of choice.
How has the Social climate changed in the last 25 years from Cop Killer to Bloodlust?
Ernie C: 25 years ago cops were beating people down on the streets and there was a lot of racism, and now there are cops beating people down on the streets and there is a lot of racism…so things have not changed a whole lot. But it’s not getting better and it can get worse, so every 25 years we try to raise social consciousness with an album. We hope we will do it this time with this record.
Juan: I wasn't a member of BC for "Cop Killer" but I was there 100 percent supporting the band as a fan and there's an old saying; the more things change the more they stay the same; and to me it seems like police brutality is still a major problem in America.
Vince: There has been a big change! The stuff that was said and warned about in Cop Killer; people were not aware of. In Bloodlust it is happening now and everyone is aware of it and on the news and everyone worldwide knows about it.
How is Bloodlust Different from your previous albums?
Ernie C: It’s technically better. We play better than we did on manslaughter. This band is the best combination that I’ve had since the beginning, since the first band we had 25 years ago. With this group of guys we play together, we like each other, and that has a lot to do with the music. It’s different because the band is tighter and we’ve had a few years since Manslaughter to go out and play, so it’s a better band.
Juan: Production wise it's similar to the previous album "Manslaughter" although the material is very much different. On this new record 'Bloodlust' the overall message is that humans are blood thirsty creatures, a very violent species with potential to obliterate the planet. The songs flow really well on the new album, almost like a soundtrack to a movie.
Vince: The songs are more in your face and are just f*cking good, just good!
What are some of your personal favorite tracks on this album?
Ernie C: I like every track on this record, you know it’s like if you have kids do you say I like this kid better than that kid? Every track has its moments. I like the tracks that have people featured on them. Those are good because it’s someone saying, “we like your band so we’ll play with your band”. I like Dave Mustaine’s guitar solo on the record. But now I have to learn it!... so thanks Dave!
Juan: There are a few; the title track "Bloodlust" is awesome. I also like "Walk With Me" which features Randy Blythe from Lamb of God. "This is Why We Ride" has a strong message as well and good layers of guitars throughout. There are lots of kick ass songs on this new album. Also, "Black Hoodie" should be powerful to play live, and we’ve just released a new video for it.
Vince: All of them!
You all been playing Schecter now for a few years, what keeps you here with us?
Ernie C: First of all, they are good people, they’re nice…a good company consisting of good people. That is first and foremost. But if Schecter made a crappy guitar, just being good people wouldn’t help that out. But they make an excellent guitar. I been with some companies that’ll make a good guitar and some that had good people but Schecter has a combination of both. Schecter has helped define the sound we have now because we’ve used their instruments on the last two records, so I think we are with the right company.
Vince: Loyalty and the craftsmanship of each instrument, and not to mention the killer staff of people who work for the company.
Juan: I really like the Diamond Series Flying V’s, Custom and Platinum series. Both the feel and the tone are real metal; especially for Body Count. Schecter is a great company, they are family.
What Models are you currently playing?
Ernie C: I have a custom Ernie C. I don’t believe in knobs, so it has an on/off switch. Before that I had a Jeff Loomis model that is left handed…we modified it with an on/off switch, with one pick up in the back. I just like to keep it really simple and uncomplicated. We have a bunch of amps and floor pedals for anything else.
Juan: V-1 Custom, and V-1 Platinum. I also have a few older Schecter Flying V's that I use to record with.
Vince: 4 string Hellraisers that I personally customize for live, and for writing purposes I use the Devil Custom.
How did Schecter help shape your sound as of late?
Ernie C: Like I was saying before, Schecter is the sound we’ve had on the past album and this album is the best sounding album we’ve ever done. Its best Body Count has ever made, so Schecter was a big part of that.
Juan: It's a combination of Schecter Guitars plus the amplifiers we use, but overall the feel of the Schecter instruments is what starts the motion of our sound. If the guitar feels good then you can play better, more fluid, and be more creative.
Vince: The craftsmanship of instrument; it actually plays itself. I just provide the notes and the magic happens.
On Stage you are a pretty physical band, how would you say your instruments hold up on tour?
Ernie C: They hold up just fine, I have no complaints with the guitars. They are road worthy, road tested, road proven with us. I been dropping them, flipping them, throwing them to my tech, and often dropped by my tech. They are built for the road.
Juan: They are road worthy and can handle the abuse of a Body Count live show.
Vince: Well once again, the craftsmanship. Okay here’s a new word: durability. I actually beat my instruments and they beat me back.
We know that the band members are all seasoned Metal musicians, but what other styles and genres do you enjoy?
Ernie C: I like everything, anything that’s good. If people are serious about it and they play it well. I like everything from George Benson to… I like everything as long as it’s not too way out.
I even played guitar onetime with Joe Pass. I like everything.
Juan: I'm very open minded and enjoy listening to all types of music from Classic Rock, to Extreme
Metal, to Blues and Jazz. However, I prefer to play metal.
Vince: Everything but country…I am fucking Punk Rock and that is it! My favorite band is Discharge!!!!
How is it that someone like Ice-T who helped, if not invented Gansta’ Rap, come to be the one person (in my opinion) to bring Metal back to its heavy
Ernie C: When we were in high school Ice listened to Minor Threat and all those punk bands. He was always listening to a lot of punk music in high school with me, and I listened to a lot of metal. Our first record was more of a punk record, now the band has refined its sound more into a metal sound.
Juan: He's a story teller. The lyrics maybe controversial but he tells the truth. Ice also comes up with great fictional horror themed ideas that are super entertaining. The lyrical content is always a strong point to Body Count.
What is the Writing process for a Body Count Album?
We just get together in a room and write riffs and loop everything. Ice comes in and lays down vocals or he takes it with him and writes the lyrics. The last two records we’ve done it like that. But we’ve also tried to do records in the past when we’re in Los Angeles and Ice is in New York, and we pass them back and forth…that doesn’t work. We all have to physically be together in a room.
Juan: On this record we traveled to Phoenix, Arizona and locked ourselves in a private studio in the middle of a hot summer and jammed out lots of ideas for roughly 3 weeks. We also had contributions from Max Cavalera (Soulfly, ex-Sepultura), and a few other friends like Randy Blythe (Lamb of God). Also, Dave Mustaine is on the opening track "Civil War". From there our Producer Will Putney gets the demos and goes through the song and puts his ideas into the material. Then it's tracking the drums, guitars, and bass. At that point, Ice will come in and record vocals, then Ernie will lay down some kick ass solos, and I'll throw in my guitar ideas. From there the songs will get mixed down, sometimes Ice will go back and re-record vocals and start over if he doesn't like how the songs are coming along. Sometimes parts get edited out, and the song gets rebuilt. You got to check your ego at the door when making a Body Count album. These are seasoned veterans you're dealing with, and there's no set formula to a BC record. It's just Body Count.
Vince: We get into a room and the magic happens. I go home and destroy everything and anything around me and the riffs appear.
Juan you have been a long time guitarist in the metal scene and have created some amazing music with bands like Evil Dead and Agent Steel. How did that play into what you create with Body Count?
Juan: I sit back and listen to where the song is going and if my ideas fit, I will present them. It's really that simple. Sometimes we as guitar players try to force
riffs into a song. Through the years I've learned it's about the groove and message you’re trying to convey in a song.
Vince you seem to be the guy with the customized basses, what goes into creating these amazing pieces of musical art?
Well thanks to you guys for allowing me to do so. I use to build my own instruments, I would take a neck and body put it together and then throw some stickers of my choice and once again it is PUNK ROCK …I always wanted my instruments to be different from anyone else’s.
Ernie you are also an accomplished producer. How does that play in creating a Body Count album and what other bands have you produced?
Well you know I produced the early Body Count records just because I wanted to. Because when I was starting out in the business I wanted to get established, as I also produced a Black Sabbath album. Though not their greatest, but it’s not their worst. I got to work with Tony Iommi and Cozy Powell, but what I learned from producing records is that I don’t want to produce records. I’d rather sit back and play guitar and let somebody else worry about it. I do know what I don’t want so I know how to produce the record to say I don’t like this or don’t like that. But I kind of like Will Putney who did our last record, I kind of let him run the ship you know, and he has done a good job. All I have to do is show up and play guitar and I only have to concentrate on that. Sometimes you’ll get guitar players producing records and you get the drummer saying the guitars are blasting… and there’s a lot of stress and many egos that get in the way… not with us, but I have learned to take a back seat, to be a team player and ride along.
Are there other projects you guys have in the works that we might want to check out?
Ernie C: Not really we are just trying to get Body Count to be in the same breath you say Megadeth and Slayer and Metallica. We are just trying to get to that point. We’ve been at it in a while and this record is really good and we are getting some good airplay. We just want to be around for another 25 years because it’s been that long since the first record. Another 25 years would be good, and we’ll play as long as there are people that will show up to hear us play.
Juan: I've recorded with Evil Dead and Agent Steel as you mentioned.
Vince: The next Body Count record!
Interested in the models they play? Check them out here: Hellraiser Extreme-4, JEFF LOOMIS JL-6 FR LH, V-1 Platinum