Hailing from Richmond, VA, Municipal Waste has been spewing their high intensity hybrid of punk-thrash-horror-metal since 2000, releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2001. Six studio albums have followed, along with numeorus EP’s and splits, but it doesn’t stop there! These guys are busy! Front man, Tony Foresta, and bass player Phillip “Landphil” Hall also lead Iron Reagan on a holy terror, while guitar players Ryan Waste and Nick Poulous joined forces with Austin-based drummer Felix Griffin to form the classically Venom-esque speed metal band Bat. Recently Bat played the Lost Well in support of their new release Axestasy, and I was able to chat with Ryan Waste for a spell…
WW: First off I’d like to say that I’m glad Municipal Waste decided to go for it and continue the tour back in November with Toxic Holocaust , even though High On Fire had to cancel. That was a great fucking show! Was there any question about whether or not to continue the tour? How did it end up going?
RW: Well at the last minute we ended up getting some of our favorite bands from each region to play…like we got Nuclear Assault in New York, The Accused in Seattle, and Nasty Savage in Tampa. We pulled some last minute favors from some of our friends and the tour kept together and we’re so glad we still went. And of course, you know, we were worried about Matt (Pike) and his toe but he gave us his blessing and we went on tour. It became a Waste / Toxic tour and I think the kids wanted that…they really showed up to the show. They were stoked.
WW: Awesome! With the release of your most recent MW album, Slime and Punishment, you guys broke a 5 year stint without a new album (last release being The Fatal Feast in 2012). What was it like getting back in the saddle?
RW: Well we never really stopped. We toured all between that. We used to pump a record out every two years. We basically just didn’t want to shit out another album. We took our time with it. We wrote a record and weren’t super happy with it so we went back to the drawing board, took the best of what we had and just waited to be inspired. The worst thing is just writing because you think it’s time for a record. You want to be able to want to make songs and basically create together. So we just had to get inspired and we did and we’re super happy with it.
WW: Slime was the first album engineered by Phil “LandPhil” Hall. How was working with one of your own?
RW: That’s not entirely true. We demo a lot with Phil and he’s in the band. So this is our boy who writes music with us. We got to record some stuff in my room, some stuff at the practice space, we actually shot it to Bill Metoyer who did all the old Metal Blade stuff to mix it, so I worked exclusively with him for the mix. So yeah, its tough to do records these days where you’re not all sitting there recording in one place…mixing in one place. So it’s a little spread out so yeah it can be difficult but the most comfortable you can be is with your band mates so we felt fine with Phil of course.
WW: When did Nick Poulos join the band? I’m a fan of his from Bat! What prompted the decision to add a second guitar player?
RW: Well Nick’s one of our best friends, he plays with me in Bat, we played in Volture together. It was an idea a long time ago that never came to fruition and the time was right. We wanted to add a new spark to the band and bring in a second guitar player that could inspire us to do a lot more things. We could have gone overboard with crazy solos and harmonies and stuff but we eased into two guitarists and I think we’re building into more wild stuff in the future.
WW: You guys have numerous side projects going on, and some that have crossover members. How do you decide which project to focus on and when?
RW: (Laughs) It’s really just whoever is in town, man! We’re always on the road whether Tony (Foresta) and Phil are out with their group (Iron Reagan), or whether Nick and I are in town, or Dave (Witte). Everybody just likes to stay busy. It keeps it interesting and it keeps your creative juices flowing to do more than one thing. So there’s really no strict routine or regimen. It’s really just, if we’re home, we’re going to be playing music together. And then we’ll be on the road together. The only thing that’s really planned out are the gigs.
WW: Your video for Slime and Punishment was great! I read that Norman Cabrera did your video and made the masks. How did you guys hook up with him? And what is your relationship with him?
RW: Yeah me and Norman became really fast friends. I was a fan of his effects work…I’m a big horror movie fan. And I found out through a mutual friend that he was a big Municipal Waste fan so a mutual respect was born there. And we just hit it off personally, just vibing on old speed metal and old horror. So me and him were actually the two that started talking and he had wanted to make a mask for us. And I said, I’ll do you one better, why don’t you make a music video for us? And he was like, ‘I’ll direct it!’. And he’s normally not a director. And I have been writing a heavy metal horror movie for about 4 years and I talked to him about that and he’s come onboard to be a co-writer and we were going to co-direct that movie together. But fast forward, excuse me, rewind back to the video. That was our first taste of working together and bouncing ideas off each other. He took the helm at directing, and we’d look back and he’d be like hey what do you think about this. So in working together, we found ourselves really seeing eye to eye on a lot of decisions of the shots and where it goes within the treatment of the video. So, we’re going to work together in the future and we’ll see where it goes!
The film I’m making, if we get funding, we’re going to co-direct. What it really boils down to is that he’s a heavy metal fan, and a speed and thrash metal fan and he did it for the love and more of a favor to the band. It’s more of a friendship than anything and I think he and I are going to do a lot more projects together.
WW: In your opinion, what makes Richmond, VA such a hot bed for music? Especially metal?
RW: It’s a very small community and there’s a lot of output. There’s not a lot of people but we put out a lot of stuff! A lot of it is the same 10 guys doing it…which is crazy! So people thinks it’s this big mecca for metal but really it’s just a bunch of friends and there’s really no egos there. There’s no rock start bullshit. We all go support each other at shows. We all hang out at the same bars. And it’s a really cool tight knit community with a small town mentality yet we think we have bigger ideas. Yet our ideas can help change some shit in our community. Not to be so bold but in an artistic way, we’d like to think that what we do affects the city and brings some people in. Like oh, there’ some shit going on in Richmond and it’s not just a small town. And I think that’s what’s been happening for a long time. And it’s not just us…this shit has been going on for while, like since the 80’s. White Cross, old punk rock, oh course Gwar, and Death Piggy before that. Everyone respects where it all comes from in Richmond. We just got to keep it going and make people want to come see our city.
WW: Do you guys have jobs at home? Or are you at the point where you’re able to do music full-time?
RW: Depends what time of the year you talk to me! Haha. Making music you might make a good sum of money some of the time but you have to know how to pace yourself and live off of it. Most people can’t do that. I’ve been struggling this year to be completely honest but Richmond is a pretty affordable place to live. I don’t need expensive things. I don’t need material objects. If I can just get some food and some drink. I just moved my girl from LA to Richmond. We just did a cross country trip so we’re pulling it back together. But yeah, I mean, I don’t have a day job. I kind of wish I did sometimes. I don’t wish I did, I guess I wish I had the loot sometimes.
WW: You guys have played all over Europe, America and Mexico. What were some of your favorite cities? How does your reception in Europe differ from America? Any place that you really want to play but haven’t played yet?
RW: We’ll play anywhere…that’s our motto. We started out in a basement then we were playing festivals in Europe to 80,000 people. No show is too small or too big. I really like Australia. I feel like the people get our mentality there. We’ve played there twice. We haven’t played Russia but we’d like to that. We like to play Austin…I’ll plug Austin. We’ve always been welcome in southern California and the Bay area. Really there’s no place that’s out of our territory. We don’t look at it as picking favorites, man. We just like to play.
WW: If Municipal Waste had a mission statement, what would it be?
RW: I have my own mission statements. We’ve always been about this…we have a punk attitude but we’ll bring you some metallic riffs. We’re always sure to mix punk and metal together. And it’s not about a trend, it’s about what we grew up on. No egos, just get up there and play and just interact with the audience. We’re not separated from the audience. We feed off that so if the crowd’s having a good time, it’s going to make us play faster and play better.
WW: Who does the album and t-shirt artwork for you guys…or is a few different people?
RW: There’s about a 100 different people. Haha. We’re very particular about art. I’m a huge fan of album art, like when you see something at a store that’s what attracts your eyes to it, whether you’ve heard the band or not. We work with countless artists. Our friend Barf, Jim Callahan is his real name, did a lot of early t-shirt designs, Andrei Bouzikov did some album sleeves, and there’s a bunch of other t-shirt designs. There’s about 20 other artist but I can’t reel them all off but we’re not exclusive to one person. People know what the Waste is about. We care about the art. We’re never just going to put some bullshit on a t-shirt. Tony used to work in a print shops and we would print out all our own shirts. That’s why we had so many designs early on as a young band because we were printing our own shirts…and he had the hookup!
WW: Yes! Bat has a new album out called Axestasy. Who all played on this album? Did Felix (Griffin)?
RW: So Felix played on Axetasy. We recorded the drums here with our buddy, Stuart Laurence at Emphatic Audio. We recorded most of that record about a year ago. As far as Bat goes, and in our hearts, Felix is always in the band. But Felix had to step down. His daughter was killed in a car accident, his house burned down, it all happened the same year, and he had to focus on some bigger things in life. He gave us his blessing to get another drummer. We were always a long distance band with Felix in Texas and us in Richmond, VA. So it kind of put a damper on the band touring. He knew that and he wanted us to succeed and be able to play shows. He didn’t want to hold the band back. Either way I go into everything 200 percent so I was turning down more than half the shows we got offered, because everything required a plane ticket to get him to us. We never practiced. We’d just write songs, teach it to him, and record…right there. So everything was on the fly with Bat…no pun intended. Which was kind of cool, we’d just get up there and throw down, everyone knew their parts. But with Chris Marshall, he lives in Richmond and it feels like a real band. Nothing against Felix at all. He understands that. Felix is along with us on this run, he’s getting up and playing a couple songs with us at all the Texas dates. And Chris and Felix have become friends. We’re all like family and we’re lifelong friends. It’s really an emotional time. It’s hard to put into words but Felix has always wanted the best for the band and he felt like he was the one holding it back. And now I feel like we can do a lot more, as much as we still want him there. It’s nice to have his blessing.
WW: Is MW your primary focus? Cause you guys have a ton of shit coming up!
RW: Everything is equal to me! I always have a full plate. We’re in Mexico in two weeks, then Vancouver, going to Europe for a few summer festivals. And that’s with Municipal Waste. But Bat has a new booking agency going on. Ron from Crawlspace and Final Conflict is starting to book us so we’re just going to start seizing opportunities to play more. We just played Hell’s Heroes in Houston last night and it was fucking incredible.
WW: So it doesn’t cause any conflict between all of the other bands?
RW: No…everyone is spreading their wings and doing other things and I think that’s what keeps us healthy. We don’t have to focus on one thing and everyone can creatively do other things. This has been going on for years so everyone’s used to it. If anything, it gives you a break. If you want some time off, while their other band is doing something, then you can go off with your band. It doesn’t hold you to just one thing so I think its really healthy actually.
WW: Final words of wisdom for your legions of fans out there?
RW: Bat’s going to play a hell of a lot more shows so fucking keep your eyes out!