Interview with Tony Warburton of Cerebral Fix [HORR]
Cerbral Fix's tenure with Roadrunner came at a time when the label was truly leaning into the Thrash/Death world. Guitarist Tony Warburton sheds some light on his experience with the label, and blows me away with one of the most in depth ghost story entries yet! I might do a separate post detailing all the ghost stories, as some have come out of the woodwork recently which don't feature in any of the interviews. Anyway I hope you enjoy this one - and even though Cerebral Fix are no longer an active band, you can show your support to Tony and the lads on their Facebook page.
I read in a great interview with Tough Riffs Magazine that you came to Roadrunner's attention when you supported the Hard Ons at the Fulham Greyhound down in London - can you recall who it was who approached you to make the deal?
We were approached by Rudi as I recall, he showed some interest, but wanted to hear a demo of newer songs. It was after hearing the ‘Tower’ Demo they offered us a deal.
Why go for Roadrunner when Vinyl Solution offered you a second album?
In the grand scale of things, Roadrunner was the better option for us all round. Press/Tour opportunities/Experience in the business. They were a ‘Name’, a ‘Brand’ that was known. Vinyl Solution not so much.
They (VS) are still pissed off at us joining Roadrunner you know. Even though we have had several labels from around the world asking for permission to release ‘Life Sucks…’on CD, Vinyl Solution will not licence it to anyone. Nobody.
What was your impression of Rudi, and the rest of the staff at Roadrunner during Cerebral Fix's tenure at the label?
Oh, the whole thing seemed so much more professional. Mark Palmer and his staff were brilliant, people who were genuinely excited about the business, not just in it to make a quick buck.
I have a 'model Roadrunner record deal' based on what other artists of the time have told me -
6-7 albums with an option after the 2nd.
All the intellectual property and publishing rights retained by Roadrunner
No 'guaranteed' tour support
Is this pretty much what the Cerebral Fix deal looked like? Yeah that’s pretty much it from what I can remember.
The album (and demo) was produced by Paul Johnston, who has a pretty hefty roster of bands he's worked with since Cerebral Fix, although he had only worked with a couple of bands before yourself (I think - correct me if I'm wrong). Did the label have any suggestions for a producer? Or were they happy to defer to your experience on that one? We got introduced to Paul Johnson by Andy Baker our drummer, who lived in Leamington Spa where PJ’s studio was originally was located. He knew of bands that had used PJ before, so when it came time to record the ‘Tower Of Spite’ Demo we gave him a go. Roadrunner quite liked the production of the Demo, so they were OK to let us go ahead and use Paul for both Albums
Is the Tower of Spite demo available anywhere? Not as far as I know, I don’t even have a copy myself. Some of the guys still have it still though.
I love the artwork for both the demo and final LP versions of Tower of Spite. Is the final version based on Cirith Ungol? If so, why abandon the font used on the demo (Half Elven font if I'm not mistaken)? I don’t know to be honest, the artwork for the demo was done by Simon, but as for the Album. We just provided the label with Logo and the artwork. I think it was them who ultimately chose the font for the title.
Similarly - how did the artwork for Bastards come about? I'm wondering if Roadrunner had a thing for lifecycles/evolution after looking at the cover for Artillery's By Inheritance. That I don’t know to be honest, Same artist as ‘Tower’ a guy who was a friend of Simon our singer. So probably unrelated to Artillery.
I like how the Cerebral Fix sound develops from Tower of Spite to Bastards, the former feels a little more technical whereas the latter is a bit more balls to the wall. Did Roadrunner influence the writing/production of the records in any way? No not at all, I think you can attribute the difference between albums with the drummers. Kev Frost is a lot wilder that Andy Baker behind the Kit, so it was always going to a bit more ‘Balls to the Wall’ as you say.
Do you know why the label put the records out on the imprints as opposed to just Roadrunner (or Roadracer in the US)? Did the label make any distinction known to you? Not 100% sure about that, I just saw it as a way to sub-categorise the label
Did the label support the album promotional cycle, etc? Or were they pretty 'hands off'? I always thought they were full on with the promotional side of things, especially if you from the North American Continent.
How did Cerebral Fix's relationship with Roadrunner end?
They took the option not to continue after 2nd album
How do you feel about your time at the label now? Any hard feelings? What would you have done differently?
Had a great time on the label, I wish had done more but that’s ups and downs of the business. When you get told that the label can’t afford to put you on as a support slot of a tour of a European tour but then they fly a band in from Canada to fill the same slot at extra cost. Kind of leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
Any horror/success stories with the label I might have missed?
Nothing stands out in my memory, but being asked if you want to open up for Sepultura for 2 nights at the Marquee club in London was an awesome way to introduce a band to a label. Proper.
Have you ever seen a ghost?
I have, several. And I am not joking.
Tell me more.
Firstly, I am Pagan, so I've dealt a lot with spirit over the years in ritual. We invite good spirits of place and our ancestors into all rituals and cast a circle to keep out any unwanted spirit, spirit with bad intent. None more so than our Samhain Rituals (Halloween comes from the celebration of Samhain. Dias De Los Muertos too.)
It was at one such Samhain ritual about 5 years ago, that some of my local Birmingham Pagans were going to meet up at the Rollright stone circle in North Oxfordshire to do the ritual. I was told that on that night the people who were going to be Priest and Priestess were NOT going to cast a circle and open it up to all and sundry. Now we do welcome all the ancestors but, in my eyes, you can never be too careful. There is evidence of occupation around the stones that dates to 3,800-3,500 BC and there has no doubt been a lot of ritual/celebration of some kind in and around the stones for around 5,000 years.
Anyway, I waffle. Long story short... I turned up early at the circle with 3 other friends and while they were setting up a small altar in the middle of the circle, I sneakily walked around the stones and cast a circle. About 10-15 minutes later, before anyone else had arrived, one of my friends said to me, ''Have you seen him...?''. Now it was early evening, late October, out in the British countryside, it was dark. And all four of us were in the middle of the stone circle. But my friend had noticed a dark-robed figure walking, slightly hunched, around the outside of the stones, around the circle I had cast, I replied ''Yes, he's been walking around for about 5 minutes''. My friend smiled at me, and I said this my friend is why I always cast a circle. Haha!!
So anyway, the figure hung around for a short while until the other people started to turn up, then it disappeared.
We also had some paranormal occurrences while we were recording our ''Life Sucks...'' album at Loco Studios, Near Llanhennoch South Wales. We thought the guys at the studio were having a laugh with us. We all were sleeping in a couple of dorm rooms above the actual studio but in the middle of the first night, at stupid o'clock in the morning, BANG!! The main door from the outside to the dorms was slammed, really fuckin loud.
And a few of the guys said they felt someone sit on the edge of their beds. Next morning those guys wanted to swap rooms ha-ha, I didn't mind so I swapped. We asked the Studio guys the following morning if they had been messing with us, but no, they'd gone home, but they confessed to not wanting to tell us that the place was a bit haunted as they didn't want to scare us. We all said to each other that we think that they were fuckin with us. So, the following night we had a plan.
We stacked up all the beer cans we'd had drank, behind the outside door, the one that slammed the night before. Fuckers we thought, we'll have ya. As soon as they open the door to slam it, about 20 empty beer cans will all tumble down and frighten them. Nope... Middle of the night came; the door slams a couple of times. Felt someone sit on my bed, and something was going through Steve Watson's suitcase which amazingly only contained four loaves of bread, a few tins of beans, and a few items of clothing. But you could definitely hear the tins of beans clunking against each other as our nightly visitor rummaged through the case. But the weird thing, was after the door got slammed a few times. None of the beer cans had moved, not one.
This along with a few unexplained hair pullings, and a never to be found jar of pickled cucumber, weird things became the norm that week.
Hope you enjoyed those anyway Jim. I could be here all-night chatting about every time I witnessed a spirit.
Oh, and I have a spirit cat that has followed me from 3 different homes I've lived in as well. True Story,
-dons ticket stub and Bastards review images taken from Cerebral Fix's Facebook page. All other images from Discogs.com.