We had a chat with Tony Foresta, singer for the thrash metal band Municipal Waste, prior to their upcoming tour with Gwar. Here's what happened:
VICE: What was it like recording your fifth studio album?
Tony Foresta: Usually when we're writing a record, or we're recording, we have a tour schedule bearing down our throats. There's been a few points where we've worked on the artwork and layout on the road and that's frustrating. This time we didn't have that problem. We took a year and a half to write it. We just hung out in Richmond and took our time with it and tried to make it the best possible. We made sure it was going to be an important record for us and that we took our time to get it done right.
Where did the nickname “Guardrail” come from?
You know it's funny, I know when people call me that they don't really know me because it's not my nickname, it was my email address. When I first started doing email interviews they'd be like "hey, it's Tony Guardrail." People just assumed it was my nickname. When people don't know me they call me Tony Guardrail. I don't mind it. You're calling me by my email address from 10 years ago. (Laughs)
So apparently Municipal Waste was said to have caused a small riot at a New Year's Eve keg party in 2000/2001 in Richmond. What happened?
It was just a crazy-ass party. Kids going apeshit, slamming, throwing stuff around. A couple fights broke out. You know, a typical Richmond, redneck house party. The cops got called. It was a great way to start a band. We like to drink a lot.
Talk about the differences touring Europe. What's the energy like?
Europe's different, especially as a smaller band; they really take care of people. It was really crazy for us our first time out there cause we're like, "wait, you guys feed us every night?" We're not used to that. They'll have dinner ready for you, you get really nice beer. Yeah, it's cool. They take care of bands no matter how big they are, or how small they are. You're gonna get fed and the shows are usually good. People just like metal there more too, you know. While metal is fairly big here, it's huge there. There isn't a huge hip-hop culture like there is here. It's not as popular, it's more like metal and rock music.
What about touring in Mexico?
It was unbelievable. We played Mexico City and there were like 8,000 people there, so it was wild. They love thrash there man, they live it. It was cool going out there because I had never been to South America before, so it blew my mind. People are so passionate there.
You've toured the states so much. Do you have a favorite place to play?
I like Austin, Texas a lot, and Chicago is really cool. Boston is really good. Just the bigger cities, and the smaller towns like Austin are really cool. Mostly my favorite places to play in the states are the ones that have my friends. I love playing L.A. because I know a lot of my friends are gonna come out that I haven't seen in a long time. It's always cool to play a small town we've never played before, which we're doing a lot this upcoming tour. We're playing a lot of places we've never been.
Have you played Flagstaff before?
We played Flagstaff actually on the first tour we ever did. We were on tour with this band Catheter. I forget the place we played, but it was really cool. We had a little cookout at one of the parks there drinking all day, so by the time we played we were hammered.
Do you have a conservative family? What do they think about what you do, like the band concepts and stuff? Do you go home for the holidays?
Yeah I go home for the holidays. My family's good; they've been really supportive. My dad's a Republican, which is probably why I came out the way I am (laughs). My mother has been extremely supportive of me my whole life and she knew I was a weirdo and would get behind any creative stuff I was doing. She's the reason why I've been able to do what I do, you know, to have the willpower to do what I'm doing, because she's been a huge support throughout. But yeah I'm real close to my family still.
What's it like touring with Gwar?
It stinks dude. When I say it stinks, I don't mean it like it's a bad thing, like we're not having a good time, because I've had some of my favorite times on tour when we're with those guys. But it stinks like the dressing room smells like shit. Their costumes are just like the smell of rubber and sweat and b.o. and whatever stuff gets thrown around back there. But yeah it's not glamorous, but it's really fun. And they're some of the funniest dudes I've ever toured with. It's a good time. I'm looking forward to this tour more than I've been for a lot of tours.
I've seen you play three times and each time was pretty wild. I'm sure you've seen some crazy shit, right?
One time we played in Miami and this really pretty, preppy girl was wandering around the crowd, and she stuck out because she was so tall and pretty, and she was wasted. She was getting hit dancing. I could kind of see her getting thrown around and then all the sudden she was gone and I was like, "that's weird." Then later on after the show someone was like, "did you see that girl in the crowd, the really tall one in the dress?" And I was like "yeah, yeah I saw her." He said "dude, in the middle of the set there was a circle pit going around and she walked into the middle of the circle pit, pulled her dress up, and just pissed right in the middle of crowd." I think she probably just got kicked out after that. There's shit that happens like that all the time on Municipal Waste tours. People just go crazy when we play, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Do people still bring boogie boards to your shows?
Sometimes. It's funny because people think that we do that shit, that we bring them. But no, the crowd brings them. It's weird. Some nights there's like 10 and sometimes there's none. It's good times.
Groupies. Is there still such a thing?
There's some, I don't know. With bigger bands you can kind of see there are girls that are like that. We come from a more punk background so the groupie kinda chicks that would, they know that that shit don't really fly with us, and that we'll just make fun of them, so they don't come around. We're also not the most attractive band on the planet, a bunch of short dudes, a bunch of smart-ass dudes with beer guts.
What's band practice like? Do you have any massive pile of beer cans laying around?
There's nothing too crazy in there. There's definitely a bong or two.
Do you drink or smoke more while writing music?
We drink more probably, if we do one or the other. We've been practicing during the day a lot, like one in the afternoon, so I might knock back a few.
Name a couple black metal bands you listen to.
I like some. I like Craft, they're pretty awesome. I like Watain, they're pretty cool. I'm not a huge black metal fan, but I like Craft a lot because they have a punk element to them and they're dark, but also kinda catchy.
When did things change for you as a band, now that people are promoting your music and asking you to answer the phone when guys like me call? No more independent touring, etc. What's different?
Everything started changing after the second record. Municipal Waste is weird. I mean, it's not really an explosion. The closest thing to that is probably when Art of Partying came out and it was because the timing of that was really good. We could see how fast the band was growing. I think the success of the band is that we weren't some band that didn't just come out of nowhere and all the sudden were popular like some of these bands get, lucky for them. We worked hard, we put in our hours on the road and slept on a lot of floors and kept at it over the years and, you know, like when our band was finally a successful band we were already a band for like five years. So it wasn't like "check out this new band." It slowly happened, and I think that has a lot to do with staying on the road and getting out there in people's faces and working really hard. That's what I'm really proud of about our band. We never gave up and no matter how poor we were or how stupid things got, we kept at it.
Do you prefer playing large venues with security or small venues/house shows?
You know, it's funny, the cool guy answer would be to say "oh yeah, I'd rather play a house show," you know? Honestly it really just depends on the crowd, it's really not the venue. You know sometimes venues suck and there's all this asshole security and stuff, I hate that but, you know, it really just depends on how the crowd is reacting and if they're having a good time. It could be 10,000 people or 10 people, it could be the biggest room, it could be the smallest room, but as long as the people there are responding to it and it sounds good, it's fun, you know?
My answer a few years ago would probably be small rooms, definitely. But it's weird, there's different factors involved with every show. You never know. Like people stage dive so much they stomp all over your shit and you have to stop playing, or they fuck up your equipment, or getting your teeth kicked in from people crowdsurfing. I've had all that shit happen at small shows. But I love it. I love the intensity of it. It's all about the audience, like how they're reacting to it. We came up through punk roots, playing and setting up at house shows and booking our own tours and stuff.
What do you think about the upcoming presidential election?
I think the Republicans are fucking hilarious dude. I don't think Obama should do any campaigning. They're just gonna shoot themselves in the foot, you know? I mean Santorum's a fucking lunatic and Newt Gingrich is Newt Gingrich. So I mean, they're just gonna talk themselves into a corner. I just think they're destined for failure.
Would you ever play a show in a war zone or dangerous area?
No. (Laughs.) I don't need to play a show that bad, I'm not trying to get bombed out. I've played places where there's been wars, like recently and stuff, but I wouldn't play where that shit is going on.
Have you ever played a show on hallucinogens?
The first show I ever played I was tripping. Yeah, it was my old punk band. I was tripping on acid.
Was it fun?
It was weird, everybody looking at me. I'll never forget that. I was like "god, what am I doing? Everybody's staring at me." But it was like my friends, it wasn't like we were a big band or anything.
Where do see Municipal Waste in five years?
Probably where we were five years ago, you know? And where we are now; just farting around, being smart-ass guys playing music, touring and having a good time. I don't really think much has changed or much is going to. Hopefully we'll be a lot richer or something like that, but I don't think any of us are really looking out for that, or trying to. We're just gonna do the same things we do and try to write good music, and try to write fast, ripping, fun songs, and hopefully I'm still doing that. I'm having a great time with it now. Hopefully five years from now I'm having a good time.