When post-Hardcore triumvirate Philm unceremoniously parted ways with the legendary Dave Lombardo (Grip Inc., Misfits, Suicidal Tendencies), their immediate future appeared entirely austere. However, with the arguably unexpected addition of Venezuelan-born percussionist Anderson Quintero, vocalist/guitarist Gerry Nestler (Civil Defiance, Kkleq Muzzil, Super Rider) and bassist Poncho Tomaselli immediately appeared to be refreshed. The resulting opus (i.e., the oft-ingenious Chris Sorem-Produced Time Burner, 2021), offers a wealth of support of their continued evolution. Recently, the truly charismatic Nestler, always a man of many words and interesting stories, was kind enough to speak with us regarding, among an array of many other things, the group's signing to German label Metalville Records and their connection to the award-winning animated short Spanish Flowers.
Todd: How did the group become involved with Anderson Quintero? Taking into consideration the legacy of his predecessor, I would imagine finding someone capable of 'filling his considerable 'shoes' could be very difficult.
Gerry: “(Bassist) Poncho found Anderson. He stepped in pretty quick. I had already started working on my solo album (Mama's Child, 2018). ...About a month after things officially broke apart, Anderson was available. He was in LA, and he just fit right in. The way it all started was there was an open day at NightBird Studios in Hollywood. It's the Sunset Marquis Hotel on the bottom floor. They have a studio down there that used to be (guitarist) Jeff Beck's studio. And, yeah, it's a beautiful studio down below. Rihanna had just recorded down there. So it's sort of an elite studio. And Poncho said, "Well, they want to have us come down there, and let's just meet." I'd never met Anderson or played with them, ever. And we just met one morning over there. There was a piano. And we had done this piano stuff before with Dave Lombardo in New York. We started, actually, in 2015 doing these shows that were piano, bass, and drums. And because of Dave's friendship and connection with John Zorn, we were able to perform at the Stone in New York City, do some dates there. And they were very successful. To my surprise and astonishment, really, we seemed to work really magnificently as a piano, bass, and drums trio so much so that we recorded an album there in New York in the East Side at Eastside Studios. We did a full album there, so when we got together with Anderson, I didn't know what to expect when we went to meet him for the first time. Everything heard on Time Burner, everything that's on the record, that's exactly what that is. It's all of us meeting for the first time. I'm not even kidding. I never played a single note with the guy until what you hear on the record. That's what happened. It was eleven minutes before it finally stopped and I loved it so much. I said 'We should just take it from here. ...This should be us, this time, doing our own thing.'”
Todd: Was the inter-personal chemistry with Anderson immediate? How quickly was everyone able to gel as a group of musicians? His pedigree is obviously different from that of Dave Lombardo, so it must have been hard.
Gerry: “It wasn't difficult with Anderson at all. He's a very friendly guy, and so it was just really effortless, actually. It was just like 'Okay, let's just go. Let's just do it'. He filled in that void that was missing. There wasn't anything strange at all with the terms of us being able to do music together. And with Anderson, he and Poncho, too, but more, I would say with Anderson, being so young and his father being Anderson's father coming from a long line of master percussionists, musicians and singers from Venezuela... A lot of what he brought into Philm was different from Dave Lombardo. Anderson has this really deep musical lineage that he brought into the band. And that sort of made up for the loss of such an iconic drummer like Dave Lombardo from the group. It kind of balanced it all out. It ended up being a great way for me to complete everything that got dropped because when the band broke up, everything was on the floor. We had this one record waiting for us in New York that will probably never see the light of day, but we were also scheduled to record this album, so it was a great. I'm just relieved that I even got the chance to complete this thing and release it. Wrapping this up was real huge for me.”
Todd: How does the direction of your solo material differ from that of Philm? Musically speaking, are you able to do things as a solo artist that simply wouldn't work within the broad, but established parameters of the group?
Gerry: “The directions are clearly very different (laughs). Like art, all music truly is an homage. Even (Russian composer Igor Fyodorovich) Stravinsky had said it's all thievery. The solo stuff for me was just a way of me letting it all out. If you were to view the film Fire From The Evening Sun, the last song on it is “Corner Girl”, it's quite different from the rest of the record, so all the solo stuff for me was really a chance for me to not be restricted in terms of having to stay within certain parameters. I was able to really immense myself within this. There's a saxophone and I was on the piano since there was an old 1912 Steinway that I got to use. It was really just a way for me to sort of let out all these other musical things that were also really a part of me. (The Civil Defiance release) The Fishers For Souls (2012), which according to Rock Hard magazine in Germany at least, is considered one of the greatest five hundred records of all time. It's number two hundred and twenty-two of the greatest five hundred albums ever made. That album sort of encompasses, I guess, a lot of my art, the way I write and the things that I do. It has Lily 'Helicopter' Haydn, the violinist, on it. We also had some cello and there as well. Then brutal start-stop type style that took it into a Frank Zappa realm that was done very early. Actually, we started doing that in the '80's. I'm told that that helped lead the way or pave the way for a lot of the other things that would come afterwards. For me, music really is art and that's exactly what this new album is. That's what the Time Burner record truly is. It's nothing more and nothing less because that is all there really is.”
Todd: How did you become involved with Producer Chris Sorem? Overall, how big of an impact did he have on the recording process(es) for Time Burner? It must have been so refreshing to work with a all new outside force.
Gerry: “He did my solo record with me. That's how I found him. (laughs) When I went to the studio to do my solo album, I had Anderson with me and we recorded (the songs) “Christ Of The Century” and “Seventh Son”. I brought in all the files that were done at NightBird, the piano, bass, and drums files and he just went to work with that. The rest of the album was recorded in New York at the old Pfizer building in Brooklyn. ...Then I took everything back to LA. We mixed it, and that was it. Chris Sorem is wonderful. He's a brilliant Producer. ...He has worked with Rufus Wainwright, and he's also worked with (musician/producer) Van Dyke Parks (Brian Wilson and Frank Zappa, among others) for a while, too. ...Chris has an amazing ear and amazing sensibility. He's a lot more on the sensitive side of things, so there is that element of sensitivity that he brought into Time Burner that we tried to capture on the other records. I don't mean to say it as Dave did the best he could, but in he really at the helm of those first two records. Aside from Harmonic (2012), it was my choice on how the songs were ordered and everything. The Harmonic record also has a lot of stuff that I started working on with Dave back in the '90s, so Fire From The Evening Sun (2014) ended up being more of a band effort. As a touring group with the three of us, we were a little more formed in terms of just being a complete unit and a lot less experimental. We were a lot more into the construction of the pieces. And then you have Time Burner, which is our attempt to fulfill and complete where this whole thing left off and wherever this thing might end up at next.”
Todd: At this point, do feel as if the unfinished recordings the group recorded with Dave will ever be officially issued? Considering the time and energy that were undoubtedly invested in it, it's sad that it won't ever be heard.
Gerry: “When the band split up, no agreement was ever made for us to be straight about everything, ya know? No agreement was ever made about it at all, really. We only had an agreement to take care of our tax issues for the year and that we needed a new accountant, so it was definitely a surprise to me when it came out in the press that the group was ending. We all still shared an LLC corporation together, so the questions in regards to this Film noir record was my attempt to take care of any debts that we had because we still owed money for the recording. We had Mixed the record and it was a beautiful thing. We were originally planning on releasing it, so I'd contacted the person we owed the money to (laughs) and said 'I'd be willing to pay for everything to settle this debt with you because we still owe you this money'. And by the way, each of us was still a one-third partners in all of this. But he said 'I can't really give it to you. I could give it to you, but with all of the drums parts removed. I can give you the record that way, but...' He wouldn't really accept the payment for the release of the album, so I left it at that. ...If we can't all agree to release this thing, then I guess it's not going to happen.”
Todd: Did any of the individual components recorded during these sessions 'make it' onto Time Burner? While the thought of you recycling material may appear sacrilegious, it could have been a way to release it all publicly.
Gerry: “The piano, bass and drum work that's on Time Burner is, like I said, from the first time we'd played and there's also two other pieces from that same session that I included on the record, which are “Way Through The Water” and “Evening Star”. Those are reflective of, and my way of sort of bringing in what was lost with the East Side sessions that we all did with Dave Lombardo. ...I think there were at least twenty songs that I have marked s being recorded with Dave and Poncho. The whole thing was Mixed and ready to go, but I was told that I was not allowed to release that record or even touch the album. Time Burner is in part me making up for audiences or listeners that understand where this band was going with Dave and what we were doing with that. It's a shame that we never really had a chance to really go anywhere it other than the performances we did in New York. ...We did some stuff in Brazil, too, but that was it. I don't know why that stuff won't ever see the light of day, but that's why Time Burner has that work with the piano, bass, and drums to bring in that side of the group. We were calling it Film Noir...and then the rest of the songs on the album are jams that we would do live during our 2015 tour. Some of the stuff is completely new like “Spanish Flowers”. I don't think we could ever have achieved that before Anderson joined. That piece was an impromptu thing that we created. I pretty much created that right on the spot with him and it's really the gem of the album. To add to that, the video for that is an animated film. Recently, it's gotten a lot of critical acclaim, so if you haven't seen that one yet, that was definitely an achievement for us and the filmmakers who made it. We were very inspired by that one particular piece, which, again, I'd say is really the gem of the album. And there's more that I can say about that in terms of the significance of the actual animated film and what that really means. I had intentionally written it, or maybe I unintentionally or unknowingly, written it as a love song, but it finally blossomed into something much greater.”
Todd: What can you tell us about the cover art featured on Time Burner? It's certainly a though-provoking piece.
Gerry: “He's an Italian painter (i.e., Tuscania-born Alessandro Sicioldr) that uses this old style where oils are applied to linen that's then pressed onto wood. That painting you're looking at is about six feet tall, actually. It's huge. He's a wonderful painter and I was so inspired by his work. He has some really wild stuff if you go on his website. It's already appeared in galleries and such, but I loved the style of what he was doing with it and how it all worked out. It really seemed to resonate well with Time Burner. ...It seemed to fit the overall vibe very well.”
Todd: Aside from the obvious Dave Lambardo-related connection, how do you feel Time Burner compares to Fire From The Evening Sun (2014) or Harmonic (2012)? Were they recorded from within different headspaces?
Gerry: “I wouldn't the point of the record is to say 'Hey, look at me' and to really try and show off in any kind of way. It's very honest. There is nothing about it that's being pushed or even strained or trying to achieve. There's none of that. It's just a very, very honest, but it's also not trying to make you feel a certain way with that intent. It's just really a natural and a very organic record, which I love. ...I think with (Producer and Engineer) Chris Sorem, it clearly is the most sonically well-produced of all of the Philm records. And it also has that depth, of course, in the percussive end that's different from what we did with Dave Lombardo. But overall, it touches on an area that was what may have been for the group. Of course, it never would've turned out like this with Dave, so it's not fair to say that this would have been what would have happened with Dave. That's just stupid. It's just another contribution extending the previous contributions that the band had already made. ...I feel like Time Burner deserves awards because this album was really something that I feel confident about on those terms. I'm very pleased, too, with the other two records, but not so much in terms of where I feel confident about this one. ...There's a saying that says 'You can't hide intention, whatever in art, because music and art, doesn't lie'. Your intention is, whatever your intention is when you're doing something, is there. If you aren't trying to do something to show off, well, then that's what's going to come through. Whether the listener knows it or not, that energy is always, whatever your intention is, going to be present. The intentions of the other albums were not as genuine. Or maybe a better word is that they were different than the one on Time Burner. The deal with making Time Burner was my way of taking the reins of the group and pushing everyone into more of a longer space, if that makes any sense. There's also a saying that says 'Life is short, art is long'. And by long, I wanted to bring things down into something that was a little bit more real and not so focused on any type of achievement or gain and just make music for the sake of the music itself. ...It's a guessing game to complete wherever you end up going. ...And you never have any real idea because everything is unknown and nothing is ever certain (laughs).”
Time Burner (2021)
Fire From The Evening Sun (2014)
The Fishers For Souls (2012)
Symptom Of The Universe (7” Single) (2010)
Circus Of Fear (1999)
Abstract Reaction (EP) (1991)
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