“Old School New York Death Metal Will Never Die!” Chris Basile of Pyrexia Interview

For over 30 years! Old school Long Island, New York death metal icons Pyrexia (Established 1990)  have brought forth brutal heavy metal brilliance through their continuous flawless heart-wrenching stages shows, that always bring about massive mosh pits across venues worldwide! Pyrexia’s May 1993 LP “Sermon of Mockery” continues to stand the test of time amongst die-hards of extreme metal due to the albums cutthroat originality. While their underrated LP “System of the Animal” successfully combined death metal and New York hardcore punk. As “System of the Animal” created an authentic crossover death sound, over 25 years before the current rise of modern “Crossover Death” with the likes of bands such as I AM, Vomit Forth, Sanguisugabogg, and more! 

Meaning, Pyrexia deserves far more credit with influencing the crossover death scene because the New York death metal champions were way ahead of their time. As the 25th Anniversary re-recording of “System of the Animal” is a beast of an EP that needs to be blasting from your home stereo thanks to the albums beautiful intensity! Pyrexia just melted faces off at every venue they invaded during the prosperous “The East Coast Extermination Tour”. As the whole band continues to be a force to be reckoned with amongst the extreme metal scene and beyond because of their consistent musicianship greatness! Please enjoy this informative interview with lead Pyrexia guitarist Chris Basile below! As we know there are Juggalos that love metal too!  P.S. Shout out to Asher Media and all of Pyrexia (past and present) for all that you do for the under world of  heavy metal! 

Please support the music of Pyrexia through this authentic link here: https://pyrexiaofficialmerchandise.bigcartel.com/

Current Pyrexia Line-up: Chris Basile (Guitar), Shaun Kennedy (Bass), Jim Beach (Vocals), and John Glassbrenner (Drums)

Pyrexia Photo Credits Jim Wertman


Chad Thomas Carsten: Faygoluvers.net here with Chris Basile of the mighty influential New York old school death metal band Pyrexia. Can you define death metal in your own words?


CHRIS BASILE: A lifestyle. it’s a lifestyle. But yes, death metal to me is a feeling, you know? It’s a way of life, it’s something that’s inside you, gets in you, and I like giving it to other people, like almost like a little plate, you know what I mean? Like, death metal is the music that really drives my soul, and I hope it does for a lot of other people out there too.


CTC: Because it’s been 40 years now since the beginnings of death metal. It started in the early 1980s with California’s Possessed (Larry Lalonde’s (Primus) OG band) and Florida’s Death (RIP Chuck Schuldiner)  starting out as Mantas. As a teenager, what was life like growing up in New York during the 1980s?


CB: It was pretty great. I mean, I think life back then was great. You know, music was something brand new. It was like a sunrise in the morning. You had S.O.D. putting out Stormtroopers of Death, you know, you had the Cro-Mags, like you said before, coming out with stuff. All the great Slayer albums started coming out. Everything started coming out one thing after the next. And everything was quality and good. It wasn’t like a sea of garbage that you had to pick through. If you saw an album cover back then that had a brutal painting or something sick on it, you knew damn well if you bought that thing, there was going to be something sick on that record. So that was what it was like. Everything seemed like it was great, everything was new, everything was heavier than the next because you could be, because there wasn’t a zillion bands, and it was exciting!


CTC: You’ve been creating intense death metal for over 30 years now. What motivates you to keep following your dreams as a guitarist after all this time?


CB: I just really enjoy it. Unfortunately, it’s almost like a curse. I can’t let it get out of my system, you know what I mean? I really enjoy this. And I actually wasn’t able to give the full touring life the extent of attention it needed because I was working a day job, doing all kinds of things. So, I’m taking a second bite at the apple right now. I found a great production house, Demigod, which is really putting things over the chart for us as far as sound production and getting the material out there the way I want it to be. So, it’s like a new beginning. I just feel like this is what I need to be doing.

CTC: We’re glad to have you still create music after all this time. You’re keeping the legacy of death metal alive. Are you able to describe your first extreme metal show, attending as a fan, and how that specific evening may have changed your life for the better?


CB: I’m not sure if it was the first metal show, but I know a very, very significant metal show for me was Destruction (German Thrash). Actually played with the Cro-Mags (New York Hardcore). They used to mix it up like that back at a place called Sundance. And back then, no matter what, everything was packed. The club was packed, the parking lot was packed, the restaurants around it were packed. Everything was packed. So, it was a really thick night. But Destruction, they started with the intro from “Curse the Gods”. And the place erupted into a volcano. Probably the first teenage real sick pit that I was ever involved in. You don’t forget shit like that!


CTC: Wow, Destruction and Cro-Mags back-to-back?! I mean, that had to have helped influence the crossover thrash back then. Which Destruction album is “Curse the Gods” from, do you remember?


CB: “Eternal Devastation”!


CTC: Which three specific New York death metal releases would you say inspire you the most as a guitarist to this very day?


CB: New York death metal releases that inspired me?


CTC: Yes.


CB: I don’t know. I really don’t think there’s any New York death metal. I might’ve inspired them. I don’t know if any New York death metal is inspiring me. I’ve been inspired by New York bands like I was saying, the Cro-Mags or maybe Agnostic Front. Mixing that with the death metal. Big, big, big Life of Agony fan. Now those New York bands inspired me. New York death metal, being one of the first and jamming with Hobbs (Suffocation) for years before that, I don’t really see anybody inspiring us.


CTC: I understand because you’ve got Suffocation. And Cannibal Corpse, first starting out in New York before they moved to Florida.


CB: Yeah, I still feel they’re (Cannibal Corpse) a Florida band, I would say.

CTC: I feel you on that. Being that Cannibal Corpse immediately worked with Scott Burns of Morris Sound Studios in Tampa, Florida. Upon joining Pyrexia over 30 years ago, what was the band’s first main goal to conquer as a band during your first national tour?

CB: The dream back then was always to try to get on something like Roadrunner Records. You know, when you’re first in the band, you’ve got all these ideas, “Let me get on Roadrunner” you know? That was like the holy grail back then. So, as far as first goals, you know, try to get a label. Every band’s first thing is they want to get a label.


CTC: Right. Because back then, you only had Metal Blade and Roadrunner Records. Earache Records was starting to become a legit label.


CB: Nuclear Blast started coming up, Relapse just getting born, right? Crazy.


CTC: It’s crazy to think that Roadrunner Records was the gateway to get into death metal. But now they’ve worked with so many mainstream artists. It’s insane.


CB: They have nothing to do with death metal. It is funny.


CTC:  The Pyrexia “Sermon of Mockery” came out in May of 1993, so it’s currently the 30th year since the creation of “Sermon of Mockery”. Looking back at the creation of the hellish debut Pyrexia LP, why do you think “Sermon of Mockery” continues to stand the test of time amongst death metal fans and beyond?


CB: I think it was well written, you know? It was well written and the songs on there are probably catchy enough and technical enough for the time that it made enough of an outstanding impact back then. And it’s almost got its own folklore that people keep telling the next person. And that’s a blessing and a curse, because for a while there, people were saying we couldn’t now do Sermon, you know? But I think we handled that with this “Gravitas Maximus” thing we put out. Some people say no, but I say yes.


CTC: Are there any lesser-known stories behind the creation of “Sermon of Mockery” that you’d like to tell the fans?

CB: I’ll tell you a funny story about the name Pyrexia in the earliest days. I was highly against it and I still am. I’m not a big fan of how it’s named. Guy and Daryl were looking through a dictionary and all kinds of things like that just to come up with an original name. And I got outvoted big time on that one because I wanted to change that name from day one. But they said they liked the way it sounded. To me, I’m not a big fan.


CTC: For the metal heads just discovering your music. What’s the backstory behind the current Pyrexia vocalist Jim Beach joining the band in 2016?


CB: I have a recording studio back in New York and he has another band, I guess they’re still around, “Tomorrow’s Victim”. And they were recording their album down in my studio. I already heard Beach in the past, but I had him down there blasting out these vocals that were just ridiculous. So, I asked him to sing one of the songs on our new record that was coming out, and he was gracious enough to do it, but then after he did one, I was like, “You got to do them all!”, it was just no going back to a lesser vocalist than what he was. And it’s the same thing now, we might tour with all different singers sometimes when he can’t tour with us, but the dude’s vocals are a big part of the sound now, you know?


CTC: Great find too because it’s hard to— For example, there’s only a select few bands (Ac/Dc, Black Flag, Killswitch Engage, Black Sabbath, etc) who have continued with success by replacing their vocalists because something happened. And it’s few far in between where it’s a success, and with you guys it’s working. And it’s just great to see in general. So, over over the last eight years, how precisely has the reformed lineup of Pyrexia helped preserve the legacy of both the band and the old school death metal sound?


CB: Being that a fact that, like I said, we have our own studio and I write the music myself for the past 30 years, it’s not much of a dynamic shift when the members change, which I think keeps the continuity while we stay where it is. It’s not like the main guy left and now somebody else has to write and we got a whole different sound, you know? So, being that I write the songs, it keeps the continuity, and we just try to find the best of the best. Shaun Kennedy is my bass player. He’s been in the band almost 14 years now. A rock-solid man. He’s another big cornerstone of why things are still happening.

CTC: Why should fans of extreme metal in general be listening to your latest releases, “Gravitas Maximus” and “System of the Animal” 25?


CB: I really do believe that the writing that Pyrexia has and the songs we have, first of all, the production, some people don’t like a very strong, clear production. To me, if I can’t hear your riffs, you’re not playing them. So, I really enjoy being able to understand our riffs on the records and I think that the fan will enjoy the riffs that are on the records, you know? I think it’s different music. We write a structured— I write from my feeling. I don’t write with a beginning drum beat or a beginning riff. Like, I go into a song and say, “What do I want this to be? A dark song? Do I want this to be an angry song? Do I want this to be an upbeat song?” You know, mood has a lot to do with it. So, I think the emotion is in all the tracks and I think it comes out. It’s not just a blur of riffs, not just a hundred miles an hour blast, which we do love. It’s thought out emotional structures put into songs.


CTC: How did the recording process for 25 differ from the 1997 release of “System of the Animal”?


CB: Okay, back in ’97 we went to that original Sabella Studios where we did “Sermon of Mockery” and that was an analog studio, reel-to-reel. Everything was done on the fly. Really not a lot of digital stuff, anything like that. No re-amping. So, it had a very raw, but to me clunky, because we couldn’t afford to do the proper production, a raw clunky sound. A lot of people like it. Fans of that album are still fans of that album. They like the original. But the new one, we did the Demigod process where we did everything in my studio, sent it back out to Portugal, had them remix, remaster it and put that weight that was missing all those years.


CTC: It’s just great that you guys were able to bring back a classic like that and preserve its history. Are you completely satisfied with the final outcome of what fully became the recreation of “System of the Animal” 25?


CB: Oh, one-hundred percent! That’s what was in my head for 25 years. And the second we finished with Gravitas and that came out, I knew in my mind I was going to do that. And I’m telling you right now, the next thing coming out is going to be our “Unholy Requiem” release, which was a terrible production. I did the whole thing myself in the studio. I have no mastering skills. It’s terrible. I’m the first one to tell you it’s terrible. But we’re going to redo that record, re-record it, two new songs, send it out to Demigod.


CTC: This question might put you on the spot a little bit, but which guitar solo from a specific Pyrexia track do you always look forward to playing live the most?


CB: Oh, that’s a good question actually. Very good question. My favorite sounding one is the one that I do with the “Glass Slide” on, what the hell’s the name of the song? “Thy Minion” from “Feast of Iniquity”. But I would have to say the newest lead in “Pawn to King” is my favorite to execute now, yeah.


CTC: And why is that?


CB: I just like the way it sounds. It just fits right in the belly of the riff, it’s got some nice dive bombs in it. To me it just comes out as like its own little song I wait for to come in the song, inside itself.


CTC: People love watching guitar solos live, man. And when they’re able to see how fast you move your fingers, they’re all struck like, “Holy shit, what’s going on?”
What’s currently blowing up amongst the underworld of death metal is what’s called crossover death metal bands. It’s as if hardcore kids who grew up listening to Earth Crisis, Bury Your Dead, Agnostic Front, or even Visions of Disorder, or xTyrantx. And then those fans began discovering old school death metal. You know, through Pestilence, Mortuary, Morta Skuld, Incantation, or even Morbid Angel. And then they combined both genres. Kind of like how punks crossed over into thrash. So how do you feel about the current incarnation of this style of death metal with bands such as Bonginator, 200 Stab Wounds, Escuela Grind, Vomit forth, Gatecreeper?


CB: Well, here’s the thing, alright? “System of the Animal” 25, we did it first. That’s the first combination hardcore death metal. And that’s where you got to begin. Everybody that’s into that style needs to go back and realize what was done 25 years ago, and I think they would enjoy it. Right?

CTC: I agree. And those bands I mentioned because, they’re bringing this fresh new sound and it’s crazy because it’s just like, it gets in the old school death metal riffs and then in the middle of it, it wants to do two-stepping with guitar solos. As in Sick of it All meets Entombed.


CB: We do two-steps in our shows every night, man. Absolutely. We call out the two-step, you know? We have a new video called “Day One”. I’d really like everybody to go check it out. It’s on YouTube, obviously, but “Day One”, Pyrexia. Really good crossover song!


CTC: Where do you see yourself as a musician in the next decade?


CB: I’m taking the Willie Nelson route, alright? You see the way Willie Nelson’s still out there now playing and the old cats like Rolling Stones and they’re still out there in their 80’s. As long as I can get out of my chair and I still want to get out of my chair and do this, I’m going to do it. So, I see myself still doing this, maybe at a hopefully different level perhaps, but even if not, this is good. Definitely not— I’d never see myself not playing music.


CTC: Thank you, Chris. It’s an honor. Pyrexia, Orlando, Florida, Faygoluvers.net, thank you for doing this interview.


CB: Thank you, my brother. I appreciate everything. Thanks for coming out.


from Faygoluvers


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