When I began writing for Examiner last year, one of the very first developments that I covered was the rebirth of Attacker, one of New Jersey's classic heavy metal bands, and their union with vocalist Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas. From the initial announcement all the way through the release of the band's new album, "Giants of Canaan" last week, Examiner has been on the story.
Now we take it a step further and bring you this exclusive interview with Bobby Lucas. The interview was conducted just after the band returned from Germany and Spain for their first shows overseas supporting the new album, which came out on February 2nd via Metal on Metal Records.
Matthew Marczi: Bobby, ever since you got together with Mark Edwards and the rest of Overlorde and put out “Return of the Snow Giant” in 2004, your name has hardly been heard outside of some local venues with cover bands. Part of that is due to Overlorde being inactive for the most part since then. You’ve also had some health issues since then. How frustrating has it been to sort of be out of the picture for so long, and what is it like to be back and recording original music with an established band?
Bobby Lucas: Very true—I have not performed with an original band in a live setting since 2007 with Overlorde. However, Overlorde never disbanded—we have had every intention of recording a follow-up to “Return Of The Snow Giant”, but unfortunately due to distance issues since John Bunucci and Dave Wrenn moved, we have been unable to rehearse, and we didn't want to keep playing the same old songs. We wanted to have a new album to support before we did any more shows. The guys all just bought something called a 'jam link', which we plan on using to write and rehearse new material online in real time. Technology is amazing now.
But yes, as you mentioned, it was quite frustrating to not be involved with original bands, as that is my biggest outlet right next to art. And the health issues didn't help matters. I almost lost my left foot in 2002. Then again 4 years ago I came close to losing my big toe. I spent 3 and a half years in and out of Raritan Bay's medical day stay/wound care unit, as well as 6 months of hyperbaric treatments, to save the big toe. It was scary. Having a catheter implanted in my arm to receive IV antibiotics was no fun at all. Also being unable to walk around a lot caused me to gain a lot of weight, which is bad for a diabetic in itself. But now I'm happy to say I'm doing much better, and taking care of myself as best I can.
MM: While you’ve only been a part of Attacker for less than a year at this point, it need not be said that you’ve been a part of the metal scene in New Jersey in some capacity for quite some time, releasing a demo with your band Morbid Sin about 25 years ago. I assume that you were aware of Attacker back then, who released their debut album, “Battle at Helm’s Deep”, on Metal Blade Records in 1985. Were you a fan back then? How were they received generally in the 80s, especially considering the ever-encroaching thrash metal movement in the mid to late 80s?
BL: Yes, I absolutely was a fan of Attacker, having heard them on “Metal Massacre 5” in 1985 at my friend Jerry's house. As soon as I heard “(Call On) The Attacker” I was blown away. It was like Maiden—only heavier! I was already an NWOBHM fanatic being into bands like Raven, Hawkwind, Witchfinder General, Venom, Motörhead, and Angel Witch, so I was excited about bands from the USA like Attacker, Fates warning, Hades, Lizzy Borden, Helstar, Liege Lord, and Slayer. Not to mention Germany's Accept and Canada's Exciter and Anvil, so I formed my own band, Morbid Sin, while in high school. We gigged a lot, opening for national acts like Manowar, Celtic Frost, Vicious Rumours, and some of New Jersey's top metal acts like Hades, Non-Fiction, Prophet, and even Overlorde and Attacker!
MM. It is my understanding that Mark Edwards helped connect you with Attacker after the band had lain dormant for the past few years. How exactly did it come about that your name was brought up in association with Attacker?
BL: Mark mentioned to me one day that Attacker was most likely going to call it quits after having difficulty finding a singer with a suitable higher range...both vocalists on Attacker's previous 4 albums sang in a mid to upper register. As a fan of the band I told Mark I thought that was sad they were calling it quits because I'd have loved to have taken a shot at that vocal spot. I had met Mike Sabatini in 2005 in Germany at that year’s Keep it True festival, but didn't really know him having only been introduced briefly. Mark said he'd let Mike know about what I had said, and next thing I knew, we were in touch via Facebook.
Mike already knew what I was capable of, having seen Overlorde at Keep it True, and he also saw me perform with Covered in Black at Dingbatz one night. He knew I had a reputation as a strong vocalist. Once he heard I was interested, it took off from there. Mike gave me five songs to learn—two from “The Second Coming” and three from “Battle at Helms Deep”. Then I went to Jersey City to try out. I was terrible in my opinion. I was out of shape and out of practice—my breathing was affected, and I figured "oh well—I blew it!" But I was happy to have given it a try. Just jamming with Attacker would have been a cool experience for me!
Luckily, Mike knew with a little work, I could pull it off. He had faith in me. Once he told me he did indeed want me in the band, I began getting into better shape. Now I'm able to pull off the early Attacker stuff with ease. The best part of my joining was that the guys did not want me trying to imitate anyone—just be myself but remain true to the melodies that were already written. At this point in time, I am very comfortable singing the old material. I sing it like Bobby Lucas. I will say that my voice is more naturally suited to John Leone from “The Second Coming” album. I love all the Attacker stuff, but that is my favorite album.
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