John Conley

Scar Culture

Scar Culture recently released their very good debut album Inscribe. We decided to find out a few more things about the band by interviewing their guitarist John Conley about their career, their future plans and their cooperation with Billy Milano (SOD/MOD).
By Dimitris A.
February 8, 2002
John Conley (Scar Culture) interview
You are a new band in an already overcrowded scene. How easy was for you to find your way through a record company and sign a contract?

We never really considered ourselves as another band in a crowded scene. We always felt that we were doing something unique enough to get attention. And we felt that the music was good enough for other people to be as interested in it as we were. We sent our cd to a great many record companies. We talked to a few of them and Century Media was the label that had our best interest in mind. We then had to work out a few details before any contract could be signed. There were also a few delays that kept the cd from being released immediately. It seems that 4 years of work are starting to pay off. Century Media has been treating us very well so far.

Tell us a bit about the band itself. You all are from different cultures and origins. How did you team up together?

Scar Culture started in mid-1997. At the time I was tired of the thrash-metal band I was in and decided I needed to do something a bit heavier. I started bashing out some ideas with a friend of mine on drums. We found a bassist through an ad. This line-up was extremely short lived. Soon after this my buddy from work, Duke, came down to hear what I was up to. He figured I needed a real drummer and goddamn was he right. We were a 3 piece at this point just working out ideas and putting up ads for a vocalist/frontman. We tried out quite a few guys and none of them were even close to what we were looking for. Apparently some kid had taken our ad from a studio in Brooklyn and given it to his friend that he thought would be interested. And sure enough about 5 years later he still is. Pheroze brought dynamics into the band that were sorely needed. His stage presence was only outdone by his vocals. We kicked around with this line up for about 2 years until we decided that our bassist was not working out. On several occasions he had expressed an interest in leaving or had problems keeping up. We couldn't sacrifice anything for him. So, after a year and a half with no bassist Frank responded to an ad we had placed in the local papers. His first show with us was at CBGB's in NYC opening up for Cryptopsy!! Talk about a big first show! I am a native of NYC, Frank is from Long Island, NY, Duke was born in Russia, and Pheroze was born in London to Indian parents, moved to Saudi Arabia when he was 3 and I lived in between there and India for the next 11 years. Then he left home and went to school in the US, and then moved to New York where he met us.

What made you grab a guitar and start playing metal? Which bands influenced you more both as a person and as a band?

When I was 16 I really wanted to play guitar. The first bands that really inspired me to play were Metallica, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Judas Priest... Later i discovered Machine Head, Fear Factory, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass... The bands that I still listen to all the time that keep me motivated are Brutal Truth, Soilent Green, Slayer, System of a Down, Slipknot, The Beatles, Suffocation, Pantera, Steve Vai, Skinlab, Terrorizer, Dying Fetus, Cryptopsy, Metallica, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde, Cephalic Carnage, Skinless, Black Sabbath... I listen to so much music!!

I've noticed that before the release of your debut album Inscribe you decided to change your name from Scrape to Scar Culture. How did you come up with that desicion (btw I like the Scar culture much better 🙂 )?

Well, we were talking to Century Media Records about a deal and they suggested we change our name. They absolutely hated the name. They felt it was too generic. We told them to fuck off... especially because we had just made new shirts and shit. Just about this time the nu-metal band Skrape from Florida started getting a big push on the radio. Then Skrape was on the Slayer/Pantera/Morbid Angel tour. It was impossible at this point to keep the name Scrape. So before we signed with Century Media we officially changed our name to Scar Culture. Pheroze got the name Scar Culture from a book by Toni Davidson. We feel that the name Scar Culture is much more unique and are very happy with the change.

Tell us a few things about Inscribe. Who wrote the music and the lyrics? What do the songs talk about?

The music all comes from myself and Duke. Once we get the music under control Pheroze starts fitting the lyrics. He writes all of the lyrics. I wouldn't feel comfortable trying to put words into his mouth. The most input we really have is with titles. All of the lyrics are are very personal and mean a lot.

Tell us about your work with Billy Milano. How do you feel that such an important artist of the metal scene, produced your album? Was it fun?

I couldn't be any happier. For a band to record their debut cd and have the production come out so great is awesome! Billy and the staff of Big Blue Meanie Studios did a great job! The cd sounds heavy as fuck. It was such a bizarre experience showing up to record every day and there was Billy-fucking-Milano!! I had a blast there. It was such a good time. I grew up listening to S.O.D. and M.O.D. He is one of the most honest people in this business. I respect him a lot.

I couldn't help but notice the perfect job that was done in your webpage (! Can you tell us a bit about that too?Do you feel that a good presence in the web is important for a new band?

The website is totally fucking awesome! All of the credit for the website guys to Chris at Glitch Designs. He's the guy that also does Skinlab's site among a bunch of others. We absolutely feel that the website needs to be kick ass in today's world. If you don't have a website you're really limiting yourself. The website is a way that people all over the world can find out about us and contact us directly. We try to keep everything current and answer all of the e-mails we get. There's also a forum there for our fans to discuss things with each other...

What are your plans for the future? I've heard that your tour with Nevermore and Overkill was unfortunately cancelled. Do you plan to go on the road with a big band in the next months? Any plans for Europe (and hopefully for Greece too 🙂 )?

Unfortunately the tour that was planned with Overkill and Nevermore was cancelled. We toured in December with Enslaved, Electric Wizard, Macabre and Diabolic. We will be touring in March in the US with Pissing Razors. After that we have to see what options are open. We are hoping to get to Europe to tour soon. As long as there are crazy motherfuckers in Greece that are into Scar Culture and are showing their support then I don't see why Century Media wouldn't get us over there.

You are New Yorkers and New York has suffered a lot in the past months due to the terrible terrorist attack in the WTC. How did this affect you as a band? Has or will it affect your music and your lyrics?

I think that September 11th will always remain a black day in American History. It will be equated to where were you when JFK was shot? It was horrifying, shocking and sickening. I understand that the US gov't is involved in a bunch of shady shit all over the world but nothing can excuse 9/11. At first I wanted Afghanistan reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble. But as I read more the more I understand that it's about an extremist minority. It's extremely frustrating. How can you punish the masses for the deeds of the few? Goddamn... this is why I'm a musician not a policitican. I don't see it affecting our music much. How it will affect the lyrics only time will tell. Pheroze writes all of his words from very personal places. So, if this affects him, I'm sure we'll all know about it.

A few words to your fans and visitors of metal-temple who will read this interview:

To all of the people that know and support Scar Culture, thank you!! To those of you that are only for the first time hearing about Scar Culture check us out, you won't be disappointed. Hopefully we'll see you all on tour soon!!

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