FORMER EXCITER DRUMMER RIK CHARRON RESURRECTING DARK MINISTRY / TALKS NEW ALBUM BRUTAL CENTURY AND FORMER BAND SPIRAL WHEEL
Rik Charron, who pounded the drums full-throttle for Canadian metal band Exciter for twenty years, updates us on what is going on with his band Dark Ministry, their album Brutal Century, his former band Spiral Wheel and their new album Resurrection for Revenge.
Thank you Rik for giving us your time. I wanted to come back and update everyone on what you've been doing since we last spoke.
Last time we talked it was 2014 and you were still in Exciter. You, Clammy Cohen, Kenny Winter, and Myles O'Rourke were the lineup after John Ricci left. When Dan Beehler and Alan Johnson came back into the picture and rejoined with John, you went on to form your own band Dark Ministry.
Dark Ministry did well, playing shows with Razor, Iron Kingdom, Cauldron, and Blaze Bayley. Then, a month long tour through Europe supporting German thrash bands Necronomicon and Vendetta followed in Oct 2017.
As of now, Dark Ministry has an Ep The Sermon Begins on Metal Scrap Records and a complete ten song album, Brutal Century, whose status is still unknown. So please tell us what's going on!
** Shortly after Dark Ministry's tour supporting German thrash band Necronomicon and Vendetta, the two guitarists were let go for "unprofessionalism". The band was put on hiatus and now the fate of the album, Brutal Century, hangs in the balance. What 's happening with all of that? You did publically put out one of the songs titled "Brutal Century" which was amazing.
I had to let the two guitarists go for a couple of reasons.
One of the guitarists was one I hired in the summer of 2017 as a replacement for the original guitarist I had hired back in 2015 when the band started. He was more seasoned and mature which I was hoping would help the other members who were in their twenties grow in maturity as well.
But problems started springing up with him. It started with his claim that he and some of the members couldn't play with the bassist anymore for reasons I wont say here out of respect. I had my concerns about him as well but they were minor and could have been managed and fixed in my view. But if I wanted the new guitarist to stay in the band and the other original as well I had to look like the evil tyrant and let him go which in my view was a big mistake.
Then, we went to record our debut album Brutal Century with a hip hop engineer at the new guitarists suggestion. The other guys went for that saying music is music. The engineer was a great guy and very experienced in recording, did a great job but he was still a hip hop engineer. I was worried he wouldn't be able to capture the style of music Dark Ministry played. Oddly enough, it was the same engineer that the new guitarist used for his hastily recorded four song demo he took from his previous band and wanted me to play drums on. All red flags. I started to feel like I was losing control of my own band.
I guess the straw the broke the camels back was when we got an offer to play a two part eastern European tour. The first part supported German thrash band Necronomicon for nine days with a few days break in Athens and Prague. The second part supported Vendetta for another five or six dates. In all, we were in Europe for a month which should have been a melding of personalities in the band, having a great time getting to know each other and each of us equally sharing expenses. But it was more of a wakeup call. The shows went very well for us and the audience loved our intensity, but some of the band complained about travel times between shows and hotels, and when it came time to pay shared expenses I had to pay the lions share of it all! One member stated that he had zero money for anything yet had a lot of money for our down time between tours in Athens and Prague for food, drink, and whatever else. I felt I was being taken advantage of from at least two or three members of that tour. They were sort of disrespectful to the tour manager. Daily complaints sometimes about nothing, banter about seeming animosity towards the tour. I couldn't tell if it was just inexperienced complaining or making fun. Had it not been for me some of the gas, tolls, and almost all of the hotel rooms wouldn't have gotten paid! What was I to do let them sleep on park benches in Europe almost every night?
For the most part it was a good tour musically and for me an eye opener. Red flags everywhere!
When we got back from the tour and into the studio to finish the mix down of the album, I'm noticing that the album, though very strong, isnt as strong as the original versions we recorded on demo with the original guitarist and bassist, not to mention the production quality of our EP, was in my view, much stronger and clearer. I was told I didn't know what I was talking about and that this wasn't the 80's anymore.
They started losing interest in coming to rehearsal. They wanted to sit in front of a computer and write songs without rehearsals, and with a drum machine. They outright refused to play shows that were on the table. I saw what was happening. There was an attitude change taking place, a coldness starting to creep in. They claimed they had new ideas that they wanted to get heard. My manager said "Let's hear them out". She convinced me to have a meeting and sit down and listen to their ideas. Her reasoning was that the band was going strong and it should keep going as it was, so "lets try to come to a peaceful compromise on stuff", which I did and surprisingly I agreed with most of them. I asked them to start making their ideas happen but they never did.
In the end, I decided that these working conditions coupled with everything that happened on the tour, and the way the album was recorded was too much to deal with anymore. There were too many incidences of unprofessional behavior possibly due to inexperience or age, and I'm not saying I'm perfect, far from it! Lol. I do make mistakes and some bad decisions but not on this scale. So, I fired the two guitarists shortly after the album was mastered. The singer ultimately sided with the two guitarists. They all banded together and tried to take the songs. They rearranged them claiming they wrote everything with a drum machine. I was like C'mon! We JUST played Europe and sold some pre-production CD's of the album on the tour and here they are trying to pull a scam by rearranging the songs using a drum machine and saying they wrote everything? I'm sure the previous members who actually had a hand in writing the songs would love to contest that statement. We had also released a teaser song Brutal Century which got radio play. The newer guitarist was trying to pull the same scam he did with his previous band! The other guys cant see through this? This guy is so smooth at talking he can sell a refrigerator to an eskimo!
I put a stop to his and their plans to claim the songs by hiring a lawyer and then put the band on hiatus. I've been fighting with them ever since to release this debut album which we ALL contributed to. As of right now, Dark Ministry's Brutal Century album has been completed for just over a year, sitting in the can so to speak, and hopefully, someday soon these guys will see the light and stop the BS and let it be released! I've been in a constant battle with them to let me release it to which they'd all get credit and royalties. They are holding this great album from being released , not me.
** In Jan 2016, you were asked to join former Sabbat guitarist Satoshi Ishida's band Spiral Wheel. We've been seeing posts about an album, Resurrection for Revenge, that you were a part of. Now, you're no longer a part of Spiral Wheel. Can you tell us what happened? What is going on with the album?
Well that whole thing was a little complicated and centered around Satoshi's rift with the manager. When I joined Spiral Wheel, Satoshi asked me about Dark Ministry's manager and if she would want to manage the band. I told him to ask her and he did. She accepted. She did a lot of things for Spiral Wheel such as helping to look for the vocalists, secure deals with labels, and to help look for a touring guitarist which she did find.
But Satoshi proved difficult to work with for her and frankly sometimes for I or other members. He refused to take band photos for a label that offered us a contract so the label dropped us. She secured a contract with a commercial label that was offering the band one hundred percent royalties from placement in film, movie and tv. Satoshi wouldn't have any part of it, instead opting to sign with three small labels that weren't going to pay him anything, only give him some cds as payment.
She started growing frustrated and told me on a couple of occasions she wanted to quit. But she stayed the course. Satoshi for some reason grew irritated with her trying to convince him to do stuff for the band such as sign for these lucrative offers or to take the band photos. He said he wanted to fire her and she quit before he could do so. I tried to get Satoshi to listen to what she had to say asking him to at least hear her out. He saw it as defending her and betraying him and the band. So in turn he fired me. He said I told him "he was wrong once". I found out later he publically discredited me and said I was negative.
After two years of waiting, making drafts photo shopped photos of the band for us to promote everywhere on social media, I'm out and wont see any royalties from the album or be able to tour or play shows with them....so much for being told by Satoshi that I was , no matter what, his drummer for life in Spiral Wheel. Thanks "Brother"
I can assure you I was never negative towards Satoshi or Spiral Wheel. I had, and still have the highest respect for him and all the members of the band. I was focusing on problems concerning the ex-members and album for my band Dark Ministry which had nothing to do or deflected my focus from Spiral Wheel. In my view, the workings of the band was in good hands by both Satoshi and the manager. I wasn't the leader of the band, he was. Nor the decision maker. I was just a musician and didn't need to think about that. That was their job. I was eager and waiting for this Spiral Wheel album to finally come out and to play shows etc.
Am I negative now about Spiral Wheel? No...not in the least!!
Am I upset about what happened? Yes, clearly I am! I'm confused and hurt because I was fired and disrespected for no reason at all. They haven't even had the respect to send me a copy of the CD that I'm playing on. Not one single copy!!
Any fans expecting to see me perform live as the drummer of Spiral Wheel...sorry but I wont be. Don't be fooled by any promotion, posts, or posters for show events stating that I will be there in the lineup unless it comes directly from me officially in a statement.
** You've come out and said that you'll be starting up Dark Ministry again. That's great news! What brought this about? When will this happen?
That's correct. After a year of the band being on hiatus, I'm resurrecting DARK MINISTRY. This time with more seasoned and mature players who want to actually play music, shows, and tours. People with experience.
When I brought up the notion of resurrecting the band with my consultant, I was leery about it and for awhile thought of just calling it quits...but you know what? I say FUCK THEM ALL.
After seeing some fan and peer support, getting messages from radio stations that have supported the band since its first EP and interview requests, I decided with the collaboration of my manager to resurrect it!!. The consultant agreed that this is a great idea saying I shouldn't stop playing or fold the band because of past members causing trouble.
Right now I've started looking into musicians to join. This could take a few months as I'm not only looking locally for like-minded musicians to join in a vision of heavy, fast, evil thrash, but Canada and international wide. I've already had an interest in the vocal and bass playing positions. I wont say who they are until its concrete. I'm still looking at guitarists at the moment, but very optimistic that this will get going sooner rather than later. With the three song EP, we have a base for the band and once the Brutal Century album has been settled we can start playing worldwide and start on a new album.
Hell!! I may even throw in some of the songs from the Exciter albums I've been on for added excitement at the shows. Who wouldn't love hearing Burn at the Stake or Aggressor live again!!
I'm very grateful for everyone's continued interest and support for DARK MINISTRY in its turbulent times and drama.
So to answer your question as to what brought this about?
You...the Fans and Friends did!!
Time for the Dark Minister to continue his sermon, capture the sacrificial beast and massacre the living.
The altar of DARK MINISTRY Rises again!