Disposable Heroes #1: Curt Victor Bryant
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Welcome to the first edition of “Disposable Heroes”, a column that tracks down metalheads from significant albums who have dropped off the radar. They are heroes for helping craft unforgettable moments in metal’s history; they’re only disposable in that their bands sometimes went on without them. In metal’s history, they aren’t disposable at all, and with this column we hope to remind people of some of the forgotten contributors of classic albums. (Got someone you want us to track down? Let us know!)
If you’re a metalhead and you lived through the ’80s, there is one image so painfully branded in your subconscious that it may seem like a normal life will forever be out of reach. Yes, if you’ve spent any time studying Celtic Frost’s Cold Lake – and you have – you’ve been traumatized by that picture. You know the one, with Tom Warrior looking like a horribly diseased version of some dude with a stupid name from Enuff Z’nuff and some other guy in the band staring right at the camera, wearing overalls, carpet of hair enveloping his body, and… the open fly.
It’s an image brutaller than a thousand death metal album sleeves. And it got us thinking something along the lines of, “Well, we’ve seen Curt Victor Bryant’s short and curlies, we may as well track him down and see what he’s been doing since his time as a member of Celtic Frost during their weirdest era. He owes that much”.
So we tracked him down, and we got some answers. We may never forget some of the more unforgiving visual stimuli that Bryant gave us during Frost’s most experimental of eras, but we did get a startling amount of closure talking to the guy about his time in Frost, what’s he’s been up to since, and what he thinks of Warrior’s current musical pursuits.
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Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to?
I’m doing good. I’m currently working on a ton of productions on three different continents. I work extremely well under pressure. So I have a knack for taking on a bunch of projects at once where after a while I go, “What the fuck? How am I ever able to get all this stuff finished?” And then, bang, all of a sudden all the things are done. I just finished up some soundtracks for an X-Games type of reality show. Then I’m über-excited about inking a deal soon for a super-crazy horror movie that I’ve been working on for the past two years. If all goes to plan, the filming will start towards the end of November. The music in it will be super-heavy and the artist roster will blow people’s minds.
In the metal world, you’re most known for being in Celtic Frost during the Cold Lake and Vanity/Nemesis era. Looking back on that era, what are your feelings on it all?
I don’t think you’ll have enough room to print the whole story, but let me tell you, the stories of the Cold Lake and especially Vanity/Nemesis era were incredible and one big fucking roller coaster. I would not want to have missed that part in my life. It was a lot of fun and pain all at once. That era and what went on from beginning to end can’t possibly be explained in a few sentences. I’ve been approached to write a book about it numerous times; even Tom Warrior encouraged me to. I want to do it, but the only way I’ll do it is if I can do it my way. I’ve never been a big fan of all that politically correct mumbo jumbo. With me, you will get it directly from the horse’s mouth, the way it happened. I’m not afraid of ticking off a couple of people in the long run.
Do you still get royalties from Cold Lake?
It sounds like you’re asking about a bleeding tumor (laughs). Of course I do. All of the writers on Cold Lake do. Even the ones that ignore the record like the plague (laughs). The “Cherry Orchards” video is constantly being played on VH1 Classic. I also hear that song quite frequently on the Sirius XM satellite channels. I’m sure it’s being played other places as well. I know some people wish that record would go away, but it sure took on a life on its own.
When I interviewed Tom Warrior in 2006, he said this about Cold Lake: “That’s not an album, that’s probably the worst piece of shit ever recorded in the history of rock music”. How do you feel about the album years later?
Yeah, yeah, yeah… Been there, heard that. Look, au contraire to Tom, I don’t feel any different about Cold Lake now than I did in 1988. I absolutely don’t think that it is the worst piece of shit ever recorded. Some of the songs on there, however, are the worst piece of shit songs ever written. I said it then, and I say it now: if the production would have been brutal and heavy, we would not be having this discussion today. Killer songs like “(Once) They Were Eagles”, “Juices Like Wine”, “Downtown Hanoi”, and “Roses Without Thorns” have always been fan favourites and have stood the test of time. Not even a purple cover and open-zipped pants can diminish that (laughs).
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Celtic Frost – “Cherry Orchards”
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Are you still in touch with Warrior? What were your thoughts on the new Celtic Frost and Triptykon material?
Tom and I bump into each other from time to time. Lately, I have more contact with Martin Ain. But that has a lot to do with that Martin is more stationed in Zurich, Switzerland. Tom and I are both very busy with traveling, so usually we’re not on the same continent at the same time. You have to understand that I grew up with Celtic Frost in the early- and mid-’80s only a few miles away from the band. Then I became a part of Celtic Frost for six or seven years. At the time, Tom and I were the best of friends, and I will always be grateful to Tom that he took me into Celtic Frost. So, naturally, it is very easy for me to like the new Celtic Frost and Tripykon. Some of their stuff I like more and some less. I like what Tom does with Triptykon. I will go see them play live if I’m ever in the same city where they play.
Now, most metalheads know you for your time with Celtic Frost. But you’ve told me you’ve had a very successful post-Frost career. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to?
In my post-Frost years, I produced or was a part of a bunch of productions like movie scores, soundtracks, and songwriting. I love music. I’m addicted to it. During the sad metal years in the ’90s I was involved in a bunch of very successful non-metal productions, where I racked up a bunch of gold, platinum, and Grammy awards.
I know you also had a new metal band a couple years back. Are you currently playing metal?
My new band is called Bastard City. I have been getting it ready for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, with me being so busy, I never had enough time to totally dedicate myself to it. The past six months, though, I kept feeling this yearning to finally get Bastard City into the studio and on the road. I’m burning to get this band on stage. The songs are as metal as they come.
What would you like to say to the metalheads of today?
Metalheads are the greatest. Always have been, always will be. They are so dedicated to their passion. I know what it feels like to totally love your favourite band. I used to be there at the shows with my leather jacket and denim vest with all my favourite bands’ stickers on it. Long live the metal brotherhood.
And I’ve saved the most important question for last. Why was your fly open on the Cold Lake album? I mean, really. That image has been haunting many of us for years, Curt.
What do you think, how long it has been haunting me (laughs)? How about this: I’ll give you either the short or the long version next time we talk. Your choice. All I’ll tell you now is that I did not plan on being in a glammy-type photo session. But at that point, I had no choice anymore, so I decided to make a statement.
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