Municipal Waste (Tony Foresta) Interview

Photo by John Blunt

Three things shall survive the nuclear apocalypse for certain: cockroaches, Twinkies, and thrash metal. While many may call it stagnant and dated, thrash is a musical form that simply refuses to die, and one of the modern torchbearers of the movement is Richmond, VA crossover artists Municipal Waste. With five full-lengths and a 10+ year career to their name, the band’s lightning-fast musicianship combined with their irreverent lyrical enthusiasm for grindhouse horror tropes and excessive drinking has made them household names on par with paragons like Suicidal Tendencies and Stormtroopers of Death. Their music might not be the most technical or conceptual in heavy metal, but it’s certainly the most fun. And when it all comes down to it, that’s what really counts when it comes to music.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet with Tony Foresta, lead vocalist of Municipal Waste, right before their headlining performance at Santos Party House in New York City on June 26th. We talked about moshpit safety and etiquette, what goes into the making of a Waste song, and what’s next for the band in the interview below.

Metal Blast: Despite being legends of modern crossover thrash and one of the go-to authorities on the art of partying, Municipal Waste is still pretty obscure outside of the heavy metal underground. How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you before?
Tony Foresta: I’d say, like, old-school crossover thrash metal? I like to say hardcore punk metal. And I didn’t make that up, that’s just a term that a buncha people in Richmond and North Carolina throw around, that we’ve been throwing around for years. Hardcore punk metal. Or hardcore punk metal freakout! Hardcore punk metal freakout is probably the best answer to that question.

MB: Is there any experience you can point to that originally motivated you to start playing and performing heavy music? Like, any first albums that you’d say really kicked it off?
I really liked the Beastie Boys and, like, SOD, and shit like that. I liked the music side of SOD and I liked the attitude of the Beastie Boys, stuff like that. That was some of the first stuff I heard. Minor Threat was one of the first punk records I got into as well. That whole attitude, all those things kinda blended into something for me that made me wanna perform and play music.

MB: When you’re writing a song with the band, what is the ultimate goal you’re trying to communicate? What would you say you want the audience to feel?
TF: It really depends, I don’t really think like that when I’m writing songs, like “What do I want people to feel like?” I just try to write songs that are interesting to me, that are catchy and that I wanna play live every night. I try to keep fans in mind and stuff like that, but what I guess I’m thinking is “Will I be able to play this song every night for two years?” Knowing how much we fuckin’ tour and all, you know! That’s probably the thing I think about the most.

MB: Your latest album is the first release you’ve done with Nuclear Blast. How has it been like to work with them?
TF: Oh, it’s really cool! It seems almost too easy so far. The communication’s there, and we get things done real fast, it’s awesome. Like, just, BOOM-done. They’re great, really fun. I couldn’t be happier; I think everyone in the band is kinda blown away by how good things are right now.

MB: The lyrical themes on The Fatal Feast are a lot less serious-business than the ones on Massive Aggressive. Were you looking to do a “return-to-form,” as it were?
I think Massive Aggressive was a little forced, where we were trying to take the humor out. We never really forced anything [while] writing before that, but I think we were just so over The Art of Partying. We knew what we were getting into, but it was just kind of like at the time there were all these frustrations – not only with the band, but with everything we were dealing with in general, with like, home life. We were touring for so long and all that shit finally caught up, like [there was] the whole partying aspect and being idiots all the time, and real life just caught up, you know. I had a good friend pass away on Art of Partying when we were out there and doing all that shit. It was just kind of a bummer, and we were in a weird place with the label, and that’s what that album was. We were just like “You know what? We’re not writing funny shit. We’re writing a pissed-off record.” And there is some tongue-in-cheek stuff on there. I like that album, too, I think there’s some really good shit on there. It’s just at that time, it was a weird place ’cause we were kinda fighting our way out of a corner, being almost like a gimmicky party band, you know? But this record isn’t forced at all, we were just kinda writing Waste songs again. It’s probably a way to come back to form for us.

MB: How’s it been playing with Black Tusk and 3 Inches of Blood?
Really cool! I was just kinda sitting there looking around at everybody loading up, and was like “Man, this sucks. It’s the last day!” Cos we’re just, like, kinda getting used to each other and like, we hang out every night after the shows and everybody’s getting along, everybody’s buddies. It’s like, “Fuck, dude! I’m going home!” But it’s also like, “Fuck, I gotta go to Europe in a week too!” So I guess I should go home. Also a fucking tornado just ripped through my house!

MB: What??! Dude, that sucks!
Yeah, a half of my house is all, like, the siding on one side of my house is totally gone. We had this crazy wind storm in Richmond. So now I’m looking forward to going home, but man, I gotta deal with my wrecked house right now.

MB: Lame, man. Sorry to hear that! Are there any other artists you’d like to tour with?
TF: Tons, man. I’d love to tour with Obituary, Motorhead…I like hardcore bands too, this band Nightfever, or Rival Mob, they’re this one hardcore band I really like. I’d love to tour with Anthrax. We almost have a couple times, but it just didn’t work out. But I’d love to tour with them, cos I’m sure they’re really fun. And I’d go out with Suicidal Tendencies again in a heartbeat. We’ve already done it like three times, but I’d do it again just cos like, they’re our buddies.

MB: Fuck, man, I’d kill to see you guys with Suicidal. So what’s the craziest experience you’ve seen happen at one of your shows?
That’s like a joke question with our band, cos we get asked that a lot. Sometimes we make shit up, like one time I told somebody I saw a UFO. [laughter] I didn’t. It’s crazy every night, like it’s really hard to say just one thing. I just get stoked when nobody’s like, broken their neck or died or anything, cos I’ve seen some kids take the worst tumbles. It’s just like Stagediving for Dummies sometimes, where it’s just like little kids get up there and don’t know what they’re doing and just dive into where a circle pit is, and not realize that there’s nobody there to catch them. I’m just like, ugggh. That’s stuff’s been happening – I mean, it always happens – but I watch it, and it’s like, CRINGE, man. I literally groan. Like one time this fucking dude tried to do a backflip off a PA ledge, and it looked like he just did a back-dive straight onto cement, like onto his neck, and the stage was really high. Freaked me out, I stopped singing! I was just like, “That guy’s gotta be dead.” And they dragged him out, and he’s fine – I mean, not fine – but he didn’t die or anything. Man, that shit freaks me out! [laughter] But yeah, there’s a lot of crazy stuff. I’ve seen people break their arms. Lotta boobies. [laughter]

MB: Fuck yeah, boobies. So what’s next for the band? You mentioned you’d be heading off to Europe?
TF: We’re doing Europe in, like, a week. We leave on the Fourth of July, on America Day. We’re leaving America on America Day, then we’re going to Europe for two months, playing a shitload of festivals. Then we come back, and we’re doing Riot Fest, and we’re playing in Puerto Rico, then…I dunno what the fuck we’re doing. I think we’re gonna record some more stuff for, like, another split, and then a compilation for a buncha Dayglo Abortions songs. Yeah, so that’ll be cool. [Tony gets handed ten bucks] I’m putting money in my wallet right now. Literally, I mean some guy just handed me food money. [laughter] But that’s a lotta stuff, we’ve got a lot on our table. And then another North American tour, I think, is gonna be in the works, and then we’ll maybe do a Canadian tour or something. We got plans. We’re just trying to get through this summer tour, and then the shit in Europe. I mean, two months in Europe’s a lot! [laughter]

MB: And I know it’s way early to ask, but do you have any plans for a new album in the works?
TF: Not at all. We’ll probably do a split and maybe a couple other things, like I was saying, but another album’s not gonna be [out] for at least two years. We got a lot of touring to do. I don’t think we need to put out another record, we’ve got five records out. I don’t think there’s a rush to do a sixth record anytime soon!

MB: Yeah, I’d say you guys have cornered the market on Municipal Waste records pretty well.
TF: It’s out there, yeah, we’re good! We got it out there. The Toxic Waste split [with Toxic Holocaust] just came out too, so we got a lot of stuff around.

MB: Any last words for your fans?
TF: Thanks for supporting us, and don’t hurt yourself! Don’t you hurt yourself out there.

Thumbnail photo by John Blunt