BUTCHER is the evolutionary brainchild of former "Coven" bassist StoneAge, and "Storm" lead guitarist Joel Myers.
This is an attempt (however incomplete) to chronicle the evolution of the band to its current state. Much of the history (in regard to photographs, video, and other tangible resources) has been lost, damaged, or destroyed over time. (or, in many instances, was simply never documented) I will make every effort possible to present as complete a history as is feasible.
BUTCHER's existence is inseparably intertwined with each band it evolved out of. There were four major steps that led to the formation of BUTCHER. For the sake of simplicity, I will list them as Coven 1, Coven 2, Coven 3, and Storm.
What would eventually become known as "BUTCHER", originally began in 1983 as Coven(1). Formed by guitarist "Twisted" (currently of Australia's "PARADIGM"), and bassist "StoneAge", with lead guitarist/vocalist Randy McRill and former "ANTAREZ" drummer Gary Sheehan filling out the lineup. During this time, Twisted and StoneAge wrote several songs together(many never completed). A considerable number of those pieces would later appear in, or influence to a great degree, many BUTCHER recordings. Twisted eventually left the band and joined a similar style group, "RAZOR SHARP", and performed his own versions of much of the material.
StoneAge reformed Coven(2) with C.T. Fritts; rhythm and lead guitar, Rick Velasquez; drums, and Roy Anschutz; vocals. Velasquez departed the group prematurely after only a handful of live performances. Vocalist Anschutz expressed his interest in filling the drum slot, as well as continuing vocals. Having been a drummer in previous bands, he was a shoo-in for the part. Now a trio, the decision was made for Fritts to assume rhythm guitar, and to find a lead guitarist to round out the group. Jon Napper was selected for the role.
Coven(3) performed live, as well as recording two songs at Avante' Studios with engineer/producer Lee Lester. "King of the Hill", and "Battleaxe", were released in August of 1986. (Both songs are integrated into BUTCHER's current album as part of a dramatized depiction of a nuclear strike.) Anschutz left the band suddenly in February 1987 for personal reasons. Shortly thereafter, Napper left as well, to pursue his own musical direction,leaving only StoneAge and Fritts.
After several auditions, they reformed the group with Joel Myers; guitar, who originally (and ironically), had been a roadie for the group. Followed by drummer Richard Ybarra. StoneAge, Fritts, and Ybarra took over vocal duties. With StoneAge remaining as the only "original" member, it was considered appropriate to change the name of the band. "STORM" was chosen in 1988. This lineup performed live only a few times, choosing to focus their attention more on writing material for a full length recording project.
In February of 1989, C.T. Fritts found it necessary to resign from the band due to numerous external circumstances. The loss of Fritts devastated the band, and forced a change of direction. Rhythm guitarist, Rich Blank, was temporarily called in to fulfill, then current, obligations. At this time, the group even worked briefly with female lead vocalist Dhyanna Sinn, and eventually broke up in 1990.
StoneAge, and Myers decided to assemble a new group to record the material that had accumulated since the band began. During this period, Myers, and StoneAge continued writing, and arranging songs, and collaborating with female vocalist Lil Tang, formerly of the thrash band "COMPOUND FRACTURE".
"BUTCHER" came into being in 1991 with the addition of former "ICEBERG" guitarist Cris Jackson, and drummer Gary (Beast) Vertrees.
BUTCHER began recording in 1993 with engineer Steve English at "The Sound Factory” studio, which resulted in the groups first three-song single (now out of print). Producer Jim Waters took over the project at his facility, "Waterworks West", and continued until their full-length debut album "IRON TIGER" was released on June 17th of 1996. Shortly after the release of the album, drummer Vertrees relocated out-of-state. He was subsequently replaced by original Coven(1) drummer Gary Sheehan, and a follow-up album was started. Once again at "Waterworks".
Due to an extremely unpleasant plethora of events that seemed to continually, (and inexplicably), plague each member of the group, production moved along at a snail's pace throughout ALL of the late 90's and the early years of the new century. During the recording of the rhythm tracks, when Cris Jackson was killed in a motorcycle accident, all recording ceased.
Two years following Jackson's untimely death, StoneAge and Myers made the decision to resume recording of the groups follow-up album, primarily as a “memorial” to their lost friend, and guitarist, Cris. In February, 2008, Lil Tang was called in to record demo lead, and background vocals on several of the existing tracks. Her energy and creativity (coupled with an enthusiastic personality that Cris always found humorous and amusing), complemented the sound BUTCHER was looking for, and she was asked to stay on as a permanent member.
In November of 2008, bassist StoneAge suffered a stroke during the vocal recording sessions and was unable to return to the studio until March of 2009. BUTCHER continued production in a limited capacity until StoneAge had recovered enough to complete vocal tracks and participate in the mixing sessions later that year.
In May of 2010, just as mixing had been completed, drummer Sheehan found it necessary to resign from the group, and relocate to northern California. StoneAge, Myers, and Tang continued with the mastering process and graphics layout duties until all aspects of the album were completed on September 28th.
The aptly named follow-up album, ”WELCOME TO THE NIGHT” was released by European metal label, INFERNO RECORDS on November 20th, 2010. Dramatization tracks for the project were recorded digitally at "Double Diamond" Studios with engineer Jim Hewitt. Musical tracks were recorded on analog at "WaterWorks" with producer Jim Waters. All the segments were then combined, and exquisitely mastered by John Gray at "The Saltmines" studios in Phoenix to form a truly unique "experience". Former Coven guitarists "Twisted" and "Jon Napper" both make guest appearances on the album as well as do the final rhythm guitar tracks of the late Cris C. Jackson.
In December 2010, as a replacement for drummer Gary Sheehan, a young Zakk Reitgarde officially joined the BUTCHER ranks. After a series of intense rehearsals to make sure the group was 'better-than-ever', BUTCHER headed back to the stage for a series of shows. (In yet another 'full metal' display of irony, new drummer Reitgarde happens-to-be the son of lead guitarist Joel Myers.)
May, 2011; After 25 years apart, bassist StoneAge, and guitarist Myers, had the opportunity to reunite with old friends/former members of COVEN (3) for a week-long 25-year celebration. StoneAge and Joel were joined by drummer/vocalist ROY ANSCHUTZ, and by guitarist, C.T. FRITTS (currently of "THE BILLY MOON PROJECT"). To memorialize the event, they returned to the studio and re-recorded the songs from their original single from 1986, as well as recording two more tracks that had remained unrealized from the same period. This lineup had not played together since February of 1987. (The project is simply titled; COVEN 25) Following the COVEN 25 sessions, bassist StoneAge was inexorably struck with further health complications leading to delays in the project. After a short period of recovery, the COVEN 25 mixing sessions resumed, and BUTCHER returned to the stage.
In June 2012, Lead guitarist and BUTCHER co-founder, Joel Myers, left the group citing 'unresolved personal issues' as the reason behind his unexpected departure. Following discussions with vocalist Lil Tang, bassist StoneAge arrived at the conclusion that, in consideration of all the circumstances surrounding the band, it would be far more appropriate to simply dissolve BUTCHER rather than seek a replacement for a founding member whose contributions had been so essential to the sound and the attitude of the band for 22 years.
What does the future hold for "BUTCHER"?;
The future looks very bright indeed for the EXTREMELY versatile, and multi-talented Zakk Reitgarde. Zakk is currently the lead vocalist and guitarist of his own outfit, "FOREVER WE'RE FORGOTTEN". With his overwhelming amount of raw talent combined with his ability on drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards, as well as some recording and production skill, Zakk will certainly be one to watch for in the upcoming years ahead.
Vocalist, Lil Tang, is joining forces with her husband, Jeff Harris, to launch into their own electrical business enterprise. Harris is an accomplished electrician with many years of experience. They are sure to do well.
There are rumors surrounding the 'possibility' of a future 'STONEAGE' solo recording project. Bassist StoneAge will neither confirm, nor deny, the rumors at present - stating only; "There is, most certainly, plenty of material. 'IF' a solo project were to happen, the record would appear with little or no advance notice".
Guitarist, Joel Myers, has returned to his roots as 'Chief road crew-extraordinaire' and has been offering his professional assistance, knowledge, and experience to the promotion and production of his sons current group.
As late as January of 2013, there were discussions amongst the members, of the possibility of the groups reformation. There were plans and auditions underway for the expansion of the lineup with the addition of lead guitarist (and seasoned metal veteran) SAM STEELE. There was also talk of new material, as well as further recording dates tentatively being scheduled. Sadly, this reformation never materialized.
If there remains the possibility of another chapter in the BUTCHER saga, it has yet to be written.
Fin. (M. Bishop) 4-13
AN OPEN MESSAGE TO THE FANS OF BUTCHER; On behalf of all the past and present members of the band, I would like to thank each and every one of you who stood by us through all the trials and tribulations that BUTCHER has gone through. Thank you for your support and your loyalty. Thank you for your undying patience and your dedication. Thank you for standing with us and giving 'the finger' to the corporate music rat-bastards that think they can define METAL by sticking a silly sub-genre label on it to ram fad garbage down the throats of the masses by telling them; "There are 'rules' to metal". FUCK THEIR RULES! And to those that have actually been 'in-the-trenches' with us through all of it - the wonderfully devoted 'friends-of-BUTCHER' that believed in us for 22 years - those that have seen the incredible sacrifices we have had to make, and the amount of shit we have had to endure, to make our music; Our most sincere, humble, and heartfelt gratitude goes out to YOU. We couldn't have done it without you. And to all those that know that "Heavy Metal isn't music - it's an attitude", thank you for your faith. LONG LIVE HEAVY METAL! Sincerely, StoneAge
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