Interview: Don of the Dead (Nunslaughter)

*Written by Brian Pattison and Don of the Dead

*Edited by Mike Marlinski

*Introduction by Mike Marlinski

It’s been almost a year since the passing of Jim Konya. Since then, Brian Pattison’s tribute article for Jim continues to be the most viewed article in our blog’s short history, with over 3,500 views and climbing. That article really put things in perspective for me and showed me how great an impact Jim had on metalheads everywhere. All that being said, I think it’s only fitting that Mr. Pattison has returned to us at nearly the beginning of October with an interview with Nunslaughter’s own Don of the Dead. And while it wasn’t his intention to time this interview with the anniversary of Jim’s death, I still think it’s worth a reflection.

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So, without further ado, here’s Brian’s interview with Don:

Brian Pattison

We grew up in much different times, where you couldn’t just do a Google or Facebook search and discover music/scenes. How did you first discover that there was an underground metal scene?

Don

I went to a fairly small school. In 1984 I had a graphic arts class with Terry Westwood. He was two grades ahead of me and we started to talk about metal music. I was into Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas priest and AC/DC. Common metal music. He mentioned lots of bands I never heard before and offered to bring me in a mix tape of a bunch of bands. On that tape was Trouble, Hellhammer, Fates Warning, Manowar and Anvil. I flipped out over these bands and asked him where I could get this music. He told me of a record store in Pittsburgh called Eides. I was only 14 or 15 at the time so going into the city was a big deal. I had to take two buses and of course lie to my mom about where I was gonna be for the next 5-6 hours. In any case we, my friend Charlie, followed Terry’s directions that he wrote down for us and found the store. So many bands I never heard of and thats when I saw a flyer for a show. I dont remember who I went to see that next weekend but at that show I met Ted Williams (Dream Death) and that changed everything for me. He invited me to their first show so I went and met local bands such as Necropolis and Doomwatch. Ted and I hit it off and suddenly I was at so many local shows that I started to get invited to after show parties. It was aat one of these parties that I met and spoke to a guy called Stump. He was already a huge collector and Stump told me about demos of bands. He began to make me tapes with 4 or 5 demos on each tape. That is what started my collection. I began to buy underground zines and buy my own demos. My first demo purchase was Fantom Warior. After that I was hooked.

Brian Pattison

From my first trip to Pittsburgh I’ve always loved going there. The people are similar (hard working blue collar types) and the cities are similar (old steel and industrial towns) though Pittsburgh is much bigger. I remember going there and seeing that though Pittsburgh was much bigger the crowds were noticeable smaller, but the crowds in Pittsburgh seemed to be more knowledgeable of the underground and it at least seemed like everyone there was somehow actively involved (‘zine, band, radio station, etc). What do you think made Pittsburgh such a hotbed for underground involvement back then? What made Pittsburgh special?

Don

I would have to say that it was the record store Eides and the person Robbie Tabachka. He was the one who ordered records from all over the place. This seemed to be the place that galvanized the music scene. Metallist and punks all went there and fed off each other. There were some people that were willing to take risks to bring bands into Pittsburgh too. One of them was a guy by the name of AAAARRRGGGH Man. He has since passed but along with others paid and sometimes lost money bringing bands to the city. To me it seemed like a tight knit scene. Doomwatch would play with Half Life and Castle Blood would play with Dream Death. It did not matter they wanted to just have a show. I never looked down at a “local” band. I just always thought how luck it was I could see them every few weeks.

Brian Pattison

Over the decades, Nunslaughter has had a number of different members some leaving on good terms and others leaving with bad blood. Any members from the past that you wish had stuck around longer? Any members from the past you wish had never been involved in the first place?

Don

HA…This is a loaded question but I did say ask anything….. Most of the past members just quit. Either they knew it was time or they wanted to do something else. I think most leave on good terms but they see that NunSlaughter just kept doing what we do without them and it began to wear on them. Many went on to form or reform bands that really, to this day, never did much in the realm of music. All of the past members were also younger than me and they just did not have a grasp on what we were trying to do. Some of the past members wanted respect but did not want to put in the time to earn it. I wish the original members would have stuck around. I am still very good friends with Jere / guitarist and Greg/ Singer. Of course I wish Jim was still around. He was the missing element that I was looking for. Others were eager to tour but unwilling to show up for practice, learn songs, write new music or even play the songs correctly at shows. I have some very specific memories that now make me laugh but at that time pissed me off. How can you practice a set list, fly thousands of miles, get up on stage and turn to me after I announce a song and say….”Hey Don I dont know that one”. I mean WTF. You have one job…know the songs. Im setting up shows, printing and selling merchandise, doing layouts and design, writing music / lyrics, making future connections and performing. People if you get in a band LEARN AND REMEMBER THE FUCKING SONGS. It is embarrassing to announce to the audience a song that is written on our set list that we dont know. I mention this because it happened a few times with different members. I would have to say only one member that I had not even give a chance to be in my underground. Zack Massacre is a spoiled rich kid that uses people and disposes of them when they do not serve a purpose. He treated Jim like an asshole. I flew the guy around the world and I introduced him to good people many of whom he took advantage of and treated like trash. Do not trust him. He is a liar. He is duplicitous. He is only friends with you until he gets what he wants and I wish he was never involved in my underground.

Brian Pattison

In 2014 you celebrated your 666th birthday at a show here in Buffalo. All those years ago when you started Nunslaughter with Greg was it even in your wildest imagination that Nunslaughter would have such longevity or take you around the world?

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Don

That was one of the most fun shows. I was touched that a cake was baked and we were treated so well. Back when we started the band we just wanted a demo on two. Absolutely no expectations to make an LP or even play a live show. If I could go back I would tell those naive kids to shape up fast and be prepared. Greg is still a dear friend and Jere and I talk about motorcycles and old metal all the time. That was 30 long and hard years ago. I am honored to carry the torch and the guys are so supportive of the nunslaughter banner continuing to wave. We are proud of our creation.

Brian

Hells Headbash 2014, Nunslaughter’s set became instantly infamous for the deer corpse on stage. Plenty of rumor and hearsay…i.e. the deer was roadkill the band found on the way to the show; the deer was still alive (twitching) during the set. Care to set the record straight?

Don

NunSlaughter occasionally uses blood, bones and animal parts in our live shows. When we originally were asked to do this show it was to be outside and we were told we could do anything we wanted. . I purchased the pig heads and 5 gallons of blood that day and we were on our way to the show. Being Ohio seeing a dead deer along the side of the road is very common. We, bassist and I, passed a dead deer on the side of the road. He said we should grab it for the show. I agreed and turned around and threw it in the car. I assure you it was not alive because of the stench. While we were on stage I made the mistake of stabbing it in the gut and thats when the horror started. The stench that came from the gut was unholy. When we were performing “Perversion of Gore” I could barely sing. Basically gagging through most of the song. That deer was dead for a while. It was not twitching.

Brian

Nunslaughter has played many shows, many fests, toured much of the world…. any bands that you haven’t shared the stage with yet that you wished you had?

Don

I would still like to see Massacre and NunSlaughter have a show.

Brian

Back in our trading days around ’89/’90 I tried several times to get Nunslaughter to Buffalo but you would always tell me “real death metal bands don’t play live”. In 2011 I was finally able to do the impossible and was able to get Nunslaughter to play a show in Buffalo. Any memory of that show at the Funeral Home in Buffalo?

Don

I do remember saying that. Basically we did not have a full band. I actually had no aspirations to ever play live it just kind of happened when Jim joined the band. Buffalo holds a special place in my heart. We had similar music scenes in the 90’s and of course the metal fests and shows that we each attended. The Funeral Home was such a unique venue. I have heard that it since has closed down. It was the perfect place to have a show. A good stage and sound plus we got to go into the basement and see where the corpses were taken care of. Not to mention staying the night upstairs in the funeral directors quarters. Everything was perfect. We have you to thank for the memories.

Brian

Nunslaughter’s video for the song “God” has become an underground classic. Who came up with the concept?

Don

Very nice of you to say. I wrote the script and blocked out the scenes. Inspiration was taken from the 80’s Twisted Sister videos and my real life experiences. Yes I had to interview in a suit and talk to Christians as if I respected their religion. It was a humiliating experience so I decided to turn the tables. The whole thing came together very organically. The blonde girl in the video, Allison, knew a videographer that was in town and just looking to keep busy. She set up a meeting and within a few days I wrote the script. Filming took about 9 hrs and he even had a few friends to help with lighting. We filmed at the Hells Headbangers offices and kept it very low budget. Editing was another story. The majority of the editing was done by my friend with notes from me. The fine tuning of the edits were done by a few people. We asked friends how it flowed and they gave me feedback. That is more than you asked for but how the video came to be.

Brian

A big part of Nunslaughter’s live experience was Jim’s in between songs banter. How soon after Jim joined did that become part of the show? Was it discussed beforehand or did it just kind of evolve that way?

Don

Both! When we first talked about dong live shows I told him how much I liked Kam Lee and the Massacre live show banter. We were fortunate to meet Kam at a massacre show in 1992 or so. We asked him to do some of our favorite lines live. He obliged and it meant the world to me. We had that part planned but Jim, as many know, can not be contained and once you gave him a mic he used it. Jim began little by little commenting on my intros to songs and eventually leading me to introduce the songs. It evolved over time. Two people talking off the cuff with eventually me taking a back seat just to listen to him. Frankly he would make me laugh too much and sometimes I couldnt sing the damn song. Everything we/ he said was unscripted and unrehearsed. It made the live shows something to behold and cherish. It is one of the reasons that we released so many live shows. It is the talking in between the songs that is unique. To elaborate we also never knew the set list until we got on stage. This was something that I tasked Jim with early on and he reveled in it. Basically we know about 40-50 songs before we go on tour. From that Jim would pick 18-20 songs to play live and write each set list out by hand before every show. We, as a band, did not know the set list until we walked up on stage. It made it fresh every night. We never played the same set list twice.

Brian

Given the events of sept/oct 2015, any regrets on the decision for Nunslaughter to not play live in 2015?

Don

Not really. I did not want to do live shows at that time. Maybe it would have been cool in hind sight but you cant live in the what ifs. Fact was we were not working well and time needed to be taken off. Jim both loved and disliked live shows. After they are over they were fun but leading up to the show was a pain in the ass. Some shows were super fun and some were just pathetic.

Brian

If you would….share a memory of Jim Konya…

Don

The first time we played CBGB’s we unloaded the van and I tasked Jim with finding a parking place. I knew he would find a safe place because he was a responsible person. I gave him the keys and we proceeded inside. We set up and got settled in. It had been a while and still no Jim. Over an hour goes by and Jim comes walking in the door. As it turns out he was driving around looking for a parking spot and he heard Black Sabbath coming out of a Firehouse station. He pulled in and started to talk to the Firemen about metal and music. He explained we needed a safe place to park the van. They gave him a special sign to put in the window of the van and let him park at the Firehouse until the show was over. That was Jim, he befriended everyone.

Brian

Any final words or anything else you’d like to add, speak about, or promote?

Don

I’ve noticed over the years that our underground music scene is fractured and I would like people to begin to bring some unity and solidarity to their local music scene. If we do not take care of it the music scene it can and will go away. To quote Zappa, “Music is the best.”

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