Interview with Dan Spitz-Red Lamb
Dan Spitz, most know for his work with thrash metal band Anthrax, has recently formed his own project, a duo called Red Lamb. Spitz worked closely with Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine as both a co-producer and writer. Red Lamb released their debut self-titled CD this February, and have already released three music videos for the CD. I caught up with Dan Spitz to talk about the new band, their sound, their plans, as well as touch on the past and the Anthrax days.
Metal Babe: First of all, congratulations on your new management deal with Mind’s I Entertainment. It sounds like they have a lot in the works for Red Lamb, including immediate U.S. tour dates, worldwide dates in 2013, and an Autism Fundraiser. How did you connect with Mind’s I, and what are you looking forward to with this new partnership?
Dan Spitz: Thank you for the kind words. My wife Candi (who is a past manager herself) is managed by Mark Warner at Mind’s I Entertainment, and through her Autism advocacy and personal appearance daily duties it started to become apparent that due to my unique pathways of utilizing my return to music with Red Lamb I needed a management team like no other. James McComas who runs the music side of Mind’s I Entertainment and I just clicked and away we went instantly 24/7 into full tilt.
Red Lamb and what I am doing through music has to cross over into new boundaries and territories normal heavy metal management doesn’t understand. Bringing “Awareness” toward the global epidemic of Autism in a “Metal” way is the mission ahead.
It’s NOT about doing benefit shows and trying to suck money from someone. It’s just about playing as I normally do, but letting my fans and fans of metal see through my viral avenues my family, and the daily (if not 1/4 hourly) struggles we go through having identical mirror image twins with Autism. Our day is distinctly difficult and tiresome, grueling and has Autistic melt downs that could last hours and hours, self-injuring behavior and so much more. It’s Hell on earth some days.
The reflection of my day is handed off to those who care and want to care. If you don’t care than it’s business as usual. Metal.
Metal Babe: How did you come up with the name Red Lamb, and what does it mean to you?
Dan: Dave Mustaine and I were going back and forth for a very long time on names when one day he emailed something. I awoke to the email really early (We both don’t sleep much.) and it was a name about twice as long. I knew that was it so I cut in half, flipped it back to him for a “Lets go” approval (we’re a team effort) and it was finally done.
If you read Revelation 5 in the Bible you will know all it represents, but to sum it up: The “Lion” out of the tribe of Judah IS the “Lamb” slain for the sins of the world.
Metal Babe: You described Red Lamb as ‘Music for a New Era.’ What does that mean to you?
Dan: Creating another musical journey on round two of my career is not just about a continuum of my creations in Anthrax. It had to be what’s in my genome structure I can’t get rid of, and also represent the cutting edge of today and tomorrow. It took the better part of a year of ripping on my guitar to finally get the chord structures of the sound of Red Lamb (guitar wise). I thought it represented the familiarity of my past (I really can’t get rid of what I am.) and “Music for a New Era” of what I am today and will be tomorrow.
I don’t actually plan or think about what I create. I didn’t do that back when Scott and I were creating all we did so I have no need to do it again. If it sits right with my angst, pain and suffering for me than it should please those who enjoy to listen to my guitar riffs. I really don’t care about the rest of the people. You can’t please everyone and I only do what I do for the love of it. I think that is extremely clear to everyone now. I’m back with a love for what I do, I’m not burnt out from touring or jaded anymore. I simply just want to play live and connect with the fuel of my friends around the globe.
Metal Babe: Red Lamb is a duo with you and vocalist Don Chaffin. How did you connect with Don, and have you worked with him in the past?
Dan: I produced Donny’s band a long time ago and I was totally blown away. His talent extends into realms you are not hearing on Red Lamb. You all must understand that Red Lamb is a collaborative of Dave Mustaine and I and that’s what we both wanted my first music to represent upon return. A piece of Dave and a piece of Me smashed together into oblivion and nailed to a cross. So we had Donny re-invent what he does best, clone other human beings. I’ve never witnessed any singer have the cloning ability Donny does. If I say to him be “Chris Cornell” and he sings something through the microphone it’s so scary spot on it can freak out anyone.
Donny will be unleashed when we play live however and the reins are off as far as being confined to a pre-determined avenue.
Metal Babe: On your website, you list, Other Musicians, who played drums on the record, as “Brothers in Arms.” What does that mean exactly?
Dan: Red Lamb is Donny and I. The two of us take care of everything. In addition to being an incredible singer and human being he is a full time video producer for many artists as well as a record producer. He in fact just opened his own record label. The two of us drive all avenues of Red Lamb. I think in today’s world the term “Band” is used a bit too vague. It used to be that if one person from “a Band” left the band the band was over. That does not exist anymore.
“Brothers In Arms” are our friends who help to create Red Lamb’s CD’s and touring needs. Chris Vrenna of Marilyn Manson / NIN played on every song of Red Lamb so he is a part of “Brothers In Arms.”
Metal Babe: Dave Mustaine from Megadeth co-produced the CD with you, and contributed lyrically. How did you end up working together?
Dan: Well I wouldn’t just say he contributed lyrically as it goes way, way past that. He co-wrote all lyrical content with me on the entire CD.
Dave and I have been extremely close friends for a very long time. We tend to stay way below anyone’s radar however. I turned Dave onto a device called a Fractal Audio Axe Fx I used to record Red Lamb with. During a break in his touring he was ready to program his units and get them in his rack. I had spent a year or more cloning my amps into these boxes, cloning my guitar cabinets and studio microphones so I offered to come out to his house and Vic’s (his studio) and clone his tone for him. My tech from Anthrax Willie G. is his tech so this was a true family event.
So one day going from Dave’s house to his studio he asked to hear what I was working on. Mind you in our personal relationship we don’t talk much about music at all. So I we cranked it in his car and he went through pieces of each and every song. At the end he kind of just looked at me, I looked at him and he said something like “Would you be offended if I asked you if I could help you with this?” I was like… Ummmm.. “I’m fried from wearing all the hats brother. That would be a Godsend.”
So Dave completely got engulfed, cleared his insanely busy schedule’s and we went to work.
Metal Babe: Did you plan for Dave to contribute lyrically, or is that something that just happened naturally during the creative process?
Dan: The reason artists bring in someone who is not actually part of the band is to get that input that can only be administered from someone looking down from the clouds. An outsider.
As soon as we kicked into overdrive all gloves or restrictions on my part were off. How cool is it that Dave and I had our guitars out in his studio and both ripping? I think it’s actually the first time two of thrash metal’s creators have done something like this together.
Lyrically Dave and I worked coast to coast at first via electronic transmission on each and every song. I had written all lyrics for the entire CD so it was a rip this apart and build process. We continued this process at Dave’s studio as Donny was singing and I was tracking. Dave and I also worked through many nights at his house until the point we were both hunched over a computer sleeping. I would then go up to my room in his house and awake a few hours later (I need my nightly ice cream.) only to find Dave back down stairs in his office sleeping on the keyboard. I would wake him and all of a sudden he would continue his thought process and type it. We’re both workaholic’s, and we both are one of the few creators of a genre, so it’s kind of like we are the same path at all times. We’re both also perfectionists. Nothing is done until it’s done. In addition Dave and I knew how important the message is in what I was about to release to the general public so it was very personal to both of us. Dave has spent considerable time with my family and twins so he understands my daily struggles like no one else and simply exhausted his mind, body and so much more just to help a friend. Way beyond the norm you would expect from another human being.
Metal Babe: How would you describe the musical style of the band? I’ve seen a lot of online postings comparing the sound to both Anthrax and Megadeth. What are your thoughts on these comparisons?
Dan: I don’t fit in every day life’s conformity’s so I don’t think Red Lamb does either. It’s just killer Metal.
Metal Babe: Have you played out locally in Florida, and if so, how has the response been so far?
Dan: We have not played any shows yet.
Metal Babe: What are your plans as far as touring is concerned? Is there anything in the works for a Red Lamb/Megadeth tour?
Dan: Touring will start shortly and I’ll be back where I’m most comfortable in my skin. Playing live is what I’m all about. The music on a CD is never representative of what happens when metal or my guitar hits the stage.
Metal Babe: Since you played all the guitar and bass on the record, do you have a touring line-up in mind?
Dan: Yes I do. The musicianship of what will be live Red Lamb is quite astounding.
Metal Babe: I was excited to see Red Lamb mentioned on the season premier of “That Metal Show.” Did you know that you were going to be mentioned in the “Where are they Now” segment of the show?
Dan: I had no idea. Eddie Trunk and I go back to the beginning of Thrash Metal as he worked within Megaforce Records and traveled with me quite extensively. He is one of the nicest human beings I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. He’s always had that metal knowledge that is so far beyond mortal’s. He rules. That was very kind of him to do as well. You know any and all help I can get to help what I’m doing is graciously appreciated. It’s not easy to start over from zero. I did it back when all odds where against me with Anthrax and I have concrete foundation’s now of my next round. I’ve only just begun.
(You can see that part of the show right here: http://vimeo.com/47674119)
Metal Babe: They also mentioned that you were doing much better regarding your health, which is great news, but they didn’t really know the specifics. Can you give us an update on how you are doing in that regard?
Dan: My awaking to return to play my guitar again came from two events. One of which I will speak about later in this interview. The second came from a heart attack I had.
As most might know I am a very healthy person who works out a lot as well so this was a shock to both myself and all others who know me. It happened at The Bronx Zoo with my family. The Dr’s tell me I should not be alive. Not a chance. I’m the Uncle Bill story who is eating dinner at the table and all of a sudden his face falls into his soup and he croaks fast. The largest valve going to my heart was 98% closed along with others. Long story short when I awoke from the operation I awoke with a new outlook on what I have to do. Knowing your time is limited changes everything.
Metal Babe: I love everything that I’ve heard so far. It seems you are making some strong statements with the record, in addition to raising awareness for Autism. What is the message that you’re trying to get out there?
Dan: My wife Candi and I have five-year-old identical mirror image twins with Autism. They were NOT born that way. They were speaking at nine months and we have plenty of film to prove not only that, but they were doing television commercials with Brooke Shields, movies and more. So now that the new statistics are out (One in every 88th born will have some form of Autism.) about Autism we should all know something is stupid wrong. We’re building giant schools for Autism? Uhmmmmm… So in true Metal fashion I only speak the truth and show the truth to all who care to listen. I hope a lot of my friends from other bands will join in with me as well.
Metal Babe: I just read that the Anthrax song “Got the Time” was actually played on Mars in an effort to wake the Mars rover Curiosity. It is absolutely amazing that you can say that your music was played on Mars! Can you tell us more about that?
Dan: You know I distinctly remember Scott Ian and I sitting in a studio during the first Anthrax album and saying something like “can you imagine if this kind of music could be in a television commercial someday?” and then we both kind of laughed.
I think it’s totally mind blowing that my guitar is the first heavy metal guitar to reach another planet. That is simply insane. I mean I broke the top 10 before for songs I co-wrote, but now I’m in the top 10 on MARS alongside Frank Sinatra and The Beatles!! So all Metal heads should be proud as we now are such a huge part of society’s mainstream that all must take serious notice when we speak.
I take now claim for anything. I think Metal in itself and my fans are responsible. It’s all because of the incredible fans of metal that things like this happen.
Metal Babe: Speaking of Anthrax, you were with the band for 12 years, and released seven studio albums during that time, before leaving in 1995. You came back in 2007 and spent two years touring for the Anthrax Reunion of Among the Living tour. I’ve read about your major accomplishment of becoming a Swiss trained Master Watchmaker, and your newfound love. Can you give us some further insight on this?
Dan: Anthrax is inside my human makeup. You can’t get rid of what you create. You dream, you struggle, you fight and then you accomplish. I have a love for my brothers (who alongside me) created embedded musical history forever. It’s a sound that cannot be duplicated. Perseverance and intangible avenues of accomplishments only happen when there is a perfect team. People often say things like “there’s just something that happens when we get together that is unexplained.” That’s what happens when that line up is in a room. In addition, when Scott’s guitar and mine play together it becomes one. I am blessed to have had that time in my life. For now I have something new to do.
I’ve spent many years in Switzerland becoming a very rare mechanical Watchmaker. My title is “Swiss Trained Master Watchmaker of Complications Specialist.” In the luxury watch world I am trained to service and/or diagnose, teach others and report manufacturing defects for the worlds most complicated mechanical timepieces. These timepieces are works of human art and often reach $1,000,000 or more having no diamonds anywhere on the piece. Simply because the movement (the engine inside) is stupid complicated and doing insane things.
I used my quiet time in Switzerland to clear my head and achieve a goals often not obtained. Especially for an American. I’m a bit OCD to say the least. What’s funny is there’s a lot of Metal heads in Swiss Watchmaking.
Right before I decided it was time to end my Watchmaking journey and return to music a funny thing happened that started a trigger. I was in the outskirts of Geneva working on a very complicated timepiece at an extremely famous company. In this complicated room it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop and some Master Watchmakers have iPod headphones on as they work. I had a phone call from Dave Mustaine that morning and he was telling me something to the effect of “You need to stop messing with those stupid million dollar toys and get back here to play. There’s only a bunch of us still living who breathe what we created and aren’t 2nd or 3rd generation players just rehashing what we have running in our blood.” So that day I was already all emotionally fried and confused a bit as I was getting burnt on ripping apart watches and figuring out what another bad Watchmaker hacked up inside.
So I’m working and I see this guy a few benches down from me (He has tattoos everywhere.) and I wanted to see what he was working on, so I walked over and he has his phones on as he worked on a crazy piece. Something like a Tourbillon, Perpetual Calendar, Chronograph, Jumping Hour, Flyback and I look in his bench drawer and see an empty SLAYER CD. He’s freakin’ blasting SLAYER and working on this thing!!!! At that point I started cracking up and just said to myself “I’m done… I’m outta’ here. Time to RIP on my guitar again.”
I just started missing everything music in an instant.
I left Switzerland shortly after.
Metal Babe: Anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?
Dan: Thank you for so many years of love. I’ll see you all soon once again. Please support artistic creation any way you can.
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