After rocking out to some Life of Agony (a Brooklyn-based alt-metal band) with the blokes that make up Deep River, Ont.’s Torture for Please, I got into the grit with lead singer Cici Proctor and lead guitarist Mike Griese of the thrash metal band.
Mike Griese (MG): If I could write a song like that (‘River Runs Red’), and put just ten seconds more, just a couple good sweeps to make myself known. . . that’s perfect man. It’s 1.55; we’ve said it all. 1.55. We got the groove down, established our theme. . .
Cici Proctor (CP): Leave on a high note.
MG: Leave on a fucking high note. But there’s just not enough guitar solo in it. It should have been 2.10.
CP: It’s always about the guitar solos with you. . .
MG: It’s not always about the guitar solos.
CP: Always about the ear candy.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): So. What got you guys started?
CP: Our love of metal.
MG: The love of metal, and the love of old style metal, that you can understand the vocals to. Less thrash, man, love that new metal shit; lots of crazy young guitar players that take it to the next level, but the singer always craps out on ya, and that makes it very, very inaccessible. . . for just about everybody, except for 16-year-old boys who hate their life.
CP: Well a lot of people relate to lyrics. Good lyrics make a good song too.
RMM: So when did you guys actually start?
CP: Well we’ve been doing stuff for years now.
MG: But the actual T4P started somewhere early 2012. “Do you fancy metal? Yeah, I do. Do you want to start a metal band? Yeah, I do.” It was that easy.
After a brief and insulting exchange at a local bar with a former band mate who shall remain nameless, I met up with Talon, a young guitar player who loves metal, and happened to have a drum buddy to boot. Add Cici, needing to “get in on this”, and T4P was born.
It helps that I got the metal girl. So that’s the way to do it really, if there’re any young blokes out there who want advice: don’t marry the dance girl and convert her to metal, marry the metal girl and make her the singer in your band.
RMM: So how long have you been singing?
CP: Well, for a long time I could not sing in front of people. It took years. I was maybe 28 the first time I sang in front of people. I would not do it for a long time.
MG: Yeah, and it started, you know, at the Legion with an acoustic me, and her singing raspy Janis Joplin tunes. Fleetwood Mac and stuff like that, but not metal. Metal was decided that one drunk night when I quit the band and started a new one.
CP: Yeah, I was like, “Oh yeah, I really love metal,” but fuck is it ever hard to sing. But now when we go back and do our old shit, it’s so easy because metal’s such a workout.
RMM: And how long have you been playing?
MG: Oh man. . . a long time. Probably 22 years: with that guy [points to the blue Ibanez on the wall]. That’s the real number one. It still plays the best out of any guitar in this place. All metal, all the time.
RMM: So tell me about the other members of your band.
MG: Well you’ve heard our drummer: that’s Jason Woito. Hometown boy. Fast feet: he’s got the fastest feet. He just gets on the double kicks and. . . he’s got the fastest feet since Dave Lombardo from Slayer.
Number two is the bass man, Paco: Pascal Noel. He’s a North Bay boy. He plays really well for a young lad. He’s got natural ear.
CP: He’s funky. He can just bust out the funk.
MG: And anything you send him, if there’s something a little out of tune, he’s the one to say “Oh wait, that doesn’t sound right.” Golden ears.
Now as for guitars, Talon wrote a whole bunch of songs with us and then moved out West, but he still contributes.
CP: Half of our songs began with some sort of riff that he made up, and then Mike worked on it.
MG: Yeah, and our new guy is Zak Caron, and he’s chipping in some really good riffs. He’s a good writer. He’s pretty technical, and pretty groovy at the same time.
RMM: So what sort of influences do you pull from?
MG: Of course. Lemmy, I love my Lemmy. And between Talon, and now Zak, they kind of have learned the next level of metal. Half the bands I wouldn’t even know but Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom, shit like that, but when you put it all together. . .
CP: It just makes sense.
MG: We’ve all been blown away by each other. The only thing they don’t get is the death metal vocals, because we’ve said the singing has to be clean. That’s what turns us off the new metal, is the unintelligible, Cookie Monster kinda growly shit.
RMM: Hahaha, okay. So how do you go about the recording process?
CP: Well we all live far apart: we’re here, Paco’s in Ottawa, Talon was in Alberta, Jason was gone away to school, so everyone’s been sending bits and pieces and Mike has been kind of putting it all together here.
MG: It all basically goes through the eight-track zoom, and I mix it down on the computer, as best we can. It’s not the best of the best. It’s not Bob Rock style, but what we’ve got with a $140 machine and a bunch of guitars, I think it comes out pretty fuckin’ good.
CP: One day we’ll come out with an album Basement Days, like Metallica came out with Garage Days.
MG: I mean you could spend $20,000 and make it sound ten per cent better. . . maybe fifty per cent. But what’s it worth to you in the long run? You know some dude’s just going to be blasting it on his mp3 player, in his headphones. . . it’s going to sound like shit anyway. And so it should sound like shit; there should be a certain amount of shit built into it. But like I said, you could spend the bucks. . .
CP: Yeah but for what? It’s good enough for now.
MG: Yeah. It’s about return on investment. If 65 people want to download our shit on SoundCloud, and I spent $20,000 on an album, then I’d be pretty pissed.
RMM: So in terms of writing the lyrics…
CP: That’s all Mike. All Mike.
MG: Pretty much all. Cici helped on a couple.
CP: He has things written when I didn’t even realize there was any song in the works at all. It’s always just done, poof.
MG: Haha, “He’s supposed to be working, and he’s raging against the machine!”
CP: If I were sixteen and pissed all the time, I’d have plenty of lyrics, but. . .
MG: Cici’s contribution to the lyrics is cutting words out that are too fast to say.
CP: Yup. It’s true. Some things don’t flow well, because there’s a word for every single beat.
MG: It’s hard. It’s hard being a guy who literally cannot sing to show how it. . . ’cause it flows in my head, man. But sometimes you just read a book or read the newspaper and five minutes later you go “oh, there’s a song.”
CP: So coming back to our inspirations; our influences: books. You’ll read something and it’ll affect you. You write a song about it and the chain will keep going. Maybe someone hasn’t read that book, but they’ll hear your song, and take something from that.
MG: Mostly anger.
CP: ‘I-330’ was inspired by the book ‘We’.
MG: The precursor to 1984 and Brave New World; all those guys. What else. . . well, Fred Phelps. . .
RMM: Let’s talk about that. That’s current.
MG: Well, Fred Phelps just died, and we wrote a song where we advised him to die.
CP: Though we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.
MG: But thanks Fred for taking our advice. We tweeted it right to him (while he was alive), and one of our incoming links on the Twitter page was from Fred Phelps’ email account, so we know he did watch the video. . . and then he died. . . so you tell me, right?
CP: I was a little worried when we came out with the song. Thinking they’re going to get us or something.
MG: No they’d just picket: “God hates Torture for Pleasure”. And look, I don’t wish ill on anyone. I don’t practice this or preach that, but that’s just a guy where you can say, okay, he kind of made the world a shittier place. He did. Like, I mean your kid got shot and he’s going to stand there outside the funeral and say “USA allows gay marriage, so your kid deserved to die.”
The clincher was the shooting at Sandy Hook. I really started to pay attention with the response of the people. These biker gangs just reverse picketed Phelps and didn’t give him a voice. Didn’t beat them or anything, just got in their way and let the families grieve.
I mean he’s just an odious creature. Just go away. And he did. And I think if that happened in, say, North Bay, Ont., they’d have beat him to death. But it was handled in a really dignified way, so I wrote that song because I wasn’t feeling overly dignified.
There’s always something that’ll grab your attention. There’s always something you’ll be angry about. Well, write a song about it. You don’t have to shoot up your post office. Just write a song and feel better. Make it heavy. Make it heavy.
Here, this’ll be our next track (holds up book on jellyfish).
CP: STUNG! Haha.
MG: No, it’s crazy. It’s crazy man. The entire Black Sea is just a mass of jellyfish now. It’s totally fucking dead. And this book by Lisa-ann Gershwin tells you all about it. And it’s pretty sad, you know. What are you going to do? Make it heavy.
CP: You can do anything as long you make it heavy.
MG: And put in some pretty technical riffs.
CP: I mean that is kind of metal: Stung! That does sound metal.
RMM: So what’s it like being the front of a metal band?
CP: Well, it’s challenging. It’s tough for a woman. It is kind of more of a man’s world; genre of music, which I love. I’m hoping that men will dig listening to a woman sing metal songs. And I’m hoping it may get women more interested in listening to metal. I love it. It works well for us and it’s something we both love. So it’s something great for us to do together.
RMM: So in terms of spreading the metal out there, I know you use Reverb Nation.
CP: And Fandalism.
MG: SoundCloud. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Social media, man. You’ve gotta have it all.
CP: And of course we have our own website too.
RMM: So what about gigs?
MG: Well, we’re playing Carnegie Hall next week, haha.
CP: We don’t play out a lot. We’re more Internet sluts.
MG: We collaborate a lot online, but once we get our drummer back, we’ll be able to work on planning shows. We’re going for the goal that there’s going to be an album’s worth of tunes. Then from there, what can you do: you can either tweak out your own shit at home and make the best recording you can make and throw it all over the Internet, or you can pay somebody, and spend 20 hours in a studio, all just chip in, and get it professionally done, but then you’re left with what? You’re going to distribute it on the Internet anyway. So we don’t really know.
CP: We have our lives and our jobs. If something comes out of this, awesome. If nothing comes out if, well, we’ve got our family.
MG: And then we just write more songs. We’re not out to convert anyone.
CP: No, we’re just writing metal, and I’ll listen to it any day.
RMM: Anything you want to say to your current and future T4P fans?
MG: Take it or leave it.
CP: Metal’s not for everyone, but we feel sorry for those of you who don’t appreciate it.
MG: Hahaha. We love it. It’s the road that never ends. It’s just good old style vintage thrash. Good, clean vocals…
CP: It’s more Barney metal than Cookie Monster metal. You can sing along to it.
MG: And it’s not too crazy, man. Check it out. We don’t try to force anything on anyone, and we don’t expect anything back, but it’s there, so if you like it, grab it. Check it out.
CP: You’ll not be disappointed.
MG: Well you might be, but fuck, you didn’t pay for it.
Listen to Torture for Pleasure at www.tortureforpleasure.com/music.php.