jeff waters 01Hello Jeff it is great to hear you! In few days, you will be on the road again. How do you prepare for a tour? I guess as a musician you can’t wait to be on the road again?

Yes, it’s allays the same. You can’t wait to get on the road again. You will be having a good week or two, three, four weeks and suddenly on the fifth week, you start to feel your age. (Ha-ha) This time I decided not to make a tour with 4-5 shows a week. Instead, I decided to be a two-month tour with 6 shows a week. I want to go back to the old school, work hard and have a lot of fun this time.

In November will be ANNIHILATOR’s third visit in Bulgaria, but the first actual headline show. It will be part of the postponed “For the Demented” Tour. What should the fans expect from your performance?

Yes, this tour was postponed. Randy Rampage had passed away almost on the thirty anniversary of the “Allice in Hell” album and we were going to take him on the tour as a support band, and have him come out on stage to play some old songs with us. It was unfortunate that he passed away! We are going to do some tribute to him on the tour that is coming up. That was a sad thing but also the real reason that it was postponed was that I married a woman from the UK and I moved there. Which took me almost a year to move and build my studio here in England. Therefore, I needed to give my passport to the British Government, and I needed to stay here for a while. Now everything is cool, I got my studio, finished the album and we are ready to rock. I can’t wait to get to Bulgaria again. There are cool metal heads there! I watched some videos from the previous festival we did there. It was wild; Slayer and WASP were on the bill.

Yes, that was Loud Festival in 2012. The band was with Dave Padden as a singer back then. However, in 2014 he left the band and we saw you returning as a singer again. Why Dave decided to step back, and did, you audition any other singers before doing it yourself?

Well I did look for a singer for few weeks. I talked with some singers that I really liked but they were in a band already. Stu Block for example from Iced Earth, he is great singer and a Canadian. I was thinking of him you know but he was already with Jon Schaffer in Iced Earth. So, I looked for a while and I decided that I am going to sing again. It’s a good challenge for me to get better and better and to learn how to sing and play guitar again. It took me a lot of years, but I think right about now I am starting to get better at singing and playing guitar live and in the studio. I try to use less and less fancy computer tricks and to be more raw and old-school sounding. It’s like the first three Annihilator albums, but with more anger in it

For the Demented was released 3 years ago and by looking at the band’s timeline we should be expecting the new album soon?

Yes! The new album is going to be released in January. We do this tour, then comes the Holydays, the album goes out and we hit the road again. It’s going to be a lot of fun

Annihilator always had good vocalists in the line-up including yourself, but which one was really hard to work with and why?

Well in the studio everyone is working hard and trying to do their best. So there everyone is pretty much the same. But on tour most of the problems we had is too much drugs and too much alcohol. It normal if you are going to sing and you do too much of those, then you are not going to be doing it for very long. It’s fun to have some drinks and party but when it happens every day and night, then it is a problem and it’s hard for other people to get along with you. There were few guys like that but... mostly one (hahah). Most of the guys that we had in the band in the past 30 years are good people and good musicians. With most of them we just shock hands and they went to do something else.

I see. Was that the reason why Dave Padden left the band? Because he was unable to travel that much and he needed a rest?

Dave spent 12 years with me, and he basically got fed up with travelling. Some people like me can get on a plate and travel for the rest of my life. It is part of making and playing music. But after 10-11 years Dave just got sick and tired from flying from Vancouver to other parts of Canada for studio work and then all over the world for touring. He wanted to stay in Vancouver and make music and work there.

In 2002 You were live guitarist for Savatage. How was that experience for you and what do you remember from those days.?

Well it was great. I got the call just 10 days before they started their summer tour. So I didn’t have much time to learn the songs. I remember working day and night, maybe 18 hour a day, trying to learn the songs. It was a huge pressure for me, but when we started to play it just worked right away. It was really fun!

Its common nowadays to see bands doing Album anniversary tours, and as you said it’s been 30 years since Allice in Hell was released. Can you give more details on some tracks that will feature on the setlist?

Well we have two iconic albums “Alice In Hell” and “Never, Neverland”. And because of Randy’s passing we will do a lot of songs from “Alice In Hell”, but also include some tracks from “Never, Neverland” as its anniversary is also coming early next year. We planned some songs that we have never played before and definitely some songs from the new record. Most of the people want to hear those new songs, that’s why we are putting out some videos in the following weeks. Of course we are going to do “Alice in Hell” and “King Of The Kill” along with some songs from our previous record and tracks that people were always asking us to do. One instrumental is in the setlist and a song that we haven’t played for 29 years!

Never Neverland 9795.jpg

You were invited by Dave Mustaine to join Megadeth numerous times. Have you ever regretted that you declined the offer?

Well no actually! I think the first time he asked me to audition and later few times to join. But I knew right from the beginning that it won’t happen, and probably he knew that too. I have my own band and Megadeth is his band. He had a lot of great guitarist through the years – Marty Friedman, Chris Poland, Chris Broderick, Jeff Young and now........ Hm the new guy that he is playing with today.........?

Kiko Loureiro?

Ah yes Kiko...! Sorry so many names now in my head. I know Kiko I just totally forgot because my brain is working in overdrive right now.

That is normal you have a tour ahead of you and you are the main moving force in the band. I know that you have tons of things on your mind now.

That is an understatement! Multiply that by Hundred! Ha-ha-ha!

I can imagine ... But by being the main figure in the band. Writing, recording, producing... Isn’t it hard to keep a look on your music impartially? I mean when you are writing, and recording do you prefer and listen to advices or suggestions from other people or not?

It’s always good to have somebody else in there (the studio). In The beginning I do most of the job in the studio by myself because I haven’t got enough money. But when I started to get money I still did it by myself because I had fun doing it. I’m sure I can get more people involved to make things better but most of the times I like to do it myself because it is something like a hobby. If you see my recording studio you will understand why I like to do it myself (ha-ha) For me it is not about, making money and being rich, being on the cover of magazines and to be the best-selling band on the market. It’s about survival and having fun and being one of many, many bands. My goal was never to be “the number one” but to be part of the scene. I don’t need to spend money to get the big producers and engineers to make my CD “The Best”!

jeff waters 02

As a musician is there anything that you haven’t achieved yet?

Hmmm I think the only thing I have been striving for ... In some albums I try harder and sometimes other work better than others as inspiration and etc. What I am trying to achieve is to say it ... “Annihilator’s Painkiller” album. When Judas Priest put “Painkiller” out they had 14 records at that time I think. They could completely retire and finish their career and still be legends. Having albums like “British Steel”, “Screaming for Vengeance” and “Defenders Of The Faith” they turn back and make “Painkiller” which is one of the last great Heavy Metal records. 1990 was the last stand of Heavy Metal. And that’s what I want for Annihilator. I want to make the best CD before I retire someday.

This actually leads me to my next question and you almost answered me. But anyway: Is there any album by any band... that you would wanted to be your album? Painkiller maybe?

No, I was not talking about the music in “Painkiller” but the idea. The idea of having so many albums out and releasing something so good that shocks the world at that stage of your career.

Ok what about music that you like so much, that you prefer to be in your album?

Hmmm.. for a song we never had a vocalist that can do this, but probably “The Sentinel” by Judas Priest. This is my all-time favorite song. As for an album... it might be Slayer album or Exodus or Metallica they are so many.

The music business nowadays has changed a lot if we look the 90s.. and even more drastically if we compare it to the 80s. I meet different opinions about how a musician can earn money from his music. Apparently selling CDs is not the the best way anymore because of the Mp3’s and the streaming platforms. Which way is the best for an artist to earn money for his music? Is it merchandise, touring or whatever? You know there are some bands that don’t tour at all but still complain that they don’t earn enough money from their music. But in the same time, you need money to tour because this is big investment and planning. What is your opinion about that, and can you give some advice to the struggling artists out there?

Well I cannot really give an advice to the new bands that are starting now. Because my experience is from being an old band with a lot of released CDs and singles. We have a big catalog and with the new CD in January, that will be 17 studio records. So, when you have such rich catalog and you’ve been around for 30 years and tour regularly, you build a following. Even if we are not a huge successful band, on video shows or sold out stadiums. In some countries, we still play in front of 500 and 20 000 people. This is thanks to all the catalog; all the early music and we don’t stop being out there. But it is much difficult nowadays for younger bands like you said. The record companies are not putting much money in to the bands now, and to make money you need to sell shirts and play live shows. But If you are not making enough publicity, then people won’t know who you are.

So, it’s a vicious circle?

Well yes, but the most obvious advice I can give... Many years ago, when we were going to the studio, you have to hire an engineer, a producer, mix engineer, mastering engineer and etc. All those are expenses. Now musicians need to learn many different jobs in order to survive. If you don’t have the money to pay those people, then you have to do the work yourself and you have to learn how to do it. I know that I sound like an old man but that’s how it is right now. If you want something, you have to dedicate your entire life to it. You can’t just go to a regular job and go out on the weekends with your girlfriend and expect that your band, music, or whatever will land on your lap and give you a lot of money and make you famous. If you want something, you must work it 100%. Everything you do has to be towards that. Otherwise, you are going to come up with something that is just like everyone else, boring and not successful. Success comes to those that work very hard.

This is great advice to everyone, and it can be applied to everything!

Signed: – Jeff Waters Ha-ha

This is great ending of this interview, but can I ask you to leave a message to our readers and of course everyone that is going to be waiting for you on November 17 in Sofia?

On 17 of November it will be great to be back in Sofia for the third time. It doesn’t sound like a lot of times back, but we are really looking forward to play for you. We got some old and new songs and a lot in the middle. Just come to the show and bring your friends along. It will be fun metal party!

Thank you for your time to do this interview Jeff and hope to see you in November!

Sure man, take care!

Author: Nikola Petras

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