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¬ Tombztone (USA) - There's still a storm brewing in Texaz!!

Hi Rob!! Out of the ashes of the 80s Horror Metal cult band Ripper a new fiendish Metal commando has rizen: Tombztone!! So first of all, please let us know, why you do not continue as Ripper but have chosen a new monicker.

Rob Graves: Hello my friend…Yes, TombZtone has rizen…As you know, I’ve been wanting to do a new Ripper album since the re-release of ATDSR in 2003…I contacted Johnny Crystal, J.D. Shadowz, and even Sadie Paine eventually…Johnny and J.D., who both still live in Los Angeles, were not interested, and Sadie, who lives in Houston like I do, well, lets just say that our visions for Ripper were no longer in agreement, and having said that, I gave Sadie my word that I would not reform Ripper without her, afterall, she ‘was’ the founding member…In April 2006, TombZtone was born!!!

Please introduce the your new band to us. Who are the other guys in Tombztone? And are you the only one left from the Ripper days or are there any other ex-Ripper members involved in Tombztone?

Rob Graves: I am the ‘only’ former member of Ripper in TombZtone…TombZtone consists of Steve Bogle/Guitar/Keyboards ( formerly of The Hunger ), Alan D’Angelo/Bass ( formerly of Livesay ), and Don Ramirez/Drums ( formerly of Tokyo ), and me/Guitar/Vocals…It was Steve that played the keyboards on ATDSR, and Don who played the drums on ‘Sinister Minister’…I met Alan when Ripper was in New York City in 1984, and we’ve been close friends ever since…Alan’s former band has shared the stage with just about everybody ‘big’ you can think of, and Steve’s former band toured with KI$$ for the 96/97 reunion tour…Don is an ‘in demand’ metal destructo machine, and I’ve wanted him in my band since the Ripper demo days…

What is working with this new lineup alike? Is it fun to share the stage with them & do they contribute a lot of the Tombztone sound?

Rob Graves: I love working with these guys…Everyone is so talented and unique, and extremely important to the overall sound of this music…Its really weird man, we’re all in our mid to late 40’s and married with families you know, not at all like the old days when everyone slept in the same equipment van for weeks on end…Life has definitely become a lot more civilized…We’re all home owners…LMAO…I cant believe it…

In Ripper you always had a lot of lineup problems and changes... do you think you’ll have to go through all this struggle again with Tombztone or does it seem to you as if the current constellation of the band is a stable one!?

Rob Graves: Given the fact that everyone here is on a different maturity level than in the old days, the lineup can be as stable as we want it to be…Ripper was getting too much advise, and from far too many sources…You never knew who was bending whose ear in private, and that alone made everything we tried to do virtually impossible…Its was all way too political for me in the end…All of us have moved way beyond that now…

Your new album “Rizen” will be out later this year through Black Widow Records, the label that has also done the rerelease of Ripper’s “And The Dead Shall Rise” LP some years ago. You must have been pretty satisfied with their work so far, or else you wouldn’t have teamed up with them again, would you?

Rob Graves: Black Widow Records/Century Media did a fantastic job with ATDSR, CD’s, LP’s, promotion, all stellar man, but as far as TombZtone goes, everything with BWR is merely pending…Nothing has been drawn or signed yet…There are a lot of labels interested in TombZtone, and its in our best interest to see who brings what to the table before we sign with anyone…We should go public with it by the years end…

You once told me, that all the songs on “Rizen” have been written by you in the 80s and where supposed to be on the second Ripper album... unfortunatly Ripper split up in the meantime, so the songs stayed unused until just recently!! So please let me know, what was it like to dig out these old tunes again and finally record ‘em with Tombztone?

Rob Graves: Yeah, I was starving in Los Angeles in ’87 when I penned the songs for ‘Rizen’…Ripper had’nt even rehearsed the material when the split came…Its just been buried alive in my head for the last 20 years…No wonder I was having trouble sleeping…I’ll tell ya Tobi, they sound as fresh and awesome today as when I first wrote them…You can testify to that man…

And are those songs still 100% the same as when they were orginally composed, or have they undergone some changes throughout all those years...

Rob Graves: They have remained unchanged since ’87…If it aint broke, don’t fix it…The approach to recording them however, is another matter entirely…Long gone are the tape machines and the outdated studio gear of the old days, where an edit meant watching an expensive piece of 2” recording tape fall helplessly to the ground…I couldn’t stay in the room during the editing, but now, its cut-n-paste, click-n-drag…I love it!!!

Will you do all the vocals on "Rizen" or will there be different singers in Tombztone, as there also were in Ripper? If the latter is the case, in what way do the other guys' voices differ from yours?

Rob Graves: Yes, all of the vocals on 'Rizen' will be me this time...Steve, who I think has a killer voice, has opted not to sing for the first album...I’ll get him to open up for the next album for sure though...only time will tell if Alan or Don will ever sing, but if they want to in the future, then I'm all for it...I want Tombztone to be deep man...that was my favorite thing about Kiss by the way...they all sang...precious few bands do that anymore...

Now that we’ve talked quite a bit about the songs, please introduce at least some of them to us... what will be the song titles, what topics will you deal with in the lyrics and what will they sound like!?

Rob Graves: Well, you already know about ‘66AngelEyez’, which is a story about a modern day vampire chick that stalks the historic West End of downtown Dallas…Next will be ‘Hemicidal’, a fast paced thrasher-thriller about the American street racing dominance of the 426 AAR Hemi ‘Cuda, but this car is alive and she races and kills on her own accord…Then theres a mid-tempo chunker called ‘Love Me To Death’, which means everything you think it does, the extremely heavy, eerie-n-doomy ‘U.S.Tank’, a testament to Texaz Horror Metal, and the slow pounding metal tonnage of ‘Driller’, a title worth a thousand pictures, I assure you…The next 5 begin with ‘The Tall Man’, a meticulous chunky-thrasher inspired by the character Angus Scrimm from the horror movie Phantasm, the epic ‘Cryptonight’ dealing with the ever drawing lure of the cemetery at night, the creepy-n-anthemic ‘Kill Or Die’, which is about the vital importance of the survival of heavy metal in the mainstream, and how we should not allow it to be driven completely underground where it has no voice, the ruthless and overpowering title track entitled ‘Rizen’ , featuring lyrics penned by bassist Alan D’Angelo ( D’Angelo also wrote the lyrics for ‘Driller’ and ‘Kill Or Die’ ), dealing with the unavoidable transformation from Ripper to TombZtone, and last but certainly not least, the relentless and devastating ‘In The Raw’ , a song so awesome that it scares even me…(Actually performed by Ripper in the mid 80’s, but never recorded by the band )

You’ve already uploaded one appetizer by the name of “66AngelEyez” to your MySpace page (!! What reactions has this song earned so far? Did the fans like it or have there also been some words of criticism?

Rob Graves: No criticism has reached my ears so far, but then again, the song was only revealed to a precious few before it was actually posted there…As far as I know, all of the reactions have been positive, but more importantly, I write stuff that ‘I’ like to listen to, and if I dig it, then it doesn’t really matter to me that someone else may not…For the record though, everyone in the band, and all associated with TombZtone are thrilled about this song and this album…You cant please everyone…My main concern was getting it out to a few key people in the business, such as yourself…

You’ve told me in an email that “66AngelEyez” is the softest and least heavy of the “Rizen” songs. So in what way do you think is it representative for the album? If one likes “66AngelEyez” will one also enjoy the other tracks?

Rob Graves: I don’t see why not…’66’ may be the least heavy of the 10, but that in no wise takes away from the fact that it’s a very heavy song in its own right…I’d be willing to bet you that that whoever likes ‘66’ will definitely like the album as a whole, and yes, I do feel that ‘66’ represents this album extremely well…The eerie haunting vibe in that song runs throughout the entire disc from start to finish…

Will Black Widow only release “Rizen” on CD or are there also plans for a vinyl release? If so, will it continue any goodies like bonus tracks, special artwork, colored wax, etc...

Rob Graves: If the album get released by Black Widow records, then I’m sure they’ll release it on CD, LP, with special artwork, bonus track, and re-mix editions…That’s what they live for man…Laughs…The job they did for Ripper was absolutely first rate in every sense…I was totally impressed with their dedication, ability, and drive…They wanted ATDSR to get the kind of release it always deserved…

Is Tombztone only a studio project or will you also play concerts? And if the latter is the case, will you also unleash a horror show on stage like in the old Ripper days!?

Rob Graves: Originally, I was going to do it as a gift for all of the diehard Ripper fans, you know, playing all of the parts myself, but the more I discussed it with friends, the more the idea grew into actually forming a real band out of the project…We now fully intend to bring TombZtone to the stage, in a full blown ‘horror metal assault’…I think its only right that we make TombZtone everything Ripper never got a chance to be, and then some…Watch the skies, theres still a storm brewing in Texaz!!!

And will you only play new material or will a couple of old Ripper classics creep into your playlists as well!? If so, which Ripper tracks would you like to play live again the most?

Rob Graves: TombZtone will definitely play everything on ‘Rizen’ as well as on ATDSR, eventually…Since ‘Rizen’ would have been a Ripper album anyway, its just feels right, but for opening spots with a limited amount of playing time, we would perform only material from ‘Rizen’…In those situations, TombZtone will receive first priority…I already have the next TombZtone album waiting in the wings…

Do you already have some kinda visual concept for Tombztone? Will you have a special stage design and costumes like in the old Ripper days? Or will you let the music do all the talking and not accompany the horror image by special clothes, makeup, etc?

Rob Graves: Absolutely...The image and concept of TombZtone is already in the deep planning stages, and should easily exceed what was done in Ripper, without a doubt...The music will definitely do its own talking, but I love horror-metal far to much to not be just as visually exciting...It wont be like Ripper though...It’ll be like TombZtone...My theatrical roots run very deep...We’re planning an ‘all out’Texaz Horror metal assault...You have been warned!!!

What goals and aims do you still have as a musician? The last interview I did with you (back in 2002) ended with the words: “Like I always say, its better to be a "has been" than a "never was"... I almost made it. Hell, maybe I still will...”!! Do you think Tombztone has the potential to take the hearts of the horror and metal freaks by storm and bring you back to the spotlight again?

Rob Graves: Without a doubt man…Just sit back and watch it happen…TombZtone will not be underground like Ripper was forced to be…The level of experience and expertise in this band is nothing short of extraordinary…It’s a whole different ball game today my friend…The networking and marketing abilities from the web alone bring us light years ahead of where we used to be…I still desire to ‘make it’…My wife Denise and I have a dream of building a home in Germany, near Birkenfeld/NAHE, where she’s originally from, and one in Italy too of coarse…TombZtone can actually make that happen…I want to record and perform horror-metal for years to come…That’s what I do…

And as we’re talkin’ about hopes and dreams right now, what do you think in what way would your life have turned out different, if Ripper had signed that deal with Metal Blade back in the 80s... do you think you could have made it and Ripper could have survived?

Rob Graves: Its hard to say Tobi…I don’t know if it was just bad luck, bad timing, or both back then, but had we actually signed the deal, I’m sure we would have survived…We desperately needed a new album and a tour to get things rolling, but it wasn’t meant to be…The trouble would have eventually surfaced anyway, so the end was most likely inevitable…Ripper will always live inside me though, and I am proud of what we did…

Before we come to an end, there’s just one personal question I’d like to ask you... what has Rob Graves done for Halloween this year!? ;)

Rob Graves: Rob Graves and his beautiful wife Denise sat on the front porch of their home in Houston, listened to horror-metal, drank wine, and handed out candy to the neighborhood kids…The pumpkin I carved was BAD ASS, the best one I ever did…We had green lights on outside with lots of torches burning for atmosphere, and we had a great time, as usual…We wanted to visit some haunted houses, but never got around to it…I aint gonna tell ya what we did later :P’’’

OK, Rob, that’s it... thanks a lot for your answers I can’t wait wait to hear the complete “Rizen” album!! I wish you good luck with the release and cross my fingers that you and your bandmates will make it to Europe one day, so that I can stand in the front row and bang my head to Tombztone’s killer Horror Metal!! All the best, my friend & See you soon!! TOBI

Rob Graves: I cant wait to hear it either…Laughs…This time Tobi, you’re gonna get your wish, ‘cause we’re comin’…You know man, you were there for me during the Ripper re-release in ’03, so its only fitting that you we’re first for ‘Rizen’ too, and after ‘that’ show, we’re gonna drink ‘til we float away…After 20 years of waiting, you can bet your ass that I’m one thirsty motherfucker…Texaz Horror-Metal Cheers little brother, and you ‘will’ see me soon!!!

Rob Graves



Homepage: (Band)
Email: (Rob Graves)

Questions: November 2006 by Tobi
: Novemver 2006 by Rob Graves