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California was very foreign to us. People were different. They dressed and acted different. We met a Christian band out there that claimed to have the tallest hair in the world. Seemed like most of these people were very materialistic. We had an incident with a group of witches who tried to disrupt one of the shows. They were out in front of the opening band dancing in a circle and chanting. They were escorted from the building.
A lot of the Christian California bands were feeling threatened by the presence of Bride. Many of them thought that California was the only place to have a band, and that an east coast band had no business out there. I felt like most of these bands had members who were in a band just to be in a band, and that they did not have a real ministry. We were always waiting for confrontation, and the big night came when in a parking lot of a Denny's restaurant when I was approached by what I call two hairballs.
A male and female, I think, stopped me and accused me of not having a legitimate ministry, not bearing any fruit and not being a Christian. If it was not for the fact that Denny's was full and my party came out, I would have lost my religion long enough to pound these two beehives. I had worked really hard getting the band focused and trying to establish the ministry, and to have two people that did not even know me verbally attack me was too much. They walked away feeling as though they had seen the last of me. I am sure they thought that Bride would fade away, but we would endure far longer than our critics.
We made some good friends in California, and most of the fans were supportive.
We were getting a lot of mixed press, and we were not taking it well. I personally wrote letters directed at the writers of these bad articles and reviews, and, before long, it escalated into war. We took a pounding, and the press won in the eyes of the industry, but we had established a great relationship with the fans, and they came to our rescue in the form of letters. We were spiritually worn and battered after playing right into the hands of Satan's trap. At the end of all the diverse press, we were quite disoriented with Refuge Music Group because of their dishonest business practices and poor accounting.
Chris Yambar was still around writing reviews, and his review of Live to Die was favorable. His only complaint was that the band had not yet learned to handle criticism, citing, "... This has proven to be a hot button with Thompson." Chris called the record nearly perfect, but described my vocals as a "blast of banshee nastiness." I was tired of feuding, and instead of reading into the statement and creating a mountain out of a molehill, I decided to take it as a compliment.
Foreign press from mags like Mortal Sin, Kerrang, Light Attack and other smaller mags were reviewing the record. However, we could not read the foreign print, so we had no idea if the reviews were good or bad. White Metal Alternatives said this was our "latest and greatest record." We were being compared to every secular metal act that was on top. I was overjoyed to read in Rizzen Roxx magazine that they felt my vocals blew Ronnie James Dio away. Heavens Metal praised the record.
David Lowman of Note Board magazine wrote: " ... Bride's second release for Pure Metal Records creates quite a love/hate relationship with the listener. The songs are either creatively crafted metal monsters or silly, redundant metal mistakes." My vocals were slammed as he wrote: "... the lyrics fall into the cavern of the forgettable, cliche-filled metal norm." He called the chorus to Hell No "so silly it is almost offensive." YET it would remain one of Bride's top requested songs.
We tried to overlook such criticisms. However, the band was going through many crazy emotional ups and downs. Personally it was hard to take anything negative lightly. White Throne magazine readers chart had Live to Die at the #1 spot. I was voted #4 as the readers' pick, we were voted #4 favorite band. I remember at one of our few live shows after our performance that the promoter approached me and asked if I would do an interview. I said 'of course, let us do it.'
There were actually a couple of reporters there wanting to do interviews, but were intimidated by the way I had feuded with the press in the past. They were afraid to approach me, thinking that I may be a dangerous sort of fellow. In addition, they had just experienced a Bride show that I am sure was a bit shocking to them. They were impressed that I was really a nice person and easy to talk with. I guess they were geared for confrontation and found that I was nothing of the sort.
Silence is Madness
Steve Osborne had grown completely impossible to work with, and after a show in California we got the news that Osborne was taking a walk. He wanted no more of the Christian market. I would see Steve a few years later working at a booth in the middle of a mall around the Christmas season selling some type of Christmas decor. I did not see the need to stay in touch with him, and we lost touch with the occasional report that he was working in a cover band in Louisville.
We felt it necessary to rehearse even more because we lost what we thought was a trump card. With all of Osborne's quirks, he had been a monster guitarist. Troy by this time had established himself as a lead player, and the only thing lacking was his confidence to pull it off live. We did know that with the loss of Steve that song writing would become easier since Steve had been so hard to please.
We worked very hard writing on the next album, but the songs came with what seemed to be great ease. Again, John Petri was brought in to take on the task of producer. We had auditioned many guitarists, to try to add that second guitar to the band, but no one really fit. We were not so interested in the talent aspect, rather, we needed that right combination. We found a special guest guitarist by the name of Rob Johnson to add more of that 80's metal sound. Rob would not join the band, but had no problems in recording and even showing Troy the licks.
We decided to record some demos to get a better look-see of how the songs would sound on tape. Rob's lead playing was much more distinctive than Steve's, and at the time, having a heavy guitar sound was essential. We felt we had wrote some of the best tunes we had ever put together, and now the question of which one's would make the record was at hand.
Troy and I decided not to record what we thought were the better songs for Refuge Music Group "Pure Metal" since our relationship with them had disintegrated. They had been so dishonest that we had no confidence in their ability to promote an album nor give us accurate sales reports. Even if we had a great song, we could not see it doing anything but sitting on the shelf. This proved to be a very wise move. The time came for the actual recording of the album, which we would title "Silence is Madness," and we gave Pure Metal what we considered the B songs. They were still good songs, but we felt them to be inferior to the tunes we held for future use, hopefully with a new label.
The basic tracks and most of the overdubs were cut in Nashville. Everyday of recording was a real laugh. Frank, our bass player, would say things like, "I was right on the money with that bass part." The funny thing is that he would say this after recording a part that did not lock in with the drums. It was a tall order to play close to the unorthodox style of Steve Gilbert's drum playing. Steve was a super fast double bass player, yet I put so many demands on him that his time-keeping suffered.
I went with Petri to Buffalo, NY to record my vocals and to mix the record. I got the chance to hang out with an up and coming band called the Goo Goo Dolls. Petri had been doing some pre-production with them, and how was I to know that they would soon be the next big thing? They ask me to do some back up vocals on their first record, but, after they sat and listened, they thought the vocals were too smooth for their sound.
SILENCE IS MADNESS WAS FINISHED.
With Silence is Madness we showed the critics and our fans a little different side of the band. Heaven's Metal magazine's readers poll results came in, and here were the results. Bride #4 live band, Dale Thompson #2 favorite singer, just under the legendary Mike Lee of Barren Cross. Heaviest band #5, and #4 was favorite album cover. That year we had some great shows to remember.
Our first year at Cornerstone was extremely intense. As we were waiting back stage in the huge metal building where we were to perform, we could hear the crowd outside chanting the band's name. I had no idea of how many people might be out there, but I could feel it was going to be a fantastic show. When the doors opened the band was standing behind the stage looking around the drum riser.
The crowd charged the stage like a stampede. There were chairs being knocked over and everyone was fighting to get up front. Frank said, "man, I did not know if they were going to stop at the edge of the stage or run over us." When the building had finally filled it was filled to capacity, and there were even people in the rafters. It would be our biggest show that we had ever played, and that record would hold true until the next Cornerstone.
We did have a problem at the concessions where we were selling t-shirts. We thought we would have a table for the day after we played. However, we were told there was no way we were going to get a table. We had sold merchandise for one day and were now being asked to leave. Other bands were there for their second day, so I did not think was fair. After a bitter argument we were asked to leave the festival all together and were banned from the festival the next year. I had vowed to never play Cornerstone again.
When young, one often does things and says things that they regret. We would return more mature and with a better set than ever.
"The record company meeting."
Gavin Markel, Kevin and Ceasar Kalinowski met Troy and I at GMA in Nashville to discuss the possibilities of resigning with Pure Metal. We were told at the meeting, as well as shown on statements supplied by Kevin, that they owed us back royalties. We were given the option that they could either pay us with a check or with product. We chose the check, which was promised to be mailed to us. However, that turned out to be the wrong option ... we never got a dime! We had made it plain at the meeting that we were not interested in resigning with Pure Metal unless honesty was made a priority, and that Pure Metal honor the contract which they had breached several times. All parties passed on any new contract.
Although we were writing good tunes, we were not playing well as a band. With the lackluster performances of the band and little enthusiasm, I decided to begin the reconstruction of Bride. After pleading with Steve Gilbert to learn the basic fundamentals of drumming, and to dismantle his double bass kit to no avail, I was forced for the good of the band to let him go. I had worked with him for three years and considered him a friend. This was not a easy decision to make.
Silence is Madness would be our last record under Refuge Music Group. Now without a drummer and no record deal, we had fallen into the barrel of thousands of other bands trying to stay afloat. (We had been witness to the breakups of other Christian Heavy Metal Bands like MESSIAH PROPHET, LEVITICUS, SAINT AND BARREN CROSS.) Bride seemed to be finished, and we had lost our steam.
We began auditioning drummers, but none really clicked. We were not having any success finding anyone with the style that we wanted to pursue. One day, Troy and I were shopping around at a local music store. An old friend of ours, "Jerry McBroom," was working behind the counter of the drum department. I asked Jerry if he knew of any drummers, and he began to think, running the possibilities of everyone he knew through his head.
Then it hit me! Jerry was one of the finest drummers I had ever heard and, even though he really did not play our style, I thought, 'what do I have to loose?' I asked him if he would be interested in "giving it a go." Jerry said that he was not playing with anyone seriously at the time, and would not mind giving it a shot. We began rehearsals soon after, and we concentrated on new material. Jerry brought a tightness to the band that we had never known before.
Song writing got more serious, and songs like "Everybody knows my name" were written. (This song would win the DOVE AWARD for Metal Song of the Year two years later.) We also wrote songs like "KISS THE TRAIN" and "YOUNG LOVE," which became songs that would later appear on future records. We recorded a couple of demo tapes and sent them out the underground press and to the hand full of pirate radio stations that we were familiar with. Bride fans were very hopeful, but the press was now divided, and most did not believe that it would be possible for Bride to rise from the ashes.
Frank was becoming less creative, and at rehearsals he seemed to zone in and out musically sometimes, as if he were playing by instinct rather than from the heart. I took it upon myself to ask Frank to take a few lessons. If he were to remain, he would have to learn to lock in with Jerry and tighten up our songs. Frank ignored my request, and I was forced to let him go. Once again this was a hard move on my part because I considered Frank a good friend. Frank was a good ol' country boy and I did not want to hurt his feelings. He took the dismissal very well. I believe he was expecting it.
I already had a back up bassist in the wings. A long time friend of Jerry's, Billy Jones (who had a very conservative look and did not really fit the band) was brought in. He was a monster bassist. We worked with Billy writing songs and welcoming his writing and input. He changed our style a bit because of his jazz background. We played our first gig with him at a friend's birthday party, and we all agreed that it felt very awkward. We had turned into a funk metal band within two months, and I was still trying to make the adjustment when I received a call from Jerry. Billy had phoned Jerry and said that he just did not feel good about the band, and really felt the Lord calling him to church ministry. He was not comfortable playing rock and had no desire to go on the road.
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