Posted on September 10th. 2017
Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Jason: Troy I know that your band THEM was initially formed as a KING DIAMOND tribute band so I’d like to ask you if you could share with us the story of how you first got introduced to the music of King Diamond?
Troy: Many years before forming and performing in a King Diamond Tribute band, I was a teenager that loved music and my cousin Chris Norr (Cinematographer of Sinister and Gotham) introduced me toIron Maiden, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Metallica and other awesome Heavy Metal Bands.
Jason: I remember one thing that always fascinated me about KING DIAMOND was that while there were other metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and several others that were fighting being labeled as Devil worshipers or Satanic that King Diamond was a self-proclaimed Satan Worshiper. What are your thoughts on this?
Troy: True. Most Heavy Metal bands were pigeon holed into that classification. When I learned King was a Satanist, I was not affected because it is a religion just the same as Catholicism or Judaism. I ask the question which religion is correct? There are so many of them out there and all are man made and controlled. I say believe what is in your heart.
Jason: What would you say is your all-time favorite KING DIAMOND album of all-time?
Troy: For King Diamond, it would be the album Them. If you would ask me about Mercyful Fate, I would answer “Don’t Break The Oath”
Jason: Like I mentioned at the top of this interview Troy your band: Them started off as a King Diamond tribute act. Talk a little bit about the reaction you and the band initially got because as we sit here and speak there’s not a truck load of King Diamond tribute acts out there. I think that might be a good thing for you and your band.
Troy: Our King Diamond Tribute act performed 3.5 years with well over 20 shows. We injected theatrics into the show and even had a real life Grandma performed by Angela Deritis. I have had many people come up to me after our show and tell me I sang better than King. That happened at least once a show every show. I have had people bow to me (odd) and we even had Mike Wead and Hal Patino perform with us.
Jason: When you were performing the King Diamond material did you wear the King Diamond makeup? If so what was that like? How long did it take you in mastering your ability to apply the make up and get it to look just the way he wore it?
Troy: Yes, I wore the Them makeup, Mercyful Fate makeup and his last makeup design combining both standard and inverted crosses. I would not say I mastered the makeup but it was definitely passable. For the first few shows I had a makeup artist apply the makeup then I did it on my own. I would say by the 3rd year I really had it down.
Jason: Them started out as a KING DIAMOND Tribute act but you have since released your 2016 cd release Sweet Hollow which features your own original material. Talk about the decision to go from being a KING DIAMOND tribute to a band that now writes / records your own original material?
Troy: At the time of the King Diamond tribute act was performing initially, there were 3/5 of COLDSTEEL in the King Diamond tribute act. The bassist, drummer and myself. Coldsteel was an up and coming underground thrash band in the late eighties before the take over of the Seattle grunge scene. I knew we could write material since we already did with Coldsteel (several demos and a debut album released in 1992).
I tried to get those guys interested in writing an off shoot of what we were playing. That would never happen. I wound up meeting Markus Ullrich from Lanfear at a dinner on Long Island and it is there I would find the key songwriter in the original THEM sound. Markus is a versatile songwriter working with bands Lanfear (Prog Metal), Septagon (Thrash metal). Markus and I ultimately added the other members from various parts of the USA and Germany.
I knew an original THEM would be appreciated. Something a little more heavier and dynamic. Our vision has been evolving and in the end our fans and music lovers should appreciate the final vision that we set out to materialize. Our debut album “Sweet Hollow” is just the beginning of 1 story. Now we are not writing a typical 3 part trilogy as many bands do these days but rather writing 1 continuous story spanning across 3 albums.
Jason: How happy are you with the way your fans have reacted to Sweet Hollow?
Troy: We are extremely happy with both the good and not so good response to Sweet Hollow. For the music lovers who actually listened to the entire “Sweet Hollow” record will get it. For others who judged us on listening to a few measures of one song, they lose out on the larger picture.
Jason: In regards to the songs on Sweet Hollow, while I understand this is all original material was any of it based on your love of King Diamond or would you say that these songs were influenced by various subject matters?
Troy: There are some easter eggs and some influence paying homage to King because if there wasn’t a KD tribute band, there would never have been THEM an original band. As for the concept of the story, my love of horror stories and film greatly influenced that.
Jason: What’s it been like for you Troy to go from being a tribute act to having Them morph into an act that has recorded and album of your own original material and taken your show on the road? In other words how do you feel that the band’s songs have been able to be played on the live stage if you will?
Troy: Performing the original songs we recorded for “Sweet Hollow” is the pinnacle of greatness. It is much more satisfying performing songs you wrote that people enjoy than performing cover songs.
Jason: We have talked quite a bit about the fact that you were influenced by KING DIAMOND but who were some of the other bands that influenced you when you were growing up?
Troy: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Billy Joel, Lenny Kravitz to name a few.
Jason: Being the KING DIAMOND fan that I know you are I have to ask you how do you feel about the fact that he had to alter his makeup in the 80’s when Gene Simmons filed suit against him for King makeup being too much like the makeup design Gene wore in Kiss?
Troy: I think that was horseshit. The Them makeup resembled a little bit like Gene’s makeup but then again, King has evolved his makeup designs over the years which is a good thing.
Jason: Talking a little bit about King Diamond and his makeup he often now does press, and has been seen quite a bit without his makeup. Do you at all feel that takes anything away from the mystique he once had?
Troy: Perhaps a little bit. King has a character that he embodies when on stage. I do the same thing as KK Fossor. When he doesn’t use the makeup, a little piece of it is missing. Like Kiss performing without makeup.
Jason: Have you been thinking at all about getting back into the studio to record the follow up to Sweet Hollow? If so any idea when fans might see a new THEM cd?
Troy: We are working on the continuation of the saga now. It is titled “Manor of the Se7en Gables” and should be released in the fall or end of 2018. It will start exactly where Sweet Hollow ended. I am extremely excited for that transition.
Jason: While I realize that they’re two very two different animals do you have a preference when it comes to the recording studio VS. the live stage?
Troy: Yes, two different sets of gears so to speak. Performing live is great but being creative in the studio is so much fun. I prefer recording to live performance if I had to choose between the two.
Jason: If you weren’t a working musician any idea what you might be doing?
Troy: Considering the band members in THEM do not make money at this point, we all have alternate jobs. I am an IT Director for a Medical Practice in Long Island, NY
Jason: A lot of Metal guys are also into Horror films. Are you at all a fan of Horror films?
Troy: Yes, I am a huge fan of Evil Dead as well as Hellraiser!
Jason: Anything left that you’d like to say to all the THEM fans out there?
Troy: Thank you all for supporting THEM and keep a look out for our 2nd album “Manor of the Se7en Gables” coming end of 2018!