Life Of Agony
'The Agony & The Ecstasy: The Journey Continues'
Life Of Agony is a name not easily forgotten. There was always something unique and interesting about this band that has kept fans enthralled for over a decade. Whether it was the intensity of their live performances or the haunting melodies and lyrical content, this group radiated a passion and emotion that struck a chord in the hearts of misunderstood youth all over the world.
New York's crossover legends Life Of Agony spawned in the summer of 1989, tearing through the underground scene with an undeterred aggression, obtaining a loyal and devoted cult audience in the process. The outfit caught Roadrunner Record's eye and the band quickly signed to the independent label. The band recruited longtime friend and producer Josh Silver (of the platinum-selling goth/metal act Type O Negative) to guide them, creating the now classic, debut album, 1993's River Runs Red. The band toured relentlessly for years building a die-hard fanbase. With each following record, 1995's Ugly and 1997's Soul Searching Sun the group seemed to morph and evolve, using different approaches and textures while never losing sight of the distinct elements that made them who they were.
The LOA band members had been good friends since early childhood, and remained as closely knit as a family. Like all families do, they shared internal problems and conflicts from time to time. Unfortunately, the group ended up imploding over a series of decisions involving member changes, personal issues and differences in musical direction. Original drummer Sal Abruscato exited in 1995 and lead vocalist Keith Caputo left the group in 1997. Remaining members, guitarist Joey Z and bassist Alan Robert, struggled to rekindle the fire that once drove the group by collaborating with new players, but finally decided to call it quits in 1999.
But, for just two nights on January 3rd and 4th of 2003, the magic happened again. LOA announced a one-time only reunion show, with all four original members together again on stage for the first time since 1995. After the first date sold out in under 20 minutes, a second show was announced to ensure that more fans would get a chance to witness the historic occasion. And now, once again, the future of the group looks bright, as the band members are very excited to be playing together again. The problems that the band experienced which lead to their demise seem to be rectified. LOA have even recently just finished a full-blown European tour in support of their brand new SPV Records double-live album/DVD release River Runs Again: Live 2003 commemorating their triumphant return.
Chatting now with bassist Alan Robert, I first asked him where the bands name had originated and what others it could so esily have been: "The name came from a dream I had where I kept seeing headlines of newspapers ... one of them read “Life of Agony”. It stuck with me and I presented it to the other guys who thought it was cool. We were called “Capital Punishment” for about a week, just long enough to airbrush some t-shirts with an electric chair on it. HAHAHHA!"
Tell me more about the release of your new live reunion album and how personal it is to you considering the break up in 1999! "LOA was a huge part of my life – and I always was very proud of everything we accomplished. The break up was inevitable. Joey and I were the only 2 remaining original members and it was obvious that the line-up was not Life of Agony anymore. Joey and I loved the band so much that we didn’t want to let it go. We finally came to our senses and split the band up. To be back in a group that meant so much to me has been life changing. I’m making music with my childhood friends/brothers again. Playing sold-out shows and making LOA fans all over this world happy. There’s nothing like it. I feel blessed to have this second chance."
What went so wrong anyway back in 1999?! "Once Sal was out of the group in 1996, the chemistry within the band changed. It was not the same after that. Keith’s head was not into it anymore and he had left right when we released Soul Searching Sun in 1997. Joey and I made a lot of decisions after that to keep the band going, but in hindsight we probably should have ended it sooner. We just had so much heart for what we were doing that we just had to keep at it. We never were quitters. We actually did a lot of cool things like play on the 1998 Ozzfest with System of A Down, Tool and Incubus so there were some things for us to be excited about during that hard time. But, it was never the same after Keith left."
Based on this reunion CD/tour, will there now be a new LOA studio album?!?! "Absolutely. We’ve been writing new songs and recording them in our studio. We’re really excited about doing a new album together."
What has always been your fav Life of Agony track and why? "Probably, 'I Regret' because of the lyrics. I remember writing them and why I wrote them. That song means the most to me because of what I was going through at that time."
What's something interesting to know about you that perhaps the general public wouldn't know ... or expect!? "Well, I’ve always been drawing – since I’m a kid. I’ve always created art for LOA merchandise over the years – including the band’s logo. In the last few years I’ve gotten into computers and web design. I’ve been designing and building websites for bands for a while now including multi-platinum artists 3 Doors Down among many others. I’ve designed all the packaging for the LOA River Runs Again CD/DVD as well. I really enjoy it and the possibilities are endless, as long as you have a vision."
Tell me more about your side project(s) "Among Thieves is a band that I focused on for 3 years in between the LOA break-up. Danny from biohazard played drums and we always had a lot of fun doing that. It’s very difficult to get a brand new band going though, and it takes it’s toll on you. We signed a 2 album deal with a Japanese label called Daymare recordings. We released a live record called Soundscam earlier this year and plan to release a studio record called Beginning of the End in 2004. LOA is my main focus now, and Danny is back writing with Biohazard for a new album."
Describe your sound in just three words "Honest, strong, true."
If you were locked into a studio and told to make music with three artists (thinking of their instruments, etc.), which three would it be - and what would be the name of the song?! "Sinead O’Connor on vocals, Tony Iommi on guitar and John Bonham on Drums ... playing a song called 'Imagine That'."
Finally, if I ever found a vinyl record of your debut '93 album, River Runs Red, would I suddenly be the richest man in the world?! "Only if you had an Ebay account!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
To win one of these wonderful new LOA River Runs Again: Live 2003 CDs/DVDs, just answer this easy question: Which band did they enlist drummer Sal Abruscato from? Just send us an e:mail here with your answer and the subject title 'LOA' to:
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