METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Thom. So glad to be catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. So, how are you?
THOM HAZAERT: I’m good man, thanks.
MPAP: Now let’s talk about some big news that was just announced. Combat Records, something you and your good friend, David Ellefson, who happens to be also the bassist for the group Megadeth, revived back in 2017, is going to re-issue something dear to your heart. You will be reissuing the 25th anniversary of Womb, a debut EP from semi-industrial metal pioneers Bleed that formed in Green Bay, Wisconsin back in 1992; but before we get into a little more about that release, give us a quick history about Combat Records, and what you and David have been doing since its resurrection?
THOM: Well I don’t think I need to go too deep into the history of Combat. I mean, in Metal circles it’s a legendary label that launched the careers of not only Megadeth, but also put out records for Exodus, Mercyful Fate, Circle Jerks, Helstar, Forbidden, Dark Angel, Possessed, and so many more, and really released some of the most iconic Metal records in history. Since we resurrected it in 2017, we have released releases from some of the original Combat artists like Sword, but also new records from Marc Rizzo, Wrath, Hatchet, Dead By Wednesday, etc. It’s really been an honor to take such an iconic brand, and put a new modern face on it, but keeping true to the roots of what made it great.
MPAP: Moving forward, in the Combat Records press release for Bleed’s Womb reissue, you stated, 'I am truly honored to be able to reissue, and give new life to, such an important seminal underground record, and one that is so personally important to me.' So, tell us, why this band Bleed, who would eventchually change their name to Crawl a couple of years later? What makes them so unique to you that you think others will find special as well and want to check them out.
THOM: Bleed, Crawl, whatever name you know them by, were truly, IMHO, one of the great unsung pioneers of industrial Death Metal, and Industrial Metal in general. They really innovated a lot of things, that would become staples with the programming, and the horror samples, and they were just so ahead of their time. This was pre-Fear Factory, PitchShifter, and really, they had their fingers right on that pulse as it was happening, and the records truly still stand up today. They were amazing players and seeing them live was truly a life-changing experience. To say I’m a big fan, would be a huge understatement.
MPAP: It must have been a big decision on many levels, but what finally got things rolling for this reissue to be able to happen? I’m assuming you had to speak to David first, and then all the members of Bleed before you could even make any business decisions correct?
THOM: It was actually one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. Honestly, I randomly ran into Jason at an event, we exchanged numbers, and I just texted him out of the blue one day and said, "Hey let’s reissue some of this stuff." And it just grew from there once the seeds were planted. I make all the A&R and day to day decisions for Combat and EMP, so no I didn’t really have to run it by anyone. I mean, I always tell David what I sign, and get him excited about it too, but no I really have the final say on that stuff. But David always supports it, and my vision, which is part of what makes him, and our relationship, so great. But, I grew up with these guys, I went to High School with Tim, and would go over to his house after school and watch them rehearse, went to every show, my bands opened for them, and I got to truly watch them grow, from the inside, into a signed touring act, with a Worldwide fanbase. And that was so important to me, and honestly, to this day I credit that as a huge part of the reason I even got into the music business.
MPAP: Twenty-five years is quite a long time for someone to come along and ask to re-release something they made don’t you think? So, what were some of the reactions you received that you can share with us when you approached some of the members of the band?
THOM: Eh music is such a Universal and really timeless thing. Like I said, it started with a really random run-in with Jason, who I hadn’t seen in probably 15-20 years. And once we met and had some serious discussions about it, he had already, ironically, started the process of remastering Womb, and then that sort of reconnected him and Tom, who literally hadn’t spoken since Tom left the band. Then the three of us sat down and talked about it, and everyone was excited. And it was this one by one reconnection with and between the guys, but everybody was super on board, and excited. There was a bit of reconnecting and healing process, which I think has been amazingly positive, and I’m honored to even have a small hand in that.
MPAP: Not to get off subject, but it still ties into this interview, you’ve been very close to David Ellefson over the years, during anytime did you ever play any of their music or even mention Bleed or Crawl’s name to him, especially since you were such a huge fan.
THOM: David and I have spent so much time together, driving around in vans on tour, etc, that at this point I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about everything humanly imaginable. But yes, I have always sung the praises of Bleed/Crawl, and we speak a lot about music, and the formative things we grew up on, so I’m sure I have mentioned it to him on some occasion.
MPAP: Of course, Ellefson is a very busy man, who I’m sure still tries to keep his ear to the ground because he has his EMP and Combat Records label to feed as well, what does he think? I mean Bleed’s music is something totally different if you’re strictly just a fan of Megadeth, but that shouldn’t stop everyone else hearing it, right?
THOM: Again, I am the head of A&R and really run all day to day operations, so I sort of make all those decisions. But David generally loves everything I sign, and fully gets behind and supports it. I think one of the most important things as the sort of curator of Combat 2019 is to keep pushing forward, and doing things that are different and relevant, while firmly keeping to the roots of what Combat is, and Combat in its original iteration, partnered with Earache, and did get more into releasing some seminal death and industrial death Metal records, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, and Godflesh, who were a huge influence on Bleed/Crawl, so I definitely think Bleed fits right into that.
MPAP: Once Womb is released this summer, what’s next for Combat Records? Will we see the reissue of Earth by Crawl anytime soon after that?
THOM: Eh, those records were owned by, and made for another label, so you never know, and I’d love to, but obviously that’s a little more daunting task with more politics involved. There has been talk of another double disc release with all the Nothing Sacred and Bleed demos and B-sides, and all the unreleased, or under-released stuff, which will more than likely see the light of day. As for Combat, we have a new Sword record coming eventually, some possible Helstar releases. There’s always new stuff coming down the pipe. That’s the great thing about this business, you never know what’s gonna pop up next.
MPAP: Last question, what do you think is next for all the guys; Tim, Tom, Jason, and Bill? Do you think this Bleed reissue will revive anything for Crawl? I hear a reunion is in the works potentially.
THOM: Definitely a very good possibility. I think we’re all taking it one step at a time, and just enjoying the renewed friendships and relationships that have come out of it, and how cool that actually is.
MPAP: On behalf of Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Thom, for doing this interview. We look forward to all your future endeavors with Combat and EMP.
THOM: Thanks brother appreciate it.
Check Out The Combat Records BleedWomb Press Release Here: