Written by Marc C Pietrek 2020
*** DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN, NOR DO I CLAIM TO OWN, ANY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS AND/OR VIDEOS USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS INTERVIEW/ARTICLE ***
BLIND ILLUSION was formed In 1978 by guitarist/vocalist Mark Biedermann (age fifteen at the time), bassist Les Claypool and drummer Bret Hern. Vocalist David White joined a year later after Mark saw him singing BOSTON songs at a party. By the early eighties, the band had established themselves in the burgeoning Bay Area metal scene, headlining venues like the KEYSTONE BERKELEY and playing with such bands as EXODUS, The JOE PERRY PROJECT and AFTERMATH. At the midpoint of the decade of decadence, David left due to the rest of the band wishing to go in a more thrash-oriented direction, and eventually joined HEATHEN. Mark was now in his early twenties and was the chief creative force as guitarist, vocalist, lyricist and primary songwriter. While multitasking all these roles, he firmly entrenched himself as one of the upper echelon Bay Area metal guitar players. It is more than noteworthy feat when you consider that the same group of players included the EXODUS H-TEAM tandem of Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt, Phil kettner of LAAZ ROCKIT, Alex Skolnick of TESTAMENT, and Doug Piercy and Lee Altus of HEATHEN.
On the same weekend that I bought METALLICA’s seminal ‘Master Of Puppets’ in March of 1986, I read an enlightening Kirk Hammett interview in Ron Quintana’s (majorly significant!) METAL MANIA fanzine. I was already aware that Kirk had produced DEATH ANGEL’s now legendary ‘Kill As One’ demo. The same demo that guitarist and defacto leader Rob Cavestany was selling copies of out of his locker at CLAYTON VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL (Concord, California), where I was also attending at the same time. I wanted to confirm if he had made any mention of it since they were part of the second wave of thrash bands from the area that were creating this buzz that was louder than a perturbed, blood-lusting hornet’s nest. Not only did Kirk mention that he had produced their demo, but had also BLIND ILLUSION’s ‘Trilogy Of Terror’ demo. I was already aware of the band because my friend, Roger La Plant, had commented about them showing a rather high degree of professionalism after seeing them play with DEATH ANGEL, SACRILEGE (B.C.) and DESECRATION at The Farm in San Francisco just a few weeks prior. Based on what extremely limited knowledge I had about the band at the time, I made a note in my pre-THC hazed-and-glazed mental Rolodex.
Upon hearing the thoroughly impressive “Smash the Crystal” (from ‘The Sane Asylum’ demo) on the double live/demo L.P., ‘EASTERN FRONT – LIVE AT RUTHIE’S INN’ in early 1987, I began regularly checking on the release date for BLIND ILLUSION’s debut, ‘The Sane Asylum’ [1988 COMBAT RECORDS (US) / UNDER ONE FLAG (Europe)]. When the album (produced by Hammett, but not credited on the album) was finally released in the Spring of 1988, I instantly knew this album was worth the time I had waited for it. Featuring red-liners “Blood Shower”, the aforementioned “Smash the Crystal,” “Kamakazi,” and “Vengeance Is Mine,” it showcased the hellbent riffing and acrobatic lead playing of Mark and Larry LaLonde [PRIMUS, ex- POSSESSED, ex- BLIZZARD], Les’s ever evolving “Geddy Lee rendezvous with the Looney Tunes” baselines combined with the steady rolling thunder, floorboard-loosening drumming of Mike Miner [ex- BLIZZARD] stampeding underneath it all. Lace it with some People’s Park windowpane-influenced psychedelia and the end result is one of thrash’s true unique gems from its most formidable era.
Some may feel the need to bitch and complain about Mark’s raspy vocals and less than polished production on the album. FUCK ALL THAT! There are so many debut albums that lack in those areas but are still considered great first-time efforts it is not even funny. You ever hear a legit metal fan say something to the affect of, “Yeah, ‘Killing Is My Business and Business Is Good’ could have been awesome if it weren’t for Dave Mustaine’s whiny-ass vocals”, or “Dude, I just can not get into IRON MAIDEN’s first album at all because it seriously lacks quality production.” Seriously, ‘the fuck outta here with that bullshit! With any type of art (and yes, though it may be difficult for some to comprehend, thrash is art), so often its imperfections ARE the perfections and people who can not get past that are the ones who are missing out. Oh well. I am sure they can find some sterilized nu metal audio vomit to their liking on any Clear Channel-owned radio station. I will unapologetically go as far to say that this progressive thrash debut surpasses or at the very least holds its own against just about any other thrash album from that same time. That includes the sophomore efforts from their very own Bay Area peers, DEATH ANGEL’s ‘Frolic Through the Park’ and TESTAMENT’s ‘The New Order’ (all three released within a few months of each other).
The band, which also included METAL CHURCH alumnus and former METALLICA guitar tech John Marshall prior to Larry joining in late 1987, for all intent and purposes seemed destined for receiving bigger album budgets and performing on bigger stages in the near future. And then the proverbial rug was pulled out from underneath. After two mini tours of the U.S. east-coast promoting the album, Larry left to join now ex-member Les in the now hugely successful alt rock three-piece, PRIMUS. It was during those short tours that Mark, who had actually taught Les how to play bass in order to solidify an early incarnation of the band, refused to do any interviews unless the interviewing party agreed to give PRIMUS’s demo a listen. Later, a new version of BLIND ILLUSION, consisting of Mark, drummer Wes Anderson, bassist Vern Mc Elroy and second guitarist Mark Strausberg surfaced, but was unable to significantly gel like its predecessor had. Around the same time, they had caught a break and signed with CBS RECORDS only to have their contract deemed null and void after SONY MUSIC bought out CBS a few weeks later. Also during this same time period, an attempt at recording a second album, ‘The Medicine Show’, was made but but in the end, only resulted in ‘The Psychedelic Symphony’ demo. Various changes in lineups and in overall musical direction followed into the early nineties before it ultimately became inactive and Mark left the music business as we know it entirely.
After more than a decade and a half, Mark brought BLIND ILLUSION out of its dormant state in 2010 and released ‘Demon Master’ as a trio. It was worlds apart from ‘The Sane Asylum’ with its sound more stylistically parallel to their more hard rock, blues based early material. In the second half of the 2010s, the band was twisted back into its sublime progressive thrash form and toured Europe extensively. In 2018, the EP ‘2018’ [2018 BLOOD BLAST DISTRIBUTION] was released with Stratocaster sorcerer Doug Piercy [ex- HEATHEN, ex- CONTROL, ex- ANVIL CHORUS] now filling the opposite guitar slot, bassist Tom Gears [IRON MAIDEN tribute band ANCIENT MARINER] and drummer Erik “Cire” Cruze [ex- TERMINAL SHOCK] on drums. Along with newly penned originals “Race With the Wizard” and “The Ice Sage/Interpolating Nocturne Today”, it has re-worked versions of “Metamorphisis Of A Monster” and “Vengeance Is Mine” and a cover of the live-set staple, LED ZEPPELIN’s “Immigrant Song”. Add to that, ‘The Sane Asylum’ was recently re-released with ‘Trilogy Of Terror’ demo classics “Banshee”, “Glass Guillotine,” and the EXODUS-inspired “Destroyer” (which were also recorded during ‘The Sane Asylum’ sessions).
A Richmond, California native, Mark took to the guitar after paying bass for only a year, and within another year, he was concentrating exclusively on his lead playing. He has been influenced by everybody from Roy Clark, Jerry Reed, The Beatles and The ROLLING STONES to Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Al Di Meola, Tony Iommi and Frank Marino to Ronnie Montrose, Uli Jon Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen. His six-string skills were often highly praised by his old high school friend and one-time producer, Kirk Hammett, and for very good reason. Exhibit A: In “Kamikazi,” he weaves the stealth and the exotic together, creating some of the most inspiring lead guitar playing of the period combined with a main riff that artistically embodies the adrenaline-fueled warrior’s final stand. Exhibit B: In “Bloodshower,” in addition to the monstrous gauntlet mosh in the song’s mid-section, he plays a ferocious well-phrased solo that speaks with and abundance of feel and dexterity which perfectly complements the song’s high-stakes urgency. Those are only two examples of how his love and devotion to the instrument since long before he began recording music and playing shows was reaping massive dividends. As some say, you do not choose the instrument. The instrument chooses you.
Mark is not only an extremely accomplished guitarist, but also an upper-tier songwriter and lyricist with a penchant for out of the ordinary arrangements and lyrics that extend far beyond the scope of his own backyard, if you will. Substance-free for several years now, he is a man who lives an existence outside the norm of your average guitar hero and thrash legend. In addition to his extensive musical career, he has been both student and teacher in the ancient art of Kung Fu (which he took up before the age of ten) and was also a member of EXODUS’s security staff during the ‘Bonded By Blood’ runs. He is an environmental contributor while working as an arborist. Music-wise, he has never limited his creativity to BLIND ILLUSION alone. Being the southern rock enthusiast that he is to the very core, he double-times as guitarist/vocalist in The GHOST KINGS (the band he and the late major rager, Cliff Burton, envisioned together). Many a metalhead may be interested to know that he was asked to join metal pioneers, BLUE OYSTER CULT, in the late eighties by the band’s management after being a major contributor on their ‘Imaginous’ album.
If the latest single, “Straight As the Crowbar Flies” , is any indication, we can expect their upcoming album, ‘Wrath Of the Gods’ to be an absinthe-chugging Godzilla monster of an album, especially with the addition of thrash master of disaster, Andy Galeon [ex- DEATH ANGEL, ex- The ORGANIZATION, ex- SPIRAL ARMS] on drums. Based on my interactions with Mark since I began corresponding with him via social media, I came to the conclusion that he feels that he has too much gas left in the ‘ole merry prankster bus fuel tank for the band’s legacy to be relegated to a mere one-and-done thrash band and just a footnote in the timelines of some of its previous member’s careers. They are a band that embraces their collective past while striving to outdo it with new music and bound and determined on providing their “zen in the midst of chaos” thrash to the global metal masses.
When I approached Mark about doing the interview, he was more than nice in agreeing to it and when it came time to conduct it, he delivered the goods like Kenny “the snake ” Stabler working with less than two minutes on the clock. It was without question, a true honor for me to interview him. Listed directly below is the transcript of the interview that we conducted via FACEBOOK Instant Messenger in its entirety. Check out the video links listed directly underneath the interview and be sure to visit the BLIND ILLUSION official web-site, BANDCAMP page and FACEBOOK page. Last but certainly least a huge “Thank you!” to Mark, Andy “freaking” Ford of RAZOR RADIO (for being the one to tell me that BLIND ILLUSION was active once again) and my longest tenured friends, (former Alex Skolnick protege) Ted Andrews (for his proofreading of this interview/article) and Steve Lucas (my metal Obiwan Wan Kenobi)!
Horns up, legions!
01.) M.P.: What inspired you to pursue a career in music? Were there any particular bands/artists, albums or songs in particular that that made it an easy decision for you?
M.B.: I have had two best friends my whole life since the second grade: (Album cover artist/musician) Alvin Petty and (vocalist /drummer) David White. In sixth grade, Dave and Alvy were fixin’ to jam and my mind ran wild! I announced that I am the singer. They both agreed that if I learned to play the bass I could be the singer. We called ourselves STONERS, INC. Soon, David left and Bret Hern joined on Drums. Alvin pursued his art career and I switched to guitar and taught my friend in ninth grade how to play our songs for BLIND ILLUSION on bass. My friend was Les Claypool and when he showed up ready to play with his black Memphis P- Bass that his father had bought him, we officially became BLIND ILLUSION. 1978, we were all fifteen. A few months later our old drummer, David White, came back as lead vocalist for BLIND ILLUSION.
02.)M.P.: Who are your main guitar influences? Who is your favorite guitarist, metal or otherwise?
M.B.: My earliest influences for guitar as a kid were Beatles, The Stones, Jerry Reed and Roy Clark. I played guitar at age five for a little but the guitar was too big for my hands, so I learned Kung Fu first. At age twelve, I asked the cool-looking dudes at EUCALYPTUS RECORDS, a stone’s throw from my house, if they know where I could learn to play the bass. The boss, Hugh Lawtin, perks right up and says, “Yeah, me!”. I say, “How much for lessons?”. He says, “get a bass and I will teach you for free.” Now, unbeknownst to me, these guys have had their eyes on me for months as I waited at the bus stop in front of the record store to go to Oakland for Kung Fu lessons. Every time they saw me, I had a broadsword that was ready for demonstration anywhere anytime. The sax player, Herman, who is Black, quickly made friends with me . He asked me was I going down to North Richmond to kill some (ya’ know, The “N” word). I said, “No, I’m going to Oakland.” He said, “Good, because those brothers need it!”. I got a bass and they hired a guy named Lenny Gurule, a guitar master. He got the record store job on one stipulation: he had to teach me bass and in return, I taught him Kung Fu. Lenny taught me everything. What he didn’t teach I learned by watching him. We jammed, him on guitar and me on bass. He was so good I wanted to be like him, so after one year of bass, I switched to guitar. After hearing Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Al Di Meola and Tony Iommi, I went full-on lead guitar after playing rhythm for one year.
03.) M.P.: You recruited two very prominent members of the classic Bay Area thrash scene of the 1980s, guitarist Doug Piercy and drummer Andy Galeon.
A.) How did those two heavy hitters come to join BLIND ILLUSION and B.) Tell me about your bassist, Tom Gears. According to DJ Andy Ford of RAZOR RADIO, he’s a Bay Area rock legend.
M.B.: So day one, when I first saw ANVIL CHOURUS in 1981-83 (?), I thought, “Well, I need this guy with the whammy bar guitar to fill out our sound!” Of course, I didn’t ask him right away because he was busy. For years he was in and out of a couple of great bands, but our timing was not on. So for this most recent, greatest incarnation of BLIND ILLUSION, I literally held out for him. One of our mainstay photographers, BLIND L “Spirit Protector” Mike Wasco, suggested BLIND ILLUSION play “Race With the Wizard,” an old BLIND L classic from the Ben Heveroh keyboard days. Ben wrote the music for “Wizard.” So we did, and Mike sent “Wizard” to Doug, and Doug was on board. At first, mostly because we have always been such great friends. But quickly, he found his place and now BLIND ILLUSION is in his hands as well as mine and the other two members. Let me first discuss Tom Gears, bassist virtuoso from the top notch tribute to IRON MAIDEN band ,”ANCIENT MARINER”, came on board six weeks before the first tour. He is incredible! He is well versed in fusion, jazz, rock, metal, etc. He handles most of the business now and has written not only into the songs Doug and I write, but he has written two of the songs for ‘Wrath Of the Gods’: the music to “Behemoth” and “Spaced.” This brings us to another Bay Area godfather/legend, drummer extraordinaire/ vocalist/songwriter Andy Galeon, of course from the original DEATH ANGEL and more! So, I first became great friends with Andy when he was thirteen, playing at RUTHIE’S INN. DEATH ANGEL and BLIND ILLUSION played tons of shows together and he was so young, I always kept my eye on him. I always gave him a big hug! He was so tiny until he got behind the drums. Again, a couple of years ago, I set my sites on Andy! When I lock in on something and set my mind to it, I always follow through and the result…..”Voila! No problem! Lovely Supergroup!”
04.) M.P.: Tell me about the upcoming album, ‘Wrath Of the Gods.’ How many songs are “in the can” so to speak? Was the composition of the album a complete band collaboration?
M.B.: ‘Wrath’ Of the Gods’ destroys even ‘The Sane Asylum.’ Our songs are long and it will be on vinyl, so there will not be a barrage of filler. Oh, no no! It is all killer! Here are some working titles: “Wrath of the Gods,” ”Straight as the Crowbar Flies,” “Behemoth,” “Slow Death,” “Protomolecule” (Dougie’s song), “Lucifer’s Awakening,” “The Amazing Maniacal Monolith.” That is it for the vinyl I think(?). The disc will include bonus tracks as of yet undecided.
05.) M.P.: I love the first single off the album, “Straight As the Crowbar Flies” (especially the opening riff that reminds me a lot of “Chemical Warfare” by SLAYER)! It really is one of the most catchy metal songs that I have heard in a great while. What was the inspiration for the song?
M.B.: The inspiration for the music was just that in itself. The music pretty much writes itself if I just jam and record. The chorus music is Doug’s and the bridge near the end the second guitar solo is mine. Doug wrote the music for behind my solo. All the drum parts are written by Andy and he is there making sure his tones are what he wants. He also does last-minute arranging in the writing of the songs and even caught and fixed “Slow Death,” where I was actually playing it wrong! Only Andy noticed! BLIND ILLUSION is no longer just my band. We all are the driving force. BLIND ILLUSION is Doug’s band. BLIND ILLUSION is Tom’s band. BLIND ILLUSION is Andy’s band. I jokingly but half serious made him acting leader of the band for now and he is doing great!
06.) M.P.: I have seen a few video clips of Doug working behind the scenes of the new album. Is he producing it? If he is not, then who is producing it?
M.B.: Doug is engineering and producing. Tom is engineering, and I mean tons of engineering! Andy and I listen and dictate and Damien Rasmussen mixes with our constant badgering. “More bass! More bass drum! More guitars!” He mixed “Crowbar” to our perfection!
07.) M.P.: Do you have an official release date for it, or is it tentatively scheduled for near the end of the year still?
M.B.: Release dates! I would say, in this present age of darkness, who can say if an act of God will even allow us to complete the record or not(?). So, we will release each song as it is completed up to about the third song’s release, then the whole album should be completed. I want an X-mas release, but Chinese New Year or Mardi Gras is much more realistic.
08.) M.P.: BLIND ILLUSION formed in the late 1970s, but really did not start to gain serious momentum until when the band became an integral part of the now legendary early days of the Bay Area thrash scene. What thoughts and memories specifically come to mind when you look back at that time period?
M.B.: BLIND ILLUSION formed in 1978 and were playing sold out shows at the Keystone, etc. by 1981-83(?). We were the band, along with EXODUS (who were still playing covers and two originals at the time). People like young Alex Skolnick were coming to see us. Kirk Hammett was always front row getting some licks and more power to him! Same thing I do. By 1983, METALLICA rolled through and our progressive metal became not as heavy. So we definitely upped our game by including the thrash drum beat on “Kamakazi” and “Death Noise.” It wasn’t like caving in or anything since thrash did NOT exist when I wrote “Kamakazi” and “Death Noise.” In order to please just my close friends, we went progressive thrash metal from basic progressive metal, which still is hard to find!
09.) M.P.: Were the members of BLIND ILLUSION ever frequenters of the infamous METALLICA house in El Cerrito?
M.B.: I partied at the Metallimansion some, sure, but mostly Kirk and I hung out real close up until Cliff died, then Metallimanagement really shut those guys off from their old friends. If you weren’t working with METALLICA, you rarely saw them anymore. Even though it has been years since we have enjoyed each other’s company, I am still friends with James, Kirk and Lars! Cliff also played, “Am I Evil,” with BLIND ILLUSION at RUTHIE’S INN one time! EPIC! Cliff and I were planning to do a southern rock band called The GHOST KINGS. We played at MONTARA BAY one time with a drummer, jamming LYNYRD SKYNYRD’s “Poison Whiskey,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “Simple Man”. That gave him the idea to do the southern rock band with me. This would have been the two months out of the year when METALLICA was on break. Of course, he never came home and I choked tears. I carried on with Cliff’s vision and wrote tons of southern Rock songs and gigged periodically with The GHOST KINGS, The LORDS OF THE STRINGS, GOD’S GIFT TO COUNTRY and WE ROCK AND RULE!
10.) M.P.: In 1986, I read in an issue of Ron Quintana’s METAL MANIA that “Banshee” was heavily influenced by MERCYFUL FATE. Would you agree with that and why?
M.B.: “Banshee”? MERCYFUL FATE? Sure…why not! I was definitely listening to ‘Don’t Break the Oath’ every day that summer. McBean Scissorlip and I also took acid every day that summer! So it was a creative time. “Destroyer” is more EXODUS, while “Glass Guillotine” was written five minutes after hearing YNGWIE MALMSTEEN’S RISING FORCE for the first time. Three o’clock a.m., KUSF Ron Quintana! I heard, “Now your Ships Are Burned,” and before bursting into tears, I grabbed a guitar and was immediately better after hearing “Wing Wing” (as my mother called him).
11.) M.P.: Describe what it was like working with your old friend from school, METALLICA’s Kirk Hammett, when he produced the ‘Trilogy Of Terror’ demo [1985 and included now HEATHEN vocalist, David White] and ‘The Sane Asylum’ [1988 UNDER ONE FLAG RECORDS] album. Was there ever any tension during those two periods or was it a pretty easy experience given that the two of you were already friends?
M.B.: What working with Kirk was like? He informed me one day that he was going to produce our music and get us signed! He did exactly what he said he would do. I always have a great guitar player in the midst for reaction. If they get excited, the track is kept. If they don’t jump out of their seat, it goes to the cosmos. Kirk and Doug are my all-time favorites. If it moves them, you will get to hear it! I am very critical of any recorded works.
12.) M.P.: What was your reaction to METALLICA’s management when they said the band would need to pay them $10,000 in order for Kirk to be credited with producing the ‘Sane Asylum’?
M.B.: My reaction was heartbroken. They tried to hold us down, obviously, or they would have asked us to play on a tour as well as let us put Kirk’s name on the record. We played shows together before METALLICA was huge, so why not now? Probably because that year at the SF Civic when EXODUS’s Tom Hunting literally destroyed Lars. Respectively.
13.) M.P.: For our money, my friends and I believe that the ‘The Sane Asylum’ was and STILL IS one of the most classic albums from a scene that we hold near and dear to our hearts over thirty years removed. What are some of your most vivid thoughts and memories of writing, recording and touring for, in our opinion, such an incredible album?
M.B.: Well, we were always different from the other bands. “Kamakazi” and “Death Noise” were written in ‘78. The addition of young Mike Miner from BLIZZARD on drums immediately turned those two songs into thrash. I actually wrote the music for “Blood Shower” while on the road doing security for EXODUS. “Metamorphosis Of A Monster” and “Vicious Visions” each have enough riffs for three or four songs, but the title track was written on bass and recorded the week it was written! My favorite moment of any Bay Area gig was during “Metamorphosis,” when the Children of the Revillusion would come onstage and sing.
14.) The lyrics in the song, “Bloodshower” (which is my all-time favorite BLIND ILLUSION song) from the ‘Sane Asylum’ album deal with, for a lack of a better term, political stubbornness in relation to the increasing tensions Middle East in the 1980s and the impending repercussions from it. Fast forward four decades later, given the current state of civil and social unrest in the United States, do you think that those same lyrics could apply to our nation as well, and why?
M.B.: “Bloodshower” is a recuring theme in the world. My lyrics were a commentary. I am on the side of good, but I see a lot if evil, and I sing about both!
15.) M.P.: After the band released ‘The Sane Asylum’ and subsequently toured for it, many fans (myself and friends included) lost track of BLIND ILLUSION after Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde left to concentrate on PRIMUS. It was only years later that we found out about ‘Medicine Show’ and ‘Espionage in Hell’ [1988 studio] and ‘Psychedelic Symphony’ [1989 demo]. What thoughts and memories can you offer about the making of those recording?
M.B.: Those recordings will be available soon on CULT METAL CLASSICS RECORDS (Greece). ‘The Medicine Show’ was recorded live in the BLUE OYSTER CULT studio on (producer) Sandy Pearlman’s time. He was going to produce it. We signed with CBS and a week later SONY bought out CBS and dropped all the lower tier bands. Les and Larry left and were quickly replaced. It was passable, but the musicians never felt worthy. The drummer left to practice his craft and that emergency incarnation melted.
16.) M.P.: What is your relationship with metal pioneers, B.O.C. [BLUE OYSTER CULT], which began in 1988 while BLIND ILLUSION was still active if I am correct (?).
M.B.: Well, my relationship with them began with me worshipping them, seeing them live, jamming non-stop to the live ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ album and then eventually playing on the ‘Imaginos’ album. The work I did on ‘Imaginos’ bought me the time in their studio to mix ‘The Sane Asylum.’ For every hour I put in on their album, Sandy accredited me with an hour in ALPHA and OMEGA STUDIOS. Sandy asked me to join B.O.C., but they weren’t ready for new blood. Sandy wanted to do a BLIND ILLUSION tour with B.O.C. and I would come out for a few songs. It never happened, but who knows? Maybe in the future? When B.O.C. plays, they let me in for free and (guitarist, vocalist) Buck Dharma saw me holler, ‘The Vigil’ last time and he looked me in the eyes and (guitarist) Eric (Bloom), nodded and they played ‘The Vigil’! People all around me were staring at me after that as I pogoed through the whole song! Afterwards, I met Ritchie Castellano, whom I love dearly. He does such a great job on supporting lead guitar, keys and vocals. Check out ‘The Alchemist’ video from B.O.C.’s, ‘The Symbol Remains’ and check out Albert Bouchard ‘Re Imaginos.’ It’s is a masterpiece! I am in contact with him and he has asked me to play on the ‘Re Imaginos Vol 2: Bombs Over Germany.’ I can’t wait!
17.) M.P.: You played bass on HEATHEN’s 1991 album, ‘Victim’s Of Deception,’ and then Randy Laire became their bassist. They were touring in support of the album when he (along with girlfriend) died in an automobile accident. Following that tragedy, were you ever approached about joining the band permanently as bassist?
M.B.: David White, as I mentioned before, is still one of my best friends. He was my singer! I wrote all those lyrics just for him. To this day, if I sing one of the songs he sang, I am always doing my best to represent the song with my voice because our voices are like night and day. The great thing about playing bass for him was I finally got to play with Doug! So, Dave and were both healed from any past indiscrepancies and we all moved forward. Dave’s input on my playing was very important to me. Luckily, Doug and I were joined at the hip. He produced my tracks very carefully and got what they needed.
18.) M.P.: In the early 1990’s, from what I had been told, BLIND ILLUSION had shifted its direction to a more blues-based, hard rock style. What was or were the reasons behind that happening?
M.B.: In the 1990’s, either you played thrash and were in a band, or you played thrash but couldn’t play BLIND ILLUSION songs properly. So, I wrote songs others could play and ‘The Demon Master’ was the result. It is loved by many but is NOT a thrash record. Recently Doug heard only one song, “Mahakala.” He calls it “Eye of the Storm”, and added to it. If I play him any more of that record, he will want those songs too. So in the future, one song here or there may be redone by the BLIND ILLUSION of today.
19.) M.P.: Talk about your recording of southern rock songs over the years. Since we are on the subject of southern rock, do you have any thoughts and/or opinions about one of my favorite southern rock bands, BLACKFOOT, and in particular, guitarist Rickey Medlocke (now with LYNYRD SKYNYRD)?
M.B.: Back to The GHOST KINGS. We plan to do an album soon. There is a new band calling themselves The GHOST KINGS. Hopefully we can shut them down. By right of performance, we have owned the name, The GHOST KINGS, since the year 2000. I got the name from a Buddhist Sutra. I will sue the other Ghost Kings if they don’t at least call themselves something a little different. Like in the sutra, “How The Ghost King Poisonless?”. By the way, anything from LYNYRD SKYNYRD is great! Even today, they are great! ZZ Top fucking rule! Still together, all originals! BLACKFOOT has at least two great songs and Rickey is great! He was an original SKYNYRD drummer before BLACKFOOT. “Cajun Fang”, from ‘The Demon Master’, is directly The GRATEFUL DEAD’s “Truckin’” lick gone metal and it sounds just like “Train Train.”
20.) M.P.: You have been training in martial arts since you were a young boy and even instructed it while BLIND ILLUSION was on a decades-long hiatus. Do you ever use any cross-principles when you are practicing guitar and training in martial arts? For instance, using the precision mindset and focus that you have in martial arts to aid you in practicing guitar or using your timing and tempo that you have achieved over the years playing music to aid in developing your flow in your training exercises for martial arts.
M.B.: The connection between music and Kung Fu is how my musical styles really developed. I began Shaolin Kung Fu training at age of eight. By age twelve, I was practicing scales on the bass while meditating on the pictures on my wall. On my wall was the Bruce Lee six-foot collage poster and also a print of the Monkey King, Sri Bakhti Hannuman, Monkey Kung Fu master and deity. Lastly, were the photos of Kung Fu Master Y.C. Chiang, doing chin-to-toe stretch and praying mantis, etc. I finally met Master Y.C. Chiang when I was twenty eight and he was seventy two. I studied under him until he passed away at age ninety six a few years back. When playing guitar, I also practice stance-work. Mostly a cat stance, but also bow stance and horse stance. Onstage during Dougie’s solo in “Death Noise,” I kick myself in the head three times.
21.) M.P.: As I mentioned before, BLIND ILLUSION first formed in the late 1970s when you and the other members were just teenagers. Many teens nowadays seem like their entire existence revolves around their smart phones and other technology. Do you feel that there will ever be a time in the future that many teens will become inspired and actually pursue forming bands again?
M.B.: I Know a bunch of teenagers who play thrash metal. VIOLENT LEGACY, PLAGUE and INCREDULOUS as well as bands in other countries that we know. FUSION BOMB from Luxemburg and ABBERACION from Chile. The latter two bands are late teens or early twenties, but have been playing since their early teens. I have a movie coming out next year! Hot on the heels of ‘Murder In the Front Row’ and ‘Bay Area Godfathers’ comes ‘DEATH NOISE Vol 1’. Bay Area and beyond the thrash metal scene today! Twenty eight bands, one full song each! Once again,…….the DEATH NOISE is coming!
22.) M.P.: When did BLIND ILLUSION officially become active again?
M.B.: The BLIND ILLUSION ‘Demon Master’ years began in 2010.
23.) M.P.: Two years ago, BLIND ILLUSION released the EP, ‘2018’, which consisted of re-recorded versions of previous songs in the band’s catalog. What songs were redone and why were those specific ones chosen to be remade?
M.B.: “Vengeance Is Mine” and “Metamorphosis Of A Monster.” Well, the ‘Demon Master’ sessions, which I leaked, were not at all thrash. It was more like ‘BLIND ILLUSION 1979.’ So, to ensure the people that we were really, really back, we included those two songs so there would be no guessing. I will add that a full-length album of ‘BLIND ILLUSION 1979’ is coming out on CULT METAL CLASSICS RECORDS before X-mas! The first ever studio recordings by BLIND ILLUSION. First ever recordings of David White, now with HEATHEN. We were all sixteen years old and BLIND L was one year old. Ten songs including four songs completed with overdubs in 1979 but never released or mixed. Recently, the Amazing Harold O (Oimoen) took the tapes to John Karr. He carefully transferred the 1/2” tape to PRO TOOLS discs. Then a few years back, I personally mixed it.
24.) M.P.: In this year of 2020, the metal and hard rock world have lost two of its most beloved musicians: drummer Neil Pearl of RUSH in January and guitarist Edward Van Halen of VAN HALEN this month. What thoughts and memories do you have about those two absolute masters of their craft?
M.B.: Two of my favorite musicians of all time! I saw VAN HALEN seven times. I saw them open for BLACK SABBATH, too! I saw RUSH five times in the old days and twice after the synthetic RUSH. On the ‘Moving Pictures’ tour, I went both nights. One night on the floor, then the second night, I sat above Neil looking sideways at him. I watched his every move that night with no regard for anything else. I never took my eyes off of him and I really tuned in to his playing!
25.) M.P.: What is your current guitar and amplifier rundown, both in the studio and live?
M.B.: I still play “Big Momma,” my 1976 Black Beauty GIBSON Les Paul Custom and I just got a 1974 sunburst GIBSON Les Paul Deluxe. I call her “Mother Superior.” “Big Momma” still runs the show, even though she needs refretting! Amp-wise, I am under MARSHALL law. I use a JCM800. I use BOSS Distortion, BOSS Delay, BOSS Octaver and my latest, an ELECTRO HARMONIX Organ Pedal that makes a guitar sound like Jon Lord!
26.) M.P.: You, Mark Biedermann, are a metal concert promoter for one day/night and one/day only. You must decide on one thrash metal band, one death metal band, one black metal band, one doom/stoner metal band, one traditional heavy metal band and one crossover band. You can pick any particular lineup of each band you choose and must choose the order in which they appear. Go!
The BONELESS ONES
BLIND ILLUSION “Cry of the Banshee” live 1984
BLIND ILLUSION Live At The Farm (San Francisco 1986)
BLIND ILLUSION (Sonoma, California 1987)
BLIND ILLUSION “Smash the Crystal” (‘Sane Asylum’ demo)
BLIND ILLUSION live in Philadelphia 05/15/1988
BLIND ILLUSION live: Les Claypool bass solo, “Smash the Crystal” and “ImmigrantSong”
BLIND ILLUSION “Kamakazi” live 1988
BLUE OYSTER CULT “The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weisseria” (featuring Mark Biedermann)
BLIND ILLUSION ‘Demon Master’ (full album) 2010
Kuo Lien Grand Student Y.C. Disciple Chen BI (Mark Biedermann) Cha Chuan in China
GHOST KINGS “King Hobo” 11/07/2020
BLIND ILLUSION “Race With the Wizard” live at KEEP IT TRUE 2018
Zetro’s Toxic Vault: Mark Biedermann of BLIND ILLUSION (part 1 of 2)
Zetro’s Toxic Vault: Mark Biedermann of BLIND ILLUSION (part 2 of 2)