Municipal Waste – Interview with Ryan Waste

Wednesday, 4th December 2019
Interview by Pete Mutant
Interview with Ryan Waste (guitars, backing vocals)

It was a standard Scottish night in Winter, although we were going to get a very non-standard tour package headed by Richmond Virginia’s very own thrashers Municipal Waste (check out the full review here). They were bringing something almighty with them. A package with so much force and variety in it that it was going to be impossible to not have a good time. It was a fine package with Skeletal Remains, Enforcer and Toxic Holocaust sharing the stage with them and I had the joy of sitting down with Municipal Waste’s founder and master of shred Ryan Waste.

We sat around a table in the corner of the closest Wetherspoons to get some drinks and talk about many things from a hectic tour schedule to life on the road, strange riff writings techniques and what’s in the future for a band that is coming around to its 20th year of existence. It’s amazing what you can cover in 18 minutes of pub chat; full transcript below:

Welcome back to Scotland Ryan. It’s been a few years since you were last round here; what are you expecting from the crowd tonight?

Ryan Waste: Scotland’s always been pretty wild, I mean it’s a dirty fun town that suits Municipal Waste. Basically what our band means.

Yeah it’s good to have you back. I think it was 3 years ago since the last time.

RW: Yeah it was at the Cathouse.

Just up the road.

RW: Yeah, that was killer. So this is right down the street. I felt like I knew the city; I knew where to get my fish and chips already.

I love that man, you get familiar even if it’s been a few years

RW: Well there’s this other club, Audio I think, was the first club we ever played here. I don’t know if it has the same name…

Yeah it is, it used to be called Rockers back in the day.

RW: Rockers yeah, I think we may have played there in ’04. My buddy Jamie Thomson is a Scottish guy and I’ve been writing a movie with him. He’s actually one of my oldest friends; he did our first UK tour. Gotta shout out to Jamie Thomson. No P in Jamie Thomson

So it’s a pretty seismic package that you are bringing with you. Have you played with most of these bands/all of these bands before?

RW: All of these guys

*The pint of Thatcher’s Cider gets delivered*

RW: That’s me, just in time. Thatcher’s man, I took a liking to this last night. Yeah, so we always hand-select all the bands, you know, if it’s our headlining tour. We like to curate the best in metal that we can but not the same thing the whole time. We brought Skeletal Remains, a death metal band, Enforcer, a great heavy metal band and Toxic holocaust of course, thrash/speed metal. You know, our buddies that we came up with, a little bit of everything tonight.

Yeah, you did a split with them (Toxic Holocaust) a while back so I guess you guys have quite a special relationship

RW: Yeah, even before it came out was 10 years in the making. We had talked about doing it and we finally did it. We might even do another one down the line.

Well they’re one of the bands I am excited about seeing tonight; well actually, I’m excited about seeing all the bands…

RW: Good, you should be.

I got their album Overdose of Death years ago.

RW: Yeah, that’s the best one.

I think I bought that in 2012 as well, Wild Dogs and all that.

RW: You’re gonna hear all that tonight.

How’s the tour going so far?

RW: Everyone’s great, getting along; we’re all on the same bus. I’ve been up till 7am partying. Everyone is singing along, drinking, listening to heavy metal and AOR man.

Nice. Was going to say, I guess it’s been a bit of a crazy one?

RW: I mean, we are only a week in and it feels like it’s been a month, if that says anything (laughs).

How is the body reacting to that nowadays?

RW: It’s, you know: you gotta get sleep and drink water. Sometimes I’m waking up at 3pm but that means I’ve still gotten 8 hours. If I can shake it off then I can do the next day.

Is this something you keep for the road?

RW: Not really, I mean sometimes I’ll take a month off drinking at a time and just dry out.

Sober October or something like that.

RW: Yeah and it’s good for the body man. I don’t promote what we do, I don’t recommend it (laughs).

It is fun but I think we all get caught up in it. Scotland is certainly one place that loves doing that sort of thing.

RW: Yeah so we’re going to hang tonight for sure.

Yeah you guys fit in well. Of course, having thrash metal back in Glasgow is always a good thing. This is a really good time of year for us. You’re actually clashing, funnily enough, with Archspire from Canada, they’re actually playing at the Cathouse tonight. One of those funny things where the Glasgow audience is caught between two great packages. Ivory Blacks is a good place.

RW: Yeah seems like a nice dive/sleazy spot.

Do you think touring in Winter brings its own challenges?

RW: We were talking about that earlier. I prefer the cold, I get to wear my leather jacket. It just feels right. Doesn’t even feel that cold right now.

If you were here last week then it would have been like minus 5. Nice and cold, a bit too cold maybe.

RW: If only I could go back in time. I’m a weirdo man, I like the cold.

‘The Last Rager’ has been out a couple of months now, how do you think it’s doing?

RW: I think we sold out of a bunch of copies. We have copies tonight but we tried to order from the label and all the pre-sale had sold out so we couldn’t get as many as we wanted. That’s a good sign.

(At this point in steps local mosh pit entrepreneur Pete Mitchell to say hi)

RW: Good to see the veterans here.

Mosh pit casual so he is, always in there driving things.

RW: That’s great. The record is doing good man. It’s just an EP. We wanted something to hold everything over because you know we took five years to put a record out between ‘Fatal Feast’ and ‘Slime and Punishment’ so we didn’t want to like…we wanted to keep active and have something to put in between the next full release.

I think you’ve been pretty active as well.

RW: Oh we were always on the road

Do you think having Nick there has helped drive things creatively?

RW: Yeah, it’s more fun man. We can do more, more guitar solos and stuff coz I’m always there with the rhythm. I mean, Nick’s my best friend and it doesn’t hurt having your buddy out there with you.

So he’s settled in and it’s about three years into it now?

RW: About three years, yeah. Me and him do Bat and Volture together and yeah, it’s like, it feels like he’s always been there coz I’m so used to paying with him.

Naturalised then.

RW: Yeah.

Have you been giving some of the new songs a trial by fire?

RW: Yeah, we’ve been doing Wave of Death, we were actually doing Wave of Death before the album was out. We haven’t even played the other three live. We actually pulled some songs off of ‘Slime and Punishment’ that we hadn’t played until this tour like ‘Shrednecks’ and ‘Think Fast’. So we will be playing those things tonight. We always want to keep the old songs in rotation but sprinkle some new stuff in too.

I guess the song concepts are still pretty fun aren’t they?

RW: Yeah..puns.

I mean ‘Car-Nivore’ is pretty hilarious man. Actually, it kind of reminded me of Pete Steele’s Carnivore

RW: Yeah I love that, I love old Carnivore.

So it’s quite easy to keep the creative forces going?

RW: Yeah we always have titles we’re just sitting on. I have a bank of song titles and I have to distribute them between Bat and Waste now too, but you know which one is going to fit for which band.

I remember reading that you had that whole album that you just kind of tossed to the side after it was done.

RW: Well you know, we were just going back to the drawing board. I mean, we did still use some stuff that was written before but you just can’t force a record out, you know? You basically want to be inspired, want to be writing it because you want to not just because you have to.

It’s worth taking the time and making sure that it’s done right.

RW: Yeah and I think the next one is going to be better. We are still coming into our own as a five piece; I think the possibilities are endless with what we could do. So I just think that we haven’t really seen a taste of what’s coming. That shit we are writing now is better than ever. I mean, I know anyone is going to say that about their own band but you know it’s a different world and the possibilities are endless.

Well you’re still enjoying it 18 years in.

RW: Ah yeah, 19 man. It’ll be 20 next year…I started the band in 2000, so.

Make you feel old at all?

RW: It does sometimes, I’ll be 40 this year. I mean, I started when I was like 20, so it’s coming up on 2o years.

So do you think there’s been many changes since you started touring and all that?

RW: Well, I mean yeah, with technology, you know. We used to call promoters from pay phones and write out directions for shows. I mean it’s like everything is changing around us but we seem like the same band.

Is it a bit easier do you think?

RW: Yeah I mean, we did it DIY and we did it in vans for 15 years and just in the last few years we’ve been able to get the tour bus and stuff. Just having like a bunk makes us want to do it more coz you can actually sleep instead of just being crammed in there. The little luxuries like that make it a little easier.

Plus, as you said, you’re 20 years in and have all control really. You’re setting up packages like this.

RW: Yeah I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You’re in the driving seat towards your own destination

RW: Yeah I wouldn’t do it if we…like, we never have listened to a label, they’ve never influenced anything creative since the get-go and it’s crazy when people think that or that they’ll let someone tell them what to play or what to sound like or what to look like. Artwork, everything has always been 100% by the band you know. Our choice.

I’ve interviewed Bob Vigna from Immolation before he also said Nuclear Blast are a good label for that.

RW: They’re great, they let you roll with it man.

Yeah like, ‘let’s do whatever the fuck we want’ sort of thing.

RW: Yeah it feels like more of a friendship as well as a label.

Works for both people doesn’t it?

RW: Yeah, we’re very happy with Nuclear Blast and it’s hard to say that about a label so I mean they must be really putting an effort towards it.

They’ve got some good bands on their roster of course. Probably the best.

RW: Right now, yeah.

Obviously the industry from the 2000s has been a bit different for bands but do you think it’s getting better nowadays than it was when you started out?

RW: It’s hard to say, you know, it’s like everything’s digital that’s the only way that really people listen to music. Well, I listen to records still and we’ll always put out records but everything is changing and you just have to roll with the punches. I wouldn’t say it’s any better but…

It is what it is

RW: Yeah, it doesn’t make me want to stop playing.

Well, you are doing well selling all of your EP records. So the Last Rager, I think it’s a bit of a statement. You were part of that new wave of thrash bands coming in the early 2000s. Is that a statement that you guys are going to keep on going until you are the last basically?

RW: What’s funny is that people thought it was our last effort and it’s like, it’d be too on the nose if that’s what we were doing, you know? No, we don’t pay attention to when they try to lump us in with a group of thrash bands. We were doing it when no one was doing it and so it’s not like we were trying to…I was just playing what I grew up with and it was just what was honest to me stylistically. So it’s not like, you know, we are part of this fucking group. We are very individual with our stuff. That’s why we bring out different styles of bands, like if we brought out four thrash bands then it’d be a boring show. It’d be the same shit all over.

Yeah we had a black metal festival here recently and it’s just constant. Even people that were there for the bands were saying that it’s a little bit too much.

RW: Yeah, you get burned out.

It is good to mix it up.

RW: Mix it up and you need to stand out. You’ve got to do something different and we bring a lot of like hardcore punk ethic into it too. I don’t think a lot of metal bands really have that in them. The good ones do.

And the energy is always inspirational, you know?

RW: Yeah.

I mean, I’m looking forward to it [the gig], I saw you guys at Bloodstock back in 2013 I think it was.

RW: Oh yeah, that was fun man.

Was a little less fun for me, I was in a bad way that day (laughs).

RW: This will be better for you. Club gigs are better, they’re more intimate.

As you said, Ivory Blacks is a bit of a sleazy place, so it’s going to be very intimate.

RW: It’s going to be wild, man.

You mentioned ‘Shrednecks’; who came up with that man, I love it?

RW: Me and Nick wrote the music and then I think Tony came up with that title and wrote the lyrics. It was one of those things, I was laughing with Nick and we rolled the dice just to see what number of what fret to start on.

You guys write like that?

RW: Yeah, so that’s kind of funny.

Is that a usual thing?

RW: No, no, we were talking to an old friend who did that and we were like, ‘that’s kind of a funny idea’.

Something to do at 4am.

RW: Yeah, we just came up with that one in my record room and just jamming. It’s got like a really fucking ignorant Obituary part at the end and like Celtic Frost kind of Obituary part at the end there. We don’t really do slow stuff and when we do we want to make it count, you know?

Yeah, impact, man.

RW: Yeah, dynamic.

I love the term itself, I think it’s genius to be honest.

RW: Yeah we might make a mask, a ‘Shrednecks’ mask that you can buy. We are working with this guy Norman Cabrera who did the ‘Slime and Punishment’ video. He’s a special effects guy out in LA so we might make a mask of the ‘Shredneck’ that you can buy.

It’s pretty unique that. Obviously you are really busy, you’ve got your bands and you’re working on a movie as well.

RW: Yeah and that’s the guy I am working on the movie with, the effects guy and the Scottish guy we mentioned earlier, Jamie Thomson.

Shout out again to Jamie Thomson

RW: Yeah cause this is the guy who brought us here the first time and he told me that there was this old metal bar called ‘Radar’. This is way before anyone’s time, you know, and we’re putting a bar in the movie and it’s going to be called ‘Radars’ as a homage to the Scottish rock club.

That’s going to go down well over here.

RW: Yeah, you know everyone has got pride in where they come from and we’ve got a Scottish guy helping me out, so.

What about where you come from, do you pay much attention to the local metal scene in Richmond?

RW: Well of course, you have to because it is such a small scene but with a lot of output. Like people like GWAR, we practice in the GWAR ‘Slave Pit’ where they make all the GWAR costumes; that’s where our practice space is. Man, everyone helps each other out in the scene. There’s really no divide, there’s no rock star attitude. Everyone is down to help out and it’s a good community.

Do you think there are any other bands there that live up to the ‘Shredneck’ name at all, apart from yourselves?

RW: There’s some good like local speed metal bands. My friend’s band Humongous is pretty cool, they’ve been playing. A band called Loud Night, there are good local bands you know? It’s just our friends.

I was saying that I was there two years ago but didn’t do anything to connect to the local scene.

RW: Oh you got to connect man, that’s the first thing you should do.

Anywhere that you’d like to play but haven’t yet?

RW: Yeah, we want to play Russia, we’ve gotten offered a few times but it’s just never worked out. It’s a hell of a distance to go and do it. It hasn’t worked out with the touring schedule but I mean we’ve played almost everywhere that I can think of. I love going to Australia, done that twice. Japan, I’m always down to go back to. You know we’ve played every state in the states except Alaska.

You’ve not played Alaska yet?

RW: No, I don’t know, maybe we’d go do a gig out there, I don’t know.

Maybe even get a flight to Russia from there and play…

RW: I’d really like to go hang out somewhere and not just have to play, you know?

True, true, you need a break.

RW: Me and my girlfriend are doing our holidays over here after this tour. Going to hang in Berlin, Prague and Vienna for Christmas. Trying to skip Christmas man, can’t deal with that shit.

Yeah brings its own pressures really.

RW: Yeah, it’s just nice to be away.

Nice to be away, be aloof and do what you want for a couple of weeks.

RW: Yeah we’re doing two weeks vacation out here.

Well deserved by the sounds of it, are you going to turn the phone off and not answer emails, that sort of thing?

RW: Yeah, I’ll try, man. I’m always working.

Some people say it’s easy to burn out but some say that keeps them going.

RW: Yeah exactly, can’t just turn it off.

Last question, what’s next for the Last Ragers?

RW: Well next year we’re writing a new record come January so we’re going to be working on new material and then we’ve got a cool gig in Florida. We’re playing with a bunch of bands, Tony our singer is doing a show that combines wrestling with metal. It’s going to be Obituary, Exhorder, Nasty Savage and Municipal Waste with wrestling.

I’ve seen that lineup. We had Exhorder here back in October. Never thought I’d get the chance to see them, I was fucking so happy.

RW: Yeah they’re a great band, we might be doing some more stuff with them, so keep your eye out.

See if you guys could just put it together, just for me or everyone else here, you know…just put this package together…

RW: We’ll see.

Just do what you can…