Monday, February 5, 2007


During their time, Mordred were featured in the press reasonably often. The buzz around Fool's Game culminating in an excellent video showing Pause and his skills, which must have intrigued many at the time. However, In This Life certainly gave them the exposure they thoroughly deserved, with Kerrang magazine in the UK giving the album a five K! out of five rating, whilst other magazines such as Metal Forces, Metal Hammer, Raw et al were certainly in praise of the band. Fortunately, I kept most of my Mordred clippings in the hope that some day they would become useful, so here are a good selection for you to look at.

Sunday, February 4, 2007


1) What have you been up to since Mordred?

Since Mordred I have played in several bands, DEMAG, UNGODLY, CHURCH OF THE GRAND FUNK, HEAT, BLUE SUN, HARLEY SCOTT HOLDERBY, and HIGH SOCIETY, oh yeah,MORDRED in 02.........
Recording I have worked with, SANTANA,THE DONNAS, CEE-LO, JIMMY MCCRACKLIN, DISCO BISCUITS, RICKY WATTERS(of SF 49ers)and many more.
I have recently married my long time girlfriend,Stacy.We have a little shorty and life is good.I could go on and on...............

2) Why did you leave the band ?

Hey man they asked me to go. I think the songs we were working on at the time kinda sucked, and the record co said to fire me. They hated me. The record co always wanted us to sound like our first album, HEAVY.They didn't get why we would have Pause on the tables or why we wanted to funk up the hardcore. I do think it was difficult to replace the bands singer, not cause I'm so fuckin great or anything, just cause people were used to me and my blueness. I don't have any hard feelings toward Paul K. or any of my Mordred bros.I wasn't having any fun anyway.........So it was all good.........

3) Do you think Mordred were ahead of their time ?

I do think it was ahead of it's time. Time has kind of caught up now, lots of new bands hittin on what we were hittin then. I simply had fun with it at the time. We spent alot of loot to do it in style, tour buses, Dutch coffee shops and such. I am happy I was a part of it all

4) What were your best times in the band ?

How long do you want me to go on.....I have had the pleasure of meeting alot of really quality people along the way. Some I still am in contact with. I grew up on the road with Mordred, lived the lifestyle, it was all good, well mostly. The Dynamo fests we played, the Berlin wall, the many flavors of herb, the Italian shows, the Run DMC shows, all of the travel..I really can't complain.

5) What were your favourite Mordred tracks/recordings ?

Vision was my favorite, and Esse Quam, the white album (single) with the Pause re-mix...
Favorite songs, In This Life, The Vagrant,In Time, Unload, Close minded, Strain, Young Lust, W.C.H.....The Vagrant is still my favorite......

6) How well were Mordred received in the United States ?

We did well in parts of U.S.....NYC, DC, all over east coast....Europe was ready for our sound and we really liked playing there . Our label was in Germany so that is why we came over so much. Better support...The last couple of years we only played over seas. (I think,don't quote that).

7) Were there many arguments within the band ?

We had little internal struggles, alliances..I spent alot of my time off the bus, they stayed close to the bus. I went home with people, we cooked, I took showers, I really experienced where we were at the time..There were times when I was the only English speaker (you know when you have a few sometimes it's hard to remember your Eng.) I rode on trains from gig to gig and would show up around sound check. So being that I was gone alot, the Mordreds were happy to see me when I was around. And I wasn't a beer drinker, so they could drink all of mine..There might have been a few explosions over the years. But not many....And we are all cool now.....

8) Why did the band reform for one-off gigs ?

There was a benefit for Chuck Billy (Testament vocalist), when he had cancer,we got together to play that but the bill filled up so fast, we were too late..So we decided to play a show on my birthday, a blowout party..And if you play one show why not three..and why not record something, just for fun..

9) Any chance of a real Mordred reunion ?

I don' know if anything will come of it, but ,we would like to play some dates overseas next summer (2005). If we do I'm pretty sure all original heads will be making it, Danny included. As far as a change in direction, the new songs sound like good old Mordred songs, some heavy, less funky, a little more hip-hop-core. I like them, you have to judge for yourself when you hear it. I don't know about the legal reasons to use or not the name Mordred, we will see what Sanctuary Records has to say.

10) Mordred had such a diverse sound. What were you guys listening to at the time ?

We all listened to such a wide variety of music, all that old hip-hop stuff, old school funk, rare groove, acid, jazz, Hendrix, Bowie, Iggy, English punk rock, Joy Division, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, skate rock, Jim Carroll, Sly Stone, Agent Orange, Bad Brains. We never listened to metal on the bus (unless it was someones new record)or some 70's Judas Priest. I think we would have explored more stylecrossing if we had stayed together, we only touched upon a few. Personally I liked the direction we were going with Vision. Doing some different songs that all tied together, I guess our other records were like that to a certain extent as well..

11) What gigs did you enjoy most ?

I loved almost every night. I'm sure I looked like I was havin fun. Whatever bullshit was happening between us never came up on stage with us. We all got along pretty well most of the time, there's alot of shit on the road you know....We are all like family even now, and sometimes we bickered like brothers.
I liked the second Dynamo fest, the first one was great also, when I painted myself like Krishna.The Italian shows, all the UK shows (after touring Europe it is nice to be among English speaking peeps) I loved all the DC shows at the 930 club, off the hook....The old Ritz in NYC. The Astoria, The Marquee, London was like my homebase for awhile. I had a girlfriend I lived with on and off, SF to London. I would stay over there between tours.
Oh yeah the Tijuana gigs were off the hook, New Years in TJ.....The Warfield in SF.......I can go on...

12) What stuff are you listening to now ?

I do listen to some hip hop but not the white boy metal stuff. Jurassic 5, Black Eyed Peas, The Roots......Right now I'm listening to Ralphi Pagan/Joe Bataan..............I like Thievery Corp. Naked Music, Ben Watt, you know the old soul stuff. I worked on alot of Stax records when I worked at Fantasy Studios. I like Brazilian music, Cuban, Latin funk, like El Chicano, Malo, Cymande, and much Dub, Soul of Rasta.....

13) I always wondered where you got the 'REAL' t-shirts you used to wear ?

Our homeboy Tommy Guererro, had just left Powell/Peralta, to start his own company, REAL Skateboards. I still have an old T.G. board from back then..

14) Were you surprised that Mordred still create a lot of interest ?

It definitely feels good to know some people out there really like Mordred. The sites are very cool I think, and now that I know they are there, I can send them more stuff. People have written alot of nice things about us..How could that suck....And yes I am surprised there was any interest. We just got together to play awhile back because we thought it would be a good time....And it was. Not knowing who might care...It seems some people still do......It was alot of fun...

15) Any regrets ?

Nope, IT WAS FUN WHILE IT LASTED.............

The questions above were just a select few I chose to publish here although I stayed in touch with Scott for a long time and he sent me some amazing music to hear. I'd love to get back in touch with him, I had a lot of PC problems and lost contact with him. I also had emails from Danny White and a couple from Pause, the various websites that were being dedicated to the band certainly let the guys know there were alot of fans still out there.


In 2001 on the 27th October, Mordred played at The Pound, SF with the following set-list:

1. State Of Mind 2. The Strain 3. Killing Time 4. The Vagrant 5. The Baroness 6. In Time 7. Falling Away 8. Johnny The Fox 9. Reach 10. Close Minded 11. Unload 12. Crash 13. Young Lust (Pink Floyd Cover) 14. Esse Quam Videri 15. She Watch Channel Zero 16. In This Life

The line-up was bereft of Danny White, replaced by Chris Powell.

On march 8th 2002 Mordred played at Bourbon St, CA, see pictures.
Review of Mordred gig at The Pound, 29.3.02, by Mario Perotti:
"The final band of the night was the once popular Mordred who cam out of hiding to perform a short list of reunion dates before the band embarks on a new path with the same line-up but under a different name and a much different sound. By this time, the Pound was about half full with the majority of the people on hand there for Mordred as evident by the large amounts of audience participation during selected tunes. Mordred, for the uneducated, utilize a heavy funked out flavor in their music while folding in some technically oriented thrash metal (although their older tunes seemed to have more of the 'metal' flavor).
On stage, the pumped through a smattering of tunes from their history, almost performing a "greatest hits" package including tunes from their debut disc, 1989's "Fool's Game", 1991's "In This Life", 1992's "Vision" and 1995's "The Next Room". Some of the tunes included in their long set were "State of Mind", "The Strain", "The Vagrant", "Falling Away", "Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed", "Reach", "Close Minded", and their popular tune "In This Life".
As far as reunions go (and lately there have been quite a few, many of the Bay Area bands reuniting after last August's Thrash of the Titans jump started the movement), Mordred seemed to have a differing path ahead with this batch of reunion shows. First off, the band was kicking through their material at top notch speed and precision, giving those who know the music just about everything possibly wanted in a hour-plus set of reunion tunes. However, Mordred seems destined for something else and this show was the jump start into their next musical direction as the band will be sticking together but creating much different music under a different name (no word as to what it will be yet). So, Mordred basically took this opportunity to slam through some old favorites (and they pumped through "In This Life" VERY well) as well as introduce some of their new material their collective new project will be performing. Their new tunes still had the heavy funked out flavor and highly precise music ability, but they seemed to have traded any kind of metallic edge for more of a streamlined, dare-say accessible style, making songs that rely more on the vibe and presence than their inadvertent bite and delivery. This show was both classic Mordred and something more as these guys gave closure to their 'metallic' sound of years past and opened the door to their new future. Killer show from a once killer band."
There were many rumours (see later interview with Scott Holderby) that Mordred would reform permanently and possibly record new material. Discussions were taking place regarding a name change and also the band taking on a different style but at the time of writing nothing has materialised on any front.
Although each individual is very much into their own thing now, there is surely still a place for the unique sound of Mordred. New tracks I heard suggested a more slower approach, but unlike the Vision material, but heavy-ish but with a more hip-hop style of vocal. The previously mentioned tracks such as The Baroness and Can't Help certainly have a streetwise feel, but it's still very much Mordred down to a tee.
Much of what was once rumoured can be read about in my Scott Holderby interview which I conducted in 2004, but not much has happened since then to suggest that Mordred will be with us again.


Although the band members continued to work in musical circles, much of their activity wasn't really spoken of after Mordred split.

However, when I managed to track down Scott Holderby in 2004 (see blog), he kept me briefly updated as to who was workin' on what, here's a brief run-down.

Scott Holderby - did a vast amount of studio work, producing, working with the likes of Santana, Cee-Lo, The Donnas, The Organization and featured in various bands including Heat, Demag, Blue Sun, Church of the Grand Funk, High Society, Harley's Angels.

Scott's most impressive work, in my eyes, is the amazing Ungodly Blue Sun opus he released in 1998 under the name Harley Scott Holderby, his real name, after his grandfather and father. the album, on Smokin' Jacket Records is a nine-track laid-back classic, with occasional hints of Mordred in the superb Another Way, but this is deep, soulful jazz-fused genius, with Scott's vocals becoming far more rich than in his Mordred days. Cadillac Rolling slow-tempo cruise, as is the moving The Way You Look Now, and emotional Ride The Raincloud. This is stirring stuff, moody, mesmeric, sometimes psychedelic, with a sweeping blues edge, at times like an even mellower cosmic Vision.

His work with High Society is more of a trip-hop adventure, combining lounge-beats with his dark-edged smooth vocal. Whilst Harley's Angels and their Harley's Angel's Hard Luck Hustle is more of a jazz-funk affair, perfect for any smokey lounge with its wispy, smoothness and Scott's sensuous soul tone which punctuates the relaxing, Santana-esque latin funk. Amazing stuff.

DJ Pause is still up to his producing and mixing as well as working with various rap artists. In 2004, according to Scott, James was workin' on acoustic material, Danny White was making latin jazz, Gannon was doing some trip-hop stuff, but not sure about Art although a while ago I heard he was in a band called Foodstamp or something, but if anyone knows any wiser let me know.


By the time Mordred split there had been so many tracks either unheard or never to appear on record. In 1992 they were recorded at the Dynamo Open Air Festival (classic line-up) and previewed a couple of new tracks. One, was the short and quirky Queen Of A Broken Throne which could have sat comfortably on the Vision record, and I Know was similar, a laid-back smokin' groove with text-book scratching from Pause, complete with a, "I know you gonna dig this..." sample and extremely soulful vocals from Mr. Holderby. There was also the original Crash, which sounded like something straight from In This Life, and would have no doubt become a Mordred classic.

Previous to In This Life there was rumour of a track called Nowhere Fast which I have on a demo cd sent to me by Scott Holderby, and originates from around Fool's Game and is a thrashy number whilst Death or Glory (Halacaust or Holocaust cover) and The Money Will Roll Right In (Fang song), as well as the theme from M.A.S.H. and The Stooges 1969 were classic covers.

Other lost tracks are Unload, a fantastic cover of Public Enemy's She Watch Channel Zero, The Baroness, The Empress, Air-Conditioned Dream and Can't Help. Hopefully these will appear some day...I've heard the cuts and they rock, just like they've never been away...they are a slower temp, kinda bereft of the cutting-edge thrash side of things, but have the melodic choruses which graced Vision.


Line-up's: As The Next Room


Tracks: 1) Grand Summit (club mix) 2) Lo-Cal, Hi-Fiber (edit mix) 3) Acrophobia 4) The Pause (public domain)


Tracks: 1) Splinter Down (radio) 2) The Next Room Over 3) The Pause 4) Splinter Down (LP version)


Paul Kimball - Vocals
Danny White - Guitars
Art Liboon - Bass
James Sanguinetti - Guitars
Gannon Hall - Drums
Aaron (Pause) Vaughn - Turntables

Tracks: 1) Lo-Cal, Hi-Fiber 2) Skid 3) Crash 4) Splinter Down 5) Shut 6) Pauper's Wine 7) Acrophobia 8) Murray The Mover 9) In A Turn 10) The Trellis 11) The Next Room Over 12) Rubber Crutch

When I heard that Scott Holderby had left the band, it was as if someone had died. When you’re a teenager wrapped up so heavily in music, and in certain bands that you take on as if they are your own, band changes effect you also…it’s bizarre. I rang the London Noise offices who kind of smirked at the split. I received a letter from drummer Gannon Hall who claimed that Scott had been involved in fisticuffs with one magazine reporter, but worst of all was when I heard that they were carrying on without him. Now, don’t get me wrong here, but bands can remain cool with new members but Scott’s style was very much what Mordred were about in the same way Pauses had become part of the furniture as such. And when you release three records with that person it’s not easy to replace them, especially when that person had a real originality about them, and stamped themselves so effectively upon the career of the band.
I heard the Acrophobia ‘single’ and threw it up the wall! Sure, this is all about opinion and I’m sure the sound on The Next Room may well have gained the band a few more fans, because in a nutshell, this opus is power-metal, something akin to Corrosion Of Conformity’s mighty Blind and and also Alice In Chains records…only nowhere near as good, and that hurts to say that. So, in came new vocalist Paul Kimball, a throaty mover of some power which is great if you like Pantera and the nu-metal breed of vocalist, but this just doesn’t work. This wasn’t Mordred, despite Gannon Hall saying this was his best drumming performance or whatever. I’m not sure what Scott did immediately after he left, but judging by his already mentioned solo record, he was still Mordred without the heavier side. Mordred meanwhile had become stream-lined, more metal, less thrash, and far less cool, with any kind of experimentation sounding almost awkward next to power metal riffs. Was this a way of attracting a metal audience ? Whose idea was this ? Yet, for over almost an hour I had to sit there thinking, “…what the hell is this all about ?”. The Next Room is bland, despite some decent lyrics and experimentalism, but Kimball’s vocals are extremely dull despite their power, Pauses’ scratches mundane and predictable and the tracks are forgettable, despite such ridiculous titles such as Rubber Crutch and Murray The Mover. Are you serious ? Tracks such as Lo-Cal, Hi-Fiber and Skid skip by without effect, at times Kimball seems to slip into a Holderby mode, it doesn’t work. There’s even a track called Crash, yet it has nothing to do with the original the band recorded. It seems to have a hangover from Vision in its slo-mo approach and it’s pointless, and by this time you’re left wondering what direction they are taking. Splinter Down is run-of-the-mill metal, nothing more, a mediocre six-minute ramble that never changes pace, and then we have Aaron’s contribution, a jazz-club special called Shut that doesn’t fit onto a record bereft of coolness. It’s actually better than Close Minded, sewn together by a wailing sax but ruined by Kimball’s non-descript vocal yell, which pretty much drowns the whole record, as well as the samey riffs of mundanity. Shall I go on ? Pauper’s Wine sounds like the hideous mess that is Nickleback, suggesting an almost polished grunge feel, Acrophobia is okay…for another band, at times catchy, with a chorus that suits Kimball’s voice, but it’s regular stuff, the same formula through-out, and on Murray The Mover things get a little embarrassing, Kimball’s gravelled voice just not accustomed to singing what are an attempt at ‘groovy’ lyrics, enough said. In A Turn is another soulful cut naked without Holderby’s execution, The Trellis is bland, The Next Room Over a drab instrumental affair, splashed with the almost now predictable scratching and the final track, Rubber Crutch begins like some ‘80s metal anthem and never shifts gears from its tiresome routine.
Even if you judge this as a separate rock record, The Next Room is a tired affair, lacking most of Mordred’s unpredictability, class and soulful innovation. And even the band must have known this, which is why this opus was the last record, but one which most certainly disassociates itself from the others like some ugly sister.



This is my review how it originally appeared on the Everyday's A Mordred Day website.

Line-up, as In This Life

Tracks: 1) In Time 2) West County Hospital 3) The Vagrant 4) Reach 5) Close Minded 6) Vision

The final time I saw Mordred, at London’s legendary Marquee Club, they were previewing new material, to the extent that at times Scott Holderby had the lyric sheet at hand for tunes such as Reach and In Time. In 1992 Vision, a mini-lp of sorts, hit the racks, and for some reason it didn’t get great press at all. One magazine said it was ‘average’ and was more Queensryche influenced than anything else!! For me, Vision was a great step forward for the band, branching out into vast soundscapes as well as the usual fusion of funk-drenched guitars, superb scratching and samples, and the usual metal soul. Holderby seemed more involved, having written three of the six songs on this mini-platter, and yet this record was to be Scott’s last outing, and for me, the funeral of this great, underrated band.
Vision is a laid-back slab, cosmically mixed, soulfully tweaked and something akin in stature to Voivod’s magnificent, darkly-tinged Angel Rat opus although that particular opus being more Pink Floyd-esque. If anything, Vision is Mordred moving away from the thrash and becoming a heavy rock act. By 1992 death metal and 'grunge' was taking over, the Bay Area thrash scene was dying, rock was also dying, and it would take quite a few years to re-emerge albeit in regurgitated form, because 1992 was all about so-called grunge, although that scene was mainly late ‘80s, and an underground scene at that, but by 1992 bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had taken over, they were accessible to the masses, maybe there was no more room for Mordred.

In Time kicks in, casually too. It could have fitted perfectly onto In This Life as a companion to Downtown, with its quirky guitars, Scott’s loose tones and the street-wise lyrics, the track, like so many other Mordred tracks, beefed by a solid, memorable chorus and shining percussion. West County Hospital is once again laid-back, no hint of a crunchy riff as such, but this is one of their greatest moments, Holderby’s lyrics hitting the heart, a personal story by the sounds of it, of young desperation, an urge to break free from the strains of society, only this time the chorus is incredibly mellow, highly infectious and very soulful, a sound one would become accustomed to on Holderby’s solo effort Ungodly Blue Sun. West County Hospital is a cool moment, proof that Mordred were keen to expand, to become accessible yet still distinctive, but certainly more mellowed from the previous two efforts, and The Vagrant, previously known as Fragrance Of Vagrance, elaborates on the usual street-wise subjects, this is another track that could have appeared on In This Life yet once again is of a laid-back nature, more of Pauses’ injections, the scatty breaks and the funk-fuelled guitar works, and once again that infectious chorus of, “…can you tell me why, I’m left with no means to survive”, something so predominant on cuts like Lion’s Den, Falling Away etc, that soaring, perfectly rhymed bellow. However, Reach is far different, a spaced out cosmic exercise spruced up with White’s far-reaching lyrical content of the planets, the solar system and all things solarised, this is an immense track, complex in nature that slides with cool scratch bursts and ascends on a chorus straight to the zenith. Lyrically this is once again class, and despite all the great musicianship of the band, as well as the eclectic ideas, lyrically they had always been spot-on, moving between a variety of subjects yet always saying something even if at times unclear, yet clearly psychedelic in content.
Close Minded is probably one of the most predictable Mordred songs. This may sound harsh, but for me it’s the EP’s weakest track, despite still blowing all the opposition away. This is true rap-metal crossover, a pummelling, juggernaut of a riff replacing a hip-hop beat and Pause takes to the mic, he raps as cool as any rapper or other MC, but this is almost too predictable for a band of this quality, with a lyrical content that literally questions why people should be so narrow-minded about this style of music, but it’s a common theme by 1992, and lesser bands such as Body Count, early Anthrax, Beastie Boys, The Hard Corps (to a lesser
extent), and a whole host of latter bands, i.e. Rage Against The Machine, Biohazard, Korn etc, were doing it in the same almost shoddy, commercial manner. Don’t get me wrong, Close Minded is a cool track, but it’s too obvious, as if to say, “…hey, we fuse metal and rap so let’s do a rap over some riffs”, and if anything it’s too simple for this great band, and for me it wasn’t a track trying to be different and it wasn’t a track where people were going to take note because it was common ground by this point even if Vaughn’s lyrics are excellent.
Vision wraps up the platter, a vibrant, buzzing cut awash with colour, Scott’s delivery hazed, the scratching splashing and sprinkling, a mish-mash of cosmic rock and dazed and confused abandon rested upon a mellow chorus, and before you know it this brief EP is over, leaving you begging for more, yet at the time little did this listener know that such dreams were short-coming, this would be the last of the real Mordred, who, by this time had also released three excellent records, a brilliant live video filmed at one of the 1991 London Marquee shows, entitled, In This Live, and three singles. The next record, their worst, The Next Room, an awkward, Holderby-bereft slab of power metal would be the end, although such an end had obviously reared its ugly head long before.
Vision, at the time of its release, didn’t seem to be promoted very well, and it wasn’t received as ecstatically, rumours of ill spates with the press abounded, true or not, but spin this record again and you’ll be swept up in the whirlwind, and the album remains a fitting last word in that it should be called Vision, a word that sums up the world in which Mordred lived…and created, yet which many obscenely ignored. Their loss.



Line-up, as In This Life.
Mordred were the finest band I ever saw live, four times in all at The Marquee in London. The first three occasions were in support of In This Life and I believe the third of those gigs was filmed for the In This Live video, featuring all the greatest Mordred cuts. Live, they were a one-off, at times Holderby became a multi-coloured breakdancing contortionist, fluttering between the strobes, often painted colours such as white or blue, and with pegs in his hair, and often dressed in anything from a trilby hat to what looked like his pyjama's, whilst the band behind him were alarmingly tight, Pauses' scratches interwoven between the crunching guitars and spiralling sol's, whilst Hall's drumming, especially on the video, was a privilege to watch. And Liboon's bass one of the band's trademark ingredients.

In This Live is exceptionally difficult to trace, but I did hear that a few guys on the Everyday's A Mordred Day website had managed to get it down onto DVD. Something worth seeing.

Mordred loved playing in London, the final time I saw them around '92 they were supported by the superb The Organization. They often fitted in a few remarkable gems, i.e. a cover of Pink Floyd's Young Lust plus stuff like The Money Will Roll Right In and a few tracks that never made the records, such as Crash (not the version that made The Next Room record) and also what was then known as Fragrance Of Vagrance, but would simply become known as The Vagrant.

Try and track down In This Live.


Line-up, as In This Life.


1) Esse Quam Videri (Radio Mix) A far more, hip-hop, beat orientated remix with various samples, more effects and less weight, but amazing, and possibly better than the LP version.

2) Intro/Killing Time (live at London's Marquee Club 1991)

3) Everyday's A Holiday (live at London's Marquee Club 1991)


Line-up, as In This Life.
Falling Away
Lion's Den
Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed (Thin Lizzy)


This review of mine also originally appeared on the EVERYDAY'S A MORDRED DAY website.
Scott Holderby - Vocals
Danny White - Guitars
James Sanguinetti - Guitars
Art Liboon - Bass
Gannon Hall - Drums
Aaron (Pause) Vaughn - Turntables

Tracks: 1) InThis Life 2) The Strain 3) High Potency 4) Window 5) Esse Quam Videri 5) A Beginning 6) Falling Away 7) Killing Time 8) Downtown 9) Progress 10) Larger Than Life
It was a weird time, like a whole new era. From the risky business and slight diversity of Fool’s Game, the metal scene had all of a sudden become soaked in the sweat of band-wagon jumpers, trend followers and sickly, sweet rip-off’s. Fool’s Game seemed almost ‘years ago’ and yet in two years Mordred had become one of the leaders of a pack fronted by giants such as Faith No More, bands who’d taken metal to new extremes, still providing aggression, and yet somehow letting it walk hand-in-hand alongside soul, industrial smash-up’s, death metal growls, country ‘n’ western twangs and avant-garde ramblings. Anthrax had tried it, the Beastie Boys were moving into it, Chilli Peppers and Fishbone were now serious leaders instead of cartoon tamperers, French-Canadian thrashers Voivod took it beyond psychedelia and Mordred were all of a sudden in the Top 75 of the U.K. charts, it was bizarre, fresh and yet so intoxicating.
DJ Pause was permanent, James Sanguinetti now responsible for the crunchy, sharp riffs, and the band on the whole had escaped from the Bay Area thrash assault that other acts were still stuck in, or what they called ‘sticking to their guns’, but the innovation of Mordred was immense, people started to get it, others were irritated that it spawned horrific spin-off’s such as the UK’s Ignorance and Scat Opera, the German outfit Freaky Fukin’ Weirdoz, and U.S. atrocities such as Scatterbrain and Psychefunkupus. Some called it a new scene, others labelled it ‘funk metal’, that name alone killed it, tarred it and cursed it, because
any band around 1991 that meddled with something different was bogged down by the comparisons and corniness. Mordred were still far removed from that scene despite Liboon’s bass-lines taking on a funky twist, the grooves in general becoming far more melody based, even with the thrashier outings, and now Pause was very much involved, sprinkling even the most furious of tracks with rap samples, spasticated scratches and keyboard quirks. For me, it was one of the most eagerly anticipated records of all time, and to this day it hasn’t left the turntable. Wrapped in a green-tinged industrial sleeve, complete with some of the finest, gritty, smoke-filled lyrics, this album astonished, perplexed and writhed in its own psychedelic crunchiness, revelled in its ghetto groove and was just too damn cool for my friends! The title cut bubbled in on a cool bass strut and Holderby took to the mic, a rap-style flow injected with a deep, chanted chorus of, “…make your own way, in this life, have to find a way to rise above the pain and strife”. The Strain fluently cuts in, Pause becomes evident, big time jerks in the thrash department, a cutting edge, heavy rhythm based upon a topic more akin to something off a rap album, lyrics of the street, the social despair, gunshot wounds and drugs. This was not funk metal, and neither was it thrash, and whilst other cool bands such as Last Crack, Mindfunk, I Love You and Love/Hate were mixing styles, In This Life was something else, up there with Faith No More’s The Real Thing as a cauldron of styles, somehow accessible, yet oh so complex in its volume of diversity. High Potency and Window keeping the riffs real, but it was the immense quirkiness of Esse Quam Videri that did it, the one track, like a more stylish sequel to Everyday’s A Holiday drenched in jingly, funk guitars, slap bass, Scott’s flittering tones and cosmic lyrics interwoven by an almost hip-hop backing made even more street-wise by Pauses’ rapping, yes, rapping, something so common now amongst the ‘nu-metal’ crowd and yet so commercial, but back then it was a rare sound, something used by only a handful of bands such as 24-7-Spyz, Anthrax etc. Esse Quam Videri (meaning, ‘to be rather than to seem’), is one of the band’s finest moments, a sweaty, orgasmic, flippant, epileptic circus of atmosphere, sexual innuendo and strobe light ecstasy. It remains one of the album’s greatest moments, and yet the album has no weak moments. (This track was also brilliantly remixed as a single, backed with two live cuts, and was promoted on late night t.v. with a superb, psychedelic video).
Side Two kicks off with an acoustic intro, entitled A Beginning, to the might that is Falling Away, a pounding, black and white vision of street life, possessing some of the most chilling, searing melodies, Holderby’s most spiteful delivery and a general groove that shudders and sends icy shivers down the spine. It was a single for the band, backed with the brilliant cover of Thin Lizzy’s Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed and cool, horn-based new cut Lion’s Den, and the promotional video was as
equally cool, an urban short movie where t.v.’s fall from high windows, played out like some gritty, downtown cop movie. Killing Time is as equally industrial in its outlook, an echoing stride beyond the realms of thrash, fusing complex melodic rock with biting thrash fusion, and then we are back to the red-light coolness that only Mordred can create, the ska-influenced Downtown, like something from 'Starsky & Hutch', this slow-tempo number is straight from the San Francisco gutter, Holderby’s lyrics (even though the band often stated that Holderby wasn’t involved enough on the records!) a laid-back drool so cool that they wear shades. Downtown walks casually through a sound reminiscent of English band The Police (fronted by Sting), a strutting, smoking joint of a number shattered suddenly by the battering ram that is Progress, the true thrash number on the album, a spiteful attack on mankind’s harsh treatment of the Earth, and a number which sounds like a more modernised of say Fool’s Game’s faster numbers. The album ends with another laid-back, scratch-spliced injection, the arrogant Larger Than Life which would soon be echoed by the Vision EP title cut, Scott’s vocal buzz soaring from the debris of Pauses’ eccentric scratches and the chanted words of , “..stand my ground, won’t back down”, before the record finally stomps to its end, the needle lifts and there is silence. However, anyone in their right mind will reach for the needle immediately afterwards, just like I did, and once again sit through this black cauldron of a record, to pick out the stunning chords, the streetwise vocals, the trickling bass-lines, the complex drums and the variety of cool samples which a few years before the metal world would never of dreamed of having alongside thrash guitars.
In This Life is one of the finest, most inventive and original rock records ever made, for it’s time it is a milestone, an ignored landmark, but for this brief period, Mordred were selling out shows across Europe, the metal press ranted and raved about their style (the album received a five-K rating in Kerrang! Magazine) and their live shows, and bands from all over the world began to incorporate such styles into their own sound. However, the scene became a suffocating, sickly mess where quantity outweighed the quality. The main bands within the scene, i.e. Mordred, Faith No More, et al had to either move on or suffer tragically and go from cult stars to non-existent, and in the case of bands such as Mindfunk, that’s exactly what happened.

In This Life is a classic. Simply as that. A timeless record that puts today's so-called innovative artists to shame.



Backed with Superfreak.

Line-up the same as Fool's Game.


This is my original review which appeared on the EVERYDAY'S A MORDRED DAY website:
Scott Holderby - Vocals
Danny White - Guitars
Jim Taffer - Guitars
Art Liboon - Bass
Gannon Hall - Drums
Aaron (Pause) Vaughn - Turntables
Tracks: 1) State Of Mind 2) Spectacle Of Fear 3) Everyday's A Holiday 4) Spellbound 5) Sever & Splice 6) The Artist 7) Shatter 8) Reckless Abandon 9) Super Freak 10) Numb
When Mordred burst onto the scene, via Noise Records, with their debut record Fool’s Game, many people in the underground scene, whether press or fans, probably expected just another Bay Area ‘thrash’ record. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing, as during the late 1980’s, the San Francisco thrash scene was blossoming. Bands from New York to L.A. such as Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament and Exodus had already broken the heavy metal rules by playing a fast-paced, aggressive style of ‘metal’ that opposed all the ‘poser’ disguises, and relied on a furious, raw barrage of crunchy riffs, growled, seething vocals and vigorous drum blasts. To be a ‘thrasher’ was cool, during a time when metal was either sleazy, ‘glammy’ and leathery, or ‘devil’-induced but almost as corny as many artists waffled on about the dark side, drinking beer and girls, all the while being backed up by a plodding sound that was made world famous by artists such as Ozzy Ozbourne, Motley Crue and Kiss. Thrash was different. But so were Mordred.

The Mordred sound was fresh and exciting, despite lacking the true originality of their next effort, 1991’s In This Life. This defining quality was mostly down to the soulful, clear vocal delivery of Scott Holderby, and as time went by he would be put within a bracket of metal singers which ‘cool’ as a description, would be an understatement. Fool’s Game had the vital ingredient for the time; crunch. Riffs supplied by Danny White and Jim Taffer, skin-pounding from Gannon Hall and a grooved bass bellow from Art Liboon, and it certainly was an album of grooves despite having the usual thrash relation, which other bands such as Forbidden, Violence and Defiance took on board. And then there was the DJ! Aaron ‘Pause’ Vaughn who was to eventually become a full-time member of the band when they realised his street-wise scratchings were vital to their downtown atmospheres and industrial raps. On Fool’s Game it was the cover of Rick James’ Super Freak and the colourful Everyday’s A Holiday that set the standard for something very different. At the time ‘funkier’ rock acts such as Fishbone and Red Hot Chili Peppers were only just beginning to get noticed, their ‘sound’ perceived as far too different to melt into the world of heavy metal, so at the time this showed an almost ignorance within the scene and the press who said that ‘crossover’ was a risky business, because at the time, ‘metallers’ didn’t want any kind of rap, funk or soulful influence, but just straight down the line head-melting metal. Mordred suggested otherwise, despite the album’s classic moments coming from the thrash groove of State Of Mind and typical thrash chant of Shatter.
Lyrically here was a band shifting from political topics to random fun, all given that extra bite from the surging crunch sound, and Scott’s effortless, soulful croons which could at one moment become spiteful spits and the next, soothing, elasticated funky drools. Fool’s Game wasn’t really a hint as to what was to come, but Mordred had obviously found their niche early simply by risking the inclusion of a DJ, and giving their thrash crunch an interesting groove. It was now a matter of time before the crunch of Spellbound, or the pounding of Reckless Abandon would be tweaked into a cutting edge, self-styled groove way ahead of its time. But would the world be ready for Mordred ? Would metal be too restricted, too stale even for a band clearly light years ahead, yet risking being left behind due to lack of conformity ? No-one quite knew, but Fool’s Game was certainly one of the records that began a trend, that made ‘metal’ what it is today.

It's difficult to say as to whether a majority of today's crossover acts would exist if it were not for the Mordred sound, but what is certain is that the 'moment' which Mordred represented is most definitely a period of time within the metal genre that was far more important than many at the time realised, and Fool's Game remains one of the most important 'thrash' records of its era, and still sounds excitingly fresh today.



Two demo's emerged around 1986-1987, with several line-up alterations.

In 1984 Mordred were formed by bassist Art Liboon and guitarist James Sanguinetti. In '86 Sanguinetti quit the band to join Mercenary whilst Mercenary axeman Steve Soderlund joined the Mordred camp. At the time the band were fronted by Steve Skates with the subject matter of the band mainly focusing on issues of fantasy, like most metal bands of that time, whether inspired by the works of Tolkien or the dark side, although many of the Bay Area thrash acts often concentrated on local issues such as crime and politics.

Both demo outings were self-titled, although Soderlund left the act after only two gigs. The demo's also featured guitarist Alex Gerould and drummer Eric Lannon. Skates was eventually replaced by vocalist Chris Whitney and then Scott Holderby. Danny White (guitars) and Gannon Hall (drums) eventually joined the band, and Sanguinetti was to return later, although after the debut '89 opus Fool's Game which featured guitarist Jim Taffer.

So, Demo I, with a line-up of :

Steve Skates - Vocals

Art Liboon - Bass

James Sanguinetti - Guitars

Alex Gerould - Guitars

Eric Lannon - Drums

And featured 4 tracks:

1) Sever & Splice (which would go on to feature on Fool's Game)

2) Mordred

3) The Chains Are Gone But The Scars Remain

4) Spellbound (also to feature on Fool's...)

Demo II, line-up :

Scott Holderby - Vox

Art Liboon - Bass

Danny White - Guitars

Alex Gerould - Guitars

Eric Lannon - Drums

1) Reckless Abandon (another Fool's Game inclusion)

2) In Cold Blood

3) The Scars Remain

Both demo's were raw thrashy affairs, with that Bay Area crunch that would come to the fore on the debut album.
Demo II line-up.

Friday, February 2, 2007


For Mordred it began around 1984, but for me, and most fans, the introduction came via the musical term known as 'thrash' and the Bay Area of San Francisco had plenty of it. Heavy metal was big in the '80s, a time when it was actually cool to rebel in the name of Satan, cool to wear denim 'n' leather with patches, and record shops actually sold all the obscure vinyl you were after. Local stores sold all the 'metal' magazines, it was a genre feared by political groups, teachers and parents, and it was fresh, dark and exciting.

Originally, 'metal' was pretty bog-standard, many bands inspired by the pounding doom-laden riffs of Black Sabbath and boogie rock of Led Zeppelin, but by the mid-'80s 'thrash' metal was something bursting out from all over the world. The big boys at the time were Slayer, known for their blood-drenched lyrics from Hell, Anthrax, and their punky mosh stomp, Metallica, with their classical yet monstrous riffs, and Megadeth, intricate and complete with Dave Mustaine's sneer. In Europe bands such as Celtic Frost, Kreator and Voivod were branching out, their sound something harsher and more diverse, and snapping at the heels of the American giants were other crunching U.S. thrash acts such as Testament, Overkill and Exodus and the up and coming younger bands such as the impressive Death Angel, the frantic Violence and slower Forbidden. Thrash was big business, a huge part of the underground metal scene which was pretty much swamped by the death metal scene of the late '80s and early '90s, and eventually killed by the coming of 'grunge', although through all this many bands have been remembered, and some reformed.

Mordred, were unlike anyone else. Whilst other bands experimented, no-one, with the exception of Anthrax touched upon a hybrid, streetwise sound that mixed heavy soul with cutting edge metal, in turn blending hip-hop with technical thrash. And this kind of sound, tragically, and yet somehow triumphantly at the same time, came to the fore in the early '90s when 'heavy metal' became a place for experimental bands who became part of what was to become known as 'funk metal' which at the time meant anything with a funky bass, or in general, any band who jumped on a colourful bandwagon that simply meant creating a silly image instead of quality music. Whilst rock bands such as Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and to a lesser extent, Fishbone, Bad Brains, came to the fore, hundreds of other, more artificial bands swamped the better artists, making the whole brief genre something akin to a pile of technicolour vomit. Average, bog-standard metal bands, as well as thrash acts were getting in on the act, slapping the bass, wearing daft clothes and singing about what they considered to be quirky subjects, but the reality was, 'funk metal' was fake, and unfortunately for Mordred, in 1991, they were lumped in with hordes of bogus bands such as Ignorance, Scatterbrain, Scat Opera, Heads Up, FFW, despite creating their own soulful sound years previous, and although the moment allowed metal to spread its wings and offer us some excellent groups such as Mindfunk, I Love You, Saigon Kick, Liquid Jesus, Last Crack, some of these bands were simply way ahead of the genre, and tragically faded, leaving behind a handful of records now difficult to find, yet oh so precious.

Thankfully, Mordred's records are still out there, and also evidence that despite the intoxicating scenes they waded through, they were one of the greatest bands you never heard or saw, and those that were privileged to experience the band, can now relive such treasures via this blog.

Anyone who stashed their Mordred vinyl away should be ashamed of themselves, because the band and their records are timeless, and made all the more relevant when we continue to hear nowadays awful hip-hop/rock renditions which owe oh so much to the band that was Mordred.

It seems that some interest in the band has resurfaced, members of the band past, and more present, have come forward, reunions have taken place, and the word on the street is MORDRED, a band that eclipsed so many styles in two main records and an EP, yet which awfully stalled in its last throe, that being 'The Next Room' opus, but put that aside, and let us delve into the magic and innovation of a band that should never be forgotten, and hopefully this blog, dedicated to the band and all its members, should stand as a testimony to what was a great time, a great career, and once over, a great loss. There will always be a place in music for Mordred because they have no ties, no boundaries to restrict them, or trend to follow. They were originators. And still are. Just listen to those records and hear the sound of something new....
This blog would not have been made possible for it not for the following people:
Obviously, the band, particularly Scott Holderby, Danny White, Aaron Vaughn, Art Liboon, James Sanguinetti and Gannon Hall.
Also, I would like to thank Jez, for everything, plus, the zines, tape traders, magazines, venues etc, at the time for supporting the band, and also Terry and Alan who constructed the EVERYDAY'S A MORDRED DAY website which enabled the band to realise how much of a fanbase they will always have, and Jemma for support X