IMPALER "Still Shocking After All These Years" 

By Theron Moore

It was 1986 and I was doing my usual record crawl through Disc Records at Cherryvale Mall, Toad Hall and Appletree Records.  I always ran that circuit.  If it was a really good day, I might include Record Revolution in DeKalb on my trip.  And it’s always a Saturday.  I found Impaler’s “Rise of the Mutants” record at Disc.  They had a small but impressive underground / indie / import section that I was constantly pawing through, trying to find that rare, weird, inexpensive gem I could afford.  And that day I found it.  

Honestly, it was the cover of “Rise of the Mutants” that hooked me.  A heavy metal dude, covered in blood, possibly eating human flesh, whatever the case, it looked tough and I had to have it.  And I’ve been a fan ever since.  Recently I found Bill Lindsey on Facebook and decided I’d friend him and see what he had to say.  Super interesting guy.  I took the next step.  “Let’s do an interview Bill, I have the questions ready.”  Being the true rock trooper he is, he was down.  And I have to tell ya, I really enjoyed his interview a lot. And really humble, down to Earth…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES:  You saw some pretty massive shows growing up.  Let’s focus on two shows in particular.  First is ‪Alice Cooper.  I’m sure you’ve seen him multiple times.  Which show stands out in your mind as the best one, your opinion.  What year was it, what band(s) opened the gig, and if can, share some memories of it.  
BILL LINDSEY:  Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare tour. May 28 1975, Mets Center, Bloomington, Minnesota.  It was incredible on so many levels.  It was the first rock concert I ever attended and the whole experience blew my 13 year old mind.  My 11 year old brother and I went together. We had to purchase the tickets by mail order. We gave my Mom our paper route money and she cut a check and a few weeks later we had our golden passes to our first, of many rockin’ events.
Our parents dropped us off and we waded through a parking lot jammed with tribes off older teens. They were partying and tailgating, throwing frizbees. Deep Purple and old ACG blasting out of their car stereos. We experienced our very first merch booth inside. I bought a tour book. The James Gang was the support band even though Suzi Quatro was advertised. They were fine but I would have rather seen Suzi.  

Alice’s show was a massive stage set with light towers,  spider webs, video screen and a giant creepy bed and toy box.  The band was now made up of studio backing musicians which included the amazing Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter on guitars.  They all dressed as old style English undertakers with capes and top hats.  The whole show rocked and was an awesome visual presentation to say the least. This will always be one of my most influential concerts.  I saw Alice many more times over the years.  Next to this show The Nighmare Returns Tour was great because he came back to his horror rock roots and really pulled out all the stops for that show too. I so wish I could have seen the original Alice Cooper Group in their heyday. I was just a tad too young.  I believe they are one of the greatest American bands ever.
WC:  The second show is Led Zepplin.  Same as the first question.  What year was it, where was it, and what band(s) opened the gig, and if can, share some memories of it.  Tell us about it. 

BL  Zep was at the other arena in St Paul. The Civic Center 1977.  My friend and fellow paperboy Marty Strauss was a LZ freak! I loved them too but nobody loved that band more than Marty. He bought my ticket...$8.00!  We took the bus down and got swept into the area with the waves of concert goers. It was a BUSY place that afternoon.  

We went to the lower gates on the ground floor level. Everyone was packed in tight. As soon as the guards started to raise the gate, it went up garage door style. Everyone one crushed forward to get in fast. So the guard cut the power on the gate and it stopped about two feet from the ground.  He ordered everyone to move back. As this was happening Marty and I dropped to the floor and crawled between people’s legs on our hands and knees.  We crawled under the gate and stood up and handed the guard our tickets. He tore them and off we went. The first two people on the main floor!! 

We decided to take two seats on the side level with the stage. We didn’t want to get crushed up against the high stage when the arena filled in. Led Zep was the only act. No support bands.  They played like 3 hours and it was amazing!! They were on and sounded great.  Jimmy Page is such a showman and one of the greatest guitar players ever. Plant sounded great and Bonham and Jones were tight. The tour was for “Presence” and they played many tracks from it, including my favorites “Achilles Last Stand” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”.  Just being so close and seeing everything so well was beyond great.  Marty was so happy to be seeing his heroes live and I was so glad he got me a ticket. 
LZ became one of my favorite bands after seeing that concert.  I never saw a merch table at that concert so I didn’t buy anything. The place was so packed I think we were afraid we’d lose our choice seats if we left them for any reason.

WC:  Do you still have any merch you may have bought at the above two shows?

BL:  I bought an Alice Cooper tour book and after the show I went to the local record store and asked for the advertising poster on the wall.  I still have both.
WC:  Why in your opinion does the Midwest embrace rock N roll to the tight degree it does?  I mean, the Midwest appreciates it more than, say, the Southwest where I’m currently living.  What’s in the water up there?

BL:  That’s hard to say.  Impaler has played all over the country and it seems like people want to rock out everywhere.  We have a great scene here that goes all the way back to the 1950’s. But I think every region has that if you look for it.

WC:  Was Impaler the first band you started / joined?  If not, what bands were you in that came before Impaler?

BL:  My first band was called Blind Luck. We were teens and we practiced in Mark Lopez, our guitar player’s garage. I was lucky to find him and grow up musically with him because we was greater than he knew. We played covers like “Paranoid” and ‘Rocky Mountain Way” but more importantly began writing original songs immediately. So, I was able to express myself through lyric writing and singing our own songs.  
I was in a great band down in Texas called Megaton after I got out of high school. David Dillard was another great guitar player I was involved with there.  When I came back to Minnesota I got back together with Mark and we formed Fear No Evil which melded into Impaler after disbanding FNE.

WC:  How did the concept for Impaler come about?  Was it directly influenced by ‪Alice Cooper, per se, or were there other inspirations?  Movies, perhaps?  Which ones?‬

BL:  The original ACG was very much an inspiration. The raw kind of show they did. The songs they wrote.  Kiss, Angel, N.Y. Dolls, The Stooges, MC5 and The Plasmatics were also big with us.  Old school pro wrestling and comic books too. Impaler guitarist Mike Torok and I both bought loads of comics.  Too many bands to name were VERY important. From Sabbath and Zep to Slade and Sweet to The Godz and Starz to Van Halen and AC/DC.  Priest, UfO, Scorpions ...I hate to start naming bands because I’ll leave somebody out. Aerosmith!!  Newer bands like Motörhead and Venom were influential as well.

WC:  So, you guys are in Minnesota, and somehow snag a deal with IRD and Combat Records, or was it a distribution deal with Important?  How did it all happen?  Did you have management working for you?

BL:  No management, just me and people who were there to point us in the right direction.  There was a guy named Richard that was a local record importer. He told us to put together a press kit and he would send it to some labels he knew, along with our demo.  That’s how Important/IRD/Combat came into the picture.  Also friends who believed in us and helped in important ways.  
We had so many smart and talented people who helped us. Peter Davis from Your Flesh ‘zine booked most of our tour in ‘86. We had some “management” later on who worked with us but it always fell back to me. I appreciate them all for their efforts. 

WC:  Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you found out that Tipper Gore and the PMRC were calling Impaler obscene and a threat to the nation’s children with your music?
BL:  Mike Schnapp from Combat would call me up and tell me.  It was before cable TV and Mike or Allen Becker would call and say “Hey, your album was on Nightline last night” or “You were on Phil Donahue!”  It was exciting and they were the ones who told me about the PMRC.

WC:  You would’ve thought that that kind of PR would’ve snagged the band a big time record deal, maybe caught the eye of say, ‪Alice Cooper, who would’ve asked you guys to open for him on tour.  Why didn’t that materialize?‬

BL:  OMG! That would have been great!!  We did get tons of press in magazines and I was just so happy about it all. I have no complaints.  We did everything DIY.
WC:  Let’s get back to Minneapolis for a moment.  I always considered LA, NYC, Seattle, Minneapolis and Madison WI as having some of the strongest most prolific music scenes we’ve known.  Why do you think Minneapolis has always been so strong, especially on the hard rock / metal front? 

BL:  I think of Minneapolis as being more nationally known for a mix of Funk/R&B and Alt style music.  Prince, Flyte Tyme, Husker Du, The Replacements and Soul Asylum. As far as Rock and Metal it was us, Powermad, Kubla Khan, Coup De Grace, Earl Root’s band Disturbed, Slave Raider and later Dumpster Juice who were on labels. Many cool bands that only made demos. Vile, Death Squad, Iron Fist... Before our era there was Cain who was amazing! 
In recent memory Epicurian was signed to Century Media. Flipp and Morticia were Glam and Goth bands on labels.  Right now there a healthy Extreme Metal scene that is very productive.  But you’re right the Twin Cities is very prolific and diverse in styles and genres of music.

WC:  Are the alt-rock and punk bands cool with the metal guys in the local Minneapolis music scene, and vice versa?  It seems like it’s pretty tight. 

BL:  Last winter we did a benefit for Dale Nelson the singer of Otto’s Chemical Lounge who’s house burnt down.  It was a very rocking and very diverse line up.  Dave Pirner came backstage when we were getting ready and said he was looking forward to seeing us.  So it’s just very Minnesota nice like that. And of course Bob and Grant from Husker Du helped us out.
WC:  When we talk about local hard rock and metal, going all the way back to the 80’s, who needs to be mentioned in terms of who laid the foundation for the current scene in Minneapolis?

BL:  As far as being a full on original music metal/rock band we were the first in the 1980’s.Then things opened up as Metal was getting really big again from a commercial/business stand point. Then came Powermad, Slave Raider, Hericane Alice and Kubla Khan.
WC:  Tell me about Earl Root.  Impaler recorded for “Root of All Evil” records.  He was a highly prolific guy in that local scene.  I spoke to him several times regarding ‪Blue Cheer over the years before he passed.  How do we need to remember him in terms of his contribution to the local hard rock and metal scene in the Twin Cities?‬

BL:  Earl was at some of our very first shows. He was such a great supporter of bands throughout his life. He had his mitts in everything.  He had a record shop, a radio show and great bands.  He broke. a lot of bands local and national on his radio show.  Then he formed a label and our album “It Won’t Die” was the first Metal/Rock album to be released on his label.

WC:  Give me a few really good memories, good stories about Earl Root if you will…,

BL:  When he was able, Earl would come out on the road with us! It was always fun.  We played in Wisconsin and stopped off at The Eagles Ballroom to see The Darkness and Wildhearts on the way. He also was set up at all the big Fests we played.  So to say we partied and had fun is an understatement.  I remember at the end of a crack of dawn party. Earl was walking out of the hotel room but from the waist up he was leaning hard against the wall. LOL
WC:  All these years later, when you look at the local hard rock and metal scene of the Twin Cities, can you see the influence that Impaler has had, is it pretty obvious?  How so, can you talk about it?

BL:  I don’t like to talk in those terms. It makes me uncomfortable. That’s for others to say...Others can tell you if we made a difference or not. I like to think we inspired young musicians to play their own music and be creative.

WC:  Impaler has accomplished quite a bit.  What’s left for the band to conquer?

BL:  I’m not sure. Back in the 90’s we released our very first 7” and then our very first dvd. Last year we filmed our very first documentary. So we just keep on keeping on and love what we do. We’ll see what the future brings us.

WC:  Where do you see yourself and Impaler in five years, still cranking metal?

BL:  We love writing and preforming. So I see us continuing doing just that.

WC:  Have you accomplished everything you initially set out to do with Impaler, anything you’d do different, any regrets?

BL:  There’s always people out there who haven’t seen us yet. So we would like to give them the chance.If you had stopped me on my way in to see Alice Cooper in 1975 and showed me what would happen in my musical pursuits, my 13 year old self would have shit my pants with glee.It’s all been a dream come true and I’m so grateful for that, not regretful.
WC:  What can we expect from Impaler in 2018?

BL:  We are writing a new album right now.  Recording in the summer and releasing it in the fall.  I imagine we’ll play some shows too!