David Reffett

MER: What made you go for the name Shredding The Envelope?

D.R: Well that’s the name of one of the songs on this record, which is all about living life to the fullest and not being afraid to fail. To me, the name is all about pushing the boundaries to the absolute breaking point and not letting anyone tell you that you cannot do what you want. The name does not refer to shredding on the guitar, although we do play very well. To me it is more about expanding what is possible and taking things to a new level. I know that because shredding is in the name of the band there will always be people who will pigeonhole us, but for me it has nothing to do with a genre. Instead, it’s about a particular attitude that I try to live by. I probably should have picked a more acceptable name, but Kiss and Metallica were already taken.

MER: Can you elaborate why Old School Metal is so important to you? And, why is it so important for a Metal band or project to look to the roots of what made Metal what it is today?

D.R: Well to me you have to know the greats: Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, Megadeth, etc. These are the greats. They are the bars at which we all have to aspire to become. If you can’t be as good as them or better, then you better pack it in and go home. So yeah, Old School Metal, Great Metal, whatever you want to call it, the old stuff appeals to me in a big way. I see so many bands today that just want to try out their best Cookie Monster impression, and with a lot of them I’m left wondering where’s the hook, where’s the melody, where’s the song? With the greats it’s unmistakable, the intention is there, the feeling, the power, the emotion it is all there and it is real. In addition, many of these new bands should not even write lyrics because you can’t understand anything they say anyway.

MER: Please share your thoughts regarding the special mixture between Thrash and Guitar Shredding. Do you think shredding was the purpose of Thrash all along because it’s a fast-paced subgenre?

D.R: Bands that were referred to as Thrash to me always were just better.Moreover, for me, I really gravitate towards the bands that can actually really play too … like Testament, Overkill, Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax. To me you just cannot mess with those bands. Many have tried and failed and that is just the stuff that excites my heart, you know. I could make a hell of a lot more money playing Lady Gaga tunes or something like that, but this kind of stuff is what gets me pumped up. Many people think Metal is just a phase their kid is going through, or whatever, but that is why we keep coming back to this stuff is because it is great. All these bands are maybe even more relevant than they were thirty years ago, and that speaks for itself.

MER: On the new album you participated with some big time stars such as Joe Stump, Michael Angelo Batio, George Lynch, Chris Poland, and Glen Drover. Except for Joe Stump who you already knew, how did you meet the others and what were their reactions towards your presented material?

D.R: Well first off, I went to go see Michael Angelo at a guitar clinic. I’ve always been a fan of his and on the ride up I thought to myself, “hell man, I might as well ask him, all he can do is so no”. So, I asked him and he had me send some more information and after a few days he got back to me and was on board. So, then I thought, “man, I wonder who else I can get?” Then I put my dream team together and started contacting people … hitting them up on their Websites and Myspace and stuff and then like 90% of the people I contacted said, ”man, the tunes sound great … let’s make it happen”. Overall, I am thrilled with how it turned out. Had you told me when I was 13 listening to my Peace Sells But Who’s Buying CD that Chris Poland would someday play on my record, I would have been floored and it has been a really thrilling experience to play with all these phenomenal people and musicians.

MER: There are so many good labels out there … it’s hard to understand why Shredding The Envelope, as a good Metal act as it is, hasn’t landed a contract with the big boys.

D.R: Well, it’s a sad state the music business is in right now, and it’s been that way for a long time. When a new Ozzy record comes out and only debuts with about 60,000 albums sold, you know there is a big problem. Many bands do not put out a whole lot of new stuff anymore because there is no infrastructure to support it. Like Kiss, who just finally put out a new record after over a 10 year wait. That’s a band that knows that touring is their bread and butter and that any new record in this modern age is going to be stolen. They only made that record because they knew it was great and wanted to have fun with it. You can’t steal a concert ticket … you’d get your ass kicked … so that’s where they make their living. They come out with a CD, which promotes the tour, which promotes the toys, which promotes the tampons, or whatever, and on it goes. So, anyway, until the system is fixed, labels will continue to go the way of the dinosaur. Even the big 4 major labels right now are hurting badly due to piracy, the economy, poor management, and let’s face it — material that mostly sucks. People got sick of buying an album that had one good song on it and 11 insults to your intelligence. I do not need a label. When I sell a record, the royalty I pay myself is 6 or 7 dollars a record. At a label, you’ll be lucky to get a dollar per record. Nevertheless, even that amount you will never see unless you sell tons of copies, because you have to pay back any money they give you at a ridiculous rate. In most cases, labels are like loan sharks or the mafia. Let’s say you borrow $100,000 from a label to make a record, and your royalty is 1 dollar per CD sold. Now let’s say the record sells 100,000 copies, which is hard to do these days, by the way, and from those 100,000 copies you have now broken even on your debt. Meanwhile the label keeps the $1,000,000 dollars that were made at retail from those CDs, and you still have not seen a dime. Nevertheless, chances are neither have they, because promotion, marketing, etc … are not cheap. Which is why a lot of labels will just throw a bunch of stuff up against the wall to see what sticks, and most don’t. So, that’s when bands get burned, because if the sales aren’t there right off the bat, you’re done. It’s sad because people forget there used to be a thing called artist development … where a label would actually believe in a band and work with them to make it happen. Like Kiss, they didn’t become a success until their fourth record … the first three bombed. But, Casablanca Records knew they had a goldmine on their hands. Nowadays, if the first record underperforms, you are done. And the deals they’re going to give you just plain suck nowadays unless you have the clout of say a Metallica where you can demand a fair royalty and ownership of your master recordings along with publishing and merchandising rights. In this day in age, you can sell 10,000 records on your own and make a hell of a lot more than you would by selling 100,000 on a label, and you’ll own everything and never have to answer to people who usually have no clue what they’re talking about. I was in negotiations, and got really close to signing with a very big label who will remain nameless, and the advance they were bouncing around was way less than what the album cost to make. So, yeah the good ole days are over, sadly.

MER: What drove you to write with such anger?

D.R: Well, I’ve been through a lot of crazy stuff in my life. Depression, drugs, a rough childhood, etc… so music has been the catharsis and has healed me in many ways. Without music, I can tell you right now I wouldn’t be here today. Music is life. So, yeah, sometimes the harsh stuff and anger comes out, but that’s what allows me to release it, deal with it, and have a happy existence. I’m in a very good place right now, and music is that release that keeps me held together.

MER: What is The Call Of The Flames for you besides just an album or just a name?

D.R: Well, the song “The Call Of The Flames,” which my fiancée Nancy and I wrote, is about that first time when you see the light and it hits you like a ton of bricks. Like when you realize, “yeah, man, this is what I was put here on earth to do” … like finding your destiny and following your dreams. I’ve lived so many of my dreams that a lot of people would have told me were nothing but fantasy. But, I believe that if you work hard and believe in yourself you can achieve anything. I’m still amazed at all the things that have happened for me. I work really hard to stay inspired and I push for the sky and it’s incredible how often it pays off. Like I’m going to be featured soon in Guitar World magazine, which is the biggest guitar magazine in the world. I’ve been reading that since I was like 12 years old. Had you told me as a little kid that I would be in Guitar World someday, I would have probably laughed at you. So, I had to teach myself to believe in me and to fight for what I believe in. And, it’s an honor to be getting the recognition that I’m getting.

MER: Please tell our readers about yourself … your experience as a Shred Guitarist, a Metalhead, and your early occupation after you finished Berklee. Do you have any positive recollections of those early times?

D.R: My time at Berklee was great … it’s such a fantastic place where you can really spread your wings and find out who you are and what you’re made of. There weren’t many Metalheads there when I went. There are many more now, but I had a great time learning from all the Jazz greats and from all the music historians. That stuff made my Metal that much better. It’s like when you’re cooking … if all you ever have in the cupboard is cinnamon, you’re going to get bored pretty damn quickly. But, if you have tons of stuff to draw from, you’ll always be able to cook something that you love. And, what is so great about Berklee is if you really really wanted to learn how to swim, then you had to jump right into the deep end. Most musicians stay in that shallow water their whole life because they’re afraid. I’m not afraid, I never want my fans to pick up a new CD of mine, and say, “man he did this song on the last 3 albums”. So, I say learn as much as you can from everything and you’ll thrive.

MER: What is up next for Shredding The Envelope? Will you form an official band for touring? Is there new material in the pipeline?

D.R: I’m doing some guitar clinics, and I hope to have a tour at some point. I’m looking for some great musicians who are also good people, which is very hard to find. As far as new material, I have about 5 albums all written and ready to go … not to mention hundreds of hours of riffs that I have on my little Sony recorder. The next album, which I think will be called Stories For The Beast, is being arranged now and put into its final editing stage. It’s going to absolutely rule and be even better than this record. I’m so excited about it, it’s going to be way over the top with a billion awesome riffs and will be much heavier in terms of tone and production. I’m working on narrowing it down. The hard part is figuring out what not to play because there are so many killer riffs.

MER: Dave, thank you for taking time out for this interview from Metal Express Radio. Good luck with the debut, and take care!

D.R: Thank you so much. Rock on!


  • Lior Stein

    Lior was a reviewer, DJ and host for our Thrash Metal segment called Terror Zone, based out of Haifa, Israel. He attributes his love of Metal to his father, who got him into bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, Boston, and Queen. When he was in junior high he got his first Iron Maiden CD, The Number Of The Beast. That's how he started his own collection of albums. Also, he's the guitarist, vocalist and founder of the Thrash Metal band Switchblade. Most of his musical influences come from Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, Overkill, and Annihilator.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.