A sonic metal assault that leaves audiences pumped with adrenaline, Detroit’s Battlecross are one of the true champions of American Heavy Metal. With elements of upbeat thrash, European, death, and southern metal, Battlecross brings back the old school thrash, heavy groove, harmonizing guitars, epic guitar solos, dynamic death-style vocals and impressive bass work that makes their blend a fast favorite with headbanging fans.
Ghettoblaster recently had the pleasure of catching up with guitarist Tony Asta to discuss pizza by the slice at Wine Depot, Ted Nugent, DTE, Beer Fest and all the other things that make living in South Warren Michigan not suck. This is what he told us about his stomping grounds.
What’s your town’s nickname?
South Warren (Warren, Michigan)
What’s your nickname for your town?
Just plain old Warren, haha!
Why do you live there?
I moved in with my girlfriend (now wife) in 2010, because she grew up here all her life. Our house is a quarter mile from 8 Mile, which is the boarder between Detroit and Warren.
Did you grow up there? If not, what brought you there?
No, actually I grew up in Canton, Michigan. Some people think if you’re from Canton than you’re more “well off” but that’s just as much of a misconception is as people from Warren are hillbillies or ruthless thugs. Which neither aren’t true at all but I admit this area is a little more blue collar. I moved closer to Detroit to live with my wife and also because the band’s official practice space was in Warren at the time (in 2010). As of 2012 the band’s practice space is now in my basement, haha!
What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?
One time a pizza guy got robbed at gun point and knocked on my front door for help. They stole his money and his phone. My wife let him in for shelter as he was pretty freaked out. The cops showed up and everything.
What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
Locally, if I have the cash I love to go downtown Detroit to see a game (Lions, Tigers, Red Wings). There are also some neat bars downtown, I was down at the Old Shillelagh last weekend for my cousin’s 30th birthday.
What is your favorite local event or festival?
I really love going to BeerFest but I usually miss the majority of them because I tour so much with Battlecross. The one out in Ypsilanti was the most memorable. Hiran, Mike (former drummer), and I were wasted wrestling in the grass in the pouring rain. I’ll never forget it! Go to your local beerfest.
What is the best time of year to be there?
Spring and Fall are the best. There’s more to do when it’s nice and warm out, not too hot not too cold. Even going out with friends it more enjoyable because, aside from rehearsal or writing, I usually do things outside. Bonfires, camping, fishing, etc.
Who is your favorite local celebrity?
Jimmy Hoffa! Jk, I don’t know. How about Ted Nugent, he rocks pretty hard and paved the way for a lot of bands. Some people have issues with this politics, but I just find it interesting and admire his tenacity, attitude, and personality.
Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?
This is a bad question for me because I like either cheap beer or free beer. So that means I don’t really go out to the bars the much, only on occasion. There is the Motor City Bar right by my house, walking distance. We went there after a Lions game for my bachelor party. It wasn’t exactly happy hour though, it was more like “sober-up” hour.
Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
No one around here has the best jukebox, it’s all hippity hoppity pop and rap. Or we can just call it garbage.
Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?
My favorite local place to play is the Token Lounge in Westland, Michigan. I grew up going to the Token, I think we all did, and I couldn’t wait for the chance to be up on that stage. I consider it our hometown venue honestly and about once a year Battlecross will play there. I love playing at the Token and I also love playing at the Machine Shop out in Flint. The Majestic, St. Andrews, and Harpos are all cool places but I just don’t have the history there.
Does where you live influence your music?
Yeah, for me it’s on many levels. Once I hit college things got real, like they do for many people, but that continued education was always meant for the backup plan. I moved around a lot and had many different jobs, mostly labor intensive. I always worked hard, breaking my back, striving to make ends meet so I could continue doing what I love. It was the only option. Shooting for a cookie cutter career doing something I hate was not even a possibility. Everything I’ve ever done since I was a teenager was based around making a life in the music industry doable as a musician. It’s not easy, 99% of “musicians” just quit for various reasons. There is a lot of sacrifice from day one and every decision made has an affect down the road. It starts with priorities and drive and pretty soon those sacrifices are just part of everyday life and aren’t sacrifices anymore. Living where I live now is a strong influence to be successful. It’s not that I don’t like Warren/Detroit, but I’d prefer to move further from the congestion of the city and one day raise a family. I also think it’s tough to be noticed here. It’s almost like no one would expect a thrash metal band from Detroit to really be worth a damn. I have to give The Black Dahlia Murder credit for breaking down some boundaries.
What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
One of my favorite concerts was Down at Harpos in Detroit a few years back when they released their third studio album Over the Under. I don’t particularly like Harpos but that show was unbelievable. Another awesome place is DTE Energy Music Theater (most of us call it Pine Knob) in Clarkston, Michigan. I’ve seen everyone from Black Sabbath to Tool, Judas Priest to Megadeth at that place. I even got to play there during the Rockstar Energry Drink Mayhem Festival 2012. Although the Jager stage was set up in the parking lot, not in the pavilion.
What is your favorite local band?
My favorite local band when I first started going to shows was the Lansing metal band Summer Dying. They broke up long ago but they were a huge influence on me and also Hiran, my fellow guitarist. Locally nowadays I’m really digging bands like Writhing, Imminent Sonic Destruction, Wulfhook, Simple Machine, Nothing For Now, Scorned Deity, and 3 Parts Demon.
What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
Nothing special here but my wife and I really love Pizza Hut. We split bread sticks and a large pizza.
What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
There aren’t too many records stores around anymore but one place I’ve gone to for years is called Rock Of Ages in Garden City, Michigan. I grew up going there for cds, concert tickets, magazines, t shirts, window stickers, you name it. Rock Of Ages presently has our albums and merch for sale. Pretty cool how it all comes back around.
What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
I don’t have a favorite, but I do like to check out the Detroit Metro Times here and there because they have concert listings, classifieds, etc.
What is your favorite local shop?
A couple miles from here at Van Dyke and Stevens is a liquor store called The Wine Depot. They have the best pizza-by-the slice I’ve ever had. Been going there since I moved out this way.
If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
Someplace warmer year round! I’ve been all over the U.S. and my favorite state is Texas. We are touring Europe in February so, who knows, I might find a new favorite place 🙂
(Visit Tony and Battlecross here: https://www.facebook.com/battlecrossmetal.)