Danny Blaze – Guitars
Steve Gaines – Vocals, Bass
Sin Quirin – Guitars
Rigo Amezcua – Drums
Who’da thunk that an independently released Thrash album would be reissued 20-odd years later? Yet, here we are in 2013. Imagine my surprise when I received a message in my ‘other’ inbox on Facebook from a guy named Glenn Wrigley – the US representative of Italian based Minotauro Records. He was a fan of Tactics, and began asking if we would ever consider reissuing the Tactics material. We started chatting, I reached out to Sin, and he was as stunned as I was. A contract was signed, and here we are, wondering how to recap our history? Here it is –
In 1986, I found myself starting a new band – Tactics. Fresh out of Abattoir with a chip on my shoulder, I sought to make my mark on the metal world. A lineup was put together that included guitarist Danny Blaze, and drummer Tommy Montes. We quickly recorded the song ‘Take No Prisoners, Spare No Lives’ and released it on Metal Massacre Vol. 8 (Metal Blade Records). Although we toured with Motorhead and The Plasmatics, this incarnation was short lived. In late 1987 I returned to Bloodlust to record the Terminal Velocity EP. As Bloodlust disbanded in 1989, I found myself looking to kickstart Tactics –this time doing it right. And the first person I met was Sin Quirin.
Sin was (is) a monstrous guitar player, and a hell of a great guy. There are very few really genuine people in this horrible ‘business’ – but he is one of them. We hit it off immediately, and our songwriting was similar, drawing from the same influences. He came into Tactics in 1989, and was there until the end 10 years later. But, I digress…
We very quickly had a lineup together, and ambitiously worked towards recording our debut album “The Master Plan”. The idea was to release it independently on our own label – ABO Records (ABO – All By Ourselves), and be able to ‘sell’ it to a larger label when the time came. The Master Plan was released in November 1991 – containing 9 songs, most of which were written by me for Abattoir’s The Only Safe Place album. Many compared Tactics to Abattoir, and rightly so. (I guess Abattoir ultimately did too – as they ended up using the title track ‘The Master Plan (Panic)’ on their record anyway… without my permission. Again, I digress). The response to this album was phenomenal, and we were quickly hailed as the forerunner of LA Thrash Metal… this at a time when the industry (in the US, anyway) was turning their back on metal.
Personnel changes occurred, bringing Danny Blaze back to the band in 1992, as well as a drummer named Rigo Amezcua (later of Agent Steel, Masters Of Metal). Thus began our most prolific and creative period. Still riding the wave of good fortune from the “MP” release, we were selling out venues, touring the US, and actually enjoying significant radio play. At this time we started to record our sophomore effort entitled “Prey upon the Weak” (The album was never completed). 2 of the tracks – specifically the title track, and the now classic “Leave Me Alone” (an epic rant about everyone telling you what to do) received regular rotation on KNAC – FM radio in Los Angeles. “Leave Me Alone” was in the top 5 most requested songs of the year 1993, and we also won the Los Angeles Songwriter’s Showcase (all styles of music, not just metal) in 1993. The year culminated with a sold out headlining concert at The Palace Theatre in Hollywood CA. I can vividly recall the 4 of us after the show, sitting in the loading dock of the venue, loading out our equipment. We were exuberant about the show, and the future. I also recall a sense of doom – that another shoe would drop.
It started when I was on a phone call for another venue in Los Angeles. The talent buyer was well aware of our sold out Palace show, and excited about booking us – until he said “wait – you guys are a Metal band?” “Yes, we are.” He hung up. Shortly after that, we attended the Concrete Marketing Foundations Forum, set up a table and started promoting. What happened next I realized only in hindsight was an error. Our table was surrounded 4 people deep by Metal fans – FROM EUROPE. We had spent so much time concentrating on cracking America that we forgot about Europe. We had blown years of PR by being ignorant of what was still happening in Europe. Also, we had a personnel change, bringing in a new drummer.
Things started well, until one night this drummer decided to punch a concrete wall – shattering his forearm. It happened in our rehearsal room, right in front of us. We were immediately sidelined for about 9 months, while he healed up.
Momentum is a fickle thing… if you stop, you are dead. While we were at a standstill, we decided to throw our full effort into a home video on VHS – a 30 minute long documentary about the band, chronicling what we had done, presenting it to those who may just be hearing of us for the first time (“In your home, in your head” video is included in this package). It was a great effort, and bought us time – while moving forward (if you see this video, look closely at how many times you see the drummer in a full arm cast…). As our drummer’s injury healed, he quit on us – so the end result is we pissed away almost all of 1994.
Drummers at this point became a revolving door. We split time between Rigo, Tommy Montes, JD Flores, Will Shelly, Armando Zuniga (from St. Vitus – believe it or not), Ivan DePrume (White Zombie)… these guys all came and went. But the music? ALWAYS first rate. We worked with various producers, did some experimental things… To say we may have lost focus would have been fair.
Towards the late 90’s, the backlash against any kind of metal, no European foothold, and an influence of some of the newer things happening in Los Angeles, crowds started to dwindle… enthusiasm started to wane. But we pressed on. When Blaze left… the fire was gone. I can clearly recall our last rehearsal. It was spring 1999. Sin and I were trying to work on some music, but we had a new member whose focus was not like ours. It was futile… it was the end. I remember Sin leaving the rehearsal room. He didn’t say anything, but the look on his face said it all. He had an offer to go on tour with another band (which opened some amazing opportunities for him), and I suddenly found myself back with Abattoir.
Regrets? Few. Victories? Countless. We rode that band from beginning to end, left no stone unturned, and squeezed every drop out of it that we could. The funny thing? The core of guys who were most notably there – me, Sin, Rigo, Tommy, and Dan – when you put us together in a room, we pick up exactly where we left off – almost to the sentence and word. Many people ask if we would ever consider playing together again. Yes, in one respect. In that as musicians, we work together really well… and would enjoy jamming together. But no – in that we have no unfinished business to attend to. The band is done.
-S. Gaines, June 2013