BearlySinister: I’m sitting here with Dan Spitz of Red Lamb. How are you doing today man?
Dan: Uh, we’re doing pretty good, y’know? Spent the afternoon here in Beaumont, we’re at a very very nice club and uh, nice projection, nice videos playing behind Kevin Roy, my new drummer. It feels very good to be here and to be back.
BearlySinister: You guys’ sound check sounded great!
Dan: Thank you very much, I greatly appreciate it
BearlySinister: Now this tour and the entire reason you started playing music again was to spread awareness for autism. As I understand, your 2 sons have it. How has this affected your outlook on life and tell us a little bit about some things you’ve done to help spread the awareness, outside of touring.
Dan: Well, y’know if I was gonna come back and live on a bus again and leave my identical twins, who are both autistic, it had to be to help someone in humanity or humanity across the board. Me and Kandi, my wife, who is also a huge advocate we’re getting a lot bigger and bigger. She travels the world speaking, she donates basically her entire life to an organization called Autism Speaks, which she is spokesperson for. She has her own television show coming out where she speaks about the subject. Autism Speaks is the largest global organization, they own that little blue puzzle piece that is the symbol of autism, they helped us tremendously four or so years ago when our children were diagnosed. Our children were not born with autism; I just wanna get that straight across the board. Our children were born normal; they were hitting every milestone ahead of most children. At 4 or 5 months they were already acting in movies and taking directions after that with Academy award-winning producers Sam Mendez and Maggie Gyllenhaal. They were in commercials with Brooke Shields. So they’re filmed by others, taking directions, walking, talking, jumping, normal kids; crazy kids, y’know? But they got their 12-month shots and the crazy kid Jaiden, who was the one who was probably going to be a motocross rider or something crazy, y’know *chuckles* jumpin’ off tables, he came home that day and laid on his little fold-out, little miniaturized bed thing and laid there for 5 days. We thought that was it. We gave him the “autism shot” But then he stopped that after 5 days, y’know? He played around, both of them and they were fine, but right around 17 months they started to unlearn what they knew. Within a 2 week period, they stopped talking, they stopped eye contact; didn’t want anybody to touch them. They were playing with motorized toys for 10-12 hours a day, consistently over and over and over and over again and we just lost em; Over a 2 week period. So I felt compelled in what I do, what I’ve done in the past, me and Scott, y’know, we set out to change the world with our little piece of guitar, wood and strings ourselves. There was no such thing as our kind of music and we don’t take “no” for an answer I mean, we tell the truth in our music and in our lyrics. So I felt compelled to do that in my field, because I saw there was advocates in movies for autism who, they live with a child with autism, they knew what they were speaking about and most other art fields; Racing, motocross, wherever, you pick it and there was zero in music. There was benefits here and there, y’know? But nobody on a permanent basis bringing awareness and truth, the truth can only be told in metal. You’re not gonna get it in pop music, it’s gonna be sugar-coated in some way or some form. A pop star can get a message out very big and very fast but it’s gonna die fast cuz it’s not gonna be the truth and it’s not gonna be forever and consistent. So I set out to play again and got some incredible help from Dave Mustaine, my good friend from Megadeth who co-wrote all the lyrics, he co-produced the Red Lamb album with me, it was an extremely slow process because we have autistic children. It’s taken 4 years to get to this point. So here we are on the bus and we’re at the infancy stage of what I do best, which is play live and play live and play live and we just did something a little different and we took all the loving people that wanted to help us and we put their name on the bus and we wrapped the bus. The bus will stay like this forever, it’s not an autism “this tour” with that name on it, no matter who we play with or where we play the bus stays the same, it’s just an awareness bus.
BearlySinister: That’s a great, great cause to be advocating.
BearlySinister: Your new band, Red Lamb, is awesome. I’ve been listening to them for a few months, so I’m kind of fairly new to the band, but you have a great message to put out. How did you come up with the name?
Dan: Dave and I were struggling back and forth for about 3 months for a name, which we thought would be easy *chuckles*. It was actually twice as long and I sliced it in half. I knew he had it when he sent it, but it just had to be twisted or something and we came up with it in that fashion. It comes from a portion of the bible in Revelations and it’s basically the symbol of Christ. The slain lamb and you’ll see on our album with the 7 horns. If you read Revelations, you’ll find this spot. So the band has a two-fold meaning, cuz we also give a good message within our songs. Dave and I are born-again Christians so… you get a double-fold message throughout what I do.
BearlySinister: I’ve definitely seen and heard that in the album. Well, you mentioned earlier that the writing process for the Red Lamb debut was pretty slow, but what was it like? Other than being slow, was it a fun process? Was it like, “holy crap, I’m getting out and doing this again”?
Dan: No, there’s two different folds to this. It was slow because of my children. My studio is home and we have interruptions or meltdowns or disasters in our home pretty much on a minute by minute basis and we don’t know how long they’ll last and so on and so forth. In the old days, I could lock myself in my room for endless hours, days, go in the studio and do what I had to do or go to a studio. You can’t do that anymore when it’s a disaster, it’s just me and Kandi who have to take care of that disaster. They don’t respond to strangers, they don’t leave the house. They just have their rituals every day that have to be followed every time of day, everything that there is. There’s a blue cup and it gets half full and it gets placed at that spot on the floor before they drink it; it has to be that way. So there’s those things that are interruptions in the writing process, which is one of the reasons it took so long but the main reason is: If I was gonna do something new and start over, I had to come up with a sound that was the sound you could recognize pretty instantly of what Red Lamb is or the new way and direction I wanted it to be. As was Anthrax unique, I’m not just gonna sit and do a continuum of what runs through my veins, which is Anthrax. I wasn’t “a guy” in Anthrax, I wasn’t “a lead guitar player”. Anthrax is me. Me and Scott started it, it’s something you can’t take it out of my blood when I play. If I play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” it’s gonna sound like Anthrax. Y’know what I’m trying to say? So I had to come up with certain chord progressions and so on and so forth which took almost a year and then one day, I just said “there it is! There’s the sound of what, I think, maybe 10% or so of the future of where I think this genre could go and the angle. You hear it just at sound check, you heard it and you go “why are they playing, it almost sounds like the Chili Peppers or funk or something?” It’s no rules, but there’s rules. Y’know? There was never any rules in Anthrax, that’s why you had the first band to fuse metal and hip hop. So I wanted the same thing for Red Lamb but just in a different fashion and a real straight-forward way. That’s what you have with Red Lamb and that’s kinda what took so long, it wasn’t just gonna be speed metal, y’know what I’m saying? It’s gotta be something where people watch the show or they listen to a song and they’re so freakin’ confused and all they get out of it is like a big question mark but at the end they go “But that was really freakin’ cool!” Y’know, it takes time to digest and there’s a lot of information.
BearlySinister: You toured a lot in the past, most notably with your other band Anthrax. What has tour life been like so far being in Red Lamb versus being in Anthrax?
Dan: Well, we’re a four-piece, so that took a lot for me to go to my playing at the bar days where I haven’t done that since kinda then, I made that decision early on that I did not wanna play with another guitar player because I am rhythm and lead and of course I am gonna do some of MY songs from Anthrax, y’know, they’re my songs and I’m the only one walking the planet that can play all the leads because I wrote them. So when someone sees them and hear’s Donnie sing them, because he can clone another singer, any singer, he becomes that singer, as most people probably know now because they still all think that Dave Mustaine sang on our album. I was blessed to find Donnie because now I can do the Anthrax songs and it doesn’t sound “like” someone it can be a John Bush song or a Belladonna song and he’s like one of those comedians that mimic people, but it’s not like he sings “like” Rob Halford, like he becomes the dude. It’s scary, y’know it really is scary so I’m blessed with that and we’re able to run the gamut of what we really wanna do. Donnie is really more of a Myles Kennedy kind of singer at heart, but we curved him in Red Lamb so that Red Lamb would be part Dave Mustaine, part Dan Spitz because that’s really what it’s supposed to be when you first listen to it. But when you come see us live, and you’ve already heard, you get to hear the album but you get to go “wow, that boy can sing!” So, live is always a different experience for our music. I work very very hard with Kevin and LG, who plays the 6-string bass, y’know he’s more like a jazz-fusion…sick bass player but he’s a metalhead. He plays a 6-string bass and the musicianship is intense and that’s the kinda band I wanted to put together and that’s where we’re at. So the touring for me is great because I have musicians of a caliber that are beyond, beyond the beyond so it’s so much fun to play. Being on a bus again? I feel normal, for the first time in a long time. I’m not in Switzerland fixing watches where I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin but had to do something to become a master watch-maker. So I feel normal again, I feel normal being around my best friend who’s my tech and it just feels normal again. Except I miss my wife terribly, who stays on my computer all day lookin’ at me and I miss my children.
BearlySinister: I’ve understood just from what I’ve heard and read that a tour life can be very hard, in the aspect that you don’t really get much time with family and with friends and you’re not home as much. You always have that kind of homesick feeling, I guess.
Dan: Only people know are starting to understand, y’know? In the old days, before internet and cell phones and Skype, it was surely a lot worse for me. It’s a little easier now, but because we have autistic children, we have severe problems. But I have to do something. My goal is not to do this, my goal is that hopefully some of the people that I helped on the way up in Anthrax and who opened for Anthrax when we were huge or semi-huge and now they’re huge, they’re still here, they’re still my friends I just haven’t seen em in a little while. Somewhere along the line, somewhere in one of their families is gonna be a kid with autism on the spectrum. We call it ASD. It’s everywhere, it’s on every block now and my dream and my hope is that these people will go “Spitz is playin’ again?!” They won’t know until they play, even though Dave Mustaine and I did an album and it’s been out awhile, no one still really knows. In metal, no one really knows anything until you play and of course we have a band that’s just a steamroller and as the friends we are in metal, that we come together in strength because metal is so powerful and we do put together that permanent, kind of package deal not one stupid festival, y’know? Like, let’s go out and there’s the bus again, we’re just trying to bring that awareness because there’s a lot of people in our genre our age who are about to have children or just had their children and they should be aware of the tell-tale signs of someone who has autism; someone reversing what they knew and not listening to our past grandparents or our parents. The statistics are 1 in every 54th boy born is gonna be on the spectrum. Your mom telling you, y’know “oh, don’t worry, you didn’t talk til you were 4 and a half” y’know? You listen to them and it’s too late to mold the mind and really get some help. That’s all we’re doing is just the awareness factor of what we call “early intervention.” We’re not sellin’ nothin’. I’m not sellin no cream you put on your body. It’s metal style it’s just I play my music, come out to the bus, take a picture and YOU spread the awareness. I’m doing what I can do, I can only do so much. Come up to the bus, take a picture in front of the bus, put it on the freakin’ internet and go “idiot Spitz is trying to do something with his autism thing” Fine with me because someone will see that and maybe they’ll go to the Autism Speaks site when they have a question in their mind. Cuz when you’re havin a baby and you’re on the hospital floor, there’s about 50 doors on each floor. Well, one of those doors, somebody’s gonna be on that spectrum. There’s no other disease like it where statistically, you can combine most of the largest diseases in the world and you’re not comin’ close to 1 in 54. And we’re the disease with the least funding so…. Awareness counts.
BearlySinister: Well, I know you gotta get going, get playing. I really, really appreciate it man. It’s great meeting you, looking forward to seeing the rest of the live show other than just sound check. Really really looking forward to that and I greatly appreciate you sitting down and doing this with us.
Dan: It’s my pleasure, most certainly. Thanks for taking your time and driving out here and comin’ out here.
Jessica: Oh, we were happy to *chuckles* We were excited!
Red Lamb works with 2 organizations with the shirts that they sell at shows. One goes to Autism Speaks and the other goes to Rock the Autism which puts musical instruments into the hands of children on the autism spectrum and into the schools. Go out to a show, take a picture in front of the bus and help spread the awareness!