August 28, 2012 | By Dale Huffman (Metal Pulse Radio)
(This article was featured in Heaven’s Metal Fanzine October 2012)
Dale had a chance to speak with Scott Waters from Ultimatum to discuss the band’s 20th anniversary and their latest happenings!
How are you doing Scott?
Scott: Doing great! Thanks for asking.
What did you do with your year and a half sabbatical?
During that year off, Alan was healing from surgery on his elbow. Robert hooked up with his ex-Angelic Force singer and formed Blue Ruin. They are still performing. My wife and I moved in with my mother-in-law for several months to help take care of her. She was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. That time was rough on my whole family, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. She was wonderful lady and it was worth the time we spent with her. Despite the hard work and tears, there was also plenty of laughter and good times.
Congratulations to you and the band on your 20th Anniversary! I see you have put out a new box set to celebrate. Who came up with the idea of releasing a box set?
Scott: It was a joint effort between myself and Bill Bafford at Roxx Productions. It originally started out as a new EP but then the idea came for a 20th Anniversary release with new songs and old songs. Then Bill wanted to do something really special, so he came up with the idea for the box set. After that, we threw around ideas as to what should be in the box. We finally pegged it down.
What comes in the set?
Scott: Three CDs; the remastered and expanded version of Puppet of Destruction, a CD of studio outtakes and demos that the band recorded before Into the Pit. That CD will have the entire track listing from Into the Pit in alternative mixes, demos and production tracks. There’s also a ton of bonus tracks on it with more alternative mixes and production tracks. The new CD, “Heart of Metal – 20 Years of Ultimatum”. It will be packed full of remastered songs from the band’s past and four new songs. The new CD will have a sixteen page insert with tons of photos of the band and quotes from friends and fans of the band. There will also be a DVD that is to include two full live shows that were recorded in California and the official Heart of Metal video clip.
The box itself is all black with white lettering and a silver foil embossed Ultimatum logo. The extras include four autographed photographs, a signature Robert Guiterrez guitar pick, a Heart of Metal stitched patch and a sticker of the CD artwork. It’s a very nice collection and limited to only 100 hand-numbered copies.
There’s been some controversy over the new cover art. What’s your take on it?
Scott: Well, the whole concept was my idea. I had originally wanted Rex Zachary to do the illustration. Rex had done the Into the Pit cover. However, Rex didn’t have the time so Roxx suggested a different artist.
Originally the illustration was to be a musclebound metal-head with a metal heart in his hand. It ended up being a caricature of myself in my stage garb ripping out my own metal heart and offering it to the audience. It’s suppose to have a comic book feel. I really like it. It has created some strong feelings. People either love it or hate it. I suppose that’s a good thing. It gets people talking and people notice it. The cover was drawn by artist Dave Besanson.
Let’s turn our attention to 20 years as a Christian Metal band. What changes have you seen in the Christian Metal scene in the past 20yrs; Good or bad?
Scott: It’s become less of an exclusive scene. Back in the 80′s, Christian metal was almost like this exclusive club and there was this huge gap between ‘secular’ and ‘Christian’ bands. Christian bands on Christian labels playing to a room full of Christians at a church. That’s never the way it should have been. While it’s important to uplift and edify other believers, we are also to “go into the world and preach the good news.” You see many bands today with a Christian message now doing tours with other bands, playing in the clubs, being a witness with their life, reaching out to a hurting world or just being a positive influence in a scene plagued with negativity.
Ultimatum has always been a heavy metal band. We are Christians and our lyrics reflect that. However, we are not in some separate genre from other heavy metal bands that sing about other topics. We have shared the stage with all sorts of bands who have any number of differing beliefs. That’s the way it should be. We are to be an example to others, not hide in our Christian bubbles. When Ultimatum would play clubs, we would often help other bands set up and break down their gear. That’s being a servant, rather than being a snob. People don’t care what you know, until they see that you are a sincere person who truly believes what you are preaching. It’s about serving others and pleasing the Father, not about being a part of some exclusive scene.
As well, it’s nice seeing Christian bands that sing about other things than just “turn or burn” and “rock, rock for the Rock”. There’s nothing wrong with those lyrics, but God has given us so many great things to sing about. There’s nothing wrong with writing a song about relationships, social issues, emotions, nature or whatever. In our case, because I write most of the lyrics and I am a Christian, even when I write about topics outside of the Bible, my faith is still seen in the lyrics. On the new CD coming out in October, there is a song call “Blood on 1000 Hills”. It’s about the Rwandan Genocides in 1994 in which some 800,000 people in the East African were slaughtered. I read a story about a church whose members were gunned down as they took refuge inside the sanctuary. Soldiers just pumped the building full of bullets, leaving hundreds dead. However, the few people that lived through it didn’t give up. They didn’t lose faith. Rather, they trusted God and moved forward with their lives and began rebuilding their church. They have hope in Jesus. So while that song is about a terrible tragedy and isn’t necessarily based on Scripture, the lyrics also show the side of hope and healing.
You guys have played many shows over the years, but what would you say has been you favorite show?
Scott: There have been many shows that I enjoyed. My favorite shows have always been those where the crowd was as into the show as I am. There’s an energy that the band feeds off of and the crowd feeds off the band’s energy. Some of my favorite shows were Cornerstone California, the Extreme Martigras show back in 2002, Up From the Ashes III in California and opening for Once Dead in Anaheim back in 2004. It’s funny but all those shows are in California. One of my personal favorite shows was when I sang for Once Dead in Switzerland at the Elements of Rock. I would love to see Ultimatum in front of that great European crowd.
Over the past 20 years what has been your favorite song to play live?
Scott: There are many of those. “Never” has always been a favorite. Though we don’t always perform it, “Temple of the Spirit” is one of my favorites. “Greed Regime” is great because it’s a good head-banger and great for windmills and such. I also liked performing “Deathwish” because there is a part in the song where I go over to Robert, grab one of his picks and strum the part of the song while he plays the notes on the neck. I also had a blast playing some of the covers from “Lex Metalis”. “Ton of Bricks” is always a good barnstormer! The crowds always seem to like “Creeping Death”, “Burn” or “Wrathchild”.
Ultimatum has been around for 20 years, yet you’ve remained an underground band. How did you manage to hang on that long? How much longer do you think Ultimatum will go on?
Purely for the love of what we do. We are all heavy metal fans in a heavy metal band. It’s never been about popularity or money for us. That’s why we never bowed to trends, especially when heavy metal was a dirty word in the late 1990’s. We like playing music. We like being on stage. We love the Lord and feel called to do this. We didn’t sell out stadiums, but we didn’t sell out our integrity either. That’s why it lasted for 20 years.
How much longer will it last? I can’t say for sure. I love all the guys in this band like brothers and would hate to see it end. However, as we always have, we’ll leave that in God’s hands. If he wants things to move forward, then He will open the doors for us. If the door closes on Ultimatum tomorrow, well then that’s ok too.
You mentioned that there will be a few new songs on the Anniversary album… Does this mean we could possibly see a new release in the coming year?
Scott: I don’t know the answer to that yet. We’ll see where this release leads us next.
Thank you , Scott, For taking time with us. Do you have any last words to share with Ultimatum’s fans?
Scott: We hope that you enjoy the music and we also hope that the lyrics to our song will hit home with you. We have been unashamed of our Christian beliefs since we started. In a metal culture where Christianity is looked at as the enemy, it’s been an uphill battle. Thanks for supporting us for the past 20 years.
Visit: Roxx Productions