When a band is formed of members who for the most part have been in other recording and touring groups, there is a description used to describe that situation. “Rising from the ashes of band X, Y and Z” is how that formation is typically described. When relating the formation of Weapons Of Anew, a New Jersey based melodic hard rock/metal outfit, the description would be quite different. One might say the ashes from which they were formed had been swept into a heap, placed in the ash can, removed by the sanitation department and taken to the landfill. There those ashes would have been buried, ostensibly to never be seen again. How exactly were the bellows put to those last remaining embers to elicit a spark, rekindling a flame that burnt inside the members? The answer to that question was a large part of a conversation with Freddy Ordine and Ray West.
Ordine had played guitar with thrash metal outfit HavocHate which he formed in the late 1990’s. He explains his exit from not only the music business, but music in general, “I was in a band called HavocHate, and I quit playing in ’06. I wanted to raise my kid and have a semi-normal life, and I swore I was never going to go back to touring and doing records again. Chris (Manfre), our drummer, was in a local band in Jersey and we had mutual friends, and he pestered me for months and months, saying, ‘Come jam with my band, come jam with my band’ and finally I said, ‘Alright man I’ll come down to rehearsal.’ So I pulled my guitars out of storage and I went down to rehearse and I loved playing with Chris instantly, it fucking lit me up.” Ordine’s self-imposed exile from music–nine years of not physically touching his guitars in any way shape or form, is surprisingly something many musicians experience. Ordine explains, “I couldn’t dude, it hurt too much.”
Leaving music behind wasn’t an easy decision, “It killed me, but I needed to get my shit together and be there for my kids and stuff, so I just kind of buried it down and I was like, alright, that part of my life’s over, it fucking hurt.” Fast forward nine years, “So Chris got me in the [rehearsal] room and he and I instantly clicked. I think I did one or two shows with them and I brought Reno (Stefan “Reno” Cutrupi), I had known from HavocHate. I brought him in and I said to Chris, we love playing with you, but this just isn’t the level we are used to working at. If we’re gonna do this, we need to do this for real. We want to start a new band, we want you to come with me and Reno and we’re going to find a singer.”
Expounding on how the last arrow was added to the quiver, Ordine continues, “Ray West’s name came up to me like ten times, and I knew him from Spread Eagle. He was like a guy who wore makeup and had teased hair and I came from a thrash band, so I was like, yeah, I don’t want to play with that guy! So eventually, him and I spoke on the phone. I remember the day, it was the day before my son’s birthday.” Ordine continues to convey that after having talked with West for a few hours on the phone, that they shared some experiences as it pertained to the music business. “He had been through the same thing, just didn’t want to do music anymore, raising his kid and we totally clicked. We got in the room together and the first day that the four of us were together, we wrote Killshot and we never looked back.” Killshot is a featured song from their debut record, The Collision Of Love And Hate.
West joins the conversation mid-stream, and is asked to relate his journey from shunning the music business to fronting a new band. “I got tired of the bullshit of people making bad decisions for me all the time. You have to be part of things, nowadays we’re more part of things. So, I just walked. I thought I’d be walking into another musical venture but I just enjoy the walking.” During his musical hiatus, West considered various paths to walk, “I wanted to be a rock n’ roll chef for a while, I thought that would be cool, a stand-up comic, I thought that would be cool too. Then you know, music just pulls you back in, for whatever fucking reason. I even tried getting married. The only thing that saves me is doing this crazy shit. This is the chemical, this is the drug, this is everything, you know? The bad stuff is really bad and taxing and tiring. But when you play and you create, that’s the moment it’s cool and we kind of live for that.”
Weapons Of Anew’s debut was released in 2017. Their sophomore effort is in the works and the conversation centers around that upcoming release. West discloses, “There’s still that five percent that has to get done. We got the 95 percent done and then we want to go back and just polish the whole thing up to make sure we like it.” Ordine chimes in, “If it is up to him or me, right up until the time we hand the record company the new record we’re still playing with it.” West quips, “I would never let the songs go. He’s (Ordine) much better at letting go than I am.” As artists’ relationships grow and their synergy evolves so does their writing style and their approach to recording. West explains, “You know what I’ve learned, I think we write better together in a room. We’re still learning how to write together, that’s part of the adventure, that’s the cool thing.” Ordine adds, “It’s crazy, because Ray and I as people, we are completely different kind of people, but we’re so connected, it’s nuts. If I’m going through something, it’s almost like a day later, he’s going through the same thing. So, when we write, it’s this emotional thing, it’s really personal for both of us.” West piggybacks, “Sometimes I’ll write a lyric or a melody that he connects with and he’s like, ‘Oh, I was thinking the same thing’, so that’s kind of special.”
For seasoned veteran musicians who have seemingly been through all the debauchery that can come along with touring rock bands in their 20’s and 30’s, both were asked how playing live might be different than in times past. West says, “The energy you need for rock n’ roll is always there for you, all the time. I have complete confidence that he’s (Ordine) handling his business over here and Reno’s handling his business over there. We just want to connect musically, it sounds hippy dippy, but everybody’s energy is right. Then once in a while, you walk across the stage and make each other laugh, tell them some shit in their ear. It’s a great feeling to play this music and translate it into a live setting.” West further goes on to explain the connection between band and the audience by saying, “I always say that we are creating our own language, and people are learning it and then we have a conversation, right?”
But what about when it appears your own language isn’t translating to the audience, then what? “It’ll start off like that on a bad day, but when we get in the middle of it and you dig in, digging in deep enough…” Ordine interrupts, “Yeah we just won’t quit!” West continues, “You’ll get to it, you’ll dig and hit the fucking pocket of oil and things just spread everywhere, it’s fucking awesome!” Having the opportunity to witness their set later that evening, on the under card for Metal Allegiance, all of the postulations made by Ordine and West are born out. Weapons Of Anew brings all of their weapons to bear to target each individual in the room conversing with them.