Since the 80s, Coroner had set almost unreachable standards in metal music over and over again . Sadly this brilliant trio has been criminally underrated. After 15 years of hiatus, the band is on the road again. This is one of few reunions that really make sense. We are deeply honored to have their frontman and bass player Ron Royce interviewed.
Agoraphobic News: What are your biggest metal/non-metal influences?
Ron Royce: Biggest metal influences back in the 80s were: Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Metal Church and Metallica. Non metal influences: Rush, Jethro Tull, Yingwie Malmsteen, Johann Sebastian Bach, Niccolo Paganini.
Agoraphobic News: It's good to note that Tom G. Warrior was the singer ofCoroner on Death Cult demo, but luckily enough, he moved on with his band, Celtic Frost. How did you come into the picture? How did you get into Coroner?
Ron Royce: It was 1985 and I was already playing the bass for Coroner at the time of the DC demo. But we did not have a singer yet, so we asked Tom. He agreed to participate by writing the lyrics, singing and helping us with producing. But after the recordings, I decided to take over the vocal parts.
Agoraphobic News: How did Switzerland metal scene look like back in the 80s?
Ron Royce: It was really small and underground, just like the Hardcore scene. We almost all knew each other personally from the gigs.
Agoraphobic News: Both Coroner and Celtic Frost are very underrated but also, very influental bands. There is a picture of Chuck Schuldiner wearing Coroner T-shirt.. I guess that is flattering to you guys, right?
Ron Royce: Yes, indeed.
Agoraphobic News: R.I.P. and Punishment for Decadence albums are highly technical, and yet they are miles away from Yingwie Malmsteen’s way of doing things. Was it hard for you as a band to maintain melody, brutality, and technicality without losing any of the aspects already mentioned?
Ron Royce: We didn’t really ponder these things a lot, we just did what we loved doing. Back then we were still very ambicious in becoming the fastest playing, while simultaneously maintaining most possible technicality and musical complexity.
Agoraphobic News: It is clear as a day that Coroner was one of the bands that raised the bar of virtuosity in metal music. Were there any bands that seemed like rivals to you and that you had to cope with?
Ron Royce: During that time we were so involved, that we of course were aware of all other talked about bands, including bands like Watchtower, Mekong Delta and also Annihilator that played a similarly complex style of Metal. We also went on tour with all these bands.
Agoraphobic News: The lyrics of When angels die pretty much sums up a story of what might happen in case of nuclear fallout. Were you afraid of the nuclear war that might have occured, and did the Chernobyl explosion have an impact on you as an artist?
Ron Royce: It did have an impact on almost everybody, including artists, of course. But you would have to ask Marky (the drummer) specifically about the inspiration of the lyrics, as he wrote all of the lyrics.
Agoraphobic News: Was there any particular politician that inspired you to write the lyrics of Masked Jackal?
Ron Royce: Again, you have to ask Marky, if he had a particular politician in mind. As far as I am aware of, he referred to politicians and their tendency to become corruptible in general.
Agoraphobic News: In 1990, Coroner played in East Berlin for the first time. How significant was the fall of the Berlin Wall to you?
Ron Royce: Back then I was only 26 years old, and I was not aware so much how historic the event ultimately was going to turn out to be. But, looking back, it of course feels incredible to somehow be a small part of one of the most significant events of the 20th century. And we still get a lot of positive and enthusiastic feed back to this day.
Agoraphobic News: A lot of Coroner lyrics are dystopic. Are there any writers that inspired you to write the lyrics?
Ron Royce: Sorry, but again you have to ask Marky. All I remember was, that he was constantly reading books and mentioned some authors to us. But I cannot recall them now, it has been too long.
Agoraphobic News: Many of the fans may not know that Coroner albums No More Color, Mental Vortex and Grin were mixed at the Morrissound Studios in Tampa, Florida. How popular was the band in the States?
Ron Royce: Enough popular to be able to tour the US for a total of 3 times: 1989 over 40 shows as supporting act of Kreator, in 1990 as a Headliner with Atrophy and Forced Entry and then later for a last tour with Nuclear Assault. For our third album No More Color we even had a contract with CBS for major distribution for the US-market.
Agoraphobic News: What was the peak of Coroner’s career?
Ron Royce: There are several signifficant events in my opinion: First and most important was the moment when we signed the contract with Noise Records in Berlin. Second was the first big Coroner show at the „Volkshaus“ in Zurich together with Celtic Frost and Kreator. The 3rd moment was the performance at Hellfest in France 2011 in front of more than 30 000 people. And last, but not least, the recent world wide record deal with Sony Int.
Agoraphobic News: What does the D.O.A. acronym stand for?
Ron Royce: A medical term, meaning Dead on arrival.
Agoraphobic News: We really live in the Lethargic Age. What would be ourPunishment for Decadence?
Ron Royce: It seems that the global situation over the past decades has been emerging more and more as a punishment of apocalyptic dimensions for our decadence, indifference, and the immense greed of a few.
Agoraphobic News: If the world back in the 80s had No More Color, what’s the state of the world now? It’s getting even worse.
Ron Royce: Yes, indeed it’s getting worse and worse, at an even more accelerated speed of time, it seems.
Agoraphobic News: It's ironic to see how the fans rejected Grin when it came out. That album was really ahead of its time. It sounds fresh even today. it reminds me of a situation when Pestilence fans rejected Spheres (which by the way was released in 1993 as well). Was the lack of commercial success the main reason why Coroner was disbanded?
Ron Royce: Yes, but also we felt, that we are no longer progressing as a band more and more, but rather started envolving individually in different directions: After spending 11 years together and seeing each other almost every day, this came as no surprise.
Agoraphobic News: Every Coroner album was different from its predecessor. What can we expect from a brand new album? Maybe a natural continuation of Grin?
Ron Royce: Well, honestly, I am curious myself, what the results will be, because we are quite a bit older now. And the situation is also different these days because of our new drummer (Diego Rapacchietti) which also opens up a whole new range of possibilities.