Joe Cangelosi [ELIMINATE]
JOE CANGELOSI [ELIMINATE, BROOKLYN MILITIA, ex- WHIPLASH, ex- KREATOR, ex- MASSACRE, ex- DEATHCORPS] Interview 10/20/20016
Written by Marc C. Pietrek 2016
New York City is city that, no matter what time of day or night, its beat continues on. Sometimes that beat is loud, heavy and fast, almost to the point of being off the rail. From the wall-street stock broker, banker and fashion designer to the bicycle courier, taxi cab driver and port-authority worker and lots of types in between, their lives often sway to that same frantic beat. And within the vast art-scape of this city where Harvard often intersects with hard knocks, this is no more pronounced and personified than by its rich heavy metal and hard-core punk music scenes. During the 1980s, both C.B.G.B.’s for punks and LAMOURS for metal heads were the NYC meccas for both burgeoning scenes and fan bases. They eventually integrated with each other while many bands that are still held in high regard today began to cut their teeth. Bands such as ANTHRAX, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, the CRO-MAGS, PRONG, AGNOSTIC FRONT and WHIPLASH amongst others. Bands made up of musicians that lived for their art and took pride in being part of their respective scenes.
Current ELIMINATE and BROOKLYN MILLITIA (as well as ex-WHIPLASH, ex- KREATOR, ex- MASSACRE, ex- DEATHCORPS) drummer, Joe Cangelosi, is one of those musicians. Coming from an immense musical background (his father used to play the same Brooklyn clubs and at the same time that legendary NYC rock drummer Carmine Appice was), Joe started pounding away on the drums as soon as he could hold drum sticks. Influenced by everybody from jazz greats Jack Dejohnette and Elvin jones to hard rock icons John Bonham, Neal Peart, and Tommy Aldridge to heavy metal stalwarts Bill Ward, Clive Burr, Dave Lombardo and Tom Hunting (plus the works of such percussion greats as Stewart Copeland and Terry Bozzio), Joe helped form his first heavy metal band, DEATHCORPS, in 1985 at age fifteen. He was paying in clubs that he could not even legally drink in at his age. In 1987, he made his first major move as a professional musician and joined the already established WHIPLASH (replacing original drummer, Tony Scaglione, who had departed to replace Dave Lombardo in SLAYER for a brief time). The man who probably went by the name of “Thunder Foot” in a previous lifetime (see video link below showcasing his drum solo and the WHIPLASH classic, “Stagedive”) had entered the big leagues.
During his first tenure in WHIPLASH, he recorded ‘Ticket to Mayhem’ (1987) and ‘Insult to Injury’ (1989). At the end of the decade, WHIPLASH made it over to Europe for the first time for a tour with SODOM. It was on a tour in (the then) West Germany, he was privileged to see world history in the making. WHIPLASH was scheduled to perform at a club just a couple of blocks away from “Check-Point Charlie” on November 09, 1989. The very same night the Berlin Wall began to fall. That night (after being at the site of the on-going demolition and collecting pieces of the Berlin Wall itself that he still has to this day) he performed in front of a crowd that probably had never even seen a heavy metal show in their lives before. Amidst a standing room only environment, the person expressing himself through extremely rebellious music witnessed the incredible good that can result via the power of rebellion by many expressing themselves as one. That show is still one of his top two favorite shows that he has ever played. Joe continued on in WHIPLASH until 1990 when he then joined (first wave of Florida death metal band) MASSACRE. He appears on their ‘Second Coming’ demo (1990). After that, Joe decided to take a leave of absence from the world of recording and touring. He met a German woman in Brooklyn and began dating her. He decided to move to the now unified Germany with his girlfriend and began life as a chef cooking in a Mexican restaurant. After a couple of years, he came to the realization that he needed to be playing music again and would return to New York City. He gave his two week notice to his employer and bought a plane ticket to go back home to Brooklyn. On the very last night of working while cleaning up the kitchen, his plans were suddenly changed. He received a phone call from bassist Frank Blackfire of KREATOR (ex-SODOM). He was informed that KREATOR had heard that he was living in Germany and that they were in need of a drummer to replace Ventor. He accepted the offer and ended up playing drums on and touring for the ‘Cause for Conflict’ album (1995). He knew right from the onset of accepting though that he would never be permanent of KREATOR due to the strong ties the band has to original drummer Ventor. All parties involved are still close friends to this day. It was during this tenure that Joe experienced his other favorite live performance: opening for IRON MAIDEN and getting to meet and watch one of his biggest idols, Nicko Mc Brain, pound away on the drums from behind the drum kit.
In 2002, Joe and original WHIPLASH members Tony Potaro (guitar, vocals) and Tony Bono (bass) recorded a 4-track demo for the Bono-penned spoof single, “Italian Ice” (see YouTube link below). The three decided that WHIPLASH should be reformed. Tragically, Tony Bono died of a mysterious heart attack shortly thereafter. Devastated, Joe and Tony Potaro powered down the WHIPLASH motor with no indication of when it would be running again. In 2009, the ignition switch was flipped on and WHIPLASH was again making new music. In September, 2009, ‘Unborn Again’ was released and featured new bassist (and former DEATHCORPS band mate and WHIPLASH security detail) Rich day. The band followed up the album with tours of South America and Europe. During the European tour, they performed at Wacken Open Air festival in Germany and the Jalometalli Festival in Finland.
In 2010, Tony Potaro hired a drummer from England to replace Joe for some UK dates. He later informed Joe that he was bringing back original drummer Tony Scaglione back into the band (who then left within weeks after rejoining). Shocked but undeterred, Joe already formed a metal side-project called BROOKLYN MILLITIA and had no plans of BROOKLYN MILLITIA going on hiatus. They are still active today and also feature Rich Day. Even without BROOKLYN MILITIA though, Joe would have still kept the drums beating. After all, he is not only a skilled heavy metal drummer, but also a pretty accomplished jazz and fusion drummer as well. He has never had a problem landing a gig (see DARK CITY QUINTET YouTube link below)
In 2015, Joe was put in contact with guitarist Scott Own (ex- HIRAX, SUBVERSION, ex- PIRANHA) of the newly formed thrash metal super group ELIMINATE through a mutual friend. The band, which also features original DARK ANGEL vocalist Don Doty (who claims, “Joe can bring some lyrics!”), had lost drummer Sasha Horn (FOBIDDEN) to other commitments and were in need of drummer. Joe took over the drum duties and ELIMINATE played their very first live show at Grindcore 2015 in Los Angeles to rave reviews on November 07, 2015. One of the most impressive aspects of their performance was how well Joe played DARK ANGEL drummer Gene Hoglin’s drum parts during their versions of various DARK ANGEL favorites. It should come as no surprise however. Joe was perfecting his double bass and thrash metal chops at the same time Hoglin was in the early to mid 1980s.
Nine months later, ELIMINATE did a short one week tour of California and Nevada. Performing mostly DARK ANGEL songs from Don Doty’s time in the band, ELIMINATE demonstrated live why they are to be taken seriously. They are heavy, they are tight and most of all, they are hungry. That is a pretty lethal combination in the world of heavy metal and many fans worldwide have already taken notice. The band members are currently recording their own parts for their upcoming demo separately because they are all scattered around the United States. Sources within band state that it is coming along nicely. They are already scheduled to perform at the Rage of Armageddon 4 Festival in Brooklyn on April 07,2017. I have no doubt in my mind by that time, it won’t be a buzz about ELIMINATE. It will be a full-on roar. That is if you can hear it over Thunder Foot’s drumming. I was fortunate enough to interview Joe on October 20, 2016 during an extremely busy schedule of his (see the first YouTube link below). I learned that he is still as much of a fan of heavy metal nowadays as he was a kid. Ask him why IRON MAIDEN’s ‘Number of the Beast’ album epitomizes heavy metal more than any other album or why ‘Ride the Lightning’ by MetallicA is still a bench mark album over thirty years after it was released. No joke, he will break it down into detail with enthusiasm in his voice. But it’s not just heavy metal he can elaborate on. Bring up ex- SANTANA Michael Shrieve’s drum solo at Woodstock (while on LSD) and he will tell you just why it is so good. The man is a fan of music and believes in its celebration in his mind, heart and soul.
All that being said, there is more to Joe Cangelosi than just music. Recently married to his beautiful bride, Evelin, Joe has also contributed majorly to the betterment of his community. He has worked with high risk kids in the Brooklyn School District and was subjected to things like being threatened to be stabbed and threatened to have arrangements made to have him killed. He has also experienced the joy of knowing that he has made a difference in the lives of these kids when they come back as husbands and wives and having families of their own as productive members of society. Per Joe, “It takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone at first. But after a while, you learn to embrace it”. I never worked with high risk kids before, but my mother did. When I played my recorded interview with him for her (she really liked him!) and she heard him say that, she turned to me and said, “He’s exactly right!”. Never doubt Mom.
What I took away from my interview with Joe is that he is a guy that you want to root for in everything that he does. He has very articulate personality that is punctuated with a zest for life and an honest appreciation of people. Somebody that never has and never will think that he is above somebody else. In other words, “he’s a good duuuuuuuuude, maaaaaaan!’ I am sure down the road I will meet someone that has similar characteristics and I will say to myself, “They remind of Joe Cangelosi. Yeah! That guy that who plays loud, plays heavy and plays fast, almost to the point of being off the rail”.
A DARK UNITED FRONT: Joe Cangelosi [ELIMINATE, BROOKLYN MILITIA, ex- WHIPLASH , ex-KREATOR, ex- DEATHCORPS] Interview 10/20/2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAAKs1vZ6i4
ELIMINATE Los Angeles, CA. 8-15-2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKlgfLNjKmk&t=631s
Eliminate – JOE CANGELOSI Drum cam – live at Grindcore Fest 11/07/2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntE03zWtauA&list=PLEYsIS13YHc5rDnOpmNasJph4t_UNoRFv
WHIPLASH JOE CANGELOSI DRUM SOLO/STAGEDIVE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYtj8dhcfL8
Whiplash – Ticket to mayhem (FULL ALBUM) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KmU0VvQycw&t=1486s
Kreator – Cause for Conflict (Limited Digipack Edition) (1995) (Full Album Completo) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asFxLbVujjo&t=1045s
DARK CITY QUINTET https://myspace.com/darkcityquintet/music/song/the-ledge-26113535-25914720
Italian Ice – Tony Bono https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPKlbFaJlLk