Scott Owen [ ELIMINATE, SUBVERSION A.D., SLAUGHTER CAMPAIGN, RAGING VILOLENCE, ex-HIRAX, ex-PIRANHA]
Written by Marc C.. Pietrek 2017
A true leader’s inner core becomes evident in any profession and any walk of life. They possess a steadfast demeanor. They are someone that is willing to take charge of a bad situation and accepts the challenge with no fear whatsoever. They do this as they are utterly confident in their ability and have no problem putting it on display. For them to make progress in life, they must sometime venture on to an entirely new path. And along with those traits, there is one that any good leader has: the willingness to reach out to someone in their time of need offering assistance. Principles to live by if you want to lead.
ELIMINATE guitarist Scott Owen first started playing the guitar in the late 1970s. Already having a deep seeded love for rock and heavy metal, he knew that he needed more. After hearing Eddie Van Halen for the first time as a young kid (his older brother by eight years returned home on leave from the USAF, bringing with him VAN HALEN albums on cassette that he had purchased at the airbase commissary) that was IT. Inspired and influenced by such virtuosos as Van Halen and Randy Rhoads and greats like THIN LIZZY’s twin axe-attack of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, he began teaching himself how to play guitar and a life-long obsession started. After a brief stint in RAZOR IN 1983, the Glendale, California-born musician was asked to join the up and coming thrash metal band, HIRAX, in 1984. Two weeks later, HIRAX was opening up for SLAYER (who were in support of their ‘Haunting the Chapel’ EP) and playing with (a Rob Cavestany on vocals) DEATH ANGEL. It was around this same time that fans really started to feel the rumble of metal’s underground.
HIRAX was part of the Southern California thrash metal (and cross-over scenes) that not only included SLAYER, MEGADETH and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, but also the Don Doty-led DARK ANGEL, CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER, EXCELL and many others. Their debut album, ‘Raging Violence’ (1985) and ‘Hate, Fear and Power’ EP (1986) were recorded and released while landing gigs supporting legends like VENOM, eXodus and EXCITER. The thrash metal community began to really take notice of the tight, riff-loaded band that had a charismatic frontman that could actually sing. James Hetfield proclaimed that when he wanted to write a fast song, he listened to ‘Raging Violence’ (HIRAX were also guests at the infamous MetallicA house in El Cerito, CA on numerous occasions).
After HIRAX was dropped by METAL BLADE RECORDS due to some comments made by a band member in the metal press (shit happens), they released the ‘Blasted In Bangkok’ EP (1987). A solid effort, it ended up being Scott’s last collaboration with HIRAX. A falling-out occurred between Katon and the rest of the band on the eve of a tour and Katon quit the band. Making a command decision and taking on the leadership role, Scott stepped up and took over on lead vocals in addition to his guitar duties. This was done with no fear or trepidation because he wanted to do it. He had already stated that he wished to contribute lyrics and background vocals but was denied. This was a good opportunity for him and he took it. A leader sees that the task at hand is completed and Scott made sure that HIRAX’s tour obligations were met.
While on hiatus with HIRAX, he moved temporarily from southern California to San Francisco and lived briefly with death metal icon, Chuck Shuldiner. At that same time, Chuck was in the process of forming DEATH. It was while the two were hanging out together watching an old Boris Karloff film that Chuck decided on the name for DEATH’s debut album, ‘Scream Bloody Gore’. Though no song-writing collaborations were made, his time with Chuck had a profound impact on him. He states that Chuck was “a genuinely nice guy” and has a legacy “that “will hold strong forever”.
In 1989, Scott furthered himself as a leader and formed the thrash band SUBVERSION. Scott was now at the helm of his own unit, manning both lead vocals and lead guitar. Drawing on his own his influences, everything from SAXON, ANVIL and ACCEPT to eXodus, IRON REAGAN, FORCED ENTRY and everything in between, he was helping lead thrash metal into the next decade. With a solid fan base already backing them, SUBVERSION released the ‘Living In This Hell’ demo. They snatched up gigs opening for D.R.I. and (the utterly brutal) SACRILEGE B.C in addition to some headlining some of their own. Following that, they released the ‘Play To Win’ demo. Shortly thereafter they trimmed down to a three piece unit when rhythm guitarist, Rage Davies, quit the band due to creative differences. SUBVERSION was now a thee-piece yet still remained a detached and air-born wrecking ball.
Around the same time period (1990), Scott was also briefly a member of Paul Baloff’s post-eXodus band, PIRANHA. According to him, after being asked to join, Paul drove round-trip with his wolves from Northern California to Southern California to pick him up. He has great memories of working with Paul, including playing the Omni in Oakland, CA (with members of DEATH and MetallicA in the audience) just two weeks after joining the band. When reflecting back on the impact that Paul “Destroyer” Bayloff made on thrash metal with his havoc inducing personality, he fondly reflects that “there will never be anybody like him again”. How could there be? The man carried a business card that read, “PAUL BALOFF…DESTROYER…LIVES * PROPERTY * RELATIONSHIPS”
With life commitments and different priorities casting a shadow over the band members, SUBVERSION disbanded in 1993. Scott had already become a father for the first time around the same time that he joined HIRAX and had plans for having a larger family. He chose to provide for his family and to be there for his kids. As most leaders do, Scott was now moving on to a new chapter in his life with no regrets.
Music was still a huge part of Scott’s life in the years after SUBVERSION dissolved. He had maintained his skills as a guitarist and vocalist during that time, though not doing them professionally. In 2008, Scott reconnected with his band mates, John Cignorelli and Pat Burns, in SUBVERSION after contacting the band’s MY SPACE page. After talking for a while and realizing that there was a real want between them to create music together again, SUBVERSION A.D. (AFTER DEATH) was formed. They released the album ‘After Death’ in July, 2010. On the album is the all out infantry assault fervor of “Hogan’s Heroes” (See YouTube link below) and a great re-working of the HIRAX classic, “Bombs of Death”. Although they have not released any albums since ‘After ‘Death’, they are still active. Scott is also involved in the side-projects SLAUGHTER CAMPAIGN (with THRASH ZONE metal DJ, Billy Bolt, on vocals), RAGING VIOLENCE and PAINDEMIC.
In 2013, Scott reached out to someone he had no real history with and who came from the same Southern California thrash scene that HIRAX had been a part of back in the 1980s. Former DARK ANGEL and current ELIMINATE vocalist, Don Doty, had been excluded from the band’s upcoming reunion after it had appeared that he would be involved. Seeing this play out on the Internet, Scott (who had nothing to gain) sent a message to Don offering any help that he could give, whether it be in a collaborative role or supportive role. After getting together for a few jam sessions in Southern California to see if everybody would gel, the pieces were beginning to fall nicely into place. With the addition of former WHIPLASH and KREATOR drummer, Joe Cangelosi, rounding out the band along with bassist John Cignorelli and guitarist Henry Elizondo, ELIMINATE was already a formidable unit. This is before even recording a demo or playing a live gig. With their live debut at Grindcore 2015 in Los Angeles and a short string of dates in Southern California and Nevada in August 2016 completed, ELIMINATE are now working on their debut demo. With the band members having to work out their song ideas by sending files via email (because the band members all live in different states) it has been a slow process. That being said, Scott says that it will get done, “even it’s the last thing that we do!” Given that man’s track record, I would tend to believe him.
When I interviewed Scott over the phone late last November for A DARK UNITED FRONT Facebook music fan page (see Podcast section and YouTube link below), I also learned about Scott outside the music. I learned that he is a dedicated family man who relishes being a grandfather for the first time. He is a loyal person possessing a steadfast mentality that propels him in anything and everything he does (dude puts in 40+ hours/weekly IN CONSTRUCTION!!). He is a very personable guy who is also pretty damn humorous (any doubters should listen to his story [in the telephone interview] about the “Southern California Thrash Metal Softball Beer League” consisting of members of HIRAX, SLAYER and MEGADETH and their roadies back in the thrash metal glory days). Someone who does not see themselves as being above anybody else as a person. Combine those characteristics with a motivational drive that constantly red lines and an unshakable confidence, and you have yourself one hell of a well-rounded individual. An individual who people would follow going into whatever life’s battles came their way. Lead on, my friend. Lead on!!
A DARK UNITED FRONT: Scott Owen [ELIMINATE, SUBVERSION, ex-HIRAX, ex- PIRANHA] Interview 11/27/2016
ELIMINATE Los Angeles, CA. 8-15-2016
Subversion A.D. Hogans’ Heroes
Hirax – Raging Violence (Full Album) 
HIRAX – 4/30/88 @ Palisades Garden, San Diego, CA – FULL SET