Twenty-three years after releasing their last full-length, thrash metal band Sacred Reich returned in force with their fifth studio album ‘Awakening’, on August 23rd, 2019 released by Metal Blade Records demonstrating without effort that they remain a formidable force in thrash metal. Catch them on tour… I asked Chuck Fitzgerald from Massachusetts back in 1996 to write up an article of his experience playing drums for SACRED REICH to feature in my mag/fanzine ROCKBOTTOM and CHUCK being CHUCK…. ‘a very nice guy & contributor to ROCKBOTTOM’ wrote me up a nice little skit for Issue #17 of ROCKBOTTOM. I really enjoyed reading it back then and still do when I reread it. I would like to share it with you because it’s worth your time even-though it’s old news…
~Chuck Fitzgerald Here it was, the first week of 1996. I was sitting around wondering what I was going to do with my life. Should I get a real job and forget ever having a real career in music? Then, a friend of mine called me and said that he had just gotten off the phone with Wiley and he said that SACRED REICH’S drummer just left to join MACHINE HEAD and that they were holding auditions and would I want one? Part of me jumped and said, “YEAH!” and the other half said “Whoa! What do I do?” I needed a day for this to sink in…. I’ve come this far and I can’t give in this easily. I have to at least give it a shot. So, I said YES. That night Phil called me up and gave me six songs to learn and to get out there ASAP! A tour was already booked and no drummer, and the tour started in two months! So I woodshedded for about two weeks and then flew out to Phoenix for three days. The first day was cool. I met them and we sat around and talked. It was a very relaxed atmosphere. It didn’t feel like an audition, and surprisingly I wasn’t nervous. The first song we played was AMERICAN WAY and everything felt good so far. We worked on four more songs that day. The next day didn’t go as well. Not doing as much double-bass playing, my feet weren’t up to par. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed out and almost gave up hope. On the third and final day, I decided whether they picked me or not, I was determined to go out with a bang. That night went a lot better – Thank God! At the end of the night, we stood around the parking lot and talked. I was leaving the next morning (Sunday). They were going to get together, talk Monday and make a decision. A couple minutes after we got back to Jason’s house, the phone rang. Jason handed me the phone and it was Phil. He said “I was in!” I was on cloud 9!
Now the reality of the situation hit me. I had to quit my job, tie up the last 27 years of my life in a week and learn 12 more songs! Thanks to unpredictable New England weather, I got snowed in and had to postpone my flight out. It was getting down to the wire, when I finally did get there. There was just a little over two weeks before the tour started and I was freaking out. You never know what you’re capable of until you get into a situation like that.
Now the tour starts… Life on the bus with eight other people – three of which I have only knew for a couple of weeks! Talk about being a stranger in a strange land! The first few weeks were the hardest for me, to get over the initial nervousness. I was really hard on myself and began psyching myself out. The band and crew were really supportive and gave me little pep talks. By the time we hit Boston, my hometown, I started to pull myself together. I think some familiar surroundings were all I needed to start settling down. I was beginning to feel unworthy and given this great situation. Did I really deserve this? Thankfully, I did get over.
Next. on to Europe…. One thing I had to do before I died was to go to Europe. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. I’m in Europe, I get to play and I’m getting paid! Definitely one of the highlights was getting to play DYNAMO FESTIVAL. This was last minute. The magnitude of this event didn’t really hit until they rolled the drum riser out. I also found out that MTV EUROPE was taping a song from each band. That really freaked me out more than playing in front of 50,000 people…this huge camera in my face! I must have looked like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car! Other than adapting to new situations – every day having my picture taken and being videotaped was the thing I have to overcome the most. I’m not used to it, probably never will be but hopefully, I’ll become more comfortable with it.
Right now, everyone is on their own, writing. Hopefully you’ll all hear (and buy) a new album soon, within the next year. Until then, pick up HEAL. It’s a great album and I wish I had gotten to play on it. Until then, PEACE!
We all know what has happened to SACRED REICH but what about CHUCK FITZGERALD. To make the story short, CHUCK is living the American Dream… He got married to his dream girl, bought a house, had a son and is happy as anyone could be. Aren’t HAPPY ENDINGS the best???