Music News

Florida's ThrashBack Records Finds Gold In Arizona's Metal History

Eric Hoffman of ThrashBack Records loves Arizona metal.
Eric Hoffman of ThrashBack Records loves Arizona metal. ThrashBack Records

Most of the time when Arizona and Florida are joined at the hip, it’s because someone in the media is making fun of the less than stellar activities of our sun-baked residents. Perhaps it is the combination of excessive heat or high humidity that makes decision-making flawed and flaky. Either way, it’s nice to be able to share some good news about how our two states work together.

ThrashBack Records out of the Sunshine State has quietly been releasing selected Arizona music for the last few years. Most recently, on June 17, ThrashBack founder Eric Hoffman put out a 1991 demo by the Mesa band L.V.I. (Loud Verbal Insanity). While the band may only live on in the memory of local metal fans, Hoffman and his label are hell-bent on bringing those memories to life in our current times.

While owning a record label may seem glamorous to some, Hoffman is the first to admit that his goals with ThrashBack Records, especially one that has now put out three old school Arizona metal artists, are anything but glamorous.

“It’s about preservation, really, and outside of that, there is really no other reason to do this except as a fan. I’ve been collecting demos since 1984, when I started going to local [Florida] shows. At the time, the Metal Mania magazine had a whole section on unsigned bands, and I just started sending out a dollar or two or five for demos,” says Hoffman.

Based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ThrashBack was started in 2018. Hoffman previously had owned  A.R.T. Records in the early 1990s. But like many entrepreneurs before and after, he quickly realized the business side of running a record label was harder and less rewarding than working in a recording studio. With ThrashBack, though, Hoffman’s biggest challenges now are more in line with finding a great, or at the very least, a good sounding demo and quality pictures and content related to the bands he is interested in releasing on his label.

The first Arizona band he put out was Psychic Pawn. ThrashBack Records released a double CD in 2021 called Eulogy: The Complete Anthology, which featured the band’s only full-length album, Decadent Delirium (originally released on Cacophonous Records in 1994), and demos from 1991 and 1992. This release came about by chance after a conversation Hoffman had with Alex Marquez (formerly of Demolition Hammer, among others) about a different band, and the name Psychic Pawn came up. As it turned out, Marquez was living with Micha Kite, who played guitar in Psychic Pawn at the time.

“That’s really how it started with picking up Phoenix bands. After that, Damon Deluca got in contact with me and he turned me on to Soothsayer, and there’s been this domino effect. Originally, I intended on preserving music coming from the Florida scene, but the enthusiasm coming from Arizona has been a lot more than I got out of Florida. The people in Arizona are really excited to be working on this stuff,” says Hoffman, who has an affinity for the Phoenix metal scene.

It was thanks to Deluca, who has made a name for himself in bands like N17 and Hogjaw, among others, that the second classic Arizona band to be released on ThrashBack, Soothsayer, came about. Deluca’s older brother, Steve Parsons, who died in 2019, was the lead singer of Soothsayer, the revered Phoenix thrash metal band. After Deluca heard about ThrashBack Records, he had to get in touch.

“I was just doing it as labor of love for my brother and for this music. I used to play this music for people when I did have a cassette. Nobody could believe it. They were the fastest, most aggressive band in the world,” says Deluca.

Along with his friend, Nikos Mixas (formerly of Misery), Deluca was involved in releasing a compilation called Arizona Dry Hate in 2016, and later talked about it on Ian Christe’s Bloody Roots radio show on SiriusXM. Because of this, Hoffman started interacting with Mixas and Deluca on an Arizona metal message board, and the connection was made.

“I remember going to see [Soothsayer] and I thought they were gonna be the next big thing. I still [had] all those demos from back in the day on cassette and I mentioned that to Damon and he was like, ‘You know what we should do? We should do a comp.’ I thought it was cool, and he said he would put it together if he could borrow all my demos. I dropped off a whole bagful to him, and that's what we ended up doing. It all started from there,” says Mixas.

Fast forward to March 2022, and ThrashBack Records released Soothsayer’s We Came For Killing 1987-1989. The CD contains three separate demos from the band, which also featured former JFA drummer, Mike “Bam Bam” Sversvold on the last eight tracks. While the band had some notable local success and opened for metal heavyweights like Megadeth, Slayer, and Celtic Frost, Soothsayer never got the national attention they richly deserved. Thanks to Hoffman, though, the band’s music is available almost 30 years after their demise.

Hoffman did say he sees a mix of metal historians, collectors, and even young fans coming to the ThrashBack site, and the majority of his sales are to fans overseas. He is excited about an upcoming Arizona release, possibly in October, from the band Lurch Killz, who were active in the late 1980s. He’s also looking to release some split vinyl offerings related to Deluca and Mixas’ Arizona Dry Hate compilation. So there is lots for fans of Phoenix’s unique thrash, speed, and death metal to look forward to in the future from our friends in Florida.
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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon