"The last time we gigged, we opened for President Reagan at a Fourth of July festival,and the secret service shut us down in the middle of Devil’s Child!"
In the Bryan Adams song, "Summer of 69", some high school guys have a garage band, play high school parties, and in the end, they think they'd never get far. Remember, Jimmy quit, Jody got married.....and that was the end of that. In this band, Cestus started out the same way. Three guys with a high school band, and headed in different directions after that. Yet, years later, they decided to get back together, and now they are Cestus, making some kick ass Rock music and ready to catch up on lost years.
By Kreig Marks, March 2020
TRR: You guys have an interesting story. You were a band back in high school. But basically, you guys just went your separate ways for about 36 years or so. Is this correct?
Cestus: Yes, reluctantly. In ’84 we kind of reached a point where we each were headed in different directions regarding work, relationships, education, etc and ended up in different places. It was not something any of us were looking for or wanted, we were like brothers longer than I can remember. Life just happened very differently for each of us and we each followed our own path.
TRR: What brought you all back together?
Cestus: Our chemistry as musicians, and close friendships kept us bound together for 34 years despite our being physically apart! We always had a connection and we were all ultimately craving the same thing: A reunion with our brothers! What’s more, we wrote a lot of songs up until the point of departure. A lot of good, very magnetic, material. In fact, during August of ’84 we made a demo CD. The never released “King Killer” CD. But, it only contained six songs. We had a lot of material left over. So, sometime in 2018. K.K. e-mailed us. It was a short e-mail, simple and to the point. It said, “Hey rockers! If we don’t record the rest of our material before we die, we’re Pu_ _ies!” He knew we had to get together again, and he knew what would make it happen. We really should nickname him “Pain” after the great motivator! LOL! Anyway, this was when our renewed journey began.
TRR: During the time away from each other, did you guys continue to play in any bands?
Cestus: Edward played in a number of touring bands through the years. He even went overseas and played for our troops in 2003! I did not play in any bands other than Cestus until about 3-4 years ago. I played in a band named RPM. It was fun, and good practice, but, it was NOT Cestus! Which is why I didn’t play in any bands prior to that. K.K. played in several bands through the years to fill the void. Some good experiences but like Edward and I, none ever matched the fit, the chemistry, we had with Cestus.
TRR: Were you all in touch over the years?
Cestus: K.K. and I were for a few years after but eventually lost touch, and through the years I would occasionally run into Ed at a club playing with another band and end up on stage for a couple of songs. But that didn’t happen often at all. Our communications faded over the years until 3 or so years ago. No real reason for it. That is just what happened. Personally, I am so grateful we got back together. I am glad to have my brothers back!!!!
TRR: Who’s idea was it to get the band back together?
Cestus: I’m not sure it was particularly anyone’s sole idea. I know I thought about it often throughout the years. But I suppose if someone should be given credit for being the catalyst, it’s K.K. He is the one who challenged the rest of us to get up and get busy!
TRR: So, years later, you guys get back together and are making some incredible music. Are there any regrets that you guys didn’t keep the train rolling all those years or do you feel that there is still an opportunity now, even though you guys are 30 odd years older but probably better players now.
Cestus: We don’t have any regrets. I mean, we all travel the path we’re on to get where we’re going right? And to regret our past mistakes would be to deny ourselves an opportunity to learn, grow, and appreciate what we had done as a band, as well as the accomplishments we’ve made in our lives as they are now.
TRR: Tell me about the name Cestus. Where did this come from?
Cestus: As defined by Wikipedia, Cestus "is an ancient battle glove, sometimes used in pankration (an ancient Olympian dangerous sport, in which everything was permitted except biting, gouging [stabbing with your finger in your opponent's eye, nose or mouth] and attacking the genitals. The gloves were worn like today's boxing gloves, but were made with leather strips and sometimes filled with iron plates or fitted with blades or spikes, and used as weapons." Back then, using whatever means at their disposal, they tend to force their beliefs upon the opposing group, or culture. As if to beat them into submission with a "Cestus". My personal experience with using force as the catalyst to bring about positive change is completely opposite this belief. So, the name Cestus embraces the struggle for control which tears us apart as a species. While it may appear to symbolize brutality, in truth, it symbolizes the problem in believing that change must be brought about by brute force....That the outside must be changed forcefully to bring about universal/inner peace. However, in truth the name Cestus is a symbol to raise awareness of the inherent fallacy in this belief.
TRR: Very interesting! Are all of you married now with families?
Cestus: Yes we are. I am married, have 2 grown children, 1 teenager, and 6 grand-children! Edward is married and has a beautiful granddaughter who lives with them, and K.K. has a wife of 29 years, 2 children in their 20s and 1 teenager.
TRR: Rock'n Granddads! You know, age is only a number when it comes to making great music. What do the wives think about you guys getting back together and now having the opportunity to possibly get out on the big circuit and really make a name for yourselves in the rock industry?
Cestus: Each of our families support us fully. They all believe it would be awesome because they know how important our music is to us.
TRR: What about your kids? What do they think about this?
Cestus: Edward lost his son in 2013. But, if he were here, he’d be rocking right along with us! My entire family feels the possibility is awesome! My grandkids already think I am a rock star! But mostly they are excited that we are getting so much attention and airtime. I don’t think any of them saw that coming.
TRR: Your song Cold Moon is pretty damn good. Is this a hold over from back when you guys were a high school band or is this a new song?
Cestus: No, its new. See, when we first got back together to record after 34 years, we met just outside of Atlanta in this guy’s basement studio. We recorded State of Crazy and Red Lights Go Boom. It was December 21 – 22 2018. The night of Dec 22 was the occurrence of 2018’s Cold Moon, the last full moon of the year. A.D. had written a bit of a riff or two to make up the music. He wrote the lyrics, solos and pulled it all together later. While the lyrics are about a topic far removed from our recording again, that long awaited reunion under the Cold Moon was our inspiration to begin writing new material again… Cold Moon was first and we haven’t stopped writing since. So Cestus will release old and new music alike in the future.
TRR: Let me tell you, Cold Moon is getting a lot of plays on Bandivious Radio. About 100 a day. Not too bad.
Cestus: That is pretty incredible! I don’t think any of us expected this. But it couldn’t happen without the great people who play our music, promote our music and most of all those fans who listen to our music!
TRR: You guys are currently working on some more songs for a complete album. When do you think that will be completed?
Cestus: We hope to finish recording everything this Summer. Then master, press and distribute. We hope to have it all wrapped up, on the market, and on the airwaves, etc next fall.
TRR: How do you guys write the songs? Are all of you involved?
Cestus: Yes, no matter if the core of the song is written by one member, we are all in on it before it’s over. Sharing our ideas with each other, trying different things, this is what we love getting together to do! This is what makes it turn into a Cestus song!
TRR: Are the wives prepared if you guys are asked to start traveling and touring? If not, they should be because it’s pretty likely.
Cestus: (A.D.) My wife and I both travel a fair amount with our current jobs. Usually not together. So this won’t be too different. The big thing for me will be the transition to a new career. Making sure it's as smooth as possible for my family. That is the most important thing about it to me!
TRR: What was it like the first-time you guys got back together and plugged in and started to jam?
Cestus: It was a beautiful moment. Like we never really stopped. More like we had just been together a couple weeks ago. We were a little rusty and had to tighten the bolts a little, but before long we were cruising so high, it was a beautiful thing! My wife and daughter couldn’t believe it. But the three of us have always really gelled. Musically and as bothers. We’re just a tight knit group!
TRR: Tell me about some recent shows you guys have done. How has the audience received you guys?
Cestus: Well, "recent" is not the term we’d use.. LOL.. It’s been a really long time since we gigged. In fact, the last time we gigged, we opened for President Reagan at a Fourth of July festival,and the secret service shut us down in the middle of Devil’s Child! LOL!!!!! It was a great day!!!! Gigging is something we want to get back into.. See, we face a logistic problem.. Ed and I live in our hometown in north Alabama. While K.K. lives near Athens, Georgia. We practice for the studio by placing click tracks on our cloud,, The Cestus War Cloud! Then we meet in the studio, practice a few hours, and start recording songs. That is why it is so cool when a song like Cold Moon works so well.. When we recorded Cold Moon, it was the first time we had ever played it together as a band. We had all practiced separately then pulled it together in the studio!
TRR: What do you guys think you bring to the table that some younger bands may not?
Cestus: Well, here is the thing. You can hear it in our music, the old style Metal that runs through our core! For the most part, the bands today know a lot of good old bands, They’ve heard them,, maybe seen a few of the tour as guys our age and sometimes older. But they haven’t lived the rock –n- roll and heavy metal experience that we have. We were all born in the 60s, grew up in the 70s, 80s, 90s, rockin’ our brains out. That True Rock experience, that True Metal experience, is the taproot from which flows our inspiration. It is in the core of who we are as a band and individuals. We didn’t hear about it, we didn’t learn about it, we lived through it and rocked with it!!!!!!
TRR: Any plans for a big album release party in the next few months? We’d love to do some type of live stream if you have a big event.
Cestus: We’ve kicked that idea around some but haven’t made any definite plans. If and when we do you all will definitely be at the top of the invitation list!
TRR: Awesome. We're looking forward to all of it. Anyone you guys want to give a shout out to?
Cestus: Sure! I think we should give a shout out to Jason Yarrow at Bandivious for helping promote us!! Song River of TAG Publicity! All the AWESOME DJs at Rock Rage Radio who play Cetus in the rotations, Kitra Scott, Angela Mockbee, Lily Sixx, Tabitha Reynolds, Cel Quintero, Stacy Lee and Rich Troxel! And to the Man who not only played us on his radio show first, but plays us all throughout Europe and the world, DJ on Open Stage Radio and the PreSonus Studio One Hour, Mr. Anne Alma. We Love all you Guys and Gals, Thank You!! Our beautiful families who stand beside us and love us! A.D.’s daughter “Burnit” who records our sessions for posterity! Our long time dear friend and band artist/graphic designer Rob “CC” Cox. Most of all shout out to all our fans. The numbers may be small now but we are going to do our part to change that! Rock On People and Play it Loud!!!!