XMFan conducted an interview in August 2006 with former SACRED REICH and current THE HUMAN CONDITION guitarist Wiley Arnett. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
XMFan: You joined SACRED REICH before the first album was released. Fill us in on what happened around that time.
Wiley: Back in 1985 there was quite a bit of activity going on at the local level in east Phoenix and south Scottsdale. We had FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, and ICON had been signed to Capitol Records a year or so before that. Some of that attention started to inspire local musicians, and the result was a lot of garage bands. A few of those started to break away and do more than just cover tunes. SACRED REICH was originally a cover band that did METALLICA, S.O.D. — pretty hardcore underground stuff — while others were doing stuff like DOKKEN and RATT. So REICH was one of the first bands I saw locally that covered hardcore bands. The original guitarist, Jeff Martinek, wound up joining the Navy about eight months before the band got signed, which created the perfect opportunity for me. Growing up I actually liked the guitar players from bands like RATT and DOKKEN, but I saw an opportunity and had to take it. I heard TESTAMENT and thought, "Wow, there are some talented players in the heavier genre." It didn't take me long to get authentic about playing harder and faster. We started having fun with some cover songs and soon began writing originals. There was a pretty cool local buzz, and the local bands got along well — often times they'd share rehearsal spaces to make the monthly rent easier. It was a really conducive atmosphere. Metal Blade Records was coming out to Arizona once or twice a month to see FLOTSAM AND JETSAM for a while, and consequently we were exposed to Metal Blade. We were warming up for FLOTSAM on their showcases. Then we started getting some attention of our own, and wound up getting our song "Ignorance", which was the first song we wrote after I joined the band, featured on the "Metal Massacre VIII" album from Metal Blade in 1986. From there it was a really great time.
XMFan: With the success of "Surf Nicaragua", you were able to tour the world for a few years in the late '80s.
Wiley: We were fortunate to have some good support in key places and were able to generate some momentum early on. We actually toured for nine years. After releasing "Ignorance" we did our first North American tour, which consisted of four shows. (Laughs) We rented a twelve-passenger van and a trailer, and started driving. Our first show was in Ohio, which was like a two-day drive, then a few stops in New York before ending all the way up in Toronto. We drove all the way home from Canada with no shows. It was pretty funny, but that was our first tour of North America. (Laughs) We were having a lot of fun at this point, and we agreed we were lucky to do it. After "Surf Nicaragua" we got quite a bit of positive attention — Europe in particular — where we were invited to do a few festivals while touring there. We really enjoyed playing to the larger crowds of twenty to thirty thousand people, and recorded a live import record called "Alive At The Dynamo" in Holland in '89. The second time we played the Dynamo Open Air Festival in '96 there were over fifty thousand metal fans in attendance. That was a huge honor, and you can imagine that it was a very big deal to us. In retrospect that was as good as it would get.
XMFan: What is the status of REICH these days?
Wiley: We are all close friends — we are brothers. We have all kind of taken up local careers that are kind of a step away from the band. We enjoyed the success we earned, but aspired to do a little better. As we got older our families depended on us to be heads of the households, and it was hard to be gone so much. We had kids, and people's priorities change. Lots of people tell me, "Hey, I heard you were in a band that put out albums and stuff!" But they have never heard of SACRED REICH. (Laughs) We were really successful on a certain level, and I like to describe it with an old saying: "The water is famous to the fish that swim in it." If you were not part of the metal scene, you won't have any idea what we're talking about. If you were part of it, you'll know it was something that was exciting and real and we were fortunate to be a part of it. You know? When the band disbanded it was more about being practical. We needed to do something that would pay off our houses and show more of a future, because we weren't doing the gold records. We might sell a couple hundred thousand. But we just didn't want to be forty years old playing "Surf Nicaragua". (Laughs)
XMFan: Any plans to get together and do a song here or there?
Wiley: We always say nothing is out of the question, but we have nothing planned as far as working together on new music. However, we are collaborating with Metal Blade Records on re-releasing "Ignorance" and "Surf". This will be a three-disc set that includes a DVD of some old school live performances. Phil [Rind] and I have been working closely just looking back, and it has been a blast to view old photos and put together the artwork.