The sunny state of California has harvested more than itís fair share of thrash metal bands over the years, and some 25 years since bands like Megadeth and Testament first begun to make an impact, the area is still producing the thrashy goods. Having just brought out their debut album ďFeed The BeastĒ, I thought it might be nice to chew the fat with Jose ďAladdinĒ Barrales from Bonded By Blood, and find out what life is like for the LA newcomers.
LH: Hey there. For the benefit of anyone who isnít familiar with who you are, can you give a brief introduction to the band.
Jose: We are a 5 piece band from Pomona California, which is in the LA area. We are fairly young band that plays brutally fast thrash!
LH: As youíre about to release your debut album Feed The Beast, it seems a good place to start by asking you a few questions about that. A few of the tracks on the album are taken from your previous E.P. Extinguish The Weak. Do you think your sound has progressed at all since you recorded the E.P.?
Jose: Well most of the songs we recorded for the album we already had written with the exception of maybe 2 or 3. I think the album captures a bit more aggression and energy the E.P didn't. So to answer your question I think it progressed in a different manner than the usual. We got tighter and grew as musicians.
LH: When it comes to writing the songs is there any kind of formula you stick to; do you tend to write the lyrics, or the music first, and who writes most of the songs?
Jose: We tend to do it both ways. It really comes down to whatever works. We don't just stick to one formula Ďcus that would just be boring. Lyrics are mostly always written by me and the music is written by all of us. We always try to put our own little flavour in all our songs.
LH: Do you consider the lyrics to be an important part of your music? Are there any particular themes you like to talk about in your lyrics? Are you inspired more by things that go on around you, or more Ďfantasyí kind of themes, or a mixture of both?
Jose: I believe lyrics are really important in music. I hate it when a band takes themselves serious yet they have some dumb lyrics. I understand when its a joke band. As for themes I'm actually experimenting with that for our 2nd album. My inspirations come from best of both worlds; real life situations that people can relate to and then I have songs about horror and comic book stories.
LH: Would you say your love of skating has any real impact on the kind of music you play or listen to?
Jose: I think it has plenty of influence. When I was younger I was watching a old skating vid from the early 90's that had one of my favourite skaters at the time. The music in the background really got me pumped. That was the fist time I ever listened to Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Misfits, Black Flag and Circle Jerks. After that I kept noticing it more and more until I went out and bought albums from all those bands. Skating is a very energetic sport you need some good fast music to pump you up. I believe we create that music.
LH: You started recording your album with Michael Rosen, and of course the experience wasnít quite what you had hoped for. It sounds like he was completely on a different page to you and not listening to what you wanted at all. Could you elaborate a little on what went on here? I imagine it was a difficult thing to have to do to walk away from the chance to work with a producer who Iím guessing you had previously had quite a lot of respect for.
Jose: Yes this was one of the bands hardest decisions. I had so much respect for the guy. He had engineered and produced some of our favourite bands - Testament and Vio-lence being the biggest ones.
The whole recording process with him just wasn't fun at all. He really liked to be in control. When we wanted to put a word in on something we didn't like he would get pissed. I think he just wasn't into the bands we were into anymore. He kept talking about bands like Green Day and how their production was some of the best. It just ended up not working out.
LH: Iím not quite sure how far you got with Rosen in terms of production, but I know you had at least laid down a few tracks. Is any of that stuff on the finished album, or did you have to start again from scratch? Who produced the album in the end?
Jose: If you get the limited edition you get 2 tracks produced by him. I think its the best out of the bunch that he produced. The album was produced by us and Dave, whoís the owner of Lovejuice Labs recording studios. Heís the same guy who did the E.P.
LH: The album cover is very similar sort of design to your Extinguish The Weak cover. What is the concept for the artwork and who painted it?
Jose: The cover is LA falling apart. Its a metaphor, LA is ruined by drug dealers, junkies, poverty and human parasites. If we donít stand up and do anything about it LA will fall apart.
Tom Martin from the band Lich King did the artwork on both.
LH: As youíre quite a young band I was wondering how you got into thrash metal - and was it this kind of music that inspired you to pick up your instruments or have you been playing since before you got into thrash?
Jose: Every band member has their own story on how they got into thrash. Me personally it was because of punk. Bands like D.R.I and the whole crossover genre. I started discovering more and more bands that caught my ear. I was in punk bands before any thrash. I know Juan was in a death metal band before thrash. We all had love for this genre and at the time we started the band we thought the world needed more thrash.
LH: Aside from bands like Exodus, Megadeth, etc. who are obvious influences on your sound, are there any less obvious bands that have inspired you along the way, or that some people may be shocked to discover you are into?
Jose: Iím really into Dead Kennedyís and The Misfits (Glenn Danzig era). They have inspired me in so many ways. Iím into a lot of hardcore-punk and crossover bands.
I know Ruben our bassist is really into Red Hot Chilli Peppers, due to the bassistís extraordinary skills.
Juan has a lot of death metal influences like Vader and Vital Remains.
Alex listens to a lot of solo artist like Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert and bands like Racer X and Dream Theater.
LH: As for the thrash bands who you have probably grown up listening to i.e. Exodus, Testament and the big 4, what do you think of the more recent efforts by these bands? Do you think some of the bands are still putting out quality stuff, or do you think some of them have had their day with regards to their studio careers?
Jose: I honestly think a lot of them are still coming up with some good stuff. I also think a lot more obscure bands that are re-uniting and making new albums so far have disappointed me.
LH: From what Iíve gathered you have a really good scene in LA; loads of kids attending shows and loads of new bands starting to spring up which is really cool, although Iíve also noticed there seems to be some rivalry and bad blood, with another band having posted some childish comments about you on the internet. Would you say youíve had any problems being accepted by some of the more established thrashers in the scene, and also do think there is any resentment from other bands over your recent signing with Earache?
Jose: This is a good question. I think of the LA scene as a big jungle. In the jungle there is animals that wont get along. Its just life. The band you speak of that left those comments is a band I don't really listen to so it does not bother me, I found it really humorous. What people don't know, is that it was their new drummer talking crap for dumb reasons. Funny thing is he wanted to try out to be our tour drummer a few months back. Go figure! They were throwing a big festival in LA and fans going to that festival sent them emails of wanting us to be on the bill. They hated the fact of us being on their fest. They hate the fact that some of their fans like us. About acceptance. We have a die hard fan base out here. People that would do anything for us. We have actually seen a couple dudes with BBB tattoos. The only guys that we really don't get accepted by is the thrashers that listen to that certain band and are close friends with them. We are not like them and will never be like them I don't care about being evil or Satanic. About the Earache thing, most people that go see us congratulate us.
LH: Do you think it is healthy to have a certain amount of rivalry within a scene, or would you rather see bands try to help each other out and support each other?
Jose: I would love to see unity. In reality that would never happen. Egos and Cockiness get in the way of unifying a scene.
LH: Speaking of your record deal, how did you end up signing with Earache Records?
Jose: I believe they heard our stuff via MySpace. We recorded our Extinguish the Weak demo in Riverside and we put it up. Just before we released our demo for people to purchase, Earache started talking to us. We had other offers from other labels, but Earache made us feel like family.
LH: How has your experience been thus far working with Earache? You looked to be having fun partying with the Evile and Gama Bomb dudes when you were here in the UK!
Jose: They are really cool guys. They treat the band like family and tell it like it is. It was real fun hanging out with Evile and Gama Bomb - really cool guys.
LH: Do you have any plans to come over here to tour in the near future?
Jose: We should be out there in September. We are currently booking a European/UK tour so we should be out there ready to gut some bodies.
LH: Thatís all the questions I have for now. Thanks for your time and all the best for the album release! Any final message youíd like to leave for any of the thrash maniacs out there reading this?
Jose: Thank you for the interview! These questions were actually real fun and you had some really interesting questions in there. To all the fans thank you for your support with out you BLOOD HEADS we are nothing.
For more on the band check out www.myspace.com/bondedbyblood
Interviewed by Luci Herbert