Hailing out of Oakland California, Cultural Warfare is made up of four seasoned musicians with one common goal. Mass Destruction to every venue they step foot in! Former Taunted members Vocalist Jacques Serrano and Bassist Pete Aguilar joined forces with Cultural Warfare alum Guitarist Billy Garoutte and Drummer Kevin Doughty to form the heaviest lineup of Cultural Warfare to date.
Iron Serbian recently spoke with Cultural Warfare vocalist Jacques Serrano about joining Cultural Warfare, working with producer Juan Ortega (Machine Head, Testament, Vicious Rumors), local Bay Area musicians he admires, the end of the first wave of Bay Area thrash scene and much more….
IS: This is the Iron Serbian with Capital Chaos TV. I’m on the phone with Jacques Serrano with Cultural Warfare, How’s it going Jacques?
JS: It’s killer, glad to be on the phone with you discussing about all things metal and Cultural Warfare and happy to be here and talking to people.
IS: It says here you joined in 2015. Is that right?
JS: Sounds correct. You never know give or take a couple months. 2015 going on two yrs. now it’s hard to believe that I joined the band at that time but we been doing a lot of work.
IS: And when you joined that band it was just Billy and Kenny that was in the band. Is that right?
JS: Exactly, Billy and Kenny were in the band and I heard they were looking for a singer right away and I knew a little bit of Cultural Warfare, and I knew Kenny really well cuz we used to be in a band together back in the 90’s. So I reached out to him immediately and things moved along pretty fast as far as getting together and hashing out a couple songs. It happened pretty quick once they lost their singer.
IS: What band were you and Kenny in?
JS: We were in a band in the 90’s called Annihilation with Jimmy Stewart. They were pretty much a staple. I had done a couple of bands before that but when I was in Annihilation I got my feet full of the blood of Bay Area thrash and started my singing career more on that path of thrash. Thrash metal singing.
Z: I used to sing in the band called Turmoil and I think we played together at the Omni once.
JS: The name sounds familiar. Back in those days we all played 20 times a month.
IS: What happened to Kenny? Who killed Kenny?
JS: In a nutshell. What happens to any band when your progressing sometimes and sometimes the branches just fall off the tree and that’s just the way bands are, that’s the way life is and Kenny is a cool cat and I saw him a few months ago at a show I just hope he’s been doing well and I’ve known him forever but it was in the cards and it had to happen as Cultural Warfare kept progressing.
IS: Now you worked on the EP with Juan Ortega. What did he bring to the table? Did you go in there looking for some outside insight?
JS: Juan is as most people know especially musicians. He’s pretty much a staple in the Bay as far as recording great bands and I had worked with him prior with my other band I worked with him on a couple albums. And so he was my first choice in my opinion and the band knew of him as well and once they entered the studio it was warm and friendly and was a smooth process. Juan brings a lot to the table not just production skills but his ideas. There’s always a little idea as small as it may be that makes the song or a part a lot better. Juan was a musician himself back in the day.
IS: Juan was in Vile. Is that correct?
JS: Yes, he was the vocalist in Vile.
IS: How many songs on the EP are brand new?
JS: All of them are brand new. But live, we are playing older songs at select shows that people may know from Cultural Warfare’s first demo. But there’s some slicing and dicing. And with my vocals on board it’s changed significantly but if you’re a fan of the old stuff you’ll hear it and know what the song is. So we are playing some old stuff live.
IS: Do you have any favorites on the EP?
JS: I think every artist, when you have a full album are able to choose a handful of songs a little easier when you have 10 or 11 songs. When you have a smaller EP you always try to put your strongest material forward on a shorter focus like that. I actually like them all but truthfully it’s whatever mood I’m in that day. If I want to thrash and really just get up and go, Future Kill the title track is that fastest and heaviest song on the record but if I want to get into a groove and a good thrash groove I would listen to Rattens Krieg, so I really do truthfully like all the songs.
IS: Why EP and not LP?
JS: I think it was more because of wanting to get all the original Cultural Warfare fans a taste of what the band is doing and what we are about including because I was in some prior bands and what I was doing since being out of the scene for a bit until Cultural Warfare came about. Being a musician takes time to write songs and to perfect songs, write the melodies and everything that goes on then you got holidays, family, friends and a life outside bands so it takes time to put out music so we just wanted to get something out the strongest thing we could put out at the time and let people hear what we’re doing. So far I think we made the right choice people are really digging it.
IS: You have a nice vocal range, it’s a bit rare in the metal scene are there any other vocalist’s you admire?
JS: I’ve learned to appreciate bands, in general, for different reasons. Like, I’ll get into a band cuz I like the drummer or the guitarist but singing wise a lot of people like Christopher Dinsmore , his energy and his presence on stage, I know that guy works out cuz he’s got the endurance to totally push it on every song, every show that I see him play so I really appreciate a singer for that reason but then I’ll appreciate a singer, like my boy from up there in Sacramento, Norman Skinner and I have known each other for 100 years and I always respect and love Norm’s voice. He’s up there now gracing the stages of Sacramento. But he started out in the Bay Area. So there is a couple of guys that I really respect vocally.
IS: Christian Dinsmore is in what band?
JS: Mudface. Any band like Mudface. I just saw a band in So Cal cuz we played a show down there in San Diego and the Singer for Warpath. I don’t know his name but their cool little band that dresses up their all Indians from reservations and they have this vibe and the vocalist puts out these Native American vibes. But the band is called Warpath out in San Diego. There’s so many bands out there that a so full of energy and kickin’ ass and a lot of vocalists, the list is long I can name a bunch of them, but I like watching each person’s take and it’s not all about the scale you can hit, the growls you can do or the high pitched scratchiness you can do, It’s the whole package, the whole package of any singer.
IS: Absolutely, What band did you say Christopher Dinsmore was in?
JS: I’m blanking right this second. But I like Mudface and Angerhead. So he’s in Mudface and Paul is in Angerhead, Norm is in several bands. Jim Settle in Hand of Fire. I’m just trying to think of all the bands that have influenced me recently. It’s cool to be in the scene again and wee these guys perform and meet some of them. Some of them I had never met, like Jim. And, just sitting back and admiring their craft and what their working on, it’s something to see especially for myself cuz I’ve been doing that for quite a while In the bay area and it’s nice to see a new crop of people pop up and still kick butt.
IS: You got to go to Soutern California recently. What’s the live thrash scene like down there?
JS: I’ve been in the bay since ’89. I’m so proud of the bay but I have to give So Cal props. The people down there remind me of the old days. Almost everybody down there wearing jackets with patches. It’s seems like they have the passion and the vibe of European fans. And the clubs, I don’t know how long the clubs have been that that we’ve performed at but I’m hoping they stay a long time. Like clubs in the bay area seem to come and go. But the definition of fans is their fanatics they really dig their metal. I was just totally impressed. Shocked really it was really good down there.
IS: Will Cultural Warfare be reaching into the Taunted vault for riffs or material?
JS: I do not think so. (laughing) Taunted is a 100% different entity and we all respect each other’s music. When I joined the band, Billy the guitarist told me how much he was a fan of my music and Taunted so we play around with it every once in a while just for fun in the Studio. Pete Aguilar was also in Taunted for a while so we all love and respect each other’s music but I wouldn’t see that happening but like anything in this world never say never to anything.
IS: Is Taunted over?
IS: Officially no it’s not. I don’t stay in constant contact with Joey the Guitarist. Joey and I pretty much are and were Taunted but Joey lives in Las Vegas now so that make things more difficult but that ball is in Joey’s court and I think he’s working on stuff. And I hope he is working on stuff. What he does with it I’m sure I’ll be the first to hear about it then we can let the masses know.
IS: I hear Forbidden right away on Rattens Krieg. Do you hear it?
JS: It’s really funny when you hear that you sound like somebody, at first I never really hear it then when you start to listen to it over and over I definitely hear what some people are saying and obviously being in a thrash band where there’s a singer that has a little more melody than the average thrash band we’re going to get compared to bands like Forbidden cuz that’s what they brought to the table and we are proud to be mentioned the same breath as a band like that. I have a lot of really close ties with that band from the Annihilation days. We used to share our studios with forbidden a lot of history there.
IS: With Taunted you played Europe. Can we expect Cultural Warfare over there soon?
JS: I think that’s everybody’s dream to go across and get to Europe and perform. Everyone even if they haven’t been there how wicked it is to play in Europe.
IS: Holy land?
JS: Oh Yeah I’ve been there as a performer and I’ve been there a couple times with a band. It’s like nothing else. Like getting on the biggest roller coaster in the world. So Bad ass. So yeah the band wants to and I think that it will happen it just takes a little bit more time. We need to get a little more notoriety out in that area. Just as of yesterday we got a review in a really important German publication that gave us a good review. So I told the guys I knew of that. It’s called Street Clip TV. And they gave us some props over there so hopefully that spreads the word of Cultural Warfare a little more and we can bring that war train over there to Europe and burn up some tracks.
IS: You were in the Bay area in the late 80’s. Where the thrash scene what somewhat fizzling out and maybe a new kind of metal, death metal was starting to awaken or come to take over. Do you recall that area where Thrash was sort of on the wane?
JS: Yeah I moved here for the music in 89 right at the end of the peak but it still went another year or two but then it seemed like it just fell off the cliff. Why it happened, obviously everyone says the Seattle scene did change a lot as far as music goes and I think that hurt a little bit but you know when people say the thrash scene went away the die-hard true metal fans and people that love playing music we all know it never went away. It just wasn’t’ on your TV every day or it wasn’t in the magazines every day but the fans knew when there was a show and if a band like Sanctuary came to town or Overkill during those lean years people were there they were watching out and it never truly went away
IS: Three albums you can’t live without?
JS: My past started with Judas Priest. I’d have to pick Defenders of the Faith by Judas Priest, Them from King Diamond, Years of Decay by Overkill and believe me there are many more that are right there too.
IS: Well fortunately in this day and age, if stranded on a desert island, we will be there with a 64 gigabyte iPod. The days of 3 albums are sort of over. Thank you so much for your time I look forward to seeing you in Sacramento.
JS: Definitely we look forward to being in Sacramento as well. It’s going to be a killer show. Personally I’ve never played Sac in my whole career so I’m looking forward to being there and meeting the fans. So on April 29th be there and watch the band and all the other bands that are playing too. If you want to know more about us go to our website Cultural Warfare.com and that will put you in touch with everything from social media to updates, music, etc. etc. If you get in touch at Cultural Warfare.com we’ll get in touch with you.
IS: Well thank you and we’ll see you soon.