Solanum is a Thrash Metal Band from Sacramento, CA. Solanum formed in 2010 by members Udi (Guitar), Dustin Cooknick (Drums), Joe Arellanes (Lead Guitar and Vocals) and Jason McLeod (Bass). The band recorded their first demo titled Solanum that is available here and at all of their shows. ‘The Rotting’ ‘Echoes of the Dead’ & ‘Hurry up and Die’ are usually part of the bands set list. The continuous show playing led to opening act opportunities for national touring bands such as Destruction, Kreator, Testament, Soulfly, Metal Church, Warbringer, Havok and more. Solanum continues to thrash the Sacramento and surrounding areas while working on their debut album. Lead guitarist and vocalist Joe Arellanes, took some time out of his busy schedule, holy diving, to answer our silly questions.
How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?
I grew up around music, whether it be on road trips with my family or just running errands with my mom on weekends. We always had music on. I got into metal when I was in middle school and I started skating.
How did you become a guitarist and vocalist? Are you proficient in any other instruments?
I picked up guitar shortly after I started high school, started a band with my buddies and they needed a vocalist, so I guess out of necessity. I kinda had a knack for it, I suppose. And no, I’m not proficient in any other instruments.
What was the local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?
Its kinda hard to say what the local scene was like, I was so young at the time I don’t really remember. I loved Times of Desperation and Psychosomatic. Master Leather Daddy ruled too. I miss Black Mackerel! As far as local bands now, I really like the Kennedy Veil, The Odious Construct and am very glad that Psychosomatic is still shreddin’. There’s so much local talent these days, it hard to keep up!
Has there been times when drugs and alcohol were beneficial to the band?
How would you best describe your sound?
I would say that we’re thrash. We may dip our toes in the death metal realm but only slightly.
Is doing ticket pre-sales the same thing as pay to play?
Not if you don’t have to BUY the tix first. If you’re getting a cut of the total amount of sold tix then I guess its about how much footwork you’re willing to put in.
Do you still buy cds or mostly use streaming sites? Which do you use?
I do both. I use spotify for convenience, but I buy CD’s to support people I enjoy.
What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?
The first music I bought was the self titled System Of A Down album, before that I was a radio guy. And I bought just about the entire Death catalog again after they remastered it…. Worth every cent!
Who have been some of your favorite bands you’ve hung out with and shared the stage with?
Well pretty much any bigger band that came through Starlite was usually pretty cool. The guys in Black Fast were way cool and so were the guys in Black breath. Our last show at starlite was really cool and the guys in Decrepit Birth were AWESOME!
Joe on stage with Decrepit Birth for their rendition of the Death classic “Crystal Mountain”
Whats the biggest show you have played so far and do you still get nervous before a gig?
We got the pleasure of opening for Suicidal Tendencies a few years back, that was the biggest. Sold out ace of spades. Testament was right up there too.
Does the current political climate in America scare you or make hopeful? Do you see a possible civil war on the horizon?
I don’t know if it scares me, I feel like those in power really don’t give a shit about anyone other than whomever is lining their pockets, until its reelection time, then we’re buddies I guess? And no I don’t see civil war of any type on the horizon, if you believe what you see on Facebook or in the media, you’re the fucking problem.
Favorite songs on the new as yet to be finished album and why?
That’s a tough one. Probably our song “Dawn of Extinction” because its just a badass tune. Its a bit more “progressive” (I use that word VERY lightly) that most of the other stuff, but its super cohesive still.
Out of all your songs which one touches you the most when you perform it?
Maybe our song “One Foot in the Grave” because it’s super musical with quite a bit of harmony, and the guitar solo has a lot of feel to it.
Are there any political or social issues hidden in Solanum songs?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t say they’re hidden, or if they are they’re not well hidden haha.
Who does the songwriting for the band? Where is inspiration found?
We all contribute to the process, its kind of absurd how easy those guys are to get along with, no egos no bullshit. We just wanna make music we’d want to listen to. As cliche as it sounds, inspiration can come from anywhere.
What is the writing process like and the putting of songs in order?
Either Udi or I will come to practice with ideas, show it to the guys, get a yay or nay and build from there. We still haven’t figured out the song order for the album haha. That’ll be an argument for when the album is done
Top 5 albums or songs released this year so far?
In no particular order
Mastodon- Emperor of sand
Iron Reagan- Crossover Ministry
Kreator- Gods of Violence
The Black Dahlia Murder- Nightbringers
What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?
I have no endorsements but I’d love to get one from ESP and Peavey.
What kind of gear is making the Solanum live sound?
Peavey heads and Marshall cabs.
Bands you would love to tour with on a dream tour package and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?
Probably Havok and Black Fast. There’s really too many to name.
Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?
Song: Perennial Quest byDeath
Albums: Megadeth – Rust in Peace, Death – Symbolic and … Queens Of The Stoneage – Like Clockwork
What does metal mean to you?
I love metal, its pure unfiltered passion. Raw primal energy at its finest. Its a release and an escape.
Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?
I just want to say that I appreciate everything that people have done to support Solanum over the years. Its been so awesome to be a part of something special! So thank you!
Catch Solanum November 4th with Hatriot, Psychosomatic and Severpull @ The Blue Lamp in Sacramento.