Exiled From Grace – “A show of strength in belief in oneself and one’s own individuality.”

Exiled From Grace are a hot, young new metal band from Sacramento, California! Their debut EP “Tragedy” is out now on iTunes, Spotify, and other digital music platforms! The band members include John Timmons (Vocals), Gerard Aguilar III (Bass), Molly Wallace (Drums), Dru Wallace (Guitar) Alex Lovato (Guitar).

How did you first get into music? Who or what turned you onto metal?

John Timmons: My dad listened to a lot of classic rock like Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles, so he would pretty much be playing one of their cassettes every time I was in his truck with them so that was sort of when the seeds were planted I guess. But it wasn’t til around middle school that I started getting into heavier music, and from that it just snowballed into metal, then Deathcore, then wanting to play and perform.

Gerard Aguilar III: I joined the school marching band in 7th grade and soon discovered bands like Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria.

Molly Wallace: Playing Rock Band was what originally got me into music when I was younger and going to Warped Tour is what really got me into metal.

What got you started playing music and how old were you?

John: I was 11 or 12 when I bought my first bass because the only kids I knew in a band in my town needed a bassist.

Dru Wallace: When I was 7, I used to play Guitar Hero 3 and I loved the songs on there so I started learning them on real guitar.

Alex Lovato: I saw the movie School of Rock and got a guitar the Christmas I turned 8. After that I started playing live with my dad and grandfather.

How did you become a vocalist? Are you proficient in any other instruments? Have you always been creative?

John: One of the early projects I was in had a vocalist who wanted to play bass so he asked me to hop on vocals instead. I would also say Marilyn Manson had a big influence on my desire to be a frontman. I am differing levels of proficient in just about every instrument present in this band, mainly so that I can contribute in some way to the writing process rather than just lyrics. No, I would say that I’ve grown exponentially as a musician just in the last two and a half years that I’ve been playing with G. He’s helped me grow into a much better and more capable player all around.


How did Exiled From Grace come about? Where did you develop the name? Where is it derived from?

John: I joined a project G was already apart of and we found that we clicked personally and musically, so after not long we had split with the other members and formed EFG out of that. As for the name, we were sitting in my garage spit-balling names and it was between that or an homage to an As I Lay Dying record. It really is meant to represent people who feel outcasted from society’s typical outlets of happiness and finding the courage to create their own happiness outside of society’s norms. And then subsequently, wearing that “mark” as a show of strength in belief in oneself and one’s own individuality.

What is the plan for recording new music, where, when and with who will be recording you? Will there be bonus tracks, cover songs, vinyl and cassette?

John: We’re currently finishing up the writing/demoing of our full-length with Randy Saelee, the guy who did our EP. We will be recording the official tracks with him and another engineer based out of the Bay Area. As for the rest, you’ll have to find out when we unveil the record!

Who are your original influences and who are your current inspirations and admiration’s local and or national?

Dru: Sworn In.

What makes a good Exiled From Grace song?

John: Heaviness, grooves, and aggression. Everything else is sort of whatever we’re feeling in the moment of writing it or the feel of the song based on the lyrics I have written.

Molly: Anything you can break a limb in the mosh pit to.

What kind of references or influences do you take from other mediums? Is there any particular book, or other artists that you are inspired by?

G: I watch Lords of Dogtown often and it always makes me right tuff riffs.

John: I read a lot of classic/modern literature and I often get ideas based off some of the themes or phrases prevalent in the novels.

How much time do you spend on social media a day? Which do you hate the most but can’t live without? Which do you like and why?

Alex: Don’t ask me that question.

John: More then I care to admit because I’m constantly on there promoting us. And I hate all of them.

Top 5 albums or songs released in the last 12 months?


The Agony Cycle EP – Betrayer
Eternal Nightmare – Chelsea Grin
Deathwish – Within Destruction
Come Hell – Dead Crown
World Demise – Falsifier

You’re on a desert island and only have three albums to listen to for the rest of your life, what are they and why?

John: Antichrist Superstar by Manson (best album of all time in my opinion)
Spite’s Self-Titled
Women and Children Last by Muderdolls

What does metal mean to you?

John: To me, it basically just means a community of people who all enjoy really heavy and aggressive music because they’ve all been at a point in their lives in which the music has helped them pull themselves out of whatever problem they were dealing with, and because of that there is this culture of respect around each other, like we all know we’ve all gone through similar shit and there’s a sort of familial connection that comes with that.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Exiled From Grace?

John: We have a show on September 15th with Alestorm and then one on the 10th of November with Goatwhore and The Casualties. And besides that, we’ll be continuing to finish up our record which should be released sometime next year.

Chase Foster of Zephira “Music has literally done everything for me and I wish to give back as much as possible”

Sacramento’s Zephira bring melody and death metal into one swift punch, but don’t just listen to this, go see them live and decide for yourself!

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto metal?

The first real love for music I had was roughly 10 years old. While playing the video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I’d listen to music by Linkin Park, Slayer, A Day To Remember, System of a Down, Korn, Lamb of God, etc. I’d listen to whatever good to me at the time my genre was all over the place. I preferred the heavier stuff significantly more then anything else. I had not found my favorite genre at the time and was pretty open as long as it didn’t sound so happy I suppose.

How did you become a vocalist? Are you proficient in any other instruments?

In 2010, I started listening to metalcore bands a lot, Asking Alexandria, Motionless in White, As I Lay Dying all that kind of stuff and thought it was super cool (at the time) and wanted to learn how to scream like that. So, what I would do is go into my room or car and just sound god awful and attempt to mimic them until I started getting a grasp on what my voice can do. I can play some cello and violin but nothing much more.

How did the band form, how did the band name come about and what other names were considered? How did the band meet and how long did it take to finalize this lineup?

Okay, this is an interesting one and its going to be long, but everything ties in. In 2013 I started a post-hardcore band with a couple of friends and was always missing something, drums or bass or something always was a missing instrument it was extremely frustrating, and this went on for about 3 years. Eventually in 2016 late December I would find our current Drummer Isaac Nordine and we clicked from the start and would just practice terrible metalcore songs because we both knew them and played the music through my PA system. Come February 2017 I met Nathan David Young at an Atomic Flounder show and I just bluntly asked hey man want to jam after having a good conversation with him. Either a day or two later we had our first jam. We decided between a list of names which I unfortunately do not have anymore but we decide on Zephira because it was a very clean and unique sounding name. For 8 months, we met Sundays, to practicing some real basic but heavy sounding music and played our first show on my 21st birthday, or at least the day before which was on Friday the 13th 2017, which went extremely well for a first show as three piece. We’d go at least another month and a half, before signing on Anthony Taffala who I knew from high school, and I noticed him posting some music gear, and I simply asked, “hey man I see your posts about music gear we should jam!” Literally a few days later I took him a show we where playing and BOOM the handsome devil joined on. Our giant 6”10 guitarist Taylor Houpt would join us a few weeks later, as well after the very first show, Anthony was on and joined like the next night. After some time, and a loss of a member and several shows in between we finally met our bassist Zach Juntunen which at the time of writing this (7/13/2018) Zach will have his first public appears with us on stage tomorrow (7/14/2018).

Who are some of your influences? Which of your influences might we hear in your music?

Hmm, this is kind of a difficult question because we are still finding our true sound as a band, But id like to say we have a lot of Tech and Melodic stuff mixed together, but for influences you can see we sort of pull from all over. Influences are: Archspire, Infant Annihilator, Enterprise Earth, Shadow of Intent, Wastewalker, Signs of swarm, I, Valliance, Falsifer and more.

Who have been some of your favorite bands you’ve hung out with and shared the stage with?

I would have to say our favorite bands to share the stage with have been Wurmflesh, Akasha (LA), Mador Maero, Exiled from Grace, Wastewalker, Tyrannocannon, and The Odious Construct.

How soon can we expect new recorded music from Zephira, will there be a full length and who will you be working with and where?

Beginning of September, we have a single planned for release and its gonna be a heavy hitter I promise you that. We have enough songs for a full length right now, but we have started to grow as a band and are taking a drastic different approach to new music. I think right now may not be the best time for our full length, however we are highly considering taking 4-5 of our best songs and releasing an EP so we can move on to our real potential. With who we will be working with, it has not been decided we could possible do it ourselves or hire someone but when the time comes to sit down and recorded our new songs well decide from there.

Are you currently involved with any other projects outside of Zephira?

I am not a part of any other bands, I’m a one man band because I like have a strong schedule and being in multiple projects could lead to issues, and in all honesty the boys in Zephira are my family.

What kind of references or influences do you take from other mediums? Is there any particular book, or other artists that you are inspired by?

Behind the Gates of Gomorrah: A Year with the Criminally Insane, everyone needs to read this book.

Has music at all been therapeutic for you, is there a particular artist or type of music you go to for comfort?

Music has been extremely therapeutic, I was bullied and beat up literally almost daily 6th-9th grade and the only thing that I really had was music because I refused to tell anyone what was going on. So music has literally done everything for me and I wish to give back as much as possible. As for specific artist or genre I mainly listen to melodic metal and some lo-fi music.

Bands you would love to tour with on a dream tour package and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?

I would absolutely love to tour with Enterprise Earth, Shadow of Intent, and Aversions Crown

Top 5 albums or songs released in 2018 and of all time?

1. Xavlegbmaofffassssitimiwoamndutroabcwapwaeiippohfffx: Gore 2.0
2. Between The Burried and me: Automata I&II combo
3. Atlerbeast: Feast
4. Rivers of Nihil: Where Owls Know my name
5. Don’t know yet some of my favorite bands are neck deep in albums to be released before the end of the year.

All time:
1. Enterprise Earth: Embodiment (2017)
2. Traitors: Mental State (2016)
3. Shadows of Intent: Reclaimer (2017)
4. System Of A Down: Hypnotize (2005)
5. Infant Annihilator: the elysian grandeval galèriarch (2016)

Dance Gavin Dance Share New Video For “Count Bassy”

Rise Records and American rock quintet Dance Gavin Dance are excited to present the music video for “Count Bassy,” the fourth track to be released from its highly anticipated, forthcoming studio album titled Artificial Selection. Helmed by director and animator Mount Emult (who also directed the band’s “Summertime Gladness” music video), “Count Bassy” is another intense musical, and visual, journey consistent with the tone of the band’s new body of work. Check out the music video for “Count Bassy” below. Continue reading

An Evening With John 5 In Sacramento, California – April 15th, 2018

On April 15th 2018 John 5 returned to Sacramento accompanied by supporting act Hero Jr. This was my second time seeing John 5. The first time was in 2015 on a headlining tour with Doyle. The show took place at Harlows. Right away you can see the dedication of the fan base as it was raining lightly but that did not stop people from standing in line. It amazes me that a performer such as John 5 can bring an amazing musical experience without any vocals. The show was amazing as always, filled with many surprises. Hero Jr. was a refreshing new take on rock n roll with some growls mixed into the high points of the songs. They are a 4 piece hard rock outfit from Indiana. I was very curious as to what their sound was going to be because very rarely do I discover a new rock n roll band. Especially one that is original and brings a totally new sound to the cemented rock genre. About 40 seconds into their first song the whole crowd was moving and bobbing their heads. The guitar work was amazing. Fast licks and a range of vocal work. A lot of groove and a lot of talent. I was glad that this was the only band that opened for John 5 as we got to see a lot of great material from Hero Jr.

John 5 came out in a slow foggy atmosphere, which quickly turned into a battle of shredding. Its as if he tries to top himself every time. There was a few slow songs which showcased his more personal side to the music and complimented the shredding of the whole show. It was a beautiful performance. The highlight of the night was special guest, Slayer/Exodus guitarist Gary Holt joining John 5 for an amazing cover of Enter Sandman. It was amazing to see that in such a small venue. Truly powerful the way the entire crowd sang along to it. Personally i lost my voice after that. John 5 then closed the set with a beautiful medley of songs. Everything from Iron Maiden to Van Halen. It was great seeing everyone enjoy the music and live in the moment. There was a special encore of John 5 performing the Rage Against The Machine classic “Killing In The Name Of”, and then of course his cover of beat it by Michael Jackson. We were all left wanting more. Visually and musically an amazing show. John 5 always delivers. No filler, all talent.


Author: AJ Guzman

An Evening With Distinguisher – Live Photo Review

Distinguisher @ Holy Diver…courtesy of Zoran Theodorovic


Sacramento, California

Distinguisher are touring in support of their self-released studio album, What’s Left Of Us, which was released on February 10, 2017. Distinguisher will be performing at the 20th Annual 2018 New England Metal Hardcore Festival on Friday, April 20th, as part of an incredibly stacked lineup that’s rounded out by acts like Morbid Angel and Thy Art Is Murder. The festival will take place over two days at Worcester, MA’s Palladium. Go here for ticket information. 




Coast To Coast: Sacramento, California To Richmond, Virginia

It’s me again, Nikki Knight your reviewer of all underground local music from both my home towns Sacramento CA and Richmond. When I’m not being sent to shows I like to go on my own and support my local bands just like I did back home in California. This time in my Coast to Coast review we will he discussing a hardcore power/memeviolence band and a slam band of apes that would slam you into oblivion.

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The aggression and the high voltage energy of Grindcore and Power violence, Slam Metal has been a big part of what attracts me to go see shows. D Beat blasts, and thrashy crowd killing riffs and all the different mixes punk and metal and thrash an in a fascinating way. Yes both are similar and both are different but in all the same the pits kick your ass! Well this time I’m here to bring you the best from Sac and RVA

Now these kids are very dear to my heart. When I first started booking shows, I was in awe of their filthy and offensive lyrics, their extreme, aggressive sound and the sheer insanity, they bring to any show they are on, made me proud to be their punk Mama. Alcoholic Sex Detonation. They are memeviolence and powerviolence and they are fucked up. They induce a riot like pit, that hurdles people into walls, and have people laughing due to the silliness and the depravity in their song titles and jokes. Their Lyrics are pretty messed up to but in just the right way. Their sound is amazing! Perfect vocals awesome riffs, and killer drums that may or may not split you in two. Their album It’s Not Rape If It’s Dead is one of my all time favorites. Not only do they have a great sound, but they have hilarious sound bites and skits, that can make you shit yourself if your not prepared. unfortunately they have been on hiatus. Still check out their facebook page and bandcamp so you can experience the awesomeness of ASD.

Now in RVA, we have an outbreak of killer apes that love to SLAM. BananaSlama is a band of 4 apes that somehow possess the power of slam metal. Their hardcore slam sound, crushes you as these apes scream, growl and make monkey noise. They speak English but sing in Simeon, but the music is killer, the monkey vocals are powerful and funny at the same time. You should not miss a live show, because they tear it up more than King Kong tears up a city.

Please checkout their Facebook page here and like, share and comment on this article and tell us who we should review next as I take both of my lovely cities ,Sacramento CA and Richmond VA, and expose them to music from both coasts. Please continue reading for more hardcore music news reviews and updates



Scumdogs of the universe and lords of chaos Gwar, attacked the stage at a sold Ace of Spades with an unbridled fury. Bringing the The Blood of Gods Tour, to a standing or squirming room only crowd, in downtown Sacramento, we were all in for a treat as they pummeled us with “War On Gwar”, the first track off the new record and closing the night out with their cover of the AC/DC classic “If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It”


Guitarist John Abernathy of Wastewalker ” Its really the poor and the rich that need to battle it out in this country.”

Wastewalker was formed from the ashes of ex-Sumerian Records Sacramento CA heavy hitters Conducting From the Grave. The band is the brainchild of main CFTG songwriter/lead guitarist John Abernathy. (Via Sputnik Music)

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?

My earliest memories of liking music were listening to Vanilla Ice and Kris Kross around Kindergarten age. I grew up in elementary school mainly liking rap, such as Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and my favorite act Bone Thugs n Harmony. Then around 7th grade I was at my aunt and uncles house and my older cousin Matt was playing a bunch of Slayer, Pantera, and Metallica riffs on guitar and I thought it was pretty cool. I wasn’t even really into rock yet, let alone metal. He let me borrow the Black Album and said that was entry level, a Hypocrisy album and said that was intermediate, and a Cannibal Corpse album and said that was advanced and said I might not like it. I actually loved reading along with the lyrics because I was a huge Brotha Lynch fan and the Cannibal Corpse lyrics made his horrorcore lyrics sound like Disney music. I was kind of a dark morbid kid.

How did you become a guitarist and vocalist? Are you proficient in any other instruments?

My interest in guitar came from seeing my cousin Matt play, and I used a self teaching book he had to learn how to read tabs when I was over at his house. I asked for a guitar for Christmas of 7th grade and my parents got me a Hamer Slammer series telecaster (quite the metal starter guitar lol!) that came with a tiny bass amp from a pawn shop. Within an hour after opening presents, using tabs I got online and printed out, I had learned the intro riff to One by Metallica. I remember my parents being pretty blown away like “wow you taught yourself how to play that?” Over the years I’ve gotten good at bass, as its more or less the same as guitar, and I’ve learned piano a little bit and drums just from dicking around on my drummers kits over the years. My desktop drumming and air drumming on my chest and thigh have gotten to expert levels over the years from explaining what beats I want my drummers to play.

Were you forced to go to church as a youth, if so were you an altar boy or participate in some other ways?

Thankfully never! My parents never tried to sway my brother and I in any way, and go figure – we both turned out Athiest. My family lived in Alabama for a year and the neighborhood kids my brother and I played with thought it was weird we didn’t go, so we went a few weekends and I got over it pretty fast. I think I just wanted to sleep in on the weekends, wake up and play Turbo Grafx 16 (we were poor!). Hell I still do! Must be why I’m a career musician, I didn’t really get outta bed till almost noon today after rocking with Virvum, Depths of Hatred, and Vale of Pnath last night.

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?

When I first started going to local shows I was 14 and an all local show of numetal bands such as Luxt, The Council, Theend, Inruin could pack out the Colonial Theater (like a 500 cap room for those not in the know). All from flyering, pre Myspace days even (daymn I’m gettin old!) Metalcore started taking over around age 17 for me and my favorite local band was With Passion. It was kinda wild when I ended up getting Jeff from With Passion to join my dumb as of yet unnamed band at the time, which grew into Conducting From the Grave. Now my favorite local bands are The Odious Construct, The Kennedy Veil, and Flub.

How did the band form and how did the band name come about? How did the band meet and how long did it take to finalize this lineup? How stable is the current lineup?

I wanted to name the band Wastelander and the idea stemmed from my love for post apocalyptic stuff (shows like The 100, games like Fallout). However I saw that was taken already, and I racked my brain and thought “hey Wastewalker has a nice ring to it, and its pretty much the same thing.” Most of the material is all composed and structured by me, lyrics included but getting live members wasn’t too difficult. I had Nate (guitarist) come over to buy 1 of my 7 strings and I had already played in his band Sepsis with Cam before. I said “hey CFTG is probably gonna be booking some farewell gigs pretty soon because everyone doesn’t want to commit enough time to it and wants to kinda move on with adult life, so I have these songs I was working on for future CFTG but I think I’m gonna call it something else. I was thinking of maybe doing vocals and playing guitar like Arsis or Necrophagist, since dealing with frontmen problems had been the bane of Conducting From the Grave’s existence.” I showed him the demos I tracked on Cubase and he said “dude I’m 100 percent down to play for this. and hey now we both have the same guitar!” Jackson from CFTG wanted to play bass but he was moving 2 hours away for college and I’ve learned my lesson with that in CFTG having members in far away cities is a headache. Joel (bass) heard about the band and put his hat in the ring for bass and hes a guitarist originally, which is what I wanted because I find they learn riffs faster. I think Justin (drums) also heard about it and contacted me. As far as Cam (vocals) goes, I knew he was going through being removed from Alterbeast, and I decided doing vocals while playing would just be too difficult for me and my lows suck horribly, so I asked if he wanted to do vocals and he of course was on board, being that we were such good friends already. He lived with me at my dads for a while actually, so hes like adoptive brother. As far as stability I don’t see anyone leaving, although its understood that if any tour opportunities come along and someone can’t do them I will find fill ins and make shit work. It’s like Ratcheck or Ricos roughnecks on Starship Troopers – “You’re it until you’re dead or I find someone better.” Although I feel like I found the best already though, and I feel fortunate these guys wanna play music with me.

You most recent record Funeral Winds came out 2016, how did the writing process and recording process differ from your former bands like Conducting From The Grave & With Passion? What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome to get it out?

With Passion was too many cooks in the kitchen, which is why that album I was involved on (What We See When We Shut Our Eyes) has 10000 riffs per song and “bad” structure. We all wrote in a room and had 3 guitar writers contributing riffs. Conducting From the Grave was a little more focused as far as me writing most of the stuff, but we still wrote as a band at first. As time went on and I got into Cubase, and people had 1000 excuses for cancelling practice always, more and more material was just written completely by me sitting at the computer and programming drums as I tracked riffs. Thats pretty much how its done with Wastewalker, but the new album I’ve been collaborating with Justin a lot on drums which has been quite refreshing. There weren’t many obstacles really, I learned how to audio engineer in Cubase and thats been a huge help. Justins a major professional so the first rehearsal we had with him he already ran through everything first take from learning the programmed drums. We were almost going to be corner cutting assholes and have the record be very well velocity edited MIDI Superior Drummer drums, but after jamming with Justin once, me and Nate were like “yooo we gotta book a few extra days with Zack Ohren, we need dem real drumz on this shit boi!”

How soon can we expect new Wastewalker music. Will it be a continuation of the first album. Will you be releasing it on cassette and vinyl. Do you own a cassette player, are cassettes silly? Will it be released DIY or is there label interest? Will you be recording cover songs for the new album?

I get 3 months of unemployment every year at my temp agency, so I’m going to treat finishing the next album like a full time job during that time, and that time is starting January. There are already 3 songs, 2 of which have lyrics. I might do a preproduction recording and release 1 song just to hype up a winter tour. Not 100 percent sure yet. By Summer the next album will be out, maybe fall at the latest. My truck has a cassette deck. I use it all the time – with an 8th inch Aux converter thingie haha. I’m not anti label, but no one has really expressed interest, and I kinda dig seeing the band grow organically and keeping all my royalties but if the right offer came along I’d bite. No plans for a cover song but who knows?

What other bands are you in?

None anymore, I’ve realized the hard way I have to whole ass 1 band instead of half ass a bunch of side projects. I barely even rap anymore because of this as well, Wastewalker takes all my free time. I occasionally fill in for Hoods still.

Has there been times when drugs and alcohol were beneficial to the band?

Nah not really. Helpful for partying after the show and cutting loose and whatnot I suppose. But definitely just detracts from working on music. If I didn’t drink socially I’d probably enjoy gigging a little less because I get social anxiety, although no one would guess because I mask it pretty well. By drinking.

How would you best describe your sound?

Thrashy melodic death metalcore. Some shit that will make you want to mosh but you might also hum and think “where the fuck is this melody from?”

Is doing ticket pre-sales the same thing as pay to play?

No, I don’t have a problem selling tickets as long as I’m not required to give the venue a certain amount. I’ll take a few bucks per whatever we sell whether its 40 bucks or 300 bucks. Buying your own tickets because of some quota the promoter has is where it becomes pay to play. I’m old school though I’ll still stand outside the line of a big Ace of Spades show and hand out flyers like I’m still some bright eyed bushy tailed 19 year old kid that thinks his band is gonna make it, and not the thirty something has been wash up that I probably am! Flyering is my preferred method of promotion.

Do you still buy cds or mostly use streaming sites? Which sites do you use?

Anything I really like I buy on the Google Play store usually. I buy shirts of bands at shows if I really dig them, and CDs from the show. But almost never do I buy CD’s from the store these days.

What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?

Alice in Chains unplugged album was the first album I remember buying money I earned from working. I think I bought Aenima by Tool twice because my boom box ate the first tape. That was so long ago though so maybe it wasn’t Tool?

Who have been some of your favorite bands you’ve hung out with and shared the stage with?

All Shall Perish took us on tour 3 times when I was in Conducting From the Grave and not only did we vibe well with their fanbase and sell a ton of merch, we also got along with them. Ben Orum is one of the raddest dudes in the world, and thats why I print all Wastewalker merch through his company Weneedmerch.com. I love the Suicide Silence guys too, especially their merch guy Joe. He was Light This City’s merch guy on my first tour ever with them in 2005 and he rode in our van quite a bit, along with their guitarist because we rolled with open beers and LTC wasn’t down with that. Such rebels we were! lol. fucking losers really looking back haha. It’s funny how being a stepdad now has changed my perspective. I’d probably yell at 19 year old me. I loved touring with the Arsis dudes too, man… too many bands to list really because I generally get along with everyone and have a good time.

Whats the biggest show you have played so far and do you still get nervous before a gig?

Final show of the Kataklysm/All Shall Perish tour in Kataklysm’s hometown of Montreal. They were filming a music video and the show was sold out with over 1600 people. I don’t get nervous, I’d call it more eager to get it over with. The anxiety of waiting to play is real, and its not for fear of not doing well – it’s just that I know I can’t truly relax until my job is done as an entertainer.

Does the current political climate in America scare you or make hopeful? Do you see a possible civil war on the horizon?

I think no matter what shit show is going on, life will keep going on and it won’t affect me all that much. People said all the same shit about Bush and Obama, I think Trump is just a notch worse, but ultimately no civil war is going to happen. It wouldn’t surprise me if an assassination occurred though. But then we would have Pence who actually scares me a little more than the rest. I probably shouldn’t talk about assassination so I better leave a disclaimer – I in no way encourage or endorse that! Because big brother is watching. Just ask our singer Cam, he went to Juvy for 6 months as a 14 year old punk rock kid with a green Mohawk for saying on a message board he wanted to blow up the white house.

Favorite songs on the new as yet to be finished album and why?

Well there are only 2 full finished thus far but I’m extremely happy with my chorus and structure work thus far. I’ll give a lyrical snippet from a prechorus / chorus section: “Deliver us unto innocent ignorant bliss, every grain of sand that falls from this hour glass is a bless-ed eternity, Come daybreak we will bask in the afterglow, go back to normal life, no one has to know. I’m melting into you, you’re melting into me, Everything makes sense, we were meant to be. I was a wanderer doomed to roam, now it all makes sense, I am home.”

What kind of references or influences do you take from other mediums? Is there any particular book, or other artists that you are inspired by?

Video games like Fallout come to mind, but mostly my inspiration lyrically is from real life experiences and I try to make parallel metaphorical stories.

Could you please explain the title, Immortal, I Create?

That song is about me being creative forever, no matter what the method, even if I have to go out on my own (i.e. Conducting From the Grave breaking up and me doing Wastewalker as more of a solo project) and moving forward, crushing anything in my path that stands in my way. Whether that be record labels, band members, shitty promoters etc “I’ve made something from nothing, I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again, stand in my way and rest assured you’ll be torn to shreds” proceeds to shred dueling solo section lol – Basically I’m going to do this music shit immortally, and live on forever though what I’ve created.

Out of all your songs which one touches you the most when you perform it?

I think actually Immortal I create, just because it starts at a tempo that lends its self to rocking out pretty hard and the riff is really easy to play and kinda intentionally sloppy. Plus I like doing the backup vocals on the strummy part before the breakdown “You can’t take this away from me I’ll rage against your apathy, I won’t become the mortal man the world says I have to be, I’ll bow out from this stage of blasphemy, but mark my words you haven’t seen the last of me” I think it brings out a lot of emotion for me live because it was essentially written going through the well of emotions that came along with Conducting From the Grave calling it quits, which was such a large part of my life for 12 years.

Are there any political or social issues hidden in Wastewalker songs?

The title Funeral Winds is a song about income inequality and disgustingly rich people that hoard their money and have no problem paying peasant wages. People like the Papa Johns CEO for instance. Fuck that guy. Fuck civil war between the right and the left or Trump vs Hilary, its really the poor and the rich that need to battle it out in this country. And the voice of the masses of poor people scraping by needs to be heard, loud and clear.

Who does the songwriting for the band? Where is inspiration found?

It’s mostly all me, but Nate contributed a lot of input on harmonies and some structure here and there and wrote his own solos. Cam wrote the lyrics for Hazmat birth about struggles with addiction. I draw inspiration from living life, making mistakes and being human.

What is the writing process like and the putting of songs in order?

Mostly me sitting at the computer with my guitar until a skeleton of a song demo is tracked. Then we get together in our rehearsal spot and try to jam it and pitch ideas for what could make it better or worse as a full band. Then eventually 19 revised demos later we have a finished song. RIP my hard drive space.

Top 5 albums or songs released this year so far?

Well when I was at my old job last year, I could listen to music all day so I was much more on game. I’m super behind on what has come out this year now because the Apple warehouse I work at makes us lock our phones up before going in. The new Arkaik jams hard, The Kennedy Veil’s album is great, new Black Dahlia Murder was as usual solid as fuck. Darkest Hour’s latest album came out this year right? Or was it late last year? I really liked that album, it had a great raw grit to the production and songwriting. Relentless Mutation by Archspire did what I though it was going to do too – make me wanna sell my guitar and go be a fluffer on porn sets or something because obviously I aint shit as a musician. Same with that Virvum album, but I think that came out 2016 too.

What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?

Dean guitars sort of I think? We (me and Jeff from Conducting From the Grave) are still listed on their site but they haven’t responded to my emails in years nor have they sent me guitars. I got Toontrack to give me Superior Drummer for free by throwing my big “I was signed to Sumerian records, who wants to touch me” dick around, as per suggested by Zack Ohren. So bascially just Toontrack and Dean Guitars. I think Dean will start to holler back once Wastewalker starts touring regularly. If not I’d love to get Ibanez or ESP.

Bands you would love to tour with on a dream tour package and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?

Resurrect Dimebag and tour with Pantera. But in the realm of reality, I’d love to go back out with All shall Perish if/when they finally get going again. Black Dahlia Murder and Revocation would also be bucket list bands to tour with. I’d love to pick Dave Davidsons brain about his process and just trade licks and jam a little bit.

Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?

Play “In the Dirt” by Twisted Insane/Charlie Ray So many lines resonate with me in that song and it has such a dark vibe, I tear up and get goosebumps every time I hear it “So imagine, if I never had the music and I never was equipped with the wrath to use it like I do when I’m lucky enough to pay a bill while you niggas make a mill with your wack acoustics”. And I’ll take The Last Demon by Twisted Insane, Far Beyond Driven by Pantera, and Deja Entendu by Brand New. Vast array of emotions from hawrd to sawft all in my coffin, although I’ll be dead so I won’t be able to feel shit, not even the gnawing of the worms and maggots. Matter of fact I’m going to donate my body to science anyways, so just ask what those creepy fucks that are going to be cutting me up wanna listen to!

What does metal mean to you?

It’s family at this point. I love all my friends I’ve made in the metal scene. Going to shows, playing shows and writing aggressive music is the best release from the bullshit of regular life imaginable.

Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?

Be on the lookout for a Kickstarter campaign to launch in the next few months for a table top card and dice game tentatively titled “Wastewalker Battle Arena”. In a nut shell, you have a squad of 5 character cards and your battling in an arena for entrance into a post apocalyptic fallout shelter for the amusement of its leader, as opposed to wandering the nuclear wastes. You have a hand full of cards with special abilities for each character and you battle other players until there is only 1 player left. Shout out to Mikey Hood, without you the underground metal and hardcore scene wouldn’t be what it is today in Sacramento, shout out to Ricky Trigga and First Unit productions for putting on shows, same goes out to Chris Somel and the Atlantean Collective. Shouts out to High House, we need to do a proper show there soon with our full lineup! Too many names to list but basically just know that if you have helped put on a show, from the door people/security to the persons signing the contract to pay the headliners, to the sound guys – everyone in the scene I just want to say thank you so much for helping me do what I’ve done for almost 15 years. And most importantly the fans, I know its cliche but your praise and support keeps me motivated to push forward and keep doing this, despite it costing me a ton of blood sweat and tears over the years. As far as dirty jokes, I heard this on a movie called Middle Man yesterday and it stuck with me: “Whats the hardest part about cutting up a dead body? …. The bones!” \M/

Solanum Lead Guitarist/Vocalist Joe Arellanes Interrogated

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?

Haha no!

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
Havok- conformicide
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.


Dope live at Ace Of Spades

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Dope perform @ Ace Of Spades in Sacramento, California 10/03/17 with openers Hed PE, Glug, D One   Dope 10/03/17 @ Ace Of Spades – Sacramento, California All photos by Zoran Theodorovic Death, drugs, guns, sluts Spoon fed hate and … Continue reading