Blasting-Zone.com recently conducted an in-depth interview with legendary HIRAX vocalist Katon W. De Pena. Several excerpts follow:
Blasting-Zone.com: You've obviously experience a lot of line-up changes over the years. Has there been one common factor behind these changes?
Katon: "Basically, it's because of the touring. It's one thing to record albums, but when you get out on the road, you really see who can and who can't do it. That's when a lot of musicians end up falling off the wagon, so to speak. ...It's just too hard, especially if you're in an underground band, doin' the real shit... In some countries, it varies. In Europe, there are a lot of different ways a band can go out on the road and survive, ya know? A lot of musicians can't do it after a while...they gotta keep their apartments and houses and goin' out on the road ain't payin' the bills. You end up losing more musicians than you would like to. Bands that keep their original lineups...there is a lot to be said right there... Over the years, I've gotten so much support from our fans, that I just refuse to give up. It means a lot to me that it means a lot to them, ya know? I feel very honored and lucky...what we've done in the last year alone...it's just insane...the following that we have."
Blasting-Zone.com: Have you found it difficult to find replacement musicians that you feel are capable performing to your standards?
Katon: "That's a tricky question. It's gotten a little easier because the band's name is more established now than it was in the early days. Finding guys that play true metal is really hard. If they're really into true metal... BLACK SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, early English bands like DIAMOND HEAD... ...I don't know, man...it's just too much for me to grasp all at one time, this metal thing. Finding guys that can really play true metal is hard because this music is kind of like our religion. We're not just guys that are in a heavy metal band. We're also fans of heavy metal music. It's like we're carrying the torch, just looking for the other guys that are carrying the torch, too. The guys that I have in the band right know... Glenn Rogers, Angelo Espino, Dave Watson and Jorge Iacobellis...they are all heavy metal musicians that live, eat, breathe and shit this stuff, ya know? I'm just lucky that I have them. I've been pretty lucky to have had good musicians to work with over the years. It's just something that's in my blood...I can just sort of smell out good musicians."
Blasting-Zone.com: I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to see Angelo back in action, so to speak...
Katon: "He's been a good addition to the band. He's the one in the band that has a lot of heart. He's an emotional player. You can't really tell that because we play very loud and heavy and are very serious about what we play, but he's one of the guys...who is the heart of the band...he's very emotional. He brings another element into the band. The other guys...veteran musicians who play thrash metal...there is a difference...in having guys that can play the classics as well as the new music. The difference is that there was a lot more talent in the old-school metal...no matter what anybody says."
Blasting-Zone.com: There seems to have been a lot more "natural" talent...
Katon: "Yeah, I'd much rather sit down... even if it's classical heavy metal like YNGWIE MALSMTEEN or ULI JON ROTH and early SCORPIONS shit...I'd much rather listen to that than any of the nu metal shit. That‘s what separates the little boys from the big men. ...I think that's why you are seeing so many people gravitate towards the real metal shit, ya know?"
Blasting-Zone.com: It's really nice to see it having a renaissance...
Katon: "I have to agree with you one hundred percent on that. It just reaffirms what all of us have know for so long."
Read the entire interview at Blasting-Zone.com.