This is totally partial reporting here. I’m a Bonded By Blood junkie. I didn’t start off that way. I first covered the band in the fall of 2010 during the Exiled to Earth tour. They were awesometastic live, loads of energy; sonically pleasing. But I tucked “Exiled to Earth” away and kept on space truckin. It’s a decent thrash album, but nothing too earth shattering.
I got the call to review the new album “The Aftermath,” which drops July 2nd (Europe) and 3rd (North America) via Earache Records. I jumped on it. I was going more on the fact that the one time I spoke to Juan Juarez, he was a pretty cool dude with gorgeous hair and live Bonded By Blood were wicked.
Imagine my surprise when my interview was with the only other original member Carlos Regalado, the drummer. I was totally set for a “fun” interview as drummers tend to have that reputation. What I got instead was a pretty intense, insightful, and intelligent conversation about all things Bonded. I ended up leaving the show a bigger Bonded By Blood supporter than when I arrived all thanks to a killer album, a wicked live show, and quartet of really nice dudes with pretty hair!
How is it as the drummer, you are in charge here. Drummers get a pretty bad rap.
Mainly, because me and Juan have been here the longest. We know the most about the band and we’re very seasoned with interviews. We know what to say and what not to say.
You and Juan have had Bonded By Blood for an impressive seven years.
I think that’s at the cusp. Once we hit eight years that’s a long time. Seven years is still considered fresh. I still learn a lot day by day. It’s taken me seven years to finally show up to a show and know exactly what to do, where everything goes, how everything should be. It was Jessie‘s first tour (Jessie Sanchez, bass) and he still doesn’t even know the basics of day by day things.
Does that keep it fresh and exciting for you, breaking in new members on the road?
No, definitely not fresh and exciting. When it comes to new members, we’ve had two members that weren’t original join, hell three; three join and have to show them the ropes. Every person is different and every person handles their issues on the road differently and it’s just a matter of patience. It just takes time. It’s a whole completely different lifestyle on the road. It takes a while to get the shit down like a beat.
With three band members coming in and going out how does that impact your sound?
What’s weird about that is I think we’ve actually benefited from people coming in and having these ideas that we clashed with. I mean me and Juan have always been core songwriters; me, him, and Alex. Obviously, Alex isn’t here but when people come it’s more of like they come and they have their input on the songs and they have their ideas and themes. They have all these ideas that we’re not used to because we know how the band needs to be portrayed from history.
We know what fans want to see. We know what fans will neglect. When it comes down to it, it’s about the music. We all get along really well, this line up for “The Aftermath”. We just got to chill and just drink and smoke and write a really sick record. Like no pressure. We took as long as we wanted. We just had a good time with each other and just wrote a bad ass record. But when it was with the other records, a lot of the members back then didn’t want particular sounds. They didn’t want particular type of riffs, so it really bugged us when we would come up with something cool, it would get shot down by somebody.
It would be a buzzkill and that type of thing takes a toll on the album. It’s a whole day wasted. But when it came to this “The Aftermath”, everything, almost everything we made is on the album. It was weird because we didn’t care. It’s what we want. If we like it, then who cares if it sounds like this and somebody out there isn’t going to like it. You can’t think like that. You have to think, WOW, I think that’s cool, so it’s on the record.
I think “The Aftermath” is light years better than Exiled. You can definitely hear a difference between the two. Is that due to the comfort level of recording with no pressures and little dissension?
That’s a huge compliment. We wanted to make a real record. “Feed the Beast” and “Exiled to Earth,” in our opinions are demos that shouldn’t exist. There’s some decent songs on there that we wrote way back. I don’t think we like a single song on “Exiled to Earth” except like one. And then “Feed the Beast” has a couple that are definitely live songs but didn’t come through to their full potential on the record. It’s pretty old and we were very young.
So, we spruced those songs up live. We play them slightly different. We’re talking drum fills type of stuff. I mean this record, it was weird. We were like everyone thinks we’re done because all the members changed. Everyone’s gone. Everyone’s lost faith. At one point we almost felt like everybody we were working with was like, “These guys lost too many members, it’s over.” You can’t think of it like that. Now it’s just me and Juan. It’s a dual effort. Me and him get along really well as far as writing goes. We know exactly each others limits. We know if we’re really thrilled about a riff we’ll just work with it.
One of the things I think made this record was that we were all so flexible and we just loved every minute of it. We loved making it because it was a party every time we did it. We’d just hang out and bull shit the first two hours then just jam for three hours and come up with some sick shit. Let’s try something else. Let’s branch out a little bit. Let’s get a little more serious. Let’s go away from the whole cartoon comic kiddie stuff and get serious and be taken seriously for once. We want to do this. Music is 95% of our lives. We want people to take it seriously. So it’s a serious record. We’re capable of these types of records. We’re perfectly capable of making plenty more records with the magnitude of “The Aftermath”. We have so much material. Like we could have pumped out two more records if we had the time.
You guys have spent a lot of time on the road across the USA, in Europe, and doing festivals. Tell me about that.
As far as shows go, obviously festivals were amazing. Back then I didn’t think we were as good as we are now, musically and tight. So when I look back to those festivals, they were amazing. I had a fucking blast. But I feel bad for the crowd because I didn’t give my full show. This tour (with Kittie, Blackgaurd, and the Agonist) has been great. Everybody on the tour, every single person, every single band is cool as shit. We notice and appreciate members looking after other members. We all help each other out. It’s a giant team. It’s a lot less work on everybody. Everything behind the scenes has been great. The venues have been cool as hell, more than usual. We’ve been getting treated very well. Getting paid every day is always great. Used to be half the time, but now it’s 9.5 out of 10.
You worked with Logan Mader. His name keeps popping up on some really impressive stuff: Machine Head, DevilDriver, Soulfly, Gojira. How did you get him?
What’s weird is I don’t even know; our manager Marco. I like to say this because he’s a brilliant guy and knows a lot about everything in the music scene. I like to say he had a big part in building up Century Media and Metal Blade and possibly Nulcear Blast. I’m not sure. Lots of behind the scene things in metal the last twenty-five years I’d say. He just knew him. He just called him up. He was local. It was such a last minute thing because we had previous engagements with another producer in Florida. It was a huge mess. Marco just showed us his name and we listened to the bands he’s done and I was really blown away on some of the records. I explained to him what we were going for and it was almost like he was in the band and he knew what we wanted, which was awesome, very professional, cool as shit.
I’m surprised more bands haven’t worked with him. It was just an honour. He went out of his way to work with a band like us for a much lower budget than he’s used to. And being so cool and patient with us. He showed us a lot. We learned so much in the studio that we didn’t know before and that had made our albums sound weaker. He’s very flexible. It was great. Everything was an amazing experience.
For the past year or so you’ve had video updates for both the studio work and the tour. Why the change in marketing strategy?
We don’t really have a marketing strategy but every now and then we’ll want to put together something to update people and keep people interested and aware that we’re still active. Video here and there as much as we can because Jessie is good at editing and then he has a camera. Our merch guy, Bob, has a camera and we just shoot some random stuff.
Are you finding the fans are really responding to that?
Not really, to be honest. I don’t think enough people are connected to us as much as they say they are. We see people at shows and they don’t really know what’s going on. It feels like we could probably use the internet to more of our advantage which we should definitely do. But at the same time, we’re still, I still see us as considered not really as serious when we’re put up to a big website.
Our headline isn’t a “headline”, it’s just there. It’s hard to explain. It works in weird ways. There’s bands out there that have less records than us and more facebook likes, which I don’t think matters, that have more interaction and bigger crowds. Lemmy said it best, “You gotta be at the right place at the right time for certain things.” It’s a mater of if you have it or not. You never know. You just gotta keep trying. I’ve always thought we were a live band since we started. But when it comes to “The Aftermath”, I think we finally are at a point where we’re a live and album listening band because the production is good, which always tickles my funny bone with albums. And the music is good. Nothing is better than getting all thrilled on the album and it makes you want to see the live set even more.
That’s how it was when I first heard “The Aftermath”, it just blew me away. The musicianship, the heart, the soul of the music was gobsmacking.
Me and Juan especially pay attention to so much detail and we were so let down for the previous records, production wise. The guitar was never full. The leads always sounded weak and a little loud and harsh. Vocal styles were not our tastes. The bass was never heard, ever. Just a mixture of everything. I hate listening to our first two records. What makes an album for me is production. Everything needs to be like it’s the biggest fucking thing on the album. I think that’s how a good record should sound. These days I’m in everything. I’m picky and so is Juan.
When it came to the artwork. No. No. No. No. There it is. That’s the one. I was a little strict on t-shirts. So we got decent t-shirts. I’m on everything because I don’t want to let everybody down live. That’s just not going to happen. This is what I do best. I’m not going to hold back with it. Nine times out of ten I know exactly what do to when it comes to anything in the band. Instantly. It’s just what I feel I was born to handle. It’s what I’m really good at doing.
Carlos Regalado is definitely good at what he does. He’s an amazing drummer, consummate band leader, and a really nice guy. Bonded By Blood have created an amazing album that everyone can hear come early July. I strongly urge you to buy the album; but, be prepared to have your face melted off! It’s just that good.