Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This Is Hell interview with Guitarist: Rick Jimenez. August 4, 2010.



VISTA: Hey Rick. I know you guys have a new album that was just released called, "Weight of the World". Can you give some details on this, where was it recorded & what are some themes/concepts {if any}? What does the title represent to you & the band?

RICK: We recorded it in LA this past winter with Tomas Costanza, a Long Island guy, at his studio Killingsworth. The title comes from a line in the song "Shadows". Thematically the album deals with trials and tribulations we've gone through as a band, as well as personally. There are a lot of lyrics about empowerment through persistence on this release and there is a lot of piss and vinegar as well.
 
     VISTA: I'll ask cause I have no clue? Who is the person on the front of the album cover of "Weight of the World"?

RICK: I'm not going to tell you who it is exactly because what's more important is what he represents... and that is 'someone that has been  in the shit and survived. someone that has made decisions and did their own thing. someone that wasn't just a bystander, someone that has lived life through the good and the bad' 

 
VISTA: Another album cover question, who did the art work for the "Sundowning" album? I always liked the colors on that one as well as the images.

RICK: Jacob Bannon of Converge and Deathwish did that album. He's amazing and really captured the feeling of the album with his art.

VISTA: Can you give us the history of the band, year started, etc.? Also, what were some goals that you originally wanted to archive with the band? Was it just to do a demo & play on the weekend or was there always a thought of bigger/different levels you wanted to take it?

RICK: We started in 2004 as a side project and quickly became the main priority. Once we decided to go full time, the goal was to make TIH life. Tour the world, record music and have the outlet that music provides become our main focus in life. Taking it as far as we could was always what we wanted to do. 

VISTA: "This Is Hell"...Where did this name come from & what, if anything does it represent to you and the band?
  
RICK: Well, we wanted to call the band Metallica but it was already taken so it just represents our failure of being able to overtake their
legal team. :(

VISTA: You guys mix a really heavy sound yet underneath all of it is  real melodic guitar parts mixed in. Who are your influences as a guitarist? How old were you when you started playing & have you ever had any formal training?

RICK: I was always interested in and knew i wanted to play music. I would make fake guitars out of cardboard because i was too poor to get a real one. I got a plastic one for Christmas one year of which was fun for a while to fuck around with but it was a toy so obviously that doesn't count. When i was 12 i finally got a scaled down acoustic that my mom bought me for $60. I took lessons for a few months but it wasn't in the cards to continue. I kept playing what I knew and eventually got an electric guitar and over the years started to become a competent musician. My influences are so all over the place because I have been paying attention to not just music but guitarists for so long that its hard to list. Metallica (Hetfield/Hammet/Mustaine) & Sick of it All (Pete Koller) are probably the two bands/4 people that have influenced my theory/knowledge and songwriting the most if I had to narrow it down.

VISTA: What is the first song you ever learned on guitar?

RICK: First riff i ever learned was the intro to "Silent Lucidity" by Queensryche. First song I learned all the way through, barring the solo, was "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth.

VISTA: As a band, who are some of your influences? Speak a little bit on behalf of the other guys in the band...Who are their influences?

RICK: Same thing, it's all over the place. I was never isolated by "we're a hardcore band so I'm only gonna reference hardcore bands" Metallica and Sick of it All, Def Leppard and Agnostic Front, Queensryche and Minor Threat. Everything I immerse myself in becomes an influence either in a subtle way or a blatant way. There's so many elements of a song too... chord structure, arrangement, lyrics, vocal patterns, melody, speed, etc etc. There can be a song that is 75 seconds and has influence from DRI, Guns N Roses and Terror all in it but winds up sounding like something completely different than any of those bands.

VISTA: What was your first introduction to the Hardcore scene? What bands grabbed your attention & what was the first 'core show that you ever attended?

RICK: I was into metal for so long before I knew what hardcore was, but had listened to bands that were in some way shape or form somewhat involved or spawned from hardcore, that i thought were just metal bands. By the time i started hearing about hardcore as something separate from metal, i was just getting into punk. Bands like Biohazard and Helmet, with ties to hardcore, were metal bands to me, and then discovering punk bands like Social Distortion, then getting into hc/punk bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, I was opened up to Cro-Mags and Warzone and Agnostic Front etc. Then you know, shit explodes. Seeing Sick of it All for the first time was like "holy fucking shit! i gotta get involved in this!" I was already doing a punk/metal hybrid styled band at the time but from that point on it was "lets get our shit together and do hardcore" and then i started to get involved. When I was discovering all of this, I was into a lot of crossover bands, but was never able to do anything crossover correctly, it was always a bad mix of punk and metal and a slight touch of shitty hardcore. After all these years, This is Hell has gone the crossover route and its a great and natural feeling. Hardcore/Metal/Punk all in one... its amazing. Fuck boundaries, limits and all that bullshit.

VISTA: What's going on these days on Long Island? Where are shows mainly taking place, clubs, basements, Legion Halls? Any good bands we should check out? I know many years ago the was a pretty big scene goin' on, are kids still coming out to shows?

RICK: Its got its moments. There was just a fest called Long Island Fest this past summer that was 3 days and had a ton of LI and out of area bands that played and that was rad. Ethical Center is doing shows again and Broadway is a bar that does shows. Kids come out when certain bands play. All long island band shows don't do as well as 'touring bands with locals added' shows do which is kind of unfortunate. That was something LI was always great about...taking care of its own and its lost that a bit. A lot of the same bands get the touring band shows too which is somewhat counter productive to getting LI as a scene going as opposed to a group of kids that come to see whoever the internet is saying is the cool band touring the states at the time. That internet follower shit makes me wanna fucking kill myself after killing anyone else in sight. Its something we should know better than in hardcore but people buy into anyway. Fucking sheep. Anyway, check out Scourge from LI. Sick band and really psyched  to be a part of hardcore. Also check out Wolverine and Bottom Out. Fun bands to see play.

VISTA: I think a couple of you guys have been in other bands prior to This Is Hell? What other bands have you guys been in & do you have other side-bands going on?

RICK: Prior to This is Hell I've been in Subterfuge, IQLess, Fece Gods, Thieves and Assassins, My Mind The Curse, Her Last Words, Shogun Decapitators, Murder Contest, Anterrabae, Double Crossed & Celtic Destroyer. I do Soldiers and Ice Age still. I've filled in and done one off shows or tours with tons of bands too but they don't count, although playing bass for Gravemaker for a few shows in Europe was so much fun it's worth mentioning. Benny has been in Pedros Sombrero, Akehurst, Once Over, Trainspotters, He also plays in Dead Swans. Travis was in Scraps and Heartattacks, The Heist & Falling Behind.

VISTA: Who are you more proud of coming outta Long Island...Public Enemy or Vision Of Disorder?

RICK: Eesh, that's tough. VOD is my favorite LIHC band of all time but Public Enemy are musical legends outside of their genre and environment. In the mid/late 80's, I split my time between thinking I was Slash and an Eazy E/Flavor Flav hybrid. I never thought I was a member of VOD. This questions tough. I'm glad the Ric Flair and the Ultimate Warrior weren't incorporated into it somehow.

VISTA: Outside of performing, recording, practice, etc...What are you interests & hobbies?

RICK: Pro-wrestling is my passion in life. If I had more time outside of touring I would be an aspiring professional wrestler. Being that I'm on the road so often, I make my friends at home high priority whenever I'm actually home. I love watching and playing baseball also. Few things make me as happy as playing baseball does. So outside music, my interests are wrestling, baseball, lifting weights and bullshitting with friends... I live the life of a teenager.

VISTA: What are your thoughts on people jackin' every song by every band that ever existed off the internet? Does it piss you off, as a band/band member that some kid from Idaho can just click a button & have you album three months before it's even released?

RICK: No I love it. Bands make no money from CD sales anyway. There is always some catch or clause or something that makes it so labels don't give bands money for selling records. "You sold X amount of CD's but you owe us $X for this that and the other thing." "Oh you want to sell CD's at your shows, just give us $X for each CD and we'll mail them to you" CD's cost dick to duplicate and I know this for a fact because I ran a shitty record label for a little while and did everything very low run and still was able to make things work for me and my bands. All but one recording session I ever did was on a shoestring budget and the majority of every record I've been a part of has had an extremely modest ad campaign but somehow, there is just NEVER money to be found when it comes to the bands I'm in from CD's. Fuck that. Download music and support the bands by going to shows and buying merch and shit. I might regret saying all this later on for some reason or another but give me a fucking break. I haven't bought a cd, aside from a Christmas present for my mom, since Metallica put out Death Magnetic and I can't remember what before that. And that's only because i NEEDED  a physical copy of it. I'll buy vinyl but 90% of the times, labels that do vinyl are a different beast than these other record companies. Fucking record industry. I wanna punch myself in the stomach for being even somewhat involved in that shit.

VISTA: I saw a picture on your Myspace site of a a vehicle/trailer in some type of crash, what the frig was this all about? What year was this from? Did you see Cliff Burton flash before your eyes when this happened?

RICK: 2007 I crashed the van in Red Deer, Alberta, right outside Calgary. It was snowing a little and they plow in Calgary and but not Red Deer. I did have a Cliff Burton moment but more so because I thought I killed our bass player. We were actually all fine and the insurance covered the whole shit and we didn't even miss the show later that day. We had over a week left of tour. I was listening to Joy Division and now I never do when driving on tour and not because I'm afraid of being emotional just afraid of crashing again. Logical i know.

 VISTA: What are your top 10 band/albums of all-time? It doesn't matter what genre of music, just your personal favorites that ya love the most?

RICK: This changes constantly and if i think too hard its stressful so I'm changing the question to "if you were being sent to an island forever tomorrow and could bring 10 records with you they would be...

Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Metallica - And Justice For All
Dido - No Angel
NWA - niggazforlife
Megadeth - Rust In Peace
Sick of it All - Built To Last
Cro-Mags - Age of Quarrel/Best Wishes profile split
Failure - Fantastic Planet
Queensryche - Operation:Mindcrime
Minor Threat - Discography

VISTA: On that note, best Metal band to walk the stinkin' earth...Just one!?
RICK: Metallica. 
VISTA: What is your opinion on the current Hardcore scene? Is everything "all good" or could it be better? I suppose it cold always be better, but is there anything pissing you off about bands/attitudes/guys in girl pants/guys who flat iron their hair/bands who don't know what a demo is, etc. etc.? Thoughts?


RICK: My beef with the hardcore scene is that it is way too similar to the outside world. There is way way way too much "follow the leader" and "popular crowd" and shit like that. That's the antithesis of what its supposed to be. Thats human nature but we should fucking know better. Hardcore is way too high school for my liking right now. There are taste makers and there are followers. Drives me fucking insane. I have no idea how to stop that. I stay involved and do things the way I feel are right. Not lead by example because I don't have any pull, but a "this is what i put in and this is what i want out of it" type thing. I receive the negatives from it but i try to not bring negatives to it.

VISTA: I know you guys have done a bunch of cover songs over the years. Have you performed them live? What covers have you done live over the years?

RICK: Let me see if I can make a list of covers we've done live... Metallica "Enter Sandman" we did on a few early tours for shits and giggles. "Fight For Your Right" by Beastie Boys we did and will under no circumstances ever play again. Anyone asking for it at a show automatically becomes a dickhead to me. Hit the frat party bro. We've done "I Hope You Die Soon" by Movielife but we'll never do that again either. "Show You No Mercy" Cro-Mags, "Crazy But Not Insane" Warzone, "Do Something" CIV. Our first euro tour we learned a Carry On song one day and played that a few times because we didn't have enough songs of our own. One tour we did with MLIW, they had to bail early and kids were bummed so we learned "Dead Ramones". That was a one time thing that was fun. We recorded an INXS song but never did it live. "When Death Closes Your Eyes" by 108 we've done a few times. Doing covers is fun sometimes. We opened a few shows this tour with the intro to "My Michelle" by Guns n Roses. The better the song you cover, the less people know it. Go figure.

VISTA: If you were to give any advice to a young band starting out, what would it be? One thing that I would always say would be, learn some cover songs! It give you a completely different approach/perspective on music & the way you play, as a musician and a vocalist. What would you advise? 

RICK: If they wanna "get big" then go on the internet and just do what everyone else is doing because that works, unfortunately...even in hardcore. If you wanna get involved and do a band because you like the intangibles that come with music, like having an outlet and expressing your OWN thoughts and feelings, then just write music you like and stand behind and truly feel and go with it. if people like it, all the better. if people don't, you're not doing it for them anyway so you win

VISTA: As a band that seems to tour a hellava lot, are you guys able to pay bills, buy food {what a concept!} & survive off of the band? Also, as far as touring goes, what country/state would you like to go where you haven't be to yet?

RICK: We do tour tons and I'm able to make ends meet as far as paying my bills but i'm also driving my credit card debt into some serious fucking astronomical planes. i was homeless for about a year and a half and finally got myself a place to live. how long that will last for, who is to know. i want to play in Alaska because we haven't been there yet. i also wanna get to japan. i wouldn't mind playing some shows somewhere tropical because I've never been on a vacation in my life. maybe playing 2 shows in hawaii and then hanging out for 3 days and staying at the resort that Mila Cunis works at in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and then making out with her all night.

VISTA: One last question, I see that you have artwork that is a take off of the classic Motorhead logo/design. It's fuckin' awesome looking, but my question is...What would you do if Lemmy from Motorhead approached you, say in Europe and he's pissed as all hell! Would you squeeze his giant wart{s} on his face, steal his black hat & run or just forfeit all merchandise with that image on it? Fuck, I'd offer him SOME of the merch & ask him to perform "Killed By Death" live! What would you do?

RICK: I'd tell him to grow up and that no one gives a shit about our band and we have a hard enough time selling shirts with our logo on them to people that come to see our band, let alone anyone coming to see us knowing that our mock motorhead design is in fact a motorhead design. if we played the entirety of the Ace of Spades album at our shows for an entire tour without playing the song Ace of Spades, I bet no one would even know that we were playing Motorhead songs. I'd then ask if he would do guest vocals on a cover of Overkill, my favorite Motorhead song

VISTA: Rick. Thanks a lot for your time. Is there anything else you'd like to say? What's the best way to get in touch with you & the band?

RICK: Through our myspace or facebook page. get the new album on CD, vinyl or whatever. get the new soldiers record "Hit the Bricks". come to our shows to
circle pit and headbang and singalong. don't let the internet tell you what to do. don't let anyone tell you what to do, not even cops or your parents.

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