Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unforgiven interview with vocalist: Ivan Murillo. July 18th. 2010.

Vista:  Hey Ivan. Typical, boring, dead-format fanzine question: Who's in the band & who does what? Also, if you're feeling brave...How old are you guys?

Ivan: I'm Ivan Murillo, I'm 31 and  I do vocals. Jay Aust is 31  and plays guitar and does backing vocals. Greg Thomas is 28 and does guitar. Sean Martin is 29 and he plays bass. Last but not least is Dave Fournier, hes the baby of the band at 20 years old and he plays drums.  

Vista: Can ya' give us a history of the band? Year started, ex-members, what has been released so far & what's still available?

Ivan: We started in 2007.  Sean, Jay and Jeff Aust and I had been pals for a while and always talked about doing a heavy band together. The time was right, Jay and Jeff's band,With Honor, had broken up and their other band, Ambitions, was winding down. Sean's band,The Risk Taken, was on hiatus. So we finally started jamming and riffing. After a couple of false starts on the drumming front, we convinced John Ross, also of With Honor and Ambitions, to play with us.  Our original lineup consisted of Jay and Jeff Aust on guitars, Myself on vocals, Sean Martin on bass and John Ross on drums. We recorded our EP in late 07 and it was released shortly thereafter on Eightfold Path records. You can still find the CD version but in 09 our friends over at Trip Machine Labs put out our EP on 7 inch. Jeff and John wound up moving to Boston in late 08 and started doing a more Rock oriented project called Daybreaker. I believe they have a EP coming out soon on Escapist Records. There was no falling out or anything and we remain good friends to this day. Chino, who played guitar in The Distance has also helped us out on guitar when there had been a scheduling conflict with members. On drums we had a lot of fill-ins for a while. Joey who drums for Pale Horse helped us out as did Jon, who played guitar for Crowns of Kings. Also,Dave Woltmann, who plays in a band called The Perennial has helped on drums and even recorded drums for our song "Switching Sides" which is on the Mercy For None comp. We finally settled on a young Edgeman named Dave Fournier and hes worked out well so far. On 2nd guitar to fill Jeff's spot we looked no further then Greg Thomas, who is a long time friend to many in the band. He is known for playing in The Risk Taken and for having stints in Shai Halud, Zombie Apocalypse and Wrench In The Works. He also owns Silver Bullet studios and has recorded many albums and demos. Bands should get in touch because Greg will make you sound like a million bucks. Anyways, In the midst of the change over we recorded a song for the Mercy For None 7 inch comp on Reaper Records.
We are hoping to record more material soon.

Vista: As a vocalist...Who are some of your influences? Are there any singers out there that inspired you to want to front a Hardcore band? Also, speak a bit on behalf of the other guys in the band..Who are some of their influences, musically?

Ivan: Id say my influences vocally are guys like Henry Rollins, John Joseph, Freddy Madball, Dwid, and Scott Vogel. I don't think I sound like any of those guys persay but I am constantly inspired by not only their voices but also their stage presence. On a local level as far as CT guys, members of bands like Hatebreed, Death Threat, Sum of All Fears, Follow Through, Fastbreak, Dismay and Higher Force were influential as far taking pride in my local scene and wanting to get in a band myself and participate. As far as the other guys, I don't wanna speak for them but I know Sean and Greg like a wide variety of shit. From Classic Metal to Hardcore to Crust bands. Dave loves Ringworm. Jay likes a lot of 90s core. I think the wide variety of influences could be heard in our music.

Vista: What was your first introduction to Hardcore? First bands that you were interested in? Also, what was your first show ever attended & what year was that & where?

Ivan: My first introduction to Hardcore happened in middle school in 92-93. I borrowed Black Flag- Damaged on cassette from a kid I knew. Needless to say I still own said cassette. It was a pretty life changing album for me. I was a headbanger into Slayer, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Megadeth, Metallica, and even stuff like Guns N Roses. But Damaged hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed to hear more. Slowly but surely, I seeked more music out and got into such bands as Minor Threat, The Misfits and Agnostic Front. I remember being a long hair and watching Headbangers Ball every Saturday night. One video that stuck out for me was the Agnostic Front video for Anthem off of Live at CBGB. The footage in that video looked so raw and intense. I knew then and there that I had to see this stuff for myself. I had a friend whose older brother was into Hardcore and he turned me on to Integrity and Ringworm.  He took his brother and I to my first show at the Tune Inn in New Haven Connecticut in 1994. Integrity headlined and the only other bands I can remember seeing were Jasta 14 and Mindwar. The kicker is we left before Integrity went on because they apparently had a penchant for no showing. We found out later they did show up. At the time I didn't really give a shit. But as time went on, they became a favorite band of mine and that day was my only chance at seeing them with the Melnick bros in the band.
It still irks me to this day, haha.

Vista: I haven't been to a show in Connecticut in a helluva long time, but I know back in the day {90's} there were a shit load of places to play! Tell us what's going on, locally in your area as far as places to play? Also, what good bands are doin' their thing out there? Again, many years ago there were many diverse bands & kids supported each other in a big way. Thoughts?

Ivan: Ct still has a strong scene. It is definitely smaller now than when I first started going to shows. There is a lack of a "Homebase" club at the moment. I grew up going to the Tune Inn in New Haven and then the Hanover House in Meriden. The closest thing to that right now is the Wallingford American Legion. That is pretty much the hub of the scene at the moment. There is some good new younger bands such as Hate Your Guts, who just put out an album on Eulogy Records. They kinda remind me of Ringworm but with Scott Vogel singing. They are good shit. You got more melodic bands like Hostage Calm and Cold Snap CT doing there thing. Ct stalwarts like Pale Horse, Living Hell, Death Threat and Ambitions are still kicking around too. 100 Demons still plays the occasional show. I also cant forget to give props to Hatebreed. When they are not on tour you will sometimes see members still coming around and hanging out at some shows, which is really cool. Ct was always a pretty diverse scene with not much division in that even though alot of these bands sound different and have different crowds at their shows, there is still a bit of a crossover in audience. That reminds me of the 90s a bit. When you could go to a show and see a more metallic band like Groundzero play with Fastbreak who were a Youth Crew sounding band. Id say that supporting each other vibe is still there even though the current scene is much smaller. One other cool thing about Ct is that a good many older guys still come around to support. There is a real family feel to it. Being as I have lived in Brooklyn for the past 5 years, I'm not at Ct shows as much as Id like to be. I go to more shows in the NY area because I live here. No matter what, Ct will always be home and Ill always be proud to represent the state and our Hardcore Scene through my band.
Vista: How did you guys get hooked up with Trip Machine Laboratories label? They did you 7inch. Are you guys doing anything more with that label or was that a one shot deal? Also, how many 7's were pressed & for all those color-vinyl-nerd-collectors out there...How many were pressed on color{s} & when will the "test-press" be on Ebay for that one Japanese dude to pay $300!? Haha.

Ivan: I have a friend named Geoff Silverman and he has been helping Chris Trips with releases. So Geoff would bug me about letting them do the  Unforgiven EP on vinyl. I got to meet Chris and talk with him and we got to know each other. Hes a real ball buster, so we hit it off from the start.  They did a good job with it. Better than the label(Eightfold Path Records) that put out our CD that's for sure. Our CD hardly got any promotion. Chris and Geoff have done a good amount of promotion for the 7inch even though its 2 years old. I really wish we had just did the CD with them. You live and you learn though. As far as how many were pressed, I'm not really sure. You'd have to hit Chris up for those stats. If we have any Japanese readers who wanna drop 300 dollars on a Unforgiven test press. HIT ME UP! hahaha. We probably won't be doing any more with Trip Machine, not that we would be opposed to it. We are just not sure about what we want to do at the moment. We were planning to do something with Reaper Records, but laziness and inactivity on our part kinda sunk that plan. Patrick Kitzel at Reaper has been a good friend and we are thankful we at least got to do that comp song for him. He has been doing tons of great releases on Reaper. People should check Reaper's current roster which consists of such bands as Backtrack, Down To Nothing, Naysayer and the almighty Terror to name a few.  As far as we go, we will see what the future holds recording and release wise for us.
Vista: "Unforgiven"..Where did this band name come from & what does it represent to you & the band {if anything}? Did the name come from the Metallica song? I'm sure you've heard this before, even though it's possible that it didn't? I know there is another Connecticut band named, "Blackened"...If you guys in Ct. keep this shit up you're gonna have Lars from Metallica suing ALL of ya's!

Ivan: I like to think it came from the Eastwood movie. It did come from the Metallica song as far as I can remember. I don't think it represents anything other then it just sounded cool. Blackened is actually my best friend, Jay Reason's band. I know on his part Blackened was originally gonna be called Black. There was already a band called Black though, so him and the other members of the band, Chris Legg(Ex-Fastbreak) and Beattie(Hatebreed), decided on Blackened. Is there a worse member of Metallica than Lars? I dont think so haha.
Vista: As far as the band goes, what other bands have you guys been in prior to Unforgiven?

Ivan: I was in 3 bands prior to Unforgiven. The only one worth mentioning is Dead Wrong. We did an EP on Stillborn Records and a split with The Banner from New Jersey. Greg and Sean are also in The Risk Taken. They also put out an EP on Stillborn and have been working on their full length album for about 5 years. They play sporadically. Greg was also in Shai Halud and Zombie Apocalypse. He quit both bands because Matt Fox from Halud is shady. He has recently filled in for Wrench In The Works on tours they have done as well as helping write their latest record. Jay was in Hamartia, With Honor and Ambitions.His bands have done records on such labels as Stillborn, Victory and Bridge 9. Ambitions is releasing a new EP soon and are probably going to be playing some shows so look out for them. Dave who is our current drummer has been in some bands that escape me at the moment but currently is playing with Palehorse in addition to us.
Vista: What are your thoughts on the Hardcore scene as a whole these days? I ask this a lot cause I like to hear peoples opinions & perspective on the scene in 2010. I know there have always been bullshit bands but these days it seems like this has been taken five step forward as far as flat-out shittiness. Guys in girl pants. Eyeliner make-up. Choreographed stage moves. Bands who have no clue what a "demo" is & worse yet...They don't want to know! I suppose I'll ask...Is the scene thriving or dying? What are some pros & cons compared to years ago?

Ivan: I try not to even pay attention to the shitty elements. Most of the that stuff is a world of difference from any bands or music I would ever support. Id say one of my only gripes is that kids these days don't really care about the history or where the music came from.  On the flip-side of that, a lot of older guys dismiss the newer stuff. Both of those things are pet peeves of mine. I want to clarify, I would never try to say, "Oh Hardcore was so much better when I was coming up." Of course, when I think about when I was younger, the scene was a better time for me and it was cooler then it is now. But that's just my own perception. I was younger, and everything was so new and exciting. I'm 31 now, and due to being older, its hard to have those same experiences and feelings of when I was a kid. But we all have to remember that some 16 year old right now is enjoying Hardcore now as much as we did when we were his/her age. I'd say a big difference that I think is having a negative effect on the current scene is the disposability of the music. With the advent of the internet and file-sharing, kids dont really care for the whole record buying experience. They just download stuff. This means they are missing out on the whole product. The cover art, the lyrics, the thanks lists. Its a little too easy.  I am not against file-sharing. I download tons of shit. But if I really like a band, I have to have the actual record. You also really used to have to dig to find stuff. That was a part of the fun for me. Now just about any release you can think of, like stuff that was way out-of-print, is a Google search away. And in many ways thats pretty fucking cool. But it some ways, because you can come across things so easily, you might not tend to appreciate it as much as if you had to put in some leg work for it. Its funny, I remember when I was first going to shows in 1995, so much cool shit was out of print. Such releases as Youth Of Today- Cant Close My Eyes and Were Not In This Alone, Underdog- The Vanishing Point, The Chain Of Strength, Turning Point, SOIA and Side By Side 7inches, among others. Slowly after these things started to be put back into print. But if you were some new kid, you had to know someone older who could tape these records for you. But we did have Lost and Found sketchily releasing out of print stuff, too. Thanks to L&F, I was turned on to such bands as Project X, Side By Side, Unit Pride, Wide Awake and Turning Point. As far as the eyeliner, girl pant wearing bands. I pay them no mind and anyone that likes real Hardcore shouldn't either.
Vista: Lyrically, what type of thoughts & topics that you are touching on? Also, what are songs such as: "An Anthem For Revenge" & "War Games" about?

Ivan: I try to just write about what I know. There is no fantasy shit here. Topics include addiction, fake people, current events and the current Hardcore scene."An Anthem" was written for and about a couple of friends who got in some bullshit legal problems they each wound up doing some time for. Both friends are thankfully out now. "Wargames" was just written as a reaction to U.S. Military actions and how all of this is out of our hands. I'm not some big political guy or anything but seeing stuff on the news inspired me to pen the lyrics.

Vista: Outside of band stuff, what are some of your interests & hobbies?

Ivan: I'm a big sports fan. I love the Mets, Knicks, Giants and Rangers. I also love 80s-90s pro wrestling. I also enjoy getting tattooed. I enjoy reading anything sports or music related. Other hobbies include hanging with my friends, my wife, and my dog.

Vista: Another question that I like to ask...What bands/groups are you into that would surprise us? I mean, what guilty-pleasures, musically do you have? Example: I blast the piss outta my favs Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, Six Feet Under {etc.} but when no ones looking or listening, I'll throw on Saves The Day & pretend that I can actually sing along in key! What are you gonna confess too?

Ivan: Speaking of Saves The Day, it would probably surprise some people that I enjoy their album, "Through Being Cool". I hated it at first but was exposed to it so much during car rides with my friend, Jay Reason, that I just sort of gave in. If I hear something enough I will usually like it. I worked at a restaurant on and off for 10 years and they used to play a oldies station and a smooth jazz station. At first I thought that shit sucked, but after a while I really started to enjoy most of the songs played on both stations. People would be surprised to know I can get down with shit like John Denver, The Kingston Trio, Herbie Hancock, The Carpenters and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, to name a few.

Vista: What were/are some goals or achievements for Unforgiven? A bunch of you guys were in any other bands prior to this projects. Did you have goals that you want to reach or is this just for fun & play on weekends? Are you guys able to tour & have you done any touring with this band?

Ivan: The goal was pretty much to have fun first and foremost and play as much as we can.Another goal was to do a Straight Edge band(which we are) because we are all older guys and thought it would be cool to show that there is some Edge guys that are still hangin on. We haven't been very active lately due to Jay doing some With Honor and Ambitions shows and recording new Ambitions material. Him and his lady are also expecting a baby boy in the near future. Also, Greg has been touring and recording with our friends in Wrench In The Works. I doubt we would be able to do any substantial touring since we most of us are too old and life has gotten in the way. One goal that I have never attained in a band is to play the West Coast. Who knows? Maybe we could do a week out there or something eventually.

Vista: What are your personal top 5 all-time Hardcore/Metalcore albums?

Black Flag- Damaged.
Integrity- Those who fear tomorrow.
Cro-Mags- Age of Quarrel.
Agnostic Front- Victim In Pain.
Youth Of Today- Were not in this alone.
Honorable mentions- Madball- Set It Off. Minor Threat-Discography. Killing TIme- Brightside. Ringworm- The Promise, and Misfits- Walk Among Us. Looks like I gave you a top 10 and you didn't even ask for it hahah.

Vista: If Unforgiven ended today, what would your fondest memory of the band be?

Ivan: Hmmmmm good question. I think it would have to be just the camaraderie of traveling to shows together and hanging out. Nothing specific stands out. It has been a fun experience to play with these guys. Every line up of the band has had a lot of laughs together. 
Vista: What can we expect for the band in the near future? Shows, tours, new music?

Ivan: Hopefully a new record soon. Sporadic shows. Tours? Probably not because we are all old. 

Vista: Ivan. Thanks a lot for doing this interview. I really appreciate it. Is there anything else you's like to say? Also, what's the best way to get in touch with the band?

Ivan: Best way to get in touch with the band is either through or my email I just wanna give shout outs to the Ct Brotherhood, The Straight Edge, all my family and friends, Black N Blue Productions, Chris Trips and Geoff at Trip Machine Labs and Patrick Kitzel at Reaper Records. Thanks for the interview.

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