Interview with Guitarist Brian Korban and bassist Angel Espino
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: June 7, 2012
The breaking news is, Los Angeles, CA based Metallers Heretic are back. Or actually, this should not be that big of a news to some of you since the band has been in the studio for quite some time working on their comeback album titled "A Time of Crises", set to be released on Italian label Metal On Metal Records on July 27th 2012.
Heretic's 1986 EP "Torture Knows No Boundary (aka "Don't Turn Your back")" and their debut album "Breaking Point", released in 1988, are considered some of the best Metal that has ever come out from LA. Julian Mendez, who sang on the band's debut EP, has also been recruited into the Heretic ranks, which obviously is great news for the old fans of the band.
As the story for Heretic goes, some of us obviously remember the band's "Breaking Point" album the best that featured Mike Howe on vocals. Mike left Heretic to join Metal Church in 1988 and Brian Korban and Dennis O'Hara teamed up with former Metal Church singer David Wayne, to form Reverend.
Guitarist Brian Korban and bassist Angel Espino wanted to share a few thoughts about Heretic's comeback and forthcoming new record for readers of The Metal Crypt. Read on...
Luxi: So, what's the latest news of the Heretic camp? Obviously you are very excited about your comeback, working on your album and signing to Italian label Metal On Metal Records that will release the album on July 26th?
Brian: We just finished recording the last five tracks for the CD, and now we are ready to focus on getting our live set polished up with some local California shows.
Luxi: Before we start talking more about your comeback album, would you mind telling us briefly when the first seeds were sowed around a possible reunion of Heretic, and did it somehow surprise you how smoothly things started rolling after that?
Brian: The idea of the comeback started with Glenn telling me how amazing the Metal scene was in Europe (he was touring with Hirax) Soon after, Julian came to me with the idea of reforming and playing a few shows. I started writing songs right away and realized how much I missed playing METAL. Response to the band getting back together was so great, that it was a no brainer to go after some unfinished business and write new material.
Luxi: There are two original members left in the Heretic line-up, so does it bother you at all what some Metal puritans may say behind your backs by whining perhaps "That's NOT true Heretic any more..." due to the absence of Bobby Marquez, Dennis O'Hara, Rick Merrick - or even Mike Howe, who sang on the "Breaking Point" album?
Angelo: I have heard some rumblings but surprisingly it's been more positive than negative. Bobby Marquez, who I've been friends with since high school, has been very supportive. Besides, the main song writer on the early Heretic material is still piloting the ship so... The record will speak for itself.
Luxi: Let these Metal puritans keep their evil tongues deep in their throats, okay? Now let's talk about your comeback record a bit more closely. First off, would you tell us some basic details about it, such as where you have been recording it, how many songs it will contain, who will produce it, etc.?
Angelo: I was very comfortable when Glenn suggested we work with John Haddad at Trench Studios. I previously worked with him as a member of Anger As Art on the Disfigure release. I believe we are looking at 11 new songs plus a bonus track or two.
Luxi: When you started penning down new stuff for your album, how important yet essential was it for you to find that right vibe, feeling and sound for these new songs that you had on your EP and debut record?
Angelo: Brian wrote a great majority of the original Heretic music so we thought it was only natural for him to continue doing so. We all come from the same era of early 80's metal so I think we all understand what Heretic is and where it came from, although, Glenn and I help to add the "thrash element" to the songs.
Luxi: Why such a title as "A Time of Crises"? What's it all about anyway? Is it somehow related to the ongoing not-so-good situations around the world?
Angelo: I actually came up with the album title. I just look at what's going on in the world around us. War, terrorism, government corruption, hypocrisy in religion, the economy. We're in A Time Of Crisis. It's also kind of a follow up of sorts to Breaking Point which is similarly themed but was certainly not intentional.
Luxi: About the new Heretic line-up, you have found such experienced musicians as Glen Rogers (Viking, ex-Hirax, ex-Steel Vengeance, etc.) for second guitar, and for bass Angelo Aspino (Bitch, ex-Hirax, ex-Reverend, etc) and obviously these two gentlemen have also been very active in composing this new stuff for your comeback. How important do you see it for Heretic to have such experienced yet talented musicians to contribute to the song writing process?
Angelo: Brian and I spent a good 6 years playing and recording together in Reverend and other bands back in the early to mid-90's. Glenn and I were in Hirax together for close to 3 years. We are very familiar with each other's writing and playing styles. Not to mention I have known those two as well as Julian for close to 30 years (showing my age LOL). We all just know what direction we want to be headed in musically.
Luxi: As both Glen and Angelo have their other bands as well - Glen being a part of reunited Viking and Angelo also playing in both Bitch and Once Dead, do you believe there won't be any doubts about their dedication and motivation for Heretic, whether Heretic is their most important priority or not?
Angelo: Heretic IS definitely my number one priority. There are no distractions with the other band. It's a lot of fun to be a part of the legendary Bitch with my former Anger As Art band mates, but it is not my main focus... As far as Once Dead goes, the band is defunct.
Luxi: Behind the drum kit, we can find a guy named Ignazio Iggy Coppola. What could you tell us about him? Did he have any band experience before he joined the band?
Angelo: All I'm going to say about Igg's is "Listen to the CD"!!! He is ridiculous.
Luxi: The album cover of "A Time of Crisis" will be done by a tattoo artist named Tom Berg; obviously he's an old friend of yours who has also put some ink under your skins, too. Anyways, did you give some sort of sketch about the actual cover idea, or just told him to use his imagination with the album title and let's see what may come out of it or something? Would you mind revealing something about the front cover artwork for all the curious parties of The Metal Crypt, eh?
Angelo: Tom has done a majority of my tattoo work but it was Glenn I believe who suggested him. Go figure.
Luxi: There's already been a couple of new songs streaming on Youtube: "Remains" and "Police State" and in my honest opinion they both show great promise about a killer comeback record that's truly going to be worth the wait. I guess you could say basically the same, that you made the right decision bringing Heretic back?
Angelo: Those two songs are just the tip of the iceberg. It gets better and heavier. \m/
Luxi: What kind of topics are you dealing with lyrically on? For example "Police State" sounds pretty much like you'd have something (negative) to say about some very strict rules and laws that concern your own home country - especially right after the events of 9/11.
Angelo: Brian is the lyrical mastermind. He writes what he believes and what he feels.
Luxi: How important do you think the lyrics are in Heretic? Do you see the lyrics as equals to the music itself?
Brian: Lyrics have always been important to me as a songwriter. I would like to think most Metal fans hover over the CD sleeve reading the words while the music blasts in their ears. At least I always did. I hope all the fans will take the time to memorize my gift of words to them.
Luxi: Let's jump to talking about playing live a bit. Heretic's next show will be at Malones in Santa Ana, CA together with your friends in Malice. What kind of live set have you thought to offer to your fans at that show? Lots of classic Heretic songs spiced up with a couple of new songs off from this new record, perhaps?
Angelo: I was a HUGE Heretic fan back in the day. I don't think there was a Los Angeles area show I missed. But this is Heretic 2012. Whereas I feel it's important to play some of the classics, I personally want to focus on a majority of the new material.
Luxi: Also, you have set a date for your official record release party and that will take place on August 25th at Malones as well. Are you planning on playing the whole album from start to finish, along with some old Heretic songs? Will there also be some special guests on the stage, just giving something extra for your fans?
Angelo: I'm sure a mix of both, but like I said, leaning heavily on the new songs.
Luxi: Do you have any intentions to film your record release show, and then possibly release it as DVD later, with some old live footage possibly?
Angelo: I have worked with Fred Swift at Metal Refuge TV (formerly known as Metal Media Productions) in the past. He shot the Anger As Art DVD at the Galaxy Theater in early 2011. He also put the test video together for the new Heretic song Betrayed that was circulating around for a while. He does great work. We have been in talks with him about recording record release show though nothing has been finalized.
Luxi: How about the old Heretic material; have there been any talks about releasing remastered editions of both the "Torture" EP and "Breaking Point" LP, along with some rare and unreleased Heretic demos, live shows, etc.?
Brian: Lost and Found Records re-released "Breaking Point" last year, and we briefly looked into possibly putting out both the EP and the LP, but we never got the proper OK from Metal Blade, so we dropped the idea for now.
Luxi: It's also quite likely that Heretic will play at least at one of these hundreds of summer Metal festivals in Europe in July 2013, so is it too early to reveal the name of that festival? Sorry for being this curious but I really cannot help it, living in this particular part of the world - in the north of Europe, Finland...
Angelo: We want to do them all. Get me a contact!!!
Luxi: Supposedly you are aiming to keep the flame burning hot and bright for Heretic as long as possible from now on and even return to the studio in the end of 2013 to record some new material if everything will go as planned? I think I am not that wrong by stating it's better to keep the band name on people's lips by doing things as regularly as possible, rather than let a well-started reunion vanish into an eternal oblivion...
Brian: OH NO... These guys are in trouble, I've got big plans for them. I'm already working on the next record. Ask anyone close to the band, and they'll tell you I'm a song writing machine. I'm haunted by riffs and lyrics day and night (which is a good thing). We will definitely be ready to promote a new release by the time we play Germany in 2013.
Luxi: I guess that was it this time around. I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and wish you all the best with any future endeavors with Heretic. Any closing comments, perhaps?
Angelo: Thank you for taking the time to interview us! We really appreciate the support. Cheers \m/
|Other information about Heretic on this site|
|Review: A Time of Crisis|
Copyright © 1999-2019, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.