Interview with vocalist Alonso Maguino
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 10, 2013
The Thrash Metal revival has been going on for many years and there's no end in sight. New bands are popping up all the time, and it seems like every kid is determined to thrash, at least a little bit.
Condition Critical is a 4-piece Thrash band from New Jersey that has been around only about 2 years. These young and hopeful thrashers have, however, gained quite a lot of experience by sharing the stage with bands such as Whiplash, Lich King, Morbid Saint and many others. Currently, the band is working on new material for their forthcoming, as yet untitled debut album, to be released sometime in 2013.
Condition Critical has been given the nickname "Demolition Hammer, Jr." and you'll find out why in the following interview with vocalist Alonso Maguiño.
Luxi: First of all, how's it going in the Condition Critical camp these days? Is your world domination drawing nearer day by day?
Alonso: Hey man, everything is running pretty smooth around here and yes, the world will be ours very soon, ha-ha!
Luxi: How did you guys meet and form this relentless Thrash Metal combo known as Condition Critical?
Alonso: It started with all of us getting fed up with the local scene in our area; it sucked! I met Ryan through an ad that he posted online and we planned a day to meet up and jam. We knew, after the first time we jammed, we were going to be in a band together. Everything fit and we had the same mentality when it came to writing songs and the sound that we were trying to create. After a few line-up changes, we finally got the right guys for the job; Mike Dreher on bass and Sam Agnew on guitar.
Luxi: Condition Critical relies on the sound of old school Thrash Metal more than anything, so what are some of the things about that genre that makes it so fascinating for you guys?
Alonso: The energy is the main thing, I think. It's just so much fun to play that you get lost in it, you know. Live shows for this type of music are also great because of the vibe that you give out to people and the way you get it back from the crowd; it's really fucking awesome.
Luxi: You have shared the stage with many established names like Obituary, Morbid Saint, Whiplash, etc.. Do you book your gigs by yourself or do you have outside help?
Alonso: A little bit of both. We've all been in bands before so we know a lot of the people that book the shows around our area and, of course, we're always trying to play with bands that influenced us in one way or another. Sometimes we get a little help from our peers, as well. A great example would be Lich King; they invited us to play their CD release party in MA a couple of months ago, which kicked ass. So yeah, a little bit of both.
Luxi: What's been your best live experience, in your opinion?
Alonso: I would have to say the first time that we played with Morbid Saint in Philly. That show was amazing on so many levels, all the way from the people, the pit, the bands, the merch, the music, even the booze, ha-ha! On top of that, Whiplash was also on the bill and we're huge fans of both bands and our set was pretty awesome. The pit never stopped. Another experience like that would be playing with Philm and Generation Kill, both amazing bands. Meeting Dave Lombardo was a huge check on my want-to-do list.
Luxi: How important is it for Condition Critical to play around and get all this live experience? Playing live is still the best way to get the band's name on people's lips, do you agree?
Alonso: Yes, I highly agree. You have to think about it this way; we don't play the prettiest music, not in the opinion of the rest of the scumbag world, at least. We're not going to get anywhere by just playing local gigs in random bars. Although we've only been playing around the tri-state area since we started, we are going to be expanding that radius soon with the album release and upcoming shows/festivals in the summer.
Luxi: Are there any plans for Condition Critical to play outside of the States someday?
Alonso: Can't really say much about that at the moment but we would definitely love to. I'm from Peru and touring South America and Europe has always been one of my dreams because the passion for the music in those places is just so great. Hopefully with our album release we can get some opportunities to do that.
Luxi: Your only release is the 3-song demo, Bred to Kill, released last year. That demo has brought you lots of media attention. Are you proud of that accomplishment and all the positive feedback Condition Critical has managed to create with that demo?
Alonso: The demo is definitely something that we're all very proud of. Ryan and I just really went for what we were feeling and wrote what we wanted to hear and I guess that's how you got Bred to Kill. At one point we were thinking about putting the demo songs on the album but then we decided to not even touch them and leave them as they are as a reminder of where we came from and the origin of our sound.
Luxi: What's the best compliment you've received about Condition Critical, this far?
Alonso: That's a hard one but I think just the fact that people always tell us that we're Thrash Metal but not your "regular" Thrash band, is very cool. We try to incorporate a lot of early 90s Death Metal in our sound so I guess people notice that, too.
Luxi: Condition Critical have been given a nickname "Demolition Hammer Jr."' by some. That must be pretty darn flattering, right?
Alonso: Very. Demo Hammer is one of our favorites and is a top influence, so to be called Demo Hammer Jr. is sick but not an easy thing to accept since those guys are so fucking good, ha-ha! Just a heads up to everyone out there, there's only one Demolition Hammer and one Condition Critical.
Luxi: What are some of the key elements that go into a Condition Critical song that you always try to pay attention to, you know, to get the right sound for the band?
Alonso: We have to be having fun. That's our main element and then everything else just comes into play very easily. We play what we play because we love it and to write something that we're not into or that we're not attached to, it wouldn't feel right for any of us or the song. So having fun is the key element to the songs that we write.
Luxi: How is the songwriting process shared in Condition Critical?
Alonso: Basically, everyone has a say in all the songs. Songs pop out of nowhere sometimes; we could just be jamming' to a riff and next thing you know, we could have a new song. Or sometimes we would actually work out the whole song and demo it then show it to Ryan and he would work the arrangements a bit and perfect it. Everyone is constantly writing riffs and/or have song ideas. Whether is a structure or a title or even lyrics, we all contribute in some way or another.
Luxi: What could you tell us about the new material you have written since Bred to Kill? Are your new songs going to be in the same vein, or have you tried some different things (without sacrificing any of the aggression or brutality on the demo, of course)?
Alonso: We definitely kept the aggression and brutality on the new album. It will be a bit different because during the writing process for the demo, it was just Ryan and me, but now we have two other great musicians putting their ideas and riffs into our sound, which I think completed Condition Critical. We paid more attention to the structures and solos this time around. The vocals are still aggressive and there's even a bass solo in one of the songs. I think we've achieved the perfect debut Condition Critical album. We're all very happy with the end result. You know it's a good album when you listen to it for 3 months straight and you're still not tired of it!
Luxi: How about your local Metal scene? Would you say it is pretty healthy and are there some new (Thrash) Metal bands that are seriously working on getting somewhere?
Alonso: Yeah it's gotten a lot better, actually. A lot of newer Thrash bands have been popping out of nowhere, which is killer for the scene. We have a great group of people in the area always booking great shows and bringing in great bands from outside of the state. We're very thankful to everyone that we've met so far and helped us get to where we are now.
Luxi: What are some of the venues in your area that are favorable to Metal bands?
Alonso: There are quite a few around here. One of the top ones would have to be Champs in Trenton, NJ. They're always bringing in great bands and putting local shows together. Philly, all around, is also killer. With the help of a local booking agent (Keith Carney from Falloutzine), the Philly scene has definitely gotten a lot better.
Luxi: What plans does Condition Critical have for 2013? Undoubtedly, getting your first ever full-length studio album out will be one of your most important goals, but what else do you have in mind for next year?
Alonso: Tour, tour, tour; that's our main priority after releasing the album, definitely!
Luxi: Do you have any plans to shoot a video for one of your songs, to get the band promoted a bit better?
Alonso: Yes, we have ideas for a couple of songs but we're not sure which one we're going to pick yet. We are definitely planning on shooting some type of professional video in the near future, whether it's a live show or an actual music video.
Luxi: If you had to name 5 of the most important Thrash Metal albums for you personally, what albums would they be and why?
Alonso: Demolition Hammer's Epidemic of Violence, for obvious reasons, ha-ha! Megadeth's Peace Sells because Megadeth was the band introduced me to Metal. Vio-lence's Eternal Nightmare because the riffing kicks ass! Testament's Legacy because no matter how many times I listen to it, all the songs, solos, vocals, riffs, bass, drums, EVERYTHING is a masterpiece. Finally, Sepultura's Beneath the Remains; I love the aggression and all the ideas that were put in to that album.
Luxi: Well, I believe that's all I had in mind, so thanks a lot for sharing your time and answering my questions. All the best to Condition Critical and good luck with your Thrash domination of the world! The famous last words are yours...
Alonso: Thanks for having us and keep yourself updated with all the latest news on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/conditioncriticalnj. Make sure you grab a copy of our album when it comes out early next year! It's going to kick your ass and that is a promise!
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