Interview with guitarist Rick Cortez
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 1, 2013
Everyone has been wondering when LA's Death Metal pioneers, Sadistic Intent, will finally get their debut full-length studio album recorded. People have been reading about The Second Coming of Darkness, a record that has been in the works for several years but which has never reached the finish line for a variety of reasons.
While we anxiously await new stuff from Sadistic Intent, we should set the story straight about some of the band's unfortunate setbacks, including the ill-fated Possessed episode and why it ended sooner than anybody expected.
Rick opens up about both past and present Sadistic Intent activities and sheds light on Sadistic Intent's relatively quiet release situation.
Luxi: How's it going Rick? Still extremely busy with several things in your life; running the Dark Realm record shop, working with new Sadistic Intent songs for your forthcoming split album with Holland's old school Death Metal warriors Pentacle, your family and stuff?
Rick: There's not enough time in a day anymore so yeah, I've been keeping busy juggling everything you just mentioned.
Luxi: I was wondering what happened to Nicholas Barker (of Dimmu Borgir, Brujeria, Lock Up, Cradle of Filth, etc. fame) who replaced your previous drummer Emilio Marquez in 2011, who went on to join Possessed?
Rick: Nick had some setbacks with obtaining his visa papers to visit the USA and after we waited for nearly a year, we both felt it was better to look for another drummer.
Luxi: It's been announced, at least unofficially, that Arthur Mendiola is the new drummer for Sadistic Intent. How did you find him?
Rick: A friend of ours saw him play and recommended him to us. After speaking with him on the phone, we set up a rehearsal and immediately knew he had the potential to be our drummer. Consider it official; Arthur Mendiola is now a member of Sadistic Intent!
Luxi: Did his experience with his other Black and Death Metal bands, Imperial Decay and Ashnazg, help to convince the other guys in Sadistic Intent that he was right for the job?
Rick: It's not so much that he has experience with those bands; Arthur himself has told us that Sadistic Intent has a different style that he's had to learn. Therefore, he has continued to refine his craft and I know he still has even more capabilities! In addition to his drumming, and just as important, he has the right attitude!
Luxi: How does his technique differ from Emilio's and Nicholas'?
Rick: Well, we only played with Nick Barker once, several years ago, and back then we were actually doing some Possessed songs. From my experience with drummers, they each have their own techniques or personalities, musically speaking. Comparing Arthur to Emilio, they're both good drummers but I think Arthur is more consistent. Emilio tended to change the drum parts every time we played the songs. As I said about Arthur earlier, although he has cut it as our drummer, he is still sharpening his skills and knowing what is yet to come is exciting!
Luxi: Has Arthur helped with the new stuff? Has he introduced some totally killer drum parts that have pushed the rest of the band to the next level of brutality?
Rick: Honestly, it hasn't worked that way for us, even with our past drummers.
Luxi: You, your brother Bay and Ernesto Bueno were involved with Death Metal legends Possessed from 2007-2010. Since you parted ways with Jeff Becerra in December 2010 under more or less peaceable circumstances, I imagine you've been able to concentrate on Sadistic Intent with even more determination. Do you feel better off focusing only on Sadistic Intent now, instead of two full-time bands?
Rick: Now that the subject of Possessed has come up, I'd like to address something. We had an agreement that there would be no negativity between us, an accord that Jeff Becerra initiated and, once we were out of that band, literally within a few days he went back on his own words. He went on record saying things about us that are not true as well as insulting and because of that, and the rest of their actions, I am extremely disappointed. I could easily refute every accusation thrown at us, and then some, but I'd rather leave the drama behind and move forward with Sadistic Intent. Be that as it may, rewinding back to when we first started doing Possessed, although it was time consuming, we did not mind being in both bands. We were also busy with other things, including running our own record shop, during our time in Possessed so Sadistic Intent was sort of put on hold. As a result, it had been years since we'd concentrated on completing new stuff. Now that we have a relatively new drummer, we wanted to solidify the roots and classic feel of Sadistic Intent before we focus on the newer material. He still needs to learn more of the older songs but at our last rehearsal we did start working on a brand new song and it felt great and sounded killer!! Now that we're out of Possessed, we're still busy with our daily lives so as far as Sadistic Intent goes, yes, it's a pleasure to be able to concentrate on one band instead of two.
Luxi: Staying on the Possessed topic for one more question; I happen to know that you created a couple of new Possessed songs with Jeff. Do you have any regrets that you never had the chance to record and release them?
Rick: We actually had several songs ready as well as other ideas in the works and I know for a fact that our music would have been a worthy addition to the Possessed catalog. It would have served as a document marking our era in the band but "regret" is not the correct word to use. I don't have any and it certainly was NOT our decision to stop them from happening. Whether we recorded with Possessed or not, we're grateful for the unexpected outpouring of encouragement we received from fans around the world, especially after it became official that we were no longer in that band. For those you who have shown your allegiance, we're honored to have your support...
Luxi: Are there still hard feelings between the remaining members of Sadistic Intent and Emilio, who left Sadistic Intent to join Possessed permanently, or have you buried the hatchet?
Rick: In retrospect, nearly a year or so before our separation with Possessed, I know Emilio was aware of the plans without us in the band, which more than likely explains the reason his demeanor changed towards us. The truth is, it got to the point where we no longer wanted him in Sadistic Intent. What's ironic is, before that, Jeff Becerra wanted to kick Emilio out of Possessed at least three times that I can recall, but we actually supported Emilio and prevented him from getting fired. Emilio was well aware of one of those occasions but not the others, and we did not tell him to avoid any further turmoil. We had his back more than once but as soon as it was our turn, we were out. I've merely revealed the tip of the iceberg regarding the Possessed debacle and would rather not dwell on the past or keep dragging things out with that band, it's only a part of our past now. To put this to a close, we do not keep in contact or hang out anymore.
Luxi: Let's turn to your new Sadistic Intent stuff. How many songs do you have ready for your forthcoming split with Pentacle, and how does it compare to the previous stuff you have done with the band? I don't suppose there have been any drastic changes, musically, though please feel free to surprise me!
Rick: To be honest with you, for the Pentacle split we've decided to use two of the songs that we originally wrote for Possessed, though we've changed them up a bit. However, to make things clear, I wrote the songs (including the drum parts) with some help from Bay. We did not use any of Jeff's lyrics, so this new material is now totally Sadistic Intent. Speaking of new stuff, I have an announcement to make; before we do the split with Pentacle, we are currently putting the finishing touches on three songs for our soon to be released 12" etched vinyl EP entitled Reawakening Horrid Thoughts. If things go as planned it should be out by December 2013 through Iron Pegasus Records (Germany). Included on this EP is the very first song we originally wrote for Possessed, which is now called "Malignant Spirits." Like I just mentioned about the material intended for Possessed, we completely wrote all the music and re-wrote the lyrics, so even though Jeff had already written lyrics to this song we are not using them. We have also recorded our cover version of the Darkthrone song "Fuck Off and Die!" Doing that Darkthrone song actually inspired Bay and I to bring back an old, but re-worked, Sadistic Intent song called "Horrid Thoughts." After rehearsal one night, after we had worked on "F.O.A.D.", Bay said to me, "you know what would be a good song to bring back" and before he mentioned the title I was thinking the same thing and said "Horrid Thoughts," and somehow the stars aligned to make this EP happen! So, on this upcoming release we have a brand new song, a cover song and one of our oldest songs dating back to 1987. It's been years but, once again, this is the return of Sadistic Intent and we are Reawakening Horrid Thoughts!!
Luxi: In which formats will this split release with Pentacle be released? Will there be any limited versions, like a picture vinyl?
Rick: As of now, from what I've been told, it's going to come on 10" vinyl. Perhaps that could change to a 12" and other formats are possible as well, but once the release date gets closer we'll figure that out and make an announcement then.
Luxi: Why did you decide to do a split instead of concentrating on a full-length release of Sadistic Intent? Is the split's main purpose to get Sadistic Intent on the Death Metal map again, paving the way for a full-length album?
Rick: We would rather concentrate on and record a few songs sooner compared to the longer process of not only rehearsing for, but recording and mixing, a full-length album significantly later on.
Luxi: Is your deal with Costas of Iron Pegasus Records just for this split with Pentacle or have you already had discussions about Sadistic Intent releasing their next album for Iron Pegasus Records? The label is known for its quality and honesty and they have done a great job with Sadistic Intent previously...
Rick: For now, Iron Pegasus Records will release the Reawakening Horrid Thoughts vinyl and then the Pentacle split in 2014. After that, we will see what happens regarding our full-length album. Costa of Iron Pegasus Records has supported Sadistic Intent for many years now, going back to the early days of his fanzine, Tales of the Macabre. I agree that Costa is a real Metal diehard who's been honest and puts good quality into his work; respect!
Luxi: To promote this split with Pentacle, do you know if Costa has any plans to make new Sadistic Intent merchandise available (shirts, patches, limited Sadistic Intent beer cans, etc.)?
Rick: At this point in time, besides the EPs, we only have one new t-shirt being made through IPR, but perhaps things will develop in the future.
Luxi: Whenever people think of Sadistic Intent, they think of a band that is one of the last defenders of the ancient and dark Death Metal sound; a band that has stayed loyal to their roots from the beginning. I guess these types of compliments must sound pretty darn good to you, right?
Rick: Yes, it is certainly a great compliment to us when people regard Sadistic Intent in the ways you've mentioned. We've seen trends come and go and regardless of what people think, we've done it our way and that's the way we'll be till the end...
Luxi: Besides Pentacle (and Peru's Mortem, of course), are there other Death Metal bands out there, in your humble opinion, that have managed to maintain the same ancient and murky Death Metal sound, feeling and vibe over the years?
Rick: In other interviews I've mentioned a lot of bands that I enjoy but this time I'll keep it short and mention the latest band that's brought the true Death Metal feeling and vibe to me, they are called Unaussprechlichen Kulten.
Luxi: Are you planning to play any European festivals in 2014 and/or other favorable locations?
Rick: Well, in 2012 we toured Europe, including a few countries that we've never visited before, and it was an amazing experience!! Hell yeah, the diehard Metal cult is certainly alive in Europe and if we get invited back to do some festivals in 2014, we hope to see you there! Most recently, we just appeared in Australia and Singapore and we went there not really sure what to expect, but after it was all said and done, I'm proud to say that it was kick ass!! As far as other gigs for 2014, in April it looks like we have a 14-day tour of mostly the Mid West, East Coast and Southern regions of the USA! In the last few years the USA has shown improvement as far as support to bands like Sadistic Intent and since they're inviting us, it should be an interesting experience! Then in May, we have been booked to play in Mexico City and it looks like a couple more cities will be confirming soon. Judging from our past experiences in Mexico City, it's going to be intense!!
Luxi: Gigging-wise, what are some of the best experiences for Sadistic Intent so far?
Rick: Throughout the last two decades we've had many great experiences in different countries. Some of the memories that come to mind right now are Jalometalli festival in Finland, Hole in the Sky festival in Norway, Hell's Pleasure Metal Fest in Germany, Maryland Death Fest in the USA, Evil Invaders festival in Australia, Black Mass Ritual in Finland, Killtown Death Fest in Denmark, etc. But it's not only the festivals, I also remember several other gigs in countries such as Chile, Mexico, Holland, Brazil, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Australia, USA, Singapore, etc. Meeting our fans has been a real pleasure; it doesn't really matter where, as long as they enjoy our music.
Luxi: Would Sadistic Intent do a tour with Possessed, if there was ever a chance for that?
Rick: In order for Sadistic Intent to share the stage with them on tour, the conditions would have to be an offer we just can't refuse, period.
Luxi: I think that is it, so thank you Rick, for your time, and I wish you all the best with your future endeavors in life. Any last comments, perhaps?
Rick: Luxi, thank you very much for the interview and your support all these years! Keep it Metal and all the best to you! Last but not least, our acknowledgment and gratefulness to the legions of Sadistic Intent, we shall be back soon Reawakening Horrid Thoughts!!!
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