Interview with drummer and guitarist Gus Rios
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 24, 2018
Create A Kill is an extreme Thrash Metal band from Miami, Florida, formed by ex-Malevolent Creation drummer Gus Rios (also in Gruesome, Evil Amidst, etc., nowadays). His teammates have also earned their stipes in such bands as Possessed, Gruesome, Solstice (FL), Megadeth, Vomitory and so on, which is why many have called Create A Kill a "supergroup". There's no party or happy or whatsoever Thrash from these guys, just 100% mean and merciless brutality at the extreme end of the genre.
The band signed to small Greek label Repulsive Echo Records some time ago and their debut album, Summoned to Rise, was released at the end of September 2018.
In this relatively brief interview for The Metal Crypt, Gus kindly tells us what drove him to form his own brutal Thrash Metal band, how he found people to contribute and how he took the loss of a very important friend of his among other things.
Luxi: First off, how's life, Gus?
Gus: America is a shit show at the moment, but otherwise things are good ... can't complain.
Luxi: Secondly, would you enlighten us on what made you form the band Create A Kill?
Gus: I had written a few songs for what was to be the next Malevolent Creation album, but I ended up quitting the band shortly after. The songs were very Thrash influenced, as they were on Invidious Dominion, so I just re-recorded the guitars tuned higher and BOOM extreme Thrash! Thrash was my first true love in Metal, so it's going back to my roots.
Luxi: People may consider the band's line-up as some sort of "supergroup" because each of you has a strong reputation from other well-known Metal bands, from Malevolent Creation to Solstice to Possessed, and so on. Do you feel this type of bold advertisement is necessary in Create A Kill's case? I am sure you agree that you want to let your music do the talking, right?
Gus: It wasn't meant to be a supergroup as much as having a few of my closest friends come and help me out. Initially, I wanted a different drummer on each tune but that was way too ambitious! I was trying to approach strictly as guitar player, but it was much easier to just record the drums and bass as well.
OLD-SCHOOL VIBE WITH THE ORGANIC PRODUCTION
Luxi: Speaking of that, to me it sounds like you weren't reinventing Death/Thrash Metal but wanted to remind people of how things were done back in the day. Your music reminds me of bands like early Malevolent Creation, Demolition Hammer, early Slayer and, of course, Solstice, so my question is, did you intentionally (or unintentionally?) want Create A Kill to sound as old school Death/Thrash as it gets?
Gus: I just made music that I wanted to hear. My favorite Thrash bands from back in the day were the ones that stayed away from sounding happy or party Thrash. Early Slayer, Dark Angel, Kreator, and Devastation mixed with elements of Death Metal like blast beats just seemed like exactly what I wanted to hear and most every new Thrash band doesn't fall into that category. The old-school vibe with the organic production is how I make records. It's how all of my favorite albums were recorded. I've never been a fan of the modern "let the computer fix everything" sound. Not that it's bad, but it's just not my thing.
Luxi: How important is it for you personally to preserve this old school Death/Thrash Metal sound through the stuff that you do with Create A Kill?
Gus: Again, it really just came down to I wanted to hear some new Thrash and none of the newer bands were doing what I wanted to hear, so I made my own! I kept hearing bands release a fast or aggressive song then the rest of the album was much tamer and accessible. The same thing that killed Thrash back in the late '80s and that's why Death Metal took over! People that wanted more extreme music heard Death (definitely including myself here!) and Thrash got left behind. I want to write songs that have ZERO chance of being played on the radio!
CREATING A CORPSE
Luxi: Who came up with the band name, Create A Kill, and do you think it reflects the band's music?
Gus: I heard a line in a Kreator song that said, "create a corpse", which I thought was a really cool way of saying "commit murder". The word corpse was too Death Metal so "Kill" fit. Some people don't like the name but to me it's total evil Thrash!
Luxi: What are the roles in the songwriting process for the band? Does each person contribute equally or is this task put completely on the shoulders on some specific members in the band?
Gus: I write and arrange all of the music. Like I said, I wanted to have different drummers on each song but in the end with no budget it simply wasn't feasible. The lyrics were all Alex and Matt.
Luxi: You have your debut album, Summoned to Rise, coming out on Greek label Repulsive Echo Records soon. How did you end up signing a deal with Kostas' and his label?
Gus: I had sent him some demo stuff early on and he really kept pushing me to finish the album. When I started getting serious with Create A Kill, the Gruesome thing took off and I had to put it on hold for a while. Kostas kept pushing and pushing and that enthusiasm was instrumental in getting this album done. That's why I didn't even shop it around as going with the label that truly believes in your product goes further than a bigger label that would just push a "supergroup".
Luxi: Were there other labels that were interested in working with you?
Gus: I didn't shop it around at all. I wanted the album to stand on its own feet and not be pushed by a bigger label just wanting to market another "supergroup" release and recoup its investment as quickly as possible. Having my own studio and good friends REALLY made a difference. I needed no budget and that also allows Repulsive Echo to invest in promotion and production only.
Luxi: Is Create A Kill just a project band or do you see it more as a touring band, too?
Gus: I would love nothing more than for this to turn into a real band with a solid line-up. Much of that all depends on how well this album is received and how much noise it can make. If the demand is there, then I can get quality players and take it out on tour or even just festivals.
Luxi: Do you have any gigs planned yet?
Gus: The album was just released last week so now the focus is 100% on promotion. I have started writing the next album though so I'm really hopeful that the band generates some steam and I can elevate the status.
NEVER STOP LEARNING SOMETHING NEW
Luxi: You are considered one of the better Metal drummers out there nowadays. Obviously, all this recognition must make you feel very humble when people come and say things like that to you in person. I'd like to know if you see yourself as a constant learner of drum techniques, no matter if it's Jazz, Blues, Latin, Rock or whatever?
Gus: Thank you! I still try and play drums every day, whether it's maintaining or learning. I feel that a real musician NEVER stops learning and that should keep us all humble. At home I'm a full-time musician, working several nights a week and playing everything from classic Rock to Dance music with a click and backing tracks. To survive you gotta be versatile!
Luxi: You look up drummers like Dave Lombardo and Vinnie Colaiuta. If it wasn't for them, do you would have played some other instrument?
Gus: I got a guitar before drums. Jeff Hanneman was my first true inspiration. Create A Kill is my way of returning to my very first beginnings in playing music; guitar and Thrash Metal. But I must admit, the feeling I got when I first sat down on a drum kit and still get to this day is unmatched! Playing drums is WHO I am ... period! My influences helped shape my playing, and you named my top two, but it's the feeling I get from playing drums that really shaped my life!
Luxi: It was Dave Culross (Malevolent Creation, Suffocation, etc.) who taught you proper drum techniques in the beginning. How much do you think you owe him for teaching you the kind of things you can do behind a drum kit?
Gus: I owe Dave a tremendous amount of gratitude and, of course, respect. He really was the guy who helped me build a solid foundation of proper technique and execution. If it wasn't for Dave I would NOT have been ready to study with Sean Reinert a couple of years later. Dave gave me the solid foundation while Sean cracked my head open and filled it with a lot of vocabulary on the drums. I owe both of them so much! Shit, most of the Metal drumming community does too!
FROM DEATH TO ALL TO GRUESOME
Luxi: You played in Death reunion band Death to All in 2013 and 2014. Would you do something like it again if there was a chance for that?
Gus: Of course! That feeling of looking behind me and seeing that giant Death logo backdrop while Steve D and either Paul or Bobby are out in front ... surreal! But thankfully I get a very similar experience with Gruesome now. We've even had Terry Butler play some classic Leprosy tunes with us on several occasions ... gave me chills every time too!
Luxi: About the famous Florida Death Metal scene, it used to be the hotspot for Death Metal, just like the Sweden in the early nineties. Do you see the Florida Death Metal scene as strong and vivid as it used to be nearly 30 years ago or is it perhaps even stronger nowadays due to the Internet revolution when bands get to promote their music much easier because of all of this modern technology?
Gus: It's hard to say. It's still all of us old guys still out there kicking ass though! I haven't heard any newer bands so I'm not sure how vibrant it is as far as being fertile ground for that.
Luxi: Sad news hit me yesterday (July 7th) when I found out that Brett Hoffman, the former Malevolent Creation front man, passed away due to cancer. As you were a part of Malevolent Creation from 2010 up to 2014, I bet Brett became a close friend...
Gus: The news hit me very hard. I had spoken to him just two weeks before he passed, and he was still optimistic even though he sounded very weak. But that was Brett, always a fighter! I actually started playing with Malevolent Creation back in 1997 when I helped them write The Fine Art of Murder album. So, I had been friends with Brett since then and we toured almost nonstop from 2009–2014. And when I quit the band he was the only one to call me and say that we're still brothers and that he thought Gruesome was killer! I miss him dearly.
Actually, and sorry for the delay, but I didn't get to this interview until now, October 2nd. I recently found a song that I had recorded for Malevolent Creation that I thought was lost. I re-recorded the guitars and asked Matt Harvey to write lyrics in honor of Brett. It's a very special song to me called "Flesh, Blood and Stone". I'm working on a lyric video and the song is available for FREE with purchase of Summoned to Rise. I'm grateful that our final conversation ended with both of us saying, "I love you, bro".
Luxi: Okay, one last question and we are done (for now at least). After the Summoned to Rise album is out, what will happen in the Create A Kill camp? Any record release party in sight perhaps?
Gus: For now, I'm just focused on promoting this album as well as writing the next album. I've already written four songs and it's going to be even faster and more extreme ... adding elements of Grindcore!
Luxi: Thank you, Gus, for your time with my interview questions and all the best with all of your future endeavors in bands. Any closing comments?
Gus: Thank you for the interview and support! Hopefully, I'll make to your neck of the woods with either Create A Kill or Gruesome! Cheers!
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