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Interviews Split Heaven

Interview with guitarist Pedro Zelbohr

Interview conducted by MetalMike

Date online: August 14, 2012

Mexico's Split Heaven released their second full-length album, Street Law, in 2011 and now have a new video for the song "Vuelo Nocturno" that features images from Mexico's famous wrestling tradition. Guitarist Pedro Zelbohr took some time out of his schedule to talk to The Metal Crypt about the band, the album, the video and more.

MetalMike: Hello to everyone in Split Heaven! How are things in Mexico? How is the Metal scene there at the moment?

Pedro: Hello to all the readers of The Metal Crypt. It's ok here in Mexico; a little rainy in our city which is very near the Capital. We had elections for president the past month and it was filled with corruption from all the political parties so we aren't going to change much in the coming years, haha. Now let's talk about Metal and the scene. I hope the Metal scene is growing but I don't see much change from other years. The foreign bands have great success at their shows but for local bands you don't have the same opportunities. Non-professional promoters, nepotism in the Rock and Metal media, no places for Metal, the bands talk shit about one another and no interest from the Metalheads (not all) to know the local bands because, I suppose, there's not an easy channel to know them. The little labels can't compete with the distribution partners of bigger labels, and those distribution partners, if they do have bands of their own, they aren't from Mexico. We have 5 to 10 great bands (not much) but just one or two are getting the minimum of support from the big fishes in Mexico's music business. So our scene is very healthy and growing as you can see :-D. No, in the end, we have better bands than ever and the fans are great but we still lack the 95% of the things needed to have something like Europe, North America or Japan.

MetalMike: How has the reaction been to your latest album, 2011's Street Law?

Pedro: It has been good. It was our first album with a European label, Pure Steel Records, although Psycho Samurai was distributed there and High Roller Records released a vinyl version of it. Some critics have said that we are the best thing in this resurrection of old school Metal and others have said that we are scum. It has been record of the month and rated top ten in 2011 by great webzines and others have said that we are scum, too, haha. We don't take the critics too seriously but I suppose we are in the middle of those opinions, haha. For us it was a fun album to do, it has all the things we love about metal but at the same time we were not totally happy with the production. The sound is a little too harsh for what we intended. I hope we can re-release it in the future with a new mix although people have told us that they like the sound so I don't know. In the end, the Metalheads have the last word about a record, so what do you think? Shall we re-mix it in the future? Hehe.

MetalMike: Can you tell us a bit of the history of Split Heaven, like where the name comes from and what inspired you to play Heavy Metal with an old-school sound?

Pedro: Split Heaven is a band from Mexico that tries to do Heavy Metal a la the 80´s, not because nowadays it is the fashion, but because we really dig it and because it's the only thing we are capable of doing. We started like 7 or 8 years ago trying to do something more power metal but we ended sounding like Agent Steel. Then we tried to sound like Agent Steel but we were compared more to Metal Church and the NWOBHM bands so we never had an option, really, haha. That was the only sound coming from us. We love Heavy Metal. It's not only the old school but maybe we sound more into the 80s because Heavy Metal had an explosion in that decade, and has a lot of good bands we love. We are just trying to play the Heavy Metal we like. About the name, we were looking for one in the beginning and I just remember that Tommy (the drummer), my brother and I were in my room in the process of finding it and, I don't know, maybe Tommy said it and it was done, we liked it and we have embraced it since then. What it means? For us: it is our passion. For everybody else: well... let's see.

MetalMike: I guess the big news for the band right now is the video for "Vuelo Nocturno" that is out now. Give us some insight into the making of the video. It certainly appears the band was having a blast making it!

Pedro: Yeah, we had a blast doing it but just the day of the shooting. Before that, we were told by the director, Manuel Hernández Stumpfhauser and the guys from Oxes, to learn wrestling because we had to fight a pro haha. So we took like 15 wrestling lessons in order to film it and I can tell you, wrestling is not only show. The arena is not soft, the ropes are very hard, and when a brother jumps at you from a higher place you are going to get yourself damaged. But we are really happy with the result. The video is really fast, we like the song, we like the story and we could finally take something from Mexico and incorporate it into Split Heaven. That was the idea.

MetalMike: For those of us who only know Mexican wrestling from Hollywood movies, can you give us an idea of what makes it so popular? Why was it important for Split Heaven to feature wrestling as the central theme for the video?

Pedro: Wrestling its very popular in our country. Maybe it is a way for lots of people to let all their frustrations out. I don't know why it's so popular but I can tell you that our most well-known Mexican Super Hero, "El Santo," who was a mythical wrestler, has probably hundreds of movies against all sorts of evil creatures, and I'm talking about old black and white movies. Wrestling has a long history here so the son who went with his father to the show in the hood maybe is taking his grandsons now, 50 or 60 years later. A really funny and good show seeing masked guys makes these shows widely popular.

Now, we wanted to feature wrestling because we think it has so many things you can compare with our music and with Heavy Metal: the speed, the aggression, the show, the adrenaline, the revenge. We were looking for something very Mexican to show, maybe something fresh for the international metal community and ¨Lucha Libre¨ had all those components that we share, so the answer was easy.

MetalMike: What's up next for Split Heaven? Have you been able to tour much in support of Street Law? Where would you like to play that you haven't had a chance to yet?

Pedro: Well, for us, next we are going to do some shows in Europe in September, what we have till now is:

Andernach/Germany at Swordbrothers Festival -Sep 8
Werl/Germany at the Banhof -Sep 14
Aschaffenburg/Germany -Sep 15
Roeselare/ Belgium at De Verlichte Geest -Sep 20
Tilburg/ Dutchland( Holland ) at Mario's Metal Meeting 6 -Sep 22

There are some gigs we had that were cancelled (not the shows above) and we are still looking for more, so if some promoter is reading this and wants to do a show or somebody who wants to see us and knows a place or a friend or whatever, we are all ears. If not, then we will be waiting for you to rock those places! We will be rocking E.U. next year too, so, for the North American readers, keep your eyes open!

MetalMike: Are you working on the next album yet or are you still in support mode for Street Law?

Pedro: We will be creating new songs after we comeback from Europe. We have some riffs, some ideas but our goal about what we want to achieve musically with the next album is not yet clear. We want to do the best album of our career, that's absolutely the objective and a must and with the new ideas and riffs we have. I think we will make it, but which waters we will have to swim to find what we are looking for, I don't know yet. I just can tell that it is going to be a journey filled with good Heavy Metal.

MetalMike: What else should readers know about Split Heaven?

Pedro: Nothing else, just thanks to all you guys who are reading this and to The Metal Crypt. Please feel free to talk with us through Facebook and Twitter, we will be waiting for all of you. Share the video for "Vuelo Nocturno" and keep on rockin!

MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions and good luck with Street Law and "Vuelo Nocturno"!

Pedro: Thanks for the opportunity MetalMike and sorry for all the delay. Thanks!

Other information about Split Heaven on this site
Review: Psycho Samurai
Review: Street Law
Review: Street Law
Review: The Devil's Bandit
Review: Death Rider
Review: Electric Spell

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