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Interviews Masters of Metal

Interview with guitarist Juan Garcia

Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Date online: August 25, 2015

Los Angeles, California-based Metal act Masters of Metal has finally completed the recordings for their 11-track debut full-length studio album titled From Worlds Beyond, to be released on Germany's Metalville label. The album has been a long time in the works due to a number of different reasons from tour commitments with the guys' other bands and guitarist/vocalist Bernie Versailles suffering an aneurysm on October 5th, 2014 and his subsequent recovery among other things but now the release date has finally been set; August 21st in Europe and September 18th in the United States.

The Metal Crypt caught up with guitarist Juan Garcia who shared some of his thoughts about the recording process for From Worlds Beyond, how Helstar's James Rivera might have something to do with the band's touring plans and overall what's in store for Masters of Metal. Read on...

Luxi: How are you doing Juan? Are you excited about the fact the first M.O.M. album is basically completed?

Juan: I'm very happy that the album has been completed, yes. It took way longer to finish than expected but there were some obstacles along the way like having to re-record all the lead vocals and of course some delays after Bernie suffered an aneurysm. It comes out August 21st in Europe and September 18th in the United States.

Luxi: What can you tell us about the recording sessions at Skull Seven Studios in North Hollywood, CA with Bill Metoyer? Did everything work out as smoothly and easily as you hoped? Did you have to make any compromises when you were recording as far as the songs are concerned?

Juan: Working with Bill Metoyer has always been smooth; he's a great engineer and an easygoing person. Actually Bernie Versailles did most of the producing on this album, I helped co-produce it and Bill did a lot of the engineering and helped us complete the final few songs on the album, especially "Vengeance & Might" which James Rivera is featured on vocals.

Luxi: Your self-titled 4-track EP (the European version with four bonus rerecordings of old Agent Steel songs) was also recorded at Skull Seven Studios with Bill Metoyer at the production helm. I guess the experience was positive enough to want to use the studio and Bill a second time, correct?

Juan: The 4-song EP was a limited release and we did include some live bonus material; the original four songs were supposed to be for the final version of the debut album From Worlds Beyond but since things were taking so long to finish up the album we went ahead and put out an EP. It only made sense to finish the album with Bill Metoyer since we did all the original recording sessions at Skull Seven Studios. Of the four songs from the EP only two of them made the album.

Luxi: What kind of things did you perhaps pay more attention to when you were working with the songs for your debut album? Was the recording of the EP an educational experience for you guys?

Juan: The EP was released because we were taking too long to finish the album and we wanted to get some material out there and an EP made sense. The full-length debut comes out August 21st in Europe and September 18, 2015 for the rest of the world. In my opinion we did our best to improve the sound on the full-length album and there's of course more variety in the songs. I'm very pleased with the album considering all the circumstances regarding this release.

Luxi: What role did Bill Metoyer play on this forthcoming M.O.M. album? Did he know what type of sound you guys were looking for and did he surprise you with some ideas that ended up being useful while you were at his studio?

Juan: Bill's major role was getting some really good drum sounds and guiding us with guitar tones and bass tones. Bernie and I pretty much knew what we wanted to achieve with the production on the new songs. Bill's a legend and anytime you have an opportunity to work with someone like him, it's an honor. His ideas are always useful.

Luxi: Is there anything on this forthcoming M.O.M. album that may take people by surprise or would you say it's a pretty safe-sounding, 100% Masters of Metal effort?

Juan: There are a few tracks that stand out to me. "Third Eye" is a very cool song that was co-written with Rick Mythiasin (Steel Prophet); he came up with the lyrics and vocal melodies and Bernie re-sang and recorded the vocals on the track. Actually Bernie re-cut vocals on the whole album. "Doors Beyond Our Galaxy" is a very different song for us. "Supremacy" is 100 percent Masters of Metal. There are a lot of elements of Agent Steel of course, especially guitar wise, and there are a lot of NWOBHM influences and lots of Thrash elements.

Luxi: Bernie Versailles proved to be a very skilled singer on the first M.O.M. EP. How much did his singing improve when he did his vocals tracks for the debut? Undoubtedly Bernie wanted to get his very best performance for this opus, right?

Juan: Yes, to me the biggest surprise is the vocals and I'm very satisfied with Bernie's efforts. Keep in mind when we started to record this album it was Rick Mythiasin on vocals and along the way Bernie re-sang everything with the exception of the last song "Vengeance & Might" which features James Rivera from Helstar.

Luxi: How many songs are you planning to feature on this album and can you reveal some song titles for the readers of The Metal Crypt?

Juan: There will be eleven songs on the debut. The track listing goes at follows: 1. Supremacy, 2. World Left in Cinders, 3. Third Eye, 4. Tomb of Ra, 5. Eclipse, 6. The Mindless, 7. MK Ultra, 8. Into the Vortex, 9. Doors Beyond Our Galaxy, 10. Evolution of Being, 11. Vengeance & Might (Featuring: James Rivera)

Luxi: What can you tell us about the lyrical contributions on this record? Did you try to share the writing process so that the heavy burden would not have to be carried by one or two of you?

Juan: The majority of the lyrics were written by Bernie Versailles and our bassist Robert Cardenas. I contributed lyrics to two songs, James Rivera contributed lyrics to one song and Rick Mythiasin contributed lyrics to one song. My focus was more on the music but I always enjoy good lyrics and I feel this album is loaded with really awesome lyrics.

Luxi: Will there again be a couple of different labels that will release the M.O.M. full-length, maybe putting it out on your own label in the States and letting No Remorse Records to put it out for the European territories?

Juan: Metalville Records will be releasing the album worldwide. It will be distributed here in the U.S.A. through proper distribution and I'm happy with the fact that they are involved in promoting the album.

Luxi: Do you have any plans to shoot a video for one of the songs off the record?

Juan: We have a lyric video coming out to the song "Supremacy" and there have been some talks about doing an official video but this will be somewhat difficult since Bernie is currently recovering from his brain injury. I've talked to some video producers about finding a clever way of putting an official music video together.

Luxi: Now a tougher question for you; what makes you proud of this forthcoming M.O.M. album?

Juan: The fact that we were able to complete the project after Bernie Versailles suffered an aneurysm before it was finished. Believe me it was not easy completing it without him being involved and I'm also very proud of all the band members and feature members and their commitment and dedication to this release.

Luxi: Besides Masters of Metal all of you have other bands like Robert being in Coffin Texts and Possessed, Bernie having Redemption and you being in Body Count and Killing Machine. How much do you think this may restrict M.O.M. touring because it's very obvious that Possessed will be keeping Robert busy in the future with both recording and touring?

Juan: At the moment I'm not too concerned with limitations of touring, I'm more concerned with Bernie Versailles' health improving and him getting back to 100 percent. If some live shows and/or tour opportunities come up James Rivera told me he would sing for Masters of Metal in the absence of Bernie.

I just completed a European tour with Body Count (21 shows in 21 days) and Killing Machine was just a project. Robert will have a few Possessed shows in the future and I'm sure I will have some more Body Count shows but we will find the way to make this work.

Luxi: You did some guitar shredding for a new Hirax song, "Hellion Rising," in 2013. What kind of experience was it for you to get this invitation from the Hirax camp to record something for them? Do you admire Hirax as one of the longest running Thrash Metal bands around these days?

Juan: I did it as a favor to Katon W. De Pena. The dude is a total metal warrior and I love the energy Hirax puts out. It was lots of fun just going in there and knocking down some solos in a couple of hours of recording; totally cool vibe.

Luxi: What are your long-term plans for M.O.M. over the next 2-3 years or so? Or do you prefer not like to make such long-term plans for the band due to many moving and/or changing parts?

Juan: At some point it would be great to write another M.O.M. album and of course not take six plus years to release it! There really isn't a long-term plan at the moment. I'd rather focus on the present and then reevaluate after a few months. Touring and supporting this release is on our minds of course.

Luxi: Are you hoping to get M.O.M. playing at some festivals promote the band? Big, well-known festivals naturally offer the most because you are able to reach thousands and thousands of people at one time with just one performance...

Juan: That to me would be the goal, yes to perform at festivals, but we have no problem grinding out tour dates either.

Luxi: What's the best part of playing in M.O.M. besides your annoying and nosy band mates of course, ha ha!! ;o)

Juan: I enjoy working on getting the best possible guitar tones and modifying guitars and gear set ups. I'd like this band to sound the best possible live and I still enjoy rehearsing.

Luxi: Well, I guess that's it Juan, so I want to thank you once more for sharing some of your time with me and I want to wish you all the best with M.O.M. and your other band activities as well. Any closing words?

Juan: We have the first single "Supremacy" coming out in a few weeks and you can pre-order the album from iTunes with physical copies also available. And I'd like to thank you for the support and opportunity for this interview.

Other information about Masters of Metal on this site
Review: From Worlds Beyond
Interview with guitarist Juan Garcia on January 26, 2013 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)

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