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Interviews Victimized (Colombia)

Interview with vocalist Mauricio Obregon

Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Date online: February 19, 2024


Live pictures by Julian Pinzon

Victimized is a 5-piece thrash metal band from Bogotá, Colombia, that has been churning out uncompromising and violent thrash metal since 2005. The band has released three full-length studio albums (plus a healthy dose of EPs and other, smaller releases) so far. It was the band's third album, Sonic Violence, released in January 2023, that eventually made its way to the offices of The Metal Crypt and impressed the hell out of us, so much so that we felt an urgent need to learn more about them. We contacted the band's vocalist Mauricio Obregon, who was more than willing to tell us the history of the band, lineup changes, what caused him to step aside from the Victimized troops before rejoining them again, and so forth.

Let's invite Mauro in to continue the story of Victimized...

BOGOTÁ'S KICKIN' AND ALIVE

Hey there, Mauro! How's it kickin' in Bogotá, Colombia, these days?

Mauro: Bogotá's alive and thrashing, my friend! The metal scene here is like a beast that never sleeps. Every corner has its own beat of metal, punk, hardcore, etc. and Victimized is right at the heart of it, feeding off the city's energy and giving it back in spades.

You and Juan Forero formed Victimized almost 20 years ago and he isn't in the band anymore. Why did he decide to leave?

Mauro: Juan's departure was one of those life things, you know? He had his reasons, mostly personal. We were all bummed, but life in a band is like a mosh pit; unpredictable and always changing.

You and band Juan wrote all the songs for the band's debut 5-track demo, titled Beware...Human City, which was released in December 2005. Were you excited and nervous recording that demo?

Mauro: Oh man, recording that demo was a whole different level of raw and real. We didn't know jack about production back then. We just set up a recorder in the middle of our rehearsal space, hit record, and played our hearts out. It was all about capturing the moment, the raw energy of those early days. The excitement was through the roof, but yeah, we were a bunch of nervous wrecks, just hoping to make something that sounded half-decent.

A year after the release of your demo, you put out a 6-track EP called Brain Damage that included two live songs. Apparently, you learned a lot as musicians as far as your skills and working in a studio environment. How would you say the band improved as a unit since the days of your debut demo?

Mauro: A year's a long time in music. We got better with our instruments, understood the studio's magic better, and most importantly, we gelled as a unit. It was like evolving from a garage band to something more serious and cohesive.

THE BREAK IN 2008

Nothing lasts forever, and life threw a couple of curveballs your way and the band took a break around 2008. What happened inside the Victimized camp?

Mauro: The break in 2008 was mostly on me. I left the band and moved to San Francisco, California, for about four years. During that time, Victimized kept playing and making music, but it was tough, and things were kind of falling apart. When I moved back to Bogotá, we picked up where we left off. It wasn't easy to get back on track, but I can proudly say that now, with some lineup changes, the band is stronger than ever. We're working hard and have some big plans for the future. It's been a wild ride, but totally worth it.

In 2009, Victimized shrunk to a 3-piece band, and released an EP titled Self Destroy, featuring 5 songs. You weren't a part of the lineup back then, what is your opinion about that outing? It sounds very different compared to the band nowadays.

Mauro: During the Self Destroy recording, I was living in the USA. Before leaving, I had a hand in writing two of the songs on that EP, "Drinking Team" and "Cardiac Failure." Maybe that's why they're the only two tracks I actually dig from that release, haha! But seriously, I get that it was an EP that kept the band afloat during those years. It pushed the sound and the experience of the musicians at that time, which is something I can appreciate. It played a crucial role in keeping the Victimized spirit alive, even when I was miles away.

REJOINING VICTIMIZED IN 2011

What made you rejoin the band in 2011?

Mauro: When I rejoined the band in mid-2011, getting back into the groove was tougher than I thought. We had some rehearsals and live shows, but it was a struggle to reintegrate. Plus, Andrés, who was the bassist at the time and my co-founder back in 2005, was on his way out. He was eyeing a personal project in a different music style. So, reviving the band wasn't easy. It wasn't until 2013, when we got invited to play at a big festival in Bogotá called "Rock al Parque," that the new lineup really solidified. That's when we set clear goals and started working towards what we have now. It was a turning point for us, bringing new life and direction to Victimized.

Fast forward to 2016, that's when you finally released your debut album, Born Corrupt, with a renewed lineup. When you look back a little bit, how bumpy was the road for you guys to get your first album recorded with all the lineup changes, motivation problems, and all that shit?

Mauro: The road to Born Corrupt was anything but smooth. Lineup changes, motivation swings, the works. But every challenge made us stronger and more determined. It was a journey of self-discovery as much as it was about making music.

How happy and satisfied are you with your debut considering it took 11 long years to get it recorded after the formation of the band?

Mauro: Born Corrupt was a learning curve for us, with the biggest lesson being "if you want something done right, do it yourself." The studio experience wasn't great; the engineer did a half-hearted job with the recordings, and the mixing had a lot of issues. We were never truly happy with the end result. Plus, our inexperience in the studio brought its own set of challenges, stretching the production time way longer than expected. There were mistakes on both sides, but I still believe that album has some solid tracks that I really like even today. We always felt that Born Corrupt could have been better, and there's talk within the band of re-recording it, to really do justice to what the album could and should have been musically.

How was Born Corrupt received among metalheads around the globe?

Mauro: The reception was beyond what we'd hoped for. Metalheads from different parts of the world reached out, and it felt amazing to connect with them through our music. It showed us that our music had a global language.

The follow-up album, titled Brain Destroyed, came out in April of 2019. What can you share about the album in a more detailed way for the readers of The Metal Crypt?

Mauro: Brain Destroyed was a mix of material we wrote over those working years, and some reworked songs from the early EPs, recorded in a much better way. It was also our first self-produced and mixed album, all thanks to Nico, our guitarist. He's got a ton of talent in production and mixing. This album was a big step for us in taking control of our sound and really shaping it the way we envisioned. Nico brought fresh perspective and skills to the table, which made a huge difference in how Brain Destroyed turned out.

I assume when you released your second album, it brought you some gig opportunities at least in your home country, Colombia, right?

Mauro: That album opened doors we didn't even know existed. We played more gigs, met incredible people, and expanded our horizons. Each show was a chance to share our story and connect with fans.

INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION FOR BRAIN DESTROYED

How much attention did this album get outside of Colombia?

Mauro: Brain Destroyed was 100% independent, and we were really in the thick of learning to produce, mix, and create our music entirely by ourselves. So, while it was a step forward from Born Corrupt, it still had the growing pains of a band evolving its sound. The music, as I mentioned earlier, included songs from our early career, featured on our first EPs, so you can hear more punk and raw riffs in there. The album did catch some international attention, but not as much as our next release, Sonic Violence, which really helped us step up our game on the global metal scene. It was a crucial learning experience for us and set the stage for what was to come.

In November 2019, the band also released a 5-song EP, titled Resonantes Extremo (Canal Trece Session). What was this EP all about? Was it mainly targeted for labels, radio stations, media, etc. for promotional purposes or was there some other, possibly "deeper" idea behind the release?

Mauro: The Resonantes Extremo recording marked our first full-fledged appearance on national TV. We had a brief moment on air during our 2013 Rock al Parque Festival performance, but this was the first time a TV program was entirely dedicated to Victimized. We played several tracks live, and there was also an interview segment that was broadcast. It was a significant moment for us, showcasing our music on a national platform, and it allowed us to connect with a broader audience. This EP captured the essence of that live performance and the energy of being in the spotlight, making it a unique piece in our discography.

In January 2023, the band's third album, Sonic Violence, saw the light of day, in which Juan Hurtado played bass and Lenox Melo was on drums. Why did they decide to leave the band?

Mauro: Lenox's departure was mainly due to a mismatch in commitment levels. We felt we weren't all on the same page, and his pace wasn't aligning with the rest of us. The intensity and dedication we all brought to the band seemed to differ, leading us to part ways by mutual agreement. There's no bad blood; it was just a necessary change. Since then, Juan David Ortiz has taken over the drums, becoming a crucial part of the band. Juan David (Ortiz) has joined us for several live dates across the country, fitting seamlessly into our music. He's a great friend, and we're excited about the future with him on board, especially with the new music we're already working on.

PREFERENCE FOR BAY AREA THRASH OVER EUROPEAN THRASH STYLE

Sonic Violence is clearly more Bay Area-orientated thrash metal, à la Vio-lence, Exodus and Forbidden, than the European, more straightforward and rawer thrash metal. Why does the Bay Area thrash appeal you a tad better than European thrash?

Mauro: The Bay Area sound has always resonated with us more deeply, perhaps because of its gritty, streetwise infusion with punk and hardcore elements. There's something about the mix of melodies and speed that hooks us in. Don't get me wrong, we're huge fans of European thrash too, including the big four from Germany; we grew up blasting those bands as well. I don't believe one scene is better than the other; they complement each other beautifully. For us as fans, it's a blessing to have such a rich tapestry of musical influences to draw from.

Do you believe that the lineup changes the band has faced over the years are part of the reason the band isn't better known worldwide?

Mauro: The lineup changes definitely threw us some curveballs, but I see them as part of our evolution. Each change brought in fresh ideas and energy, shaping our sound and identity. It's possible these shifts might have slowed our global recognition, as consistency can build momentum. However, they've also kept us dynamic and adaptable, which is vital for survival and growth in the music world.

How did you find Juan Sebástian Viana on bass and Juan David Ortiz behind the drum kit in 2023, to replace both Juan H. and Lenox? Were they close friends of yours or just talented random dudes who simply showed their true potential as musicians?

Mauro: Finding Juan Sebástian Viana and Juan David Ortiz was like hitting the jackpot. These guys weren't just random talented musicians; they were the missing pieces we needed. Juan S. came through a mutual friend, and Juan D. was part of our wider music circle. Their arrival injected new life into Victimized, and their dedication and skill have been pivotal in shaping our current sound and direction.

WORKING ON NEW MATERIAL POST-SONIC VIOLENCE

We are, of course, curious to know if you've been working on new material since the days of Sonic Violence. How much hard work is left until you are ready to enter the studio to record your next outing, be it an EP or a full-length album?

Mauro: Since Sonic Violence, we've been on a creative spree, constantly jotting down riffs, lyrics, and ideas. There's a lot of groundwork already laid out for our next project, whether it's an EP or a full-length album. The energy and synergy among us are at an all-time high, and we're eager to channel this into something that truly represents where we are musically right now. Additionally, for the past few months, we've been working with a record label called Dark United Media based in Florida, USA. We've signed a 3-year contract with them to release at least two albums, which is a massive step forward since it provides significant financial support for production costs, allowing us to focus 100% on the music. It also opens a huge door to the US market, where we know there's a large thrash metal fan base, so our music will soon hit American soil.

The Colombian underground metal scene has always been strong and vivid over the past decades, with many truly promising bands. How has it evolved in the past 10-15 years or so, and how it might be evolving in the coming years?

Mauro: The Colombian metal scene has been on an incredible journey over the last decade or so. It's become more diverse, with bands exploring a wide range of metal subgenres. The scene's growing, with more gigs, more fans, and a real sense of community. Victimized has grown alongside it, adapting and evolving, but always staying true to our thrash roots. We're proud to be part of this vibrant scene and excited to see where it goes next. Moreover, some old-school Colombian bands that are still active have gained international recognition, with several of them touring in Europe and the USA, something that was hard to imagine years ago. This shift showcases the growing strength and reach of our local scene, opening new opportunities for bands like ours.

FUTURE ASPIRATIONS WITH VICTIMIZED

What do you hope to achieve in the future with the band? Touring Europe or North America with some globally known thrash metal band would undoubtedly be a dream-come-true for you, wouldn't it?

Mauro: Touring Europe or North America is definitely on the wishlist. Sharing the stage with some of the global thrash legends would be a dream come true. But beyond that, we want to keep pushing our musical boundaries, reach more fans, and contribute to keeping the thrash metal flame burning worldwide. It's all about the music, the fans, and the thrash metal brotherhood.

Well, I believe that's all I had in mind for this conversation, so I want to sincerely thank you, Mauro, for your time and wish you all the best with any present and future comings and goings with the band. Let those "famous last words" be yours...

Mauro: Thanks for this space/interview; it's been a blast!

To all the metalheads reading this, keep supporting your local scenes and bands. The underground is where the heart beats the loudest. And to our fans, old and new, thanks for being on this wild ride with us. Stay tuned, because Victimized has plenty more in store. Keep it loud, keep it heavy, and most importantly, keep it thrash! 🤘

Other information about Victimized (Colombia) on this site
Review: Sonic Violence




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