This Is Hell don’t do things in half measures. The Long Island outfit have found a strong style with their hardcore, thrash crossover. Killyourstereo.com recently sat down with guitarist Rick Jimenez to discuss plans for 2013, the band’s upcoming Soundwave appearance and jamming to Metallica records in your lounge room.
Hey Rick, how’s it going?
How you doing?
Yeah, not too bad thanks.
You just started the first few days of your world tour I believe, how’s it like getting back to playing shows in 2013?
It’s going well so far. We’re in North Carolina and it’s just our second day and it’s freezing (laughs). At least we’re heading south towards the warmth and we’re psyched. Instead of looking at the list of dates and being like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe we have two month of shows,” we psyched to be playing. We psyched to be back out on the road, we have a lot of crazy places coming up and we’re ready and full of energy – probably because it’s the start of the tour. We’re way psyched to get the ball not just rolling but steamrolling in a super fast pace this year.
Obviously, the ones we are excited down here in Australia are the Soundwave shows. I remember a while back reading a Facebook post where one of the fans commented that when they were listening to ‘Weight of the World’ they said it sounded like you guys had been listening to Anthrax for six months and you guys replied back saying, “More like 18 years.” Here you are about to play a festival with three of the big four in thrash metal. How’s the mood going into it?
It’s crazy…it’s so crazy. When we found out we were going to be playing Soundwave and that it was Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax it was like, “this is absurd! This is so crazy. I can’t believe this is a tour we’re doing.” It could’ve been anyone of those bands, let alone all three of them. We figured Metallica weren’t going to do any sideshows and Anthrax in 2010, when we did Soundwave they didn’t do sideshows. So we were really hoping they would this time and we were like, “we should really do the Anthrax shows.” But, it’s not really a thing where we can be like, “hey, we want to do the Anthrax sideshows,” and that means we get it. I’m sure a lot of bands want to do the Anthrax shows and they pair bands off accordingly. But, we were waiting and waiting and hoping we were going to get them and then a couple of weeks ago we got the email asking if we wanted to do the Anthrax sideshows and we were like, “Oh my God, this is awesome!” (laughs).
It’s really crazy, there are so many crazy things to look forward to on this tour and everything on Soundwave is absurd. Three of my favourite metal bands are playing the tour. Three of my favourite hardcore bands ever are playing the tour (laughs).
Being able to play with Metallica – ridiculous. Being able to play with Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Sick of It All, Vision of Disorder, Madball, it’s like, “what is going on? What is my life?!” (laughs). But, doing all that at all is ridiculous. Doing all that in Australia is crazy. This is without a doubt the craziest thing, up until the point, to be doing as a band. It’s silly how psyched we are.
I know you’re talking about your favourite metal and hardcore bands, I know one of the strengths of This Is Hell is they’ve always had the thrash metal component but also the hardcore component. I was listening to your new song ‘The Enforcer’ the other day, which was awesome. The new material, is that the direction you’re heading?
Yeah, for sure. Musically, our next full length is already written and these songs that went on the record were actually written at the same time. It was just a matter of splitting up the time to do a 7” first and then record the full-length later just because we had so many songs. For all intents and purposes, any of these songs on ‘The Enforcer’ could’ve been on the full-length that we are going to record later in the year. There will be a few more twists and turns just because it’s a full-length and there’s more songs. Even ‘The Enforcer’ and ‘Walking Abominations’ on the record, ‘The Enforcer’, even those songs are quite different from each other. But, anything done by This Is Hell, is This Is Hell. We’ve evolved so much from day one across the board. It’s almost like anything done by the members of the band, no matter what genre it may or may not fall under is all naturally This Is Hell.
I said to somebody earlier, that is one of the best things about being in this band, is the fact, a lot of bands say this, and I’m sure a lot of them mean it, but I know a lot of times bands say this and it’s a lip service, but for us it 100% isn’t, we have this freedom, we do what we want all the time…all the time! You know like, “we want to sign to this label.” And [someone is like] “that’s not really a label a band like you should sign to.” “Hey, you know what that’s what we want to do, we’re going to do it.” We want to write a song like this, we’re going to do it. We want to do a tour and someone is like, “you shouldn’t be doing that tour,” we don’t care. If we want to do it, that’s what we’re going to do. So like I said, that’s got into the music from day one. We just write a song and “hey, this is a cool song. Yeah, ok, this is This Is Hell.” (laughs).
I know last year on the topic of the upcoming studio album when you were mentioning you had finished writing it, you also said you were looking to solidify a label to release it. What’s the status of that so far?
We’ve been in touch and conversing with a few different ones [labels] across the board in different countries. As of right now, we haven’t really locked anything down. We’ll probably, until this leg of this tour is over at the earliest, it’s not something that is top priority at the moment, especially with the amount of touring that is coming up and the record coming out across three different labels across three different continents and all that. Like I said, when it comes to everything, when we do decide on somebody, it will be the one we want to work with and the one we think fits well best with us. We posted on our twitter to see what people were thinking, “what label would you like to see us put our next full length on?” And the spectrum of responses we got was just ridiculous. And, there were some options of people we were talking to, and some options that were just like, people may think we may like to go with, but would never sign with (laughs).
Also before, when you were talking about how the band has evolved, you are probably the best person to ask about this because you’ve been there from the beginning. What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in the band over time?
There’s been so many, so it’s hard to say. We’ve gone through so many different line-up changes. So almost every line-up change seems like a big difference. There have even been differences in the sound from line-up to line-up because everyone puts their stamp on it. But, that’s really it because as far as attitude wise, nothing has changed. From day one when we decided we wanted to do this band full-time, the whole point was to do this band full-time and do whatever want and make it work. It’s not always easy to do that, especially when you have complete disregard for what other people accept and don’t accept. But, obviously one way, shape or form, we’ve made it work for almost nine years.
Does it get an easier being in a band? Because it’s an unconventional lifestyle. I know you’re playing a show in Hawaii and then three days later you’re on stage in Brisbane for Soundwave.
I would say in fact it gets harder and harder every year, especially with the fact, every year we get older. Or every day we got older. Especially the way with the music industry goes nowadays, there’s such a separation of bands and a separation of everybody in the world that wants to do everything in the world. And everybody in the world having everything in the world to make it possible for them to do that. On the other hand, for me personally, in one way, shape or form, I’m still the same bratty 16 year old kid that is like, “I don’t want to work an office job, I want to play my guitar.” (laughs). So as much as I might wrestle with the idea of, “You should probably grow up and get a real job and act like an adult.” I don’t want to do that. That sucks! And it just turns into, it doesn’t get easier at all, I’d say it gets more difficult but the end result is always the same because in my heart I know the only I want to do is travel with the dudes and play my guitar. I want to travel and play shows and play my guitar and I want travel to a studio and record the studio songs we write. When it comes down to it, that’s all I want to do. And especially, with the line-up we have at the moment, that’s all anyone wants to do. We all have that idealistic thing and being old, we know one way or another there’s a way to make it happen, so that’s what we do.
You were mentioning there with the guitar and stiff you want to do, growing up what was the one guitar riff that you heard and thought, “that’s what I want to create”, “that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life”?
That’s such a hard question and such a good one too (laughs). I can more so pick one that made me think not like, “that’s what I want to do,” but one that said, “hey I can totally do this.” And that was probably the opening riff of Four Horsemen by Metallica. I remember there was a period of time, maybe 14 or 15 [years old], the first thing I would do every single day when I got home from school, I was the first one in my house, I would play my guitar as loud as it would go and I would turn the stereo up as loud as it could and I was just play through ‘Kill Em All’ front to back.
And certain songs are harder than others. ‘Hit the Lights, I wasn’t capable of playing, I could fudge my way through for a 15 year old. But ‘Four Horsemen’ I was able to play, that was like a staple. I think I might be able to remember the exact day of playing that with my shitty little red guitar (laughs).
The thing is , “I can totally do this!” I can actually start a band instead of going to school and being like, “Who wants to start a band?” And it never happens because no one knows how to do anything. I was like, “I can play this Metallica song all the way through.” And I can probably write a song like this also and I can get some friends of mine and to be like, “look I can actually play this song through, you can too, if I can do it, you can do it.” That’s when I thought I should really be starting a band. I should actually start a band and get together with people who also own guitars and be like, “learn to this song, we can all play this song, I promise.” Yeah, it’s crazy now I think of it, but that [‘Four Horsemen’] would definitely be the song.
Very good answer. When you’re down here for Australia do you have anything you want to do in your spare time in between Soundwave and the sideshows?
I want to get to the beaches in the areas that have beaches. In this whole entire summer back home I didn’t go to a beach once. I went to a beach in Texas one day on the last summer tour. And it’s so cold in the States right now it’s silly. I’m really excited to get to a beach and hang out with some friends in the area we haven’t seen in two years. That’s my main priority as far as non-show stuff goes. I’m not even normally a beach guy…I don’t even like going in the water (laughs). I just want to go to beach and exist there and just kinda like cheat because it’s winter at home and summer here [Australia].
Yeah, that’s a good answer, I’m sitting house in my right now and it’s bright sunshine outside, so it’s probably a bit of contrast to what it’s like over in the States at the moment.
Yeah, it’s dark and cold and crappy at the moment (laughs).
Are there any albums that you have been digging that are getting a good play on the iPod at the moment?
The new Jason Newsted record. That ‘Metal’ EP. I bought that like the hour it came out, hoping I’d love it because it’s Jason Newsted and I liked the one single he put out. I listened to it, it’s one of those things, as soon as it was done, I listened to it again…and then I listened to it again. Then I put it on my iPod and got into my car and was driving to practice and was like, “I may as well listen to it again.” I would probably say for the first 10 days I had that, I listened to it at least twice a day. I haven’t listened to it since we’ve been on this tour. That EP has just blown me away, it’s so cool. It’s such a cool little record. That right now as far as new stuff is ruling my iPod.
Just before I let you go because I think we’re about to get wrapped up, are there any final words you want to pass onto readers?
Check out our new record if you can. It’s going to be out on CD in Australia on 3Wise Records and it’s out on 7” in North America on I Surrender Records. Just check out our new stuff and keep an eye open for our full-length that we are going to record later on this year.
Thanks for your time Rick.