Side Stage Magazine: How are you doing?
Eddie Veliz: I’m alright and you?
Same thanks…. I wanted to talk to you about the festivals you have coming up before we talk about the album. You guys are playing Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion, and Welcome to Rockville.
Have you played any of those festivals before?
We played all those festivals before.
Awesome. Since you are already a veteran of them what do you look forward to most?
It’s always a fun time to be at festivals Because you kind of run into a bunch of friends who you’ve met over the years of touring. I think I’ve said this before, whenever you play these festivals it’s more of a barbecue or a get together of old friends and the jamming is kind of secondary, you know? It’s cool because everybody kind of gets to hang out, when the headliner’s playing everybody’s backstage and you just catch up with a bunch of old friends so it’s a lot of fun. Depending on who’s headlining, whether you like the band or not, that kind of makes it cooler, you know? I think one of those, I think the Open Air Festival where we’re playing the same night as Ozzie so that’s going to be rad.
Is there anyone else from any of those festivals that you’re looking forward to seeing live?
Yeah, but you know it’s funny because we always kind of get the festivals where we’re like, oh, you know it’s like Metallica one night and I love Metallica, and Soundgarden another night and you’re like, “Yeah, that’s cool.” But then we’re like another band playing another night that we’re just not super stoked about so we’re like, “Ah, that’s cool too but I’d rather see Soundgarden.”
Do you actually get the time to check out any bands, because I mean it’s like you’re busy on one day doing interviews. I can’t imagine how busy it can get when you have a festival.
You have some time, particularly at the end. We’re not the headliners yet so we have a ton of time, a lot of the media stuff happens early and then we’ll do our show between one and seven depending on where they put us, you know? Then we have the rest of the night to hang back and have a good time.
As far as the set list goes will you be performing the same set at these festival dates?
It depends on how much time we get. Some festivals we’ll get 30 minutes, other’s we’ll get 45. We’ll have to adapt on the fly.
Right. How is the preparation for a festival different from when you’re just playing a show on a regular tour?
I don’t know. It’s kind of similar. We just kind of have to jumble up because we don’t want to go over and piss any stage managers off. We’ll always try to narrow down a set. If it looks too long we’ll just cut a song, you know?
Do you have any memorable moments, maybe some funny things that happened that stood out from previous festivals that you played at?
How much time do we have because I have a ton?
As much time as you want. I got off work not too long ago so I’m on your time.
What do you mean? This is not your work? Aren’t you working now?
No, I’m a preschool teacher and this is something that I do on the side.
I love music but music doesn’t always pay the bills.
Yeah, So tell me how that makes you feel?
Oh, so you’re going to interview me now?
Yeah, now it’s your turn. When you wanted to become a preschool teacher what was the first thought in your mind? Were you just like, “Oh my God, I want to be a preschool teacher?” Tell me. Explain.
Well for many reasons. First being that I always enjoyed helping children and I consider myself to be a patient person. Early Childhood that’s where it all starts. You get to watch children develop their skills and help them along the way. I remember my elementary school experience wasn’t that great because I am an immigrant from Russia. My school and my teachers weren’t really supportive and understanding of that. In the back of my mind I always had this thought “ Maybe one day I’ll become a teacher and I will do it differently.”
Are you trying to tell me that English is your second language?
Yes. I was born in the former Soviet Union, I moved here when I was eight.
Wow. That’s awesome. Very cool.
You’re born and raised in California?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Although my parents did move from … My dad’s from Cuba and my mom is from Mexico.
English was their second language. I learned very bad English from two people who didn’t really speak English well.
Same with me.
How old are you?
I’m 37. Older than you. I was 12 when you moved to America.
True but only by four years so not much.
Most memorable moment. That’s what we were talking about. Most memorable, most memorable, let me see. We’ve had a bunch. I mean, particularly we did Orion Fest and that was awesome because we had James Hetfield come out. Well, we didn’t have him, he just showed up right before our set and it was kind of an amazing surreal about that we’re about to go on stage that this guy comes over and he’s like, “Hey dude, you know James Hetfield wants to talk to you guys and say hi.” We were just like, “Whoa, that fucking weird. You’re lying. Don’t bullshit us,” you know? He’s like, “No, no. He’s over there by the golf cart,” and I turn over and he’s wearing this pink tank top and shorts and he’s James Hetfield and I’m like, “Holy shit.”
We go over, we’re just a bunch of like dumb kids in our brain. Obviously we’re old farts. We’re like, “Oh my God, it’s James Hetfield.” It was feel cool. He said some really gnarly nice stuff and in the end he’s was like, “Hey dudes, do you guys mind if I introduce your band?” I was like, “Holy shit. Yeah, do it.” Like, “Awesome, yeah.” He went up on stage and introduced Kyng and it was quite the fucking moment.
Oh wow I can imagine.
Yeah. What else? There was another time where we got invited. In Oklahoma there’s a festival called Rocklahoma at the end of the night … Make this long story short. We were invited on stage to play, “Bury Me in Smoke” with Down. It was my band Kyng with Phil Anselmo and the rest of the dudes in Down looking on just like, “Yeah, you guys killing it,” type vibe. That was absolutely amazing.
It feels like you guys are always on tour . I think every single time I look at your Facebook page you’re always playing shows. Which tour that you have done so far would be your favorite?
Our favorite? We’ve done so many good killer ones, you know? We got to jam, obviously that Megadeath one was amazing because I was a huge Megadeth fan and I got to jam with the dudes every night. That was great. We also played with Danzig and he had this little mini Misfits reunion of sorts.
It was great. I got to see that every night. Clutch is always amazing to tour with because they’re just rad dudes in general and we love the band and it’s really cool to just hang. They’re just normal, awesome cats and we get to be on the road with a bunch of rad dudes and listen to music that we love. There’s been quite a few.
We did a short run with Kill Devil Hill and that was featuring Rex Brown. Rex Brown from Pantera and we got to jam. He came up with us again to cover, “Hot for Teacher.” You know, Van Halen.
And in regards to your new record how would you compare it with Burn the Serum? To me the new album seems a bit more dynamic.
Yeah, the idea was … Burn the Serum was a great record. It’s sonically great. We worked with a producer that we loved.. We were just really trying to appease, you know, we were really kind of strong-armed. Not strong-armed but we had just got onto Razor and Tie, our management at the time was really pushing for us to do radio stuff. They really wanted us to radio, radio, radio, radio, radio, radio, radio stuff. We weren’t that band. If you listen to our first record Trampled Sun, it’s like we were just kind of like this rock metal F band and it showed, you know? Right away the label and management were just trying to push us to do radio stuff and understandably so because everybody wants to make money and it’s all good. That’s the sign of the times, you know?
We tried to, with Burn the Serum, tried to create the record that has the integrity of Kyng but still a little tried to be a little bit more mainstream, you know? In the eyes of the label and management the rest of the songs on that record didn’t fit the radio standard, so they pushed us to do, “Electric Halo.” We did, “Electric Halo,” that song did not exist before we, or once we submitted the record label. They were like, “You know, you guys did amazing. That was a great job. You guys raised the bar but you don’t have that radio single,” you know? We went back, recorded, “Electric Halo,” and it might be our … It’s our biggest song in a sense but it was the most pushed song. I think if they would have pushed any other song on that record it would have done just as well or better.
It did okay. I don’t think the label was too happy with it and then we ran into a crossroads where we got kind of like misled into doing some bullshit tour out in the UK that left us broke and with no money to push a second single. That’s where we knew were in trouble with people who were, AKA … Or not AKA. Who were trying to manage us, you know? It got really scary and weird and that was the problem with Burn the Serum. We were just trying to appease people and not really 100% writing the record we wanted.
That being said, Breathe in the Water is the album where we just took everything we knew, everything that we’ve learned from the first and second record, and applied it to this third record without risking anything or any integrity of the band and just writing the album we wanted to write.
Is that where the title comes from? Everything that you just described?
Kind of, not really. I always try to have these album titles that are just as poetic as the music, as the lyrical content. What better way to use that then to use an actual song title that’s in the album.
What are you most proud of when it comes to this release besides doing it your way?
Everything. From the beginning of the record to the end it’s just one of those ones. I took the time to create a playlist and make it work. Right off the bat just kind of kicks into, I think it’s, “Pristine Warning, and then, “Breathe in the Water,” and then, “Closer to the End,” you know? Those are three real strong songs right off the gate.
Then I got a little artsy and added little intros in there and the guys and I were just like creating these songs that we really wanted to play live, you know, that we would love to play live, and we did it. I think this record is for sure the best record we’ve ever done and it needs to be pushed.
I agree. As far as songs that stood out to me I really liked obviously the title track, “Closer to the End,” and, “Bipolar Schemes.”
Right on. You know, it’s funny that bipolar schemes, when I wrote it I didn’t think anyone would listen or like it. As a matter of fact it was kind of at the tail end of the record and when I finally finished it even a handful of friends were like, “That’s cool but I don’t know.” Oddly enough people have been gravitating towards it. Really strange but cool. Surprising.
What was the inspiration behind those tracks? I think if I’m not mistaken, “Bipolar Schemes,” was about a tough relationship that you were in at the time.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, for sure. I wear my heart on my sleeve typically, especially when it comes down to the songs and whatever lyrical content I’m writing. Bipolar schemes is 100% about a past relationship. I was dating this girl who I thought was going to be the everything of my life and things just started going crazy right away and trying to hold it together. I had recently lost my brother at the moment that she and I got together so I was really trying to heal.
Yeah.Trying to live my life and tour and create, but not being able to mourn my brother’s passing because I had this really gaping wound and then I get with this person who in my head I think is amazing for a minute because I’m kind of blinded by the rough life that I just had been dealt with, you know? It turned out that she was bipolar, which is fine because mental illness is mental illness and when I thought that it was just bipolar I was willing to move forward and help and move on with the process and help her, but it turned out that she was horribly addicted to drugs and she was using them behind my back.
I can’t imagine how that must have felt.
Everything fell apart and that’s life, you know? Everything’s in the … The album was finished prior to me knowing all this stuff so it kind of got really swirly right away.
Was it cathartic writing this song.
Yeah, in a sense. It definitely helps. Like therapy, music is generally therapy for me and some people do, you know. A lot of people come up, they’ll read into the lyrics and it’ll give them something in their life. We have a song called, “Take the Toll,” from the first record, Trampled Sun and I still to this day, to this day, random dudes come up and they’re like, “Hey man, I want to let you know that, ‘Take the Toll,” really helped me through my divorce.” It’s been like five dudes, each on different. It’s like, “That song specifically helped me with my divorce.” You know?
Makes sense. When I listen to music, I always look at the lyrics first to see what the story is about and how the music would fit the story. And when reading lyrics there’s always this moment when I’m like “Oh, I can relate to this to some extent.” And that was the case with this song.
Definitely, definitely. You have to write from what you’re living because it’s the truth and people can tell when you’re bullshitting or not writing from the heart and it just looks like it and it smells like it and tastes like it and people might like it for a minute but they’re just like, “Ah, you’re a novelty.”
And it comes off very honest and I think people can tell.
I think most bands that are honest have longevity in their career.
I try to be honest.
What were some of the challenges during the making of this record?
Just getting it done. Writing songs is hard enough. Writing lyrical content is extremely hard, too. We started running into major problems within the band itself. It’s just hard to keep it together. Once we got into the studio we kind of have to leave everything on the table and give everything we’ve got.
There was no struggle, really. I think the biggest struggle was trying to write specific solos, especially for the song, “Hide From You,” was a tough song through too because it was highly emotional and the lyric content in that was about the same person and vaguely about the stuff. It’s really tough to listen to that song and play it, especially when it was so close of everything feeling apart. Writing the solo for that, I didn’t even want to listen to the song. I just cut straight to the solo part and I just sat there writing it and writing and writing, eventually I nailed something and it worked out perfect.
We had a great time recording. I think the hardest thing about recording this record was living in Texas for two months. There was nothing around. There was like a frozen yogurt, an Arby’s, and a supermarket and that is it, you know. It was a pain in the ass just to go get a Coca-Cola, you know?
What does the rest of 2017 hold for you guys? Are you promoting the record and finishing out the tour dates?
Yeah. We’re really late on the promotion of this record. I think the label thought it was best to put us out. We lined up a tour with Clutch and it was great so they put a rush on releasing the record and it was awesome because we went out with Clutch and that’s a great market for us, great band, great fans. They thought, “Oh, it would be genius if you guys released the record while you’re out on this tour.” We were like, “Yeah, that’d be cool but we don’t have anything lined up. Make sure you have more tours lined up after.”
We did it, you know? It was at the end of October and then the holidays came and no one really wants to tour on the holidays so we ended up staying home for the rest of the time and sporadically doing a couple of shows here and there, a fly-in date here and there. It feels like the album has just been sitting on a back burner since its release. It came out, I think, October 7, and we’ve not literally done a proper tour up until now. We don’t go out until next week so it’s been a long time coming for this record to actually get seen and put out, you know? To me it’s still a brand new record. To me it still feels like it hasn’t been released because we haven’t done enough for it. I don’t think anybody’s really done enough for it, to be honest. It’s a brilliant record and it’s just been sitting on the back burner and it needs to be promoted extensively at this point.
What can you tell me about the video. I know it’s not out yet what will be the concept behind it?
Basically what’s happening in the lyrical content. The idea of that song, it’s a really heavy song and just raising awareness about refugees about all over the world. As we were writing the record, Pepe and I, my drummer, we were in the studio and we were just writing lyrics, kind of coming up with all this stuff and we hit a wall and all of the sudden you read the news feeds, we read the story about this kid who washed up to shore, Syrian refugee and we’re like, “Whoa, what happened there?” It’s such an intense picture and it’s very human and if you have a kid or a nephew or a young person in the family, you see it right away, where you’re like, “Man, that could be anybody. That could be any one of us.” The story goes that the father was trying to get his family over to Greece for a better life and get out of the war and jumped on a raft, ordered up some life jackets that turned out to be fake.
When the boat capsized they all fell into the water and the only one that survived was the father and his wife and his two children, which I think were the ages of like three and six or something like that. Very young kids who lost their lives. Rather than face what’s in the feeds and you know how everything just kind of disappears nowadays because everyone wants that instant gratification, you got to keep this awareness there because there’s a ton of refugees everywhere from Guatemala to Cuba and Syria where people are falling in the water and dying, you know? It’s scary.
That is true especially with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s good to raise awareness.
The video itself is very dark but it has a light element to it and I think once you see it you’re going to understand. It’s like, oh, that’s an interesting concept. I can’t say much because I really want it to be secret.
I know this is probably too soon to ask but has there been talk of writing new music? Or is the focus right now is promoting this record?
The focus is promoting this record. Again, I feel like we have a lot of ground to gain, especially because it’s just been so long since we’ve really been out to promote this record. I think we all just want this record to do great and we want this record to be in more people’s homes. We want people to hear it and get it and understand it because it’s fucking great. “Oh, it’s fucking great.” That was a Revenge of the Nerds reference. Anyway. We’re just going to do that. I don’t know how much more I have inside me to write more at this point. I’m kind of slowly writing riffs but I don’t want to get too involved because I get really stuck in a project. Once I start a project I’m in it and I lose a ton of sleep over it, you know?
Yeah. I can relate to that. Besides teaching and interviews I’m also a photographer. Have to remind myself to focus on one thing at a time. I too lose sleep because I’m either working, out at a show, and staying editing and writing.
Oh you do a lot of photography? Do you do rock photography and stuff like that?
Yes mainly rock and metal. But I will take a photo of anything if it captures my interest.
Well, thanks for taking the time to speak to me, do you have any messages to your fans?
Just all fans who love us, please tell your friends and family about the new record. We need the support and we appreciate everything.