Interviews : Animosity
With Leo, Frank, Navene, and Chase
These lads may be young but the band is rapidly making a name for itself in the Bay Area metal scene by playing a no holds barred fusion of death/thrash/hardcore.
Alright, as redundant as these questions have become, I am interested in how Animosity got together...
Leo: I started Animosity during my freshman year of high school with Nick,our old guitar player and Frank. We were all really young so we sucked a lot.
So how old were you, man, like 14?
Frank: Yeah, we were all 14
Leo: And then we got a new drummer who is a year older and added his little brother who is a year younger. Now our member range in age from 15 - 18
Was Animosity the first name that you chose or were you called something else at first?
Leo: First name
It is a powerful name, what does it mean to you guys?
Leo: When we made it we just thought it was cool because our biggest influences were bands like Sworn Vengeance and Hatebreed, and we were really young, so we thought it was just cool. However, the name means a lot more to me now. It seems that we are systematically trained to hate in this day in time and are constantly surrounded by open expressions of animosity. Most of which we don't even notice. I don't want to get too political; I believe that hatred is what has elevated our country to its powerful status.
So would it be correct to say that rather than 'expressing' this so-called 'animosity' in real life, you do it through music?
Leo: I guess. I mean, we aren't a tough guy band. Shit, I am still in high school.
Now, since you started out playing at such a young age, what was the reason to start a band? Was it simply to screw around and stay out of trouble or did you have something more in mind?
Leo: I have been going to hardcore shows since I was around 12 years old, so I just really wanted to have a band that would play at the local shows I was always going to.
Navene: For me, age really had nothing to do with it. I just loved to play drums and I wanted to play the kind of music I like. To this day it's the same. Just playing the music I love: fast and aggressive.
Chase: Me Sean and Navene have been creating random bands for like 4 years now, most of them don't turn into anything, but its fun to play more than one style of music.
Frank: Me and Nick had been in bands together for a long time. It was really natural that we came to together for animosity.
Is there still much of a scene down in the Bay Area, or are you also referring to Sacramento, etc...
Leo: All of northern California is one big scene. Berkeley, Oakland, Sac, San Francisco, Richmond, all over the place.
What were some of the bands that got you in the music at first and how has this changed? What artists are you looking up to now?
Leo: My favorite bands were all local, like Hoods, and Sworn Vengeance. Now our influences come from all over the place. Bands I like a lot are, Red Chord, Dying Fetus, Cephalic Carnage, there are a lot.
Navene: I have always looked up to Sepultura
Sean: I dont wanna sound like a queer or nothin, But i think depeche mode is a sweet band.
You said that you looked up to more of the moshy tough-guy bands when you were starting out, has your music changed any, apart from getting better at your individual instruments? The reason I am saying it is because to simply compare Animosity to a band like Hatebreed would do you guys a lot of injustice. You nicely fuse thrash and even some grind with nice dance floor parts.
Leo: Frank has always been into old thrash metal, so he brought that in and I was always pushing for the moshy dance parts. When we added Navene on drums he started playing all kinds of blast beats which changed everything. When we started I think we somewhat insecure because of our age and we just wanted to be accepted within the scene. Lately we play whatever we want.
Well, since the 'age' thing is a big part of your band, do you feel like it has benefited or actually hurt you?
Leo: I think it has not really affected us very much. There are problems i.e.: I have another year of high school and all I want to do is go in tour. But it does help leave an impression in peoples minds. People are I think surprised a lot that we can keep up with much older bands despite our young age, which is good. But soon enough, we will no longer be little kids so it won't be much of an issue. I am sick of hearing people say, they are really good, for their age. For the most part, I think people who like us like us for the music and the show, rather than a little age gimmick.
Well, you just called yourself 'little kids.' But how do you feel about the music on Shut it Down? Good enough or just good for your age?
Leo: I personally feel great about it. I feel like it will never be completely good enough, but that has nothing to do with age.
Sean: Our age is not a handicap!
As you guys get older though, do you think you'll stick with the same sound? what other shit would you like to throw into the music?
Leo: I doubt it, with each song we change a little bit. And I hate it when bands put out albums that try to sound exactly like the previous one. I can't say what it will sound like, but it will always be improving.
And always be heavy?
Leo: Always. the one thing you will never hear from us, would be melodic soft clean vocals or guitar melodies. Our music will always get heavier.
Navene: Yes, always heavy...and Fast
Another obvious question, how did you hook up with Matt and Tribunal crew?
Leo: Haha, I sent a demo to a lot of record labels, and Everyone kept telling me that we would be good on tribunal. Sure enough Matt was serious about working with us. By the time the album came out, it was exactly a year from the day is was recorded. Tribunal wanted to do it, so we jumped at it, in haste in get it out. Tribunal is great though. I love their philosophy on music.
What are some of your favorites on that label?
Leo: obviously, Prayer for cleansing. I also like Rifles at Recess and Aria. End of All is good too.
So were there any other offers on the table?
Leo: yes, we heard back from a few others, which were bigger labels, except I didn't get the sense that they really loved the music in the same way that Matt did. Also, we wanted to get the thing out fast, and Tribunal is all about pumping out the new releases.
Well, staying with Tribunal, how do you feel about being label mates to bands like Swift and Adios?
Leo: I feel fine about it. I am definitely not a purist. I like most kinds of music. I personally have never really listened to those bands, but it does not bother me that Tribunal has a diverse roster.
First gig...What happened. Who did you play with?
Leo: It was at a local club in the Richmond ghetto called Burnt Ramen. We played with Sworn vengeance, Embrace the End, And Hellcrew. It was funny, because our old drummer could never remember our songs so I was constantly leading him. Everyone in the crowd probably hated us, but there was a lot of pity moshing. Haha . I think we broke a string and took like 10 minutes to fix it. It was totally awesome though.
Your bio sheet says that you've played with such diverse acts like Arch Enemy, Candiria, Dragonlord...Funnest show?
Leo: Funnest show would either be opening for Exodus or playing with the Red chord and Bleeding Through.
Navene: Our gilman shows are the funnest.
Haha, how did the dudes in Exodus respond to your music? was it before Paul's death?
Navene: They didn't.
Leo: Both shows were at the pound. The Exodus show was hilarious. Everyone ay the Crowd was frozen like a zombie, but we were having a great time, at some points in the set it was hard to sing because I was laughing so hard. it was right after his death, it was a memorial show for him. All those old thrash dudes were all about Animosity. We hung out with Death Angel and vio-lence and all those guys. It was awesome
Man, you must have been like kids in a candy store...
Leo: It was funny, because frank was wearing a Death Angel shirt and I got backstage and he is getting stoned with the bass player, some old long haired dude.
Haha, staying with playing live, one other band you've played with is Arch Enemy. Do you think Angela is as hot in person as on the cover?
Leo: uh, I don't know. I think she is hot, but kind of tweaked. There is something weird about her. Some weird crackwhore look.
Ok, going back to serious questions...There is something very political about the cover of the album, especially the artwork with a young man about to throw a Molotov Cocktail. Anything concrete that you're concentrating on?
Leo: The artwork and title promote action against what ever may be bothering you. Not necessarily, burning things down, but concrete action to stop terrible things.
Well, I want to stay with this topic, especially since you're the main writer of the lyrics Leo reading which is a pretty interesting thing itself...What is Saved about? Religion?
Leo: yes. it is not condemning religion, but condemning the quest of conversion that accompanies religion. If someone is happy with their faith, that's great, but I could really not care less. It is basically a big fuck you to people that pass out religious propaganda or come waking me up in the morning offering me a life of eternal happiness.
What about Fake Blood?
Leo: I wrote that song while I was in Hollywood, surrounded by a bunch of fake ass social climbing fucks. Everyone around me was being all nice and cute but as soon as they turn around they become different people. Not to mention that almost everyone around me had tons of plastic surgery and shit. Haha. It is a song about fake personalities.
Leo, I really like that most your lyrics rhyme, rather then doing what a lot of the bands do by writing some gibberish what they think sounds poetic. Is it something that you plan or just whatever comes natural to you?
Leo: I try to rhyme just because it sounds better. It isn't that hard though. The rhymes are not too important because most can't understand me anyhow.
Do you really think that people don't bother to look in the lyrics sheet anymore, esp. in the hardcore scene, where everyone likes to sing-along?
Leo: I don't know. I think some people are interested in the message and other just want to fuck some shit up. Generally at our shows, people do more of the later rather than singing along. I would hope people read the lyrics though.
Does it bother you at all?
Leo: not really; with this style of music, the vocals have almost become another instrument rather than speaking words.
Now, since you guys already recorded Shut it Down over 1 year ago, are you writing any new material? How is it shaping up?
Leo: We recently lost our guitar player nick who wrote a lot of the material. He has been replaced by chase although he hasn't written anything yet. The new material is heavier, leaning more towards the death metal side. It will be intense.