ou never think of metal music bringing the denizens of a small town together but the music of ZOMBIEKING has managed to o just that. Robstown, Texas boasts a population of 11,487 and is just a few minutes away from Corpus Christi where ZOMBIEKING has honed their lived act for the past seven years and have brought their Robstown neighbors with them according to frontman JUAN MANUEL during a recent phone call. With a built in audience such as this one would expect one hell of a send off for the band's debut EP DEAD TO LIFE but seeing as how the release coincided with the on set of the coronavirus pandemic, we have no idea how the band's debut on the PAVEMENT ENTERTAINMENT label went. IF there was anything we were able to extrapolate from our phone conversation with JUAN MANUEL it was how perseverance has served the band well up to this point and I can't imagine the band or their potent brand of metal backing down from any circumstance. Not even a fucking pandemic. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with JUAN MANUEL of ZOMBIE KING regarding the the band's debut EP DEAD TO LIFE. Here is how the interview went.
You guys are on the eve of releasing your new EP DEAD TO LIFE. Describe your anxiousness in releasing this EP to the public?
That is the key word right there. There is a lot of anxiety. It's a very exciting thing but this is a first time thing for us. We don't know what to expect. All we do know is that the following that we have built up here locally in the past five years is really excited about it. It really helps knowing that some people are going to show up for us.
CHECK OUT THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR DEAD AT THE SCENE!!!
When you say "first time thing" are you saying that the process of putting an album out is a new one to you?
Yes. We've only ever recorded a few demos here and there. We would save up for some studio time and record one or two tracks. This is the first time that we've all spent a few weeks together in a studio and did a bunch of pre-production and shifted out all of the bullshit and did away with a few tracks and narrowed it down to the collection of songs that has ended up being our debut album.
Who all did you guys work with in terms of production for this EP?
The big guy in charge was ROBERT BELTRAN here in Corpus Christi, Texas. He works out of ZOO BANK STUDIOS. He has worked with SHATTERED SUN which is a band out of Corpus Christi and they were signed to VICTORY RECORDS a few years ago and they just recently with signed with ROBERT BELTRAN's own record label. When we were talking about recording this thing we wanted to go to someone that knows what to do with rock or metal or a heavy band. There were other people that we had worked with here in town who mostly worked with alternative, lighter rock, country and Tejano music. We needed someone who knew what they were doing with a heavy band to get the best out of us so we went with this guy. He got the best out of us in about three weeks all together. He was there with us from pre-production all the way through the recording. The best part of it was that he really let us do our thing and he would not take over the room. We was just that extra ear. We were bouncing the ping pong ball off of him. If he loved what he heard he let us go with it. It was a big back forth and it was great having him around.
And you guys have been signed to PAVEMENT ENTERTAINMENT. Describe the relationship between the band and the label.
It's very 50/50. They're doing their part to get the band out there on radio, magazines and on all of the necessary platforms. They also do not want to stunt our growth. They're all about building up all of the young up and comers on their label and really supporting us in doing things ourselves. They are letting u be as creative as possible with promoting and hyping this album. We really do have all of the say in our creativity and so far it's been an amazing partnership.
Describe the music scene that you guys are surrounded by in Robstown, Texas. Is is supportive? Is it indifferent?
We are in one of the best scenarios that a young up and coming band can be in. Robstown itself does not have a big music scene as far as rock and metal go. It is twenty minutes outside of Corpus Christi where we usually gig at. In Corpus Christi we have an underground metal scene going on. There are few dives and hole-in-the-wall venues to play at and then you have the other ones like THE HOUSE OF ROCK which is the venue to play if you are in a rock band. You strive to play shows there and open up for huge bands that are coming into town. Because the distance between Robstown and Corpus Christi is so small, people really show up for us when we play. It's a small town where most of the neighbors know each other and grew up together. Because of the community here, it feels like we are in a perfect spot. We're making some noise here and it is something that the community can really get behind.
Talk about the beginning of ZOMBIEKING. How did this whole thing get started?
I joined the band five months in after the band got started. ZOMBIEKING is the brainchild of guitarist EDDIE SALINAS. EDDIE and I are the only original members of the band. We are the guys who really have toughed it out over the past six or seven years trying to make this thing happen and trying to make this dream a reality. In the beginning, he had this idea of wanting to start this band. EDDIE is immensely talented and he is an insanely good guitarist. He's been doing it since he was a little kid. First time I saw this guy playing I just knew that he was the guy I should be jamming with. I had never seen anyone as talented as him in the area. I knew had to find away to meet up with him and then I saw this ad online looking for people to help form a band and it turned being EDDIE's ad. So I answered that ad and that was the start of ZOMBIEKING.
Talk about the other members of the band. Tell me who they are and what it is you think each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work.
We're a four piece band. The songwriting in this band starts with EDDIE and goes through me and goes back to EDDIE and then we relay it to the rhythm section. All of the back and forth having to do with songwriting largely happens between EDDIE and me. EDDIE SALINAS is the heart and soul of the band. He is the guy with all of the ideas and he is a solid songwriter. He puts in all of the work and effort and will grind for hours in the jam room just to get songs as perfect as they can be. When we play live you can hear and see the work ethic. ANDREW GARZA is our bassist and he came into the band four years ago. We had a few other guys try out before that but they didn't last and they didn't have the drive that this ANDREW has. He is a lifelong friend of EDDIE's and he's learned everything that he knows from EDDIE. When we needed a bass player he was there and it just worked out. He is like the fire in this band. He's got all of the passion in the world and he just loves to jam. Our drummer COSME WILLIAMS is still a kid. He is 19 years old. He's not even 20 yet. He is one of the most talented drummers in the area. We have gone through 3 or 4 different drummers in the past few years. It has really been a grind. It's been hell trying to get this band going. When we first met him he was just chomping at the bit just to play in a band. He had never had the opportunity before. When we saw him do a play through of some stuff and I was just blown away. I knew in my heart that this the guy that should be recording with us and playing live with us. I'm so proud of that kid. He has grown so much in the two years that he's been in this band. He can do it all and he's got so much room to grow. He has all of the potential in the world.
From and album, what songs have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
There are four songs on the EP plus an intro and an interlude. The first single is going to be DEAD AT THE SCENE. That song was the first one that we wrote together for the EP but we had a song that we had already written that we didn't realize would be the start of the EP and that one is final track TEXAS SKY. We had a friend of ours who is going to college here who had a project due and he needed an acoustic act in a studio setting. So he reached out to me and EDDIE and in fifteeen minutes EDDIE put something on guitar and played it back for me and I started freestyling and we wrote a song pretty much on the spot. And that is the song TEXAS SKY.
What do you hope will be the takeaway from this EP?
I hope the biggest takeaway from the album is not quitting and perseverance. There is a beautiful thing about hitting rock bottom. Once you realize that you are there, things can't get any worse. When you're able to pick yourself up and snap out of it and start working to climb back out of that rut it is so empowering when other see that fight in a person. The story of overcoming is the best story to tell. That is what this album is to us. We've been through a lot of int e past few years and there were times when we thought that this was not going to happen. We were just kids playing around in a garage and that what we had wasn't going to become anything at all. But we stuck to our guns and I can honestly say that there is no quit in this band and it shows in this album.
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