Could you please start by introducing Dehumanizer?
Hello Sicktus, this is Cesar Guttierez, guitars and vocals for Dehumanizer. thanks a lot for this interview and for spreading our music through Lords Of Metal, we really appreciate this. Dehumanizer is a melodic progressive death metal band from Lima, Peru. Last year we released our debut album entitled 'The Incomplete Man', which I encourage the readers of Lords Of Metal to listen it online through Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Youtube.
It has been a while since we have reviewed your album 'The Incomplete Man' in our November 2013 issue and the album has been out since early 2013, can you give us an update on how things have been since the release? Has the album generated any interest from labels?
Well, I believe that among the most important facts since the release of the album is the good and positive response the album has received from the people of our country and people from other countries in South America and some other parts of the world as well. Another event, not so pleasant, but it’s part of every band’s life, is the departure of the Ibarcena twins (Drums and Guitar) to fully commit to their personal musical projects, so we’ve been looking for their replacements. The album has had good reviews from almost every website we’ve sent it to, but we haven’t yet drawn the attention of any label yet, we haven’t worked so much on this aspect neither, I mean, we haven’t contacted too many labels yet because our main priority has been to find a new drummer and guitarist and to work on new songs.
Besides label interest, how has the album been received by Peruvian and international fans and press?
Here in Peru, the album has been really well received, we didn’t expect that since our music genre is not very popular here. The album has even been considered one of the first releases of its kind and among the best metal albums of 2013 in Peru and nominated for a national Rock-Metal awards to be taken place in February in the categories of “Metal” and “Best album of the year”. In other South American countries like Chile and Argentina it has received good reviews, the same goes for countries like England, The Netherlands, France and USA, the reviews have been very positive. Overall, the album has received a very good response by the audience which makes us very happy and motivates us to keep making more music.
You have done a video as well, for the song 'Demon Of Fear'. Did that help to generate some digital noise about Dehumanizer? Any more plans in the video department?
The video made for 'Demon Of Fear' is not an official video so to speak, it’s more a showcase video, a concept created by the owner (according to him) of Concept Vids, the company that recorded the video in which the band is filmed playing a song in a cool location with different shots for every member, I mean, a non static video of the band playing, which is different from an official video in which you have a script and a history behind the video, some actors, a whole concept and that kind of stuff. But it did help us to create some expectation for the album, given the fact that it was released before the album. It was something we didn’t plan and just came up all of a sudden, the sound engineer of the studio where we were recording told us about this company Concept Vids that was making a special offer for local bands to make these showcase videos for a very small price compared to a regular video. We decided to take this offer and we chose the song 'Demon Of Fear' because by that time (I think end of July 2012) it was the only complete and mixed song of the record. But at the end everything turned out great and the song was the most appropriate one to give the audience a glimpse of what the record was going to be. This year we’re going to make another video from another song of 'The Incomplete Man' album, this time it’s going to be an Official Video, not a showcase video. We’re going to meet the director in the next weeks to talk about it and choose the song and start planning the production of this and release it later this year. We want to make something good, that reflects very well and with good scenes the concept behind the lyrics, I hope we can achieve that. We’ll announce more updates about this through our Facebook site.
Let's talk about plans. You are working on new material, if I am not mistaken? What can we expect from the new tunes?
That’s right. These last couple of months I’ve taken a break from my job so I can work on demos of new songs. My initial idea was to make an EP of four or five songs and record it in the second half of this year and release it in early 2015, but then this idea kind of changed due to the fact that I started to write more songs, so now I’d like to make a double EP instead of just one. You might wonder “then why don’t you just make a whole new album instead if you have enough new material?”.
Well, yes, indeed I do!
Well, it’s not that I don’t want to make a new record, but the thing is that to me a record should be, if possible, like a book, a tale or a movie that has a beginning, a development and an ending, so to speak, and each song, just like every chapter of a book, has some kind of connection with the next one and with the whole music of the album so the listener can feel some kind of unitary experience when he listens to the album without being necessary a conceptual one. That’s something, I believe, we achieved with 'The Incomplete Man' in which we chose the order of the songs with this purpose in mind. Some of the new songs are a dark and dense journey, yet very melodic, others have a more progressive vibe, and some are long, there is 2 part song of almost 15 minutes of length or so. This is why I’d like to group them and have a more dark and sinister EP and a "proggy" one and release both at the same time.
Also, there are some parts in the new music that allow for experimentation with instruments not used so often in death metal, like violins and saxophone, I’d like to experiment with these two and with some national instruments of Peru as well, this is something that Alejandro (bass and vocals) and I have talked about and I think maybe the new music will have space for these, but that’s something we’ll find out while recording these songs and experimenting with these instruments. Musically we don’t like to force something just by the sole fact of fusing other genres or something like that, if the music blends well with these other instruments then we’ll use them, if not, we won’t. I could say these new songs are going to be a little different from our debut album, but are going to still be Dehumanizer songs, it’s not going to be a radical change or something like that. Anyway, in the end, when I show to the other members of the band the new songs, maybe the idea of doing a double EP could change if they don’t agree with it or if they think that it’s better to do a new record instead with material they also bring to the table. It’s not that I take all the decisions, I only present to them ideas and options and we all pick what we consider the right one. But be sure that there’s going to be new Dehumanizer material.
Cesar, in the beginning you yourself wrote and played the 'Nephast Contradiction' demo, how does the writing proces work for you guys nowadays, especially since the lineup has been more stable since 2010?
Well, all the songs from 'The Incomplete Man', with the exception of 'Invisibe Walls' (written by the Ibarcena brothers), were written by me between 2006 and 2010, I had a lot of songs from which we all chose the ones we believed were good enough to be part of the record. Those songs you could say were already fully written and when we recorded them all the members added and changed some arrangements and harmonizations. Those songs had been written so many years ago that they didn’t need too much work. We just wanted to make this record as soon as we could. Now once again the lineup is changing and I already have six new songs written and arranged for 90% and I’m going to show these new tunes to the upcoming new members so they can add their ideas or change some parts if they believe is better for the song. You could say I create the framework or skeleton of a song and with the whole band we add the “organs and muscles”, so to speak. But at the end anything can happen, we could end up using for example only three of my songs and more of theirs. Everything is unpredictable.
You have announced 2014 to bring some 'good news', can you share that news, or maybe give us a hint?
Of course. Some of the good news I’ve already talked about in the previous questions. We’re going to make a new video from one of the songs of 'The Incomplete Man' album. We’re going to record and release new material, hopefully we’ll be entering the studio in the second half of the year, it’s very probable that we’ll record in the same studio we recorded our debut album. We’re also auditioning new musicians to take the spots left by the Ibarcena brothers, we’ll introduce the new members to our fans through our Facebook site and our official site in the next months. And finally we’ll be putting in the next months our music in Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and maybe some other online platforms hoping we can get to more people through these means.
Are there any plans for a tour? Any chance we will get to see Dehumanizer in Europe?
We would love to tour Europe and other countries as well, like Japan for example, it’s one of our dreams, but we are aware that at this moment it’s kind of a very distant dream given the fact that we first must generate enough interest in the European and International audience in order to draw the attention of the concert promoters of those countries, and at this moment we aren’t very well known internationally. So far, the only local bands that have toured Europe, if I’m not mistaken, are Mortem and Reino Ermitano, both are bands with a very long career. I believe that in the short term, we first should put our mind in playing in countries like Chile, Ecuador and Colombia where there are very good festivals, and in the long term we can think about touring Europe if the audience there wants us to come over.
I want to get into the history of the band and the making of the album a bit now. Dehumanizer exists for about ten years now, what sparked the birth of the band? What inspired the first demos?
The birth of the band was like most other band´s births, a group of friends who get together to have fun playing covers of bands they like with no intentions of playing live or make a living out of music, just for the sole purpose of having fun. I believe it was in 2002 when I got together with some friends and started playing covers of Iron Maiden and Blind Guardian (the power thrash era Blind Guardian). The lead guitarist had come from Panama and brought all his gear to my house, including a bass amp he had, and we played here at my home with the bassist too during weekdays and on weekends we went to a studio to rehearse with the drummer. At that time I was getting a lot into death metal, especially into Death’s 'Human' and 'Individual Thought Patterns', being the first album that made a huge impact on me. Then I started listening to other bands that mixed elements from jazz with metal like Atheist and Cynic. 'Focus' was the other album that made a huge impact on me, it kind of changed my mind, it was like discovering a whole new world of musical possibilities. Then I started to write my very first songs (they were terrible, haha), and I realized that playing covers wasn’t my thing; I wanted to make my own music and play a la 'Human' – 'ITP' inspired death thrash metal, so I tuned my guitar to D and I immediately started to think on a name for the band. I wanted something that inspired respect and power at the same time and went along with my anti-human ideology, so I came up with Dehumanizer and that’s how the band was born by the end of 2003.
I stopped playing in the cover band and recruited new musicians for Dehumanizer, but the line-up was always unstable and changing, it was very difficult to find people who wanted to play that kind of genre, especially a drummer. By the end of 2004 the band split up and I decided to record the 'Nephast Contradiction' demo in order to recruit new members who really wanted and had the skills to play this kind of music. I recorded the demo at my home, drums were programmed and I asked the lead guitarist who happened to live a few blocks away from my home to record some leads, and so in January 2005 I released the 'Nephast Contradiction' demo and recruited new members, Alejandro Hernandez being one of them. With this new stable line up we started to play live concerts and talk about recording our first album, but before doing that, and as some sort of a test to see how ready we were for that as a band, in 2007 we decided to re record the demo. Unfortunately our drummer did a pretty bad job and he had already been showing signs of disinterest towards the band, so we decided to kick him out and start to look for a new one, but then Alejandro received the news that he would become a father so he wasn’t going to have much time for the band during the first couple of years after his son’s birth, in addition to that in early 2008 I started to have terrible pains in my right shoulder due to stress-anxiety issues and a bad position habit which forced me to undergo physical therapy, the doctor recommended me to not make so much effort while playing the guitar until I completely recovered, all of this plus the fact that we didn’t find a drummer led us to put Dehumanizer on hiatus until 2010 when I met the Ibarcena brothers and they joined the band.
What have been the highs or possibly lows in the band's career so far? What was the driving force to keep going?
The highs have been the moments when we released our material like our 2005 demo which allowed me to find a stable line up and then our debut album last year which has received very good reviews and has motivated us to keep giving the best from us. The lows have been the constant lineup changes undoubtedly and being unable to maintain a steady lineup, which is one of the main reasons we haven’t played live so much compared to other local bands. It is difficult to find musicians that are willing to commit with the kind of music we make, because here in Peru the genre of metal we play is not that popular compared to other genres like heavy, power, thrash, old school death metal or even black metal and when a musician starts improving on his skills he quits metal and starts playing jazz or progressive rock, but few are the ones who decide to play a mix between metal and more elaborated genres.
However, it is our great passion and love for music that keeps Alejandro and me motivated to keep making music and continue with the band. That is the driving force. We don’t live from music, we have regular jobs like any ordinary person, Alejandro even has a family to support; we can’t make a living out of music because we simply wouldn’t have money for our needs. But music is our real passion, and just like the love you can have for your significant other, with music it’s the same, you love it so much you just can’t quit it because it gives you so much happiness and the motivation to go on and stand against all the shit life sometimes throws at you. Music is our medicine. I’m sure sometime in your life you’ve gone through this kind of moment when you feel bad and depressed but then you listen to THIS ONE SONG that completely changes your mood and makes you say “Fuck it man, to hell with my problems, I’ve got great music to listen to!”. Personally, I’d like to create myself music that can produce that kind of effect in people too, I owe a lot to music, thanks to it I’ve met some of my best friends and lived some of the greatest moments of my life, I’d like in some way to give back to it by making music that produces that same “mood change” effect in people and why not maybe inspire others to start making music, that’d be really cool.
You have worked for two years on 'The Incomplete Man', was that time spent writing, or recording, or what caused the long period to get things ready for release?
Oh God, I don’t want to remember those two fucking years, hahaha! They were the most frustrating, stressful and difficult years of my musical life, but I learnt that if you want to achieve something good there has to be a lot of effort and sacrifice and pain, you know, “no pain no gain”. As mentioned before, all the songs from the record were already written when we entered the studio, we really didn’t think it would take us that long to finish the album, but sometimes life can put you a lot of tests before achieving your goals. There were many elements not related to music that affected the recording process and made us take two years to finish it. To begin with, the owner of the studio is a long time friend of our bassist Alejandro, and because of that he charged us for song recorded and not for hours or days we take to record the album, I mean, we didn’t rent the studio for ourselves for a month or something like that, we went to record whenever the studio was available and our agendas were free, mostly weekends. Daniel Y, recorded drums in two days, and then Alejandro was supposed to record, but due to a lot of problems in his personal life and in his work he had to postpone it till the end and told me and Daniel R. to record our performances first.
In addition to this, the studio started to become very popular among local metal bands and was booked almost every week, and the only available days it had, it didn’t match with our free days. Sometimes events totally beyond our control took place like for example, the electric power in the studio went away and didn’t come back until the next day or the PC broke or the sound engineer felt sick or something happened to us that forced us to cancel the day we were supposed to attend the studio. It was a lot of external problems that delayed the record and at the same time harmed our mood and made us lose interest in the record for some months. In the second year of recording it was almost impossible to get a day in the studio because you had to book it with weeks or even months in advance. At that time the Ibarcena brothers decided to focus more on their own band and I focused on obtaining money to pay the studio because the record was entirely funded by Alejandro and me, and a very small collaboration from the Ibzrcena brothers. The only things that were written during those two years were the lyrics and the piano and orchestration arrangements. And yeah, it was basically because of those external elements that it took us so long to finish the record, in fact, I think we are the Peruvian metal band that took the most time to finish an album, haha!
I really enjoyed reviewing and listening to the album, it is a very strong release and especially very varied, if you ask me. I mentioned hearing some progressive death metal like Death and Cynic, but some melodic stuff like Mercenary from Denmark and some more technical, thrashy stuff like Atheist as well. What would you say are bands or genres that have influenced your music?
Well, Alejandro and I are more into “old school” tech-melodic death metal bands when it comes to musical influences, bands like Death, Cynic, Pestilence, Coroner, Atheist, Opeth, In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Carcass, Soilwork, and Necrophagist are some of the bands that influence us, as well as bands like Anathema and Alcest, we like the more melodic proggy extreme metal bands from the 90’s - early 2000’s but we also listen to other bands like Gorod, Extol and Ne Obliviscaris. The Ibarcena brothers, maybe because they’re younger, they belong to the generation of metalheads that are more influenced by contemporary technical bands like Scale The Summit, Obscura, Animals As Leaders, Intronaut, Periphery, The Faceless among others, something you can hear and feel in the song written by them and in Daniel Y.'s drumming style, who brought this mix of progressive and extreme drumming style like the use of blast beats. I remember that 'One With The Universe' was the last song I wrote for the record and I wrote it having Daniel Y. drumming style in my mind. All of us listen to other genres of music besides metal as well, like jazz, blues, progressive rock, funk, I even listen to J-rock from time to time haha. This is also a requirement when we look up for new musicians, they have to like and listen to other music genres besides metal and have an open mind.
Where did you find Susana Cardich (female vocals) and Adolfo Gazzo (piano and orchestrations) and how did the cooperation come to life?
Initially Susana wasn’t going to record the female vocals, it was going to be another friend of mine that is studying music at my university with whom I had gotten together to work on the parts she was going to record but like one day before recording she had to travel outside the city to solve some issues and we would have had to wait three weeks for her. I didn’t want to delay the culmination of the album anymore, the female vocals were the last parts left to record in order to finish the album so I immediately thought of Susana whom I had met in 2009 when Dehumanizer was on hiatus and I was playing with some friends in a non metal band, we were looking for a female vocalist for that band and a mutual friend of us told me about her, she was singing back then in a rock covers band, so we asked her to sing in our band, she accepted but that band didn’t last too much. So the night before recording her voice, I contacted her and the next morning we met at Adolfo’s studio (Shredded Sound Studio) I taught her the lyrics and more or less how it should be sang and she contributed with her own ideas as well and in a couple of hours she recorded it, it was pretty quick, but I think she did a good job.
As for Adolfo, I met him in 2007, he was working in the studio where we re-recorded the 'Nephast Contradiction' demo, we already had mutual friends but we never met before until that moment. I got to listen to the work he did for other local bands and I liked it, besides he’s a talented musician and producer, he has recorded and produced the Nautiluz record 'Leaving All Behind'. He immediately understood and captured in the arrangements of piano and orchestration all the musical ideas we transmitted to him. As a matter of fact, the voices you hear at the clean part after the solos in 'The Incomplete Man' song are from Adolfo, Susana and me, those were supposed to be recorded by the four members of the band, but the twins and Alejandro couldn’t attend the studio the day Susana was recording her voice so we improvised and recorded theirs. I had a great time recording with them and I hope we can count with them for future recordings.
You have twin brothers in the band, who both are called Daniel. You have to have at least one good story or anecdote about that, right? I would really try to mess with people in your situation!
And their father’s name, who happens to be a full time guitar player, is Daniel too, how about that?. Despite being twins and physically almost identical you can tell them apart by their personalities which are like the Ying and Yang, so different but with the identical charisma and talent. We never called them Daniel, we called them by their second names, Ramon (the guitarist) and Yobad (the drummer) which is something all their friends do, and I think it’s the most logical thing to do, haha. Besides that Yobad grew a beard and Ramon shaved, I don’t’ know if they did this on purpose so people who didn’t know them could tell them apart. We had really good moments with them while they were in the band, Yobad has a great sense of humor and was always joking around with his brother. When it comes to music they’re like inseparables, it’s what binds them the most. As a matter of fact Yobad only agreed to play in Dehumanizer because his brother joined the band first, I initially contacted Yobad and asked him to play with us but he refused because he wanted to fully commit with his own band but then when Ramon joined us he immediately did the same. When we were filming the 'Demon Of Fear' video we joked about the fact that we only needed one of them to be present during the shots because we could just make one of them play the other’s instrument and no one would really tell the difference haha. We really wished they hadn’t left the band. I wish them all the best in their upcoming projects.
You are a Peruvian band. Although the continent of South America has always been known for its big metal scene, I must admit I do not know too many big or well known names in metal from Peru. Who were your national metal heroes, back in the early days? And what bands in the scene are worth checking out today?
Well the most acclaimed and legendary metal band in Peru is Mortem, it’s one of the first death metal bands in our country, they’re like metal heroes here to the point that if you’re a Peruvian metalhead and you haven’t listened to Mortem then you’re not a “true metalhead”, you know what I mean, haha. There’s also Necropsya, a thrash Metal band; they have a long career and are getting a bigger audience especially with their latest album 'Towards Insanity', they have toured South America not long ago and have opened for big international bands like Metallica and Cannibal Corpse among others. I’ve also heard that black metal bands like Goat Semen and Anal Vomit are very well known in the international underground metal scene and they have a loyal legion of fans here in Peru. Finally in terms of heavy metal there’s Orgus and Armaggedon, one of the oldest heavy metal bands of Peru.
As for contemporary local bands worth checking out, there’s this band Chaska which I personally like a lot, they’re from Arequipa in the south of Peru, they play folk metal, they released their debut album 'Pururauca' in 2009. If you’re into heavy metal you can check out Cobra, one of the most popular contemporary local bands with the best chances to have success outside Peru. They just released their second album 'To Hell', and finally if you’re into power metal you can check out Nautiluz, as well as Cobra it’s one of the most well-known international bands, they’re getting really popular outside Peru especially in Japan where their album has sold very well.
If our readers would go to Peru, where do they go for a good dose of metal? What region or town has the best gigs, bars, metal stores?
People from the highlands and the south of Peru are very passionate for metal, they are very few but they mosh so hard, you might think there are thousands. Arequipa is very passionate for heavy metal as well. But you could say that Lima has the biggest metal scene in Peru, and the most metal bars and stores. The metal scene has grown a lot compared to twelve years ago, especially when it comes to international concerts, twelve years ago no foreign metal band included Peru in their South American tours, now it’s all the opposite, and it’s cool because it gives local bands the opportunity to play with them and expose their music to a bigger audience, but we’re still behind countries like Argentina and Chile where they have a big legion of metalheads.
And besides metal, what is absolutely mandatory to see/visit if someone would go to Peru?
Machu Picchu is a beautiful place, it’s located in Cusco, a place you must visit if you come to Peru, you probably have already heard that before. The jungle is also an interesting and entertaining place to visit, you can sail through the Amazon river which is a wonderful experience. To be honest Lima, the capital, doesn’t have very many touristic places, it’s like any other big metropolis with horrible and heavy vehicular traffic, crowds everywhere moving fast, malls, and all that shit. The really amazing places are outside Lima, in the highlands and in the jungle. I strongly recommend if you want to visit those places that you better do it through a guided tour not by your own. According to the international gastronomic specialized press our food is really good too, although not too friendly to vegetarians.
What future plans and endeavors can you already shed some light on? In other words, what does the near future hold for Dehumanizer?
In the near future we’re going to record and release new material, either it’s an EP or a full length, I personally don’t want to wait another ten years to release new material. We want to have this new material ready for 2015. Along with the release of the new material I would like to make a documentary about the process of recording and about the local metal scene where I want to show the “musician/regular person” side of the members from local bands, because almost everyone in a local metal band doesn’t work as musician, they are regular people with regular jobs and with almost no support and broadcasting at all from the media, it’s really difficult to make music here, especially metal, in this documentary I want to show how hard these people work in order to make a record. I had this idea since 'The Incomplete Man' recording days, but focusing exclusively on the band, but this idea didn’t receive any support at all from the other members haha, but I hope I can make it happen for the new release. We will as well make a video for one of the songs of the new material.
And how about the long term future, if it is up to you? What is on the wishlist?
The long term future is always uncertain, everything can change from one moment to the other, plans you set can change or postpone, so at this moment I can’t confirm anything. After we release the new material, I frankly wouldn’t know what could happen, but we would definitely like to play outside Peru, like in Chile, Ecuador and Colombia where there are good festivals, and of course Europe, to us it would be a dream come true to tour Europe or even play in some of European metal festivals, that’s going to be always on our wish list. Maybe receiving the support of a label too, because at this time we fund everything by ourselves, fortunately we have jobs with which we can make an income to fund our love for music, but if someday we sign to a record label that can help us with the expenses of recording and also touring outside Peru it would be awesome. As for me, after we record the new material I want to start working on a side project with some tunes I’ve been written over the last years that don’t quite fit in Dehumanizer’s style.
Okay, that is pretty much all I have. Any famous last words?
First I want to thank all the people that have taken the time to read this interview and of course thank Lords Of Metal for doing this interview with us and spreading our music. Also I want to invite your readers to listen to our music and to the other local band’s music I mentioned which they can find on YouTube, Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Our record can be purchased through Bandcamp and the official site. And finally if we have any Dutch fans out there, ask them to spread the word about us and check out our Facebook and official site where we’ll be posting updates regarding our work. Thanks a lot!
“Dehumanize the mind, Dehumanize the soul, Dehumanize them all!”