Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Hirax has always been one of my favorite bands that I had never got a chance
to interview. When I was offered a chance to interview Katon from Hirax I jumped
at it and here is a chat I recently had with this man and let me tell you this
is a man that flies the underground metal flag high and proud.
MC: I have been a fan of the band for a long time and you went away for a long time and now you have been back for a while. Has the response to the band been better that you thought it would be?
KATON: Yeah, I mean who would have thought after over 20 years. Now to me it is kinda like a phenomen. Every show there is more people coming out and the response is loud as hell and they are chanting in between the songs and even before we go on we can hear them chanting our name in the backstage area. It is far beyond what I would have expected.
MC: What made you decide to put this new DVD out? Tell me how that came about.
It was something that was in the works for a while. I guy that was a big supported
of the band, a big fan of the band was collecting footage of the band for years
and he had actually been taking classes on how to DVD'S and he said to us "I
want to a Hirax DVD" and he sent us some rough drafts of it and we watched
it and we were amazed how good it was complied. Also because we are working
on a new album that is not out yet, we wanted to release something to hold people
over until the new album comes out.
MC: For those who don't know you are the only original member in the band now right?
KATON: Yeah it has been that way for quite awhile actually. The guy that has been with me the longest, Glenn Rogers actually helped me the last album. It is probably the most comfortable I have been with any lineup because everybody is so into what we are doing because we are all hungry and my guys that I have in the band now love playing metal and they especially love playing the concerts. It is a great band I have with me now.
MC: When you got back together to do the comeback CD a few years back, for those who don't know tell us how you found the band members and did you ask any of the original members to be involved?
KATON: That is a great question and a lot of people don't realize it is not like I wanted to continue on by myself, it was that I had too because I still believe in this kind of music and I still do love metal. A lot of them aren't available or just can't go out on the road to tour to support an album because they have families and houses and they have house payments and to be involved in this music it is a full time thing and you can't be a weekend warrior and do this kind of stuff. I offered those guys to be a part of it, but none of those guys could actually do it. Lucky I live out in California where there is a lot of musicians and I been able to work with some great guys and finally I have got a lineup that looks like it will be able to do a lot of touring and that's what really what this is about.
MC: I know your 1st couple release was on Metal Blade and I saw on your website that your selling the debut release along with the EP on one CD. Did Metal Blade give you the rights to release this?
KATON: What happened is luckily there was a certain grace period of when you sign a record contact. When you sign those record contracts those record contracts do run out sooner or later so you do get your rights back to your material and that is what happened. Since I always wanted to be involved in the process of making sure our music got produced correctly and then that we were giving the fans a good product, because I think when kids buy your record or anybody that buys your record they should be able to get the lyrics, the photos, the artwork and stuff. Since our stuff got re-issued all that stuff is there along with the original artwork.
MC: Did the band ever actually break up or did you take like a hiatus or sorts?
KATON: Well in the 80's we did disband for quite awhile a mean like the late 80's we broke up and didn't get back together for another 13 years later. But during that whole time, I mean that's what great about metal music is it kinda like a disease that keeps spreading whether the band is still together or not. There is people collecting the albums whether they are out of print or not or they are finding bootlegs and that stuff doesn't bother me much, I think that the music is so important and anyway to get it out there. People should try and find these records cause there is a lot of great bands, not just Hirax, but there is a ton of other bands and there records are out of print and it is such a shame that because there is so much great metal music from the 80's that up till now that people have a hard time finding. I am just lucky somehow that Hirax has stayed in the public's eyes all these years.
MC: What are some memories you have from back in the day? I wish I would have saw you live back in the day too.
KATON: It was a great time back then and actually there is an actually a great movement in the US and it is finally developing a kick ass heavy metal scene something that hasn't been in the US in a long time. The great thing about the early 80's was that exciting about that was we played with a lot of great bands. Back then it wasn't such a rare thing to see Hirax with Exodus, Megedeth, and Death Angel on the same show or us and Possessed and bands from Canada would come down like we would play with Exciter and those shows were insane. Those shows were insane and the best way I can explain it is, it is like sticking your head in a popcorn machine and having popcorn fly all over your face. There would be kids stage diving, or jumping from the balconies. It was total mania. Those days I'll never forget. One time we played with Megedeth and we only got to play 15 minutes cause the crowd got so crazy that security shut us down. That was like 1985. It was us, Lazz Rocket, Megedeth, and Dark Angel all on the same bill. I think more bands need to get back together and do these package tours. When you can see a band like Slayer and Exodus it is a great show. I think that people deserve their money's worth and I would like to start seeing more 4 band package tours.
MC: Now back in the 80's when I do doing my fanzine and it was just in print, not on-line, when you got a computer did you find many Hirax type websites and pages dedicated to the band and stuff?
KATON: Yeah I am still surprised. The internet has to me, brought back the underground because it is almost as rebellious as the fanzines were. If there wasn't fanzines, there never would have been a thrash metal movement. That is kinda what the internet is bringing back now cause people can trade and download pics and MP3's and a lot faster that in the old days cause the internet is so fuckin fast. It is cool to see it coming back cause of people like you and all the other people involved like Brave Words and Metal Mania, those are bigger publications, but all that stuff is on the internet, so it is easy access for the fans to get information to their favorite bands.
MC: For those who don't know tell us a bit about your website and what can people expect to see when they log onto it.
KATON: The cool thing is we have stuck to our guns and we still believe in the underground so our website which is www.hirax.org or they can go to the Black Devils website and there is a lot of free stuff on there as people can download our music for free cause we believe in it and a lot of bands and I won't mention names, but a lot of major bands get pissed off when their music is downloaded for free, but we feel that is a good thing cause it turns people on to our music for people or maybe can't afford to buy 5 new albums at one time, so they decide some our music and then they can make their decision if they want to buy our album or not. That is what the website is about. All the information and our music and people can download videos and all kinds of really cool stuff.
MC: I know you got to play overseas not to long ago. How was the response to the band over there and was it unlike anything you ever thought of?
KATON: Way far beyond. The difference between Europe and United States is like night and day because they never gave up on underground metal, I mean it is amazing some of the smallest metal bands in the US can go to Europe and play in front of thousands of people. German is a country where the people are so kick ass and Scandinavia, which is like Sweden, Norway, Finland, unbelievable heavy metal scenes. It is pretty much that way all over Europe. You go to Holland, the fans are fanatical, you see nothing but armies of metal kids wearing denim and leather over there with their favorite patches and they wear it loud and proud. Europe is one of our favorite places to tour, but there is other countries and South America, Brazil, the metal movement there is unbelievable too.
MC: Your voice is either a love or hate thing. I love them. Did you ever get mad when people would kinda rag on the vocals?
KATON: Not really and I'll tell you why. All musicians wants to be liked by everybody and that is just not the way it is. You got to wake up and smell the coffee if you think everybody is gonna love your stuff. People have the right not too and I totally support that cause I am a fan of music as well, as well as being a musician and there is some bands I totally love and their is some bands I can't stand. I am always cool cause I think that is the way it should be and it doesn't bother me at all.
MC: Do you think that the thrash movement sort of when it died had to do with bands getting signed to major labels and then softening their sound when they did?
KATON: I think that had a lot to do with it and that major labels screwed up a lot of great bands. It has been a tough of death when a lot of these major labels get involved because they are only thinking about money and not quality music. I think that is why we have stayed away from that shit cause we don't care about any of that. Obviously we would like to make a good living doing what we do, but the music always comes first. A lot of that stuff killed the music and I think a lot of those bands kinda lost their way, It is kinda sad and I don't like to comment on Metallica, cause I also know those guys, but the problem is you can never forget where you come from and I really don't want to be on the bandwagon of bashing those guys, but I just think they are not the same band they used to me. To me I prefer to listen to their earlier music. I just think you need to stick to your guns and with us, we just love heavy metal music, hard heavy, aggressive stuff and that is something you can always expect from us.
MC: Tell us about this new record that will be coming out.
KATON: Yeah, it's called Assassins of War" and we are still a few months away from finishing it. We are still writing songs for it and it is gonna be a really awesome record. We are not gonna rush it. I think some bands are in a rush to get a new product out there and we were guilty of that for a long time ourselves and I think that is why we have gotten better over the years because we have put a lot more into the writing process, but it is just gonna be kick ass heavy guitar and pounding ass bass and drums and razor sharp vocals. It is gonna similar to the last record, but there will be a lot more intensity involved in the songs cause that is the direction we are going. I think a lot of it has to do when we play live, cause we see what our fans like and we always want to give them what they like and not let them down. It is not gonna be overproduced cause I think that is where a lot of bands lose their heaviness when they overproduce their record and water their sound down and lose a lot of the heaviness. People that like raw, heavy thrash are gonna love this record. It will have more songs on it than the last one.
MC: How do you stay motivated all these years. I mean your not making a ton of money is it just the love of the fans and music that keeps you going?
KATON: It is totally both. It is pretty easy to stay motivated as we have been playing more and more concerts and the fans, just meeting them, we are not one of those bands that runs and hide, we actually come out and talk to the fans and they just move us every time and these people who believe in the band they make us believe in us even more. We have such a supportive fan base. I am not just saying that and a lot of bands will, but if it wasn't for our fans we would be nothing and we are a very lucky band. I just think you got to remember where you came from and that works for me and I can't say it works for everybody else, but I always remember where I came from. I am just a guy who listened to and loved heavy metal music and then starting my own band and I have never forgot that. I think people can see that we are really into what we do and I'm not gonna change and I'll take that to my grave. As long as I do Hirax, it will be a hard, heavy and fast band.
MC: Now that you have been playing more and more shows have you been having any problems with your voice holding up?
KATON: It is actually better cause I have stopped doing some of the crazy shit I used to do. I have learned from a lot of my friends as well, over the years, losing a guy like Paul Baloff from Exodus (rip) and seeing a lot of guys getting sick because they weren't taking care of themselves. What is funny I have been straight and clean for the last half of this year for the 1st time in my life. I don't drink, I don't smoke and not that I am against that. I used to love to love to get fucked up, but now I am taking things more seriously than I ever have and I don't want to let down the people that paid money to come to one of our concerts. Don't get me wrong it is fun to party, but when your playing like a 1000 miles an hour like we play you can't be screwed up and fucked up on booze and drugs.
MC: Katon I am about out of questions. I just appreciate the time for the interview and I have been a fan of the band since way back when and the new CD is a fantastic release you should be proud of.
KATON: I just want to say personally I appreciate your support cause you have been there for us for a long time and we are not gonna let you down with this new record. We plan on coming to the East Coast so hopefully I will get to meet you.
MC: Katon the pleasure would be all mine and you take care of yourself and I look forward to seeing you and the band soon.