Warbringer interview (Carlos Cruz)

"If fans eliminate the preconceived ideas and use of tags and listen to see how the music makes one feel, it'll make for a much more personal experience with the music"

25/10/2013 @ 11:23
With their impressive fourth release, Warbringer are crossing onto the next level, placing themselves as serious candidates for the thrash album of 2013. For our first conversation with the band, we chose their talented drummer, Carlos Cruz, who informed us about the band's evolution on "IV: Empires Collapse", the realignment inside the Americans' camp, his parting with Hexen, his personal acoustic side project and more.

WarbringerHello from Athens, Greece! Congrats for your new album, I believe it’s most probably the best Warbringer album to date! What are your aspirations for this one?
Thank you very much! I'm very proud of the work we were able to accomplish by writing very diverse songs and expanding on the Warbringer sound. It's extremely fulfilling as an artist, and I'm looking forward to releasing the album to share the music with others.

Warbringer - IV: Empires CollapseThe title and the artwork on "IV: Empires Collapse" are very different than on the band’s previous releases. Is there a specific message or maybe a connection with the band that’s lying behind?
It was a conscious effort to have the majority of our work look and sound different to reflect how the group has been progressing in the present day. The main ideas represented are change, growth and transformation; which are constantly a part of our collective world.

At what levels would you say that the new album differs, compared to "Worlds Torn Asunder"?
First and foremost is musically. Two years of touring, a new line-up and keeping an open mind throughout the writing process led to the music being vastly different from "Worlds". In terms of production, the bass guitar sits very high in the mix as a lot of the guitar work is split and the bass carries the melody, which is something we pushed for in the post recording process. The lead guitar work is a lot more experimental and layered, far more than the lead guitar work on previous albums.

WarbringerI believe that the biggest difference lies in the core of the music, where the band reveals a whole new side of its creativity, and also the approach is quite altered on a technical level, bringing a darker feel to the music. Are you willing to take the chance of losing a part of your fanbase, by drawing (somewhat) away from Warbringer’s mainly ‘old-school thrash’ style?
Absolutely. The idea of ‘Warbringer’ is far greater than five guys on a stage, and it's the music that resonates with the listener; who now has 40 songs to choose from and decide what they like or dislike. I feel that if fans eliminate the preconceived ideas and use of tags like ‘Speed / Thrash / Death’ and listen to see how the music makes one feel over if it meets whatever standard, it'll make for a much more personal experience with the music. It's about keeping an open mind towards accepting what is rather than what one thinks it should be. In the end the listener has the say, but at least they took a chance.

WarbringerYou’ve welcomed two new members on second guitar and bass guitar. What happened with Andy Laux and Adam Carroll? And according to what criteria did you choose their substitutes?
Adam Carroll had serious priorities to take care of in early 2012 and Andy Laux needed to return home to receive serious medical attention during the middle of a tour; luckily everything went well and he's healthy, but that's when we brought Ben Mottsman and Jeff Potts on board. They were old friends and members of Mantic Ritual (Nuclear Blast Records) who had the experience and talent we knew would add something great to our collective sound.

In the previous album you composed only "Echoes From The Void", if I’m not mistaken. Nonetheless, I can tell that your contribution on the new one is much bigger, just by listening to it. I guess that you were more involved in the songwriting process, right?
Correct. "Echoes" was my first full writing contribution, and more recently I composed five of the new songs and co-wrote another one with Jeff Potts. As a new member in 2011, I helped with song arrangements and added parts here and there, but later I would take on composing full songs for this group and mold them with it's main members. Now I'm comfortable with my craft to share complete works.

Carlos Cruz (Warbringer)Were the songs written while on tour this time around? What conditions are usually bringing out the best of you as a composer?
Riffs -more than anything- can be worked out on tour during sound check, but never full songs. Many of the ideas for this album were written by the members on their own time so they could develop the piece before presenting it to the others to work on. I personally work best this way. I compose on my own and present the piece to the others for feedback and how we can improve upon it.

Warbringer is a band known for its consistency in excessive touring. Are you gonna tour that long for the new album as well? What’s the secret for coping with such a heavy tour schedule, for you personally?
We take offers as they come, and we'll see what the future brings for the promotion of this album. My love for the drums and performing onstage is what keeps me interested for so long. I will always change my drum configuration, or change the live performance of older songs to keep things fresh. Traveling to new places to experience the culture, lifestyle, food and scenery is fantastic as well.

WarbringerIn Hexen -your killer previous band- you were more than just a drummer (btw I have to inform you that "Being And Nothingness" was my favorite thrash album for 2012, and #2 on my overall ‘Best Of 2012’ list). Your name was on most of the songwriting credits, you performed all the acoustic guitars and you were credited as a lyricist as well. Is playing the drums still your first priority as a musician?
Thank you very much! It's a phenomenal album and I'm glad you had the chance to enjoy it as well. My priority changes according to the project and my roll involved in it. Music is an art in which I will always be a student, so it's great to learn from and collaborate with others to write great music. Drums will always be my main focus, but if there is ever an opportunity to express myself through writing lyrics or composing on another instrument I'm going to take it.

WarbringerNevertheless, I’m sure that your departure from the band has made a lot of Hexen fans sad. What really happened there? Was it a simple case of prioritizing between two bands?
It was more about prioritizing one's personal life and doing what was in the best interest of the individual over the group's. "Being and Nothingness" brought about opportunities to become a professional touring band, and the other members were not ready to move forward in that direction, so in order to do what was in my best interest at the time I parted ways.

You also have a personal project called Reseda Reign, in which you handle all instruments. I’m sure that the music you write there is quite different than anything else you’ve done, right? Are there plans for an album?
Correct. It's an instrumental project based around the acoustic guitar. My grandfather was a lead guitarist for a very popular trio in Mexico throughout the 1950s and listening to his album brought about an interest in exploring the acoustic guitar. At the same time I can work on my audio production chops by recording everything myself, and my song composition by writing everything on various instruments. I released the first four songs online, and once I release the last three I plan to press it on vinyl and release it interdependently.

Carlos Cruz (Warbringer)Are you fond of bands that change their style, as a fan? What are your favorite ‘different’ albums of bands with previously well-established styles?
I am. I love to see how artists progress throughout their careers, and hear stories of why they made such decisions or where the inspiration came from. My favourite are: The Beach Boys - "Pet Sounds", Opeth - "Heritage", MGMT - "Congratulations" and Metallica - "Metallica" (Black Album).

Could you share with us five albums that you’ve been spinning lately?
Black Breath - Sentenced To Life
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
Frank Zappa - Hot Rats
The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
Converge - Axe To Fall

That’s all from me, Carlos. I wish you guys all the best for "IV: Empires Collapse" and I hope to see you in Greece soon!
Thank you very much for you time. All the best!

Vangelis Evangelatos