KNAC.COM News Reviews and More Watch The Latest Videos Buy KNAC T-shirts and More

This Wicked Band: An Interview With James Rivera Of HELSTAR: Part 1

By Cary Gordon, Metal Geek
Saturday, May 31, 2014 @ 10:20 AM

"For me, inspiration is just watching the news."

- advertisement -

- advertisement -
Live photos by Larry Petro

We had the extreme pleasure of having a lengthy chat with the man who provides the killer vocals for local Houston metal stalwarts, HELSTAR. Their brand new full length album, This Wicked Nest, was just released on AFM records and James sat down with us to discuss his career, HELSTAR, and every topic in between! Check it out!

KNAC.COM: I have the pleasure of having HELSTAR’s frontman James Rivera with me, how are you doing man?

RIVERA: I’m doing great. I’m doing wonderful. We’re enjoying some good California weather in Texas which is very rare. We’re sitting out on the patio, otherwise we would not be doing that because we would have a bad hair day. (Laughter)

KNAC.COM: Right. Drinking some margaritas, and you eat some mexican food…

RIVERA: That’s it.

KNAC.COM: That’s a Texas night for you right now. (Laughter) So, you guys have a brand new album that's come out. Let’s talk about that, what is the concept behind the album?

RIVERA: The concept about the album is called This Wicked Nest, its just basically about the way this world is. You know through politics, through everything, there’s nothing you really can do to change it unfortunately, you know? I don’t ever get into politics, you know, as far as what I believe. But, to me on a personal level, no matter who you vote for, no matter what you do, or who’s running this, who’s running that, its not going to change anything. Its just a plan, its the master plan that its always been. Yeah, I’m sort of into the conspiracy thing and all, but to me, we all live in this world that’s screwed up. What you have to think about is: let it bother you that much that you’re going to go shoot a bunch of people in a mall? Or just go “what can I do about it?”, shrug your shoulders, love your family and friends, and do the best that you can for yourself. But we do live in this wicked nest and there’s nothing we can do to change it. No religion, no politician, no religious figure is going to get us and change this. It's the way it is and accept it. But accept it in a fine line so that you can live your normal life.

KNAC.COM: Now let’s talk about what we were talking about, the album. What influences you when you go to write lyrics and think about what songs you want to do?

RIVERA: Ha! That’s very simple because when I’m not touring, I work from home. I have a work from home job and I don’t want to get into all that. But I watch CNN religiously, that’s all I have on TV. And you’d be surprised how...(chuckles), I have to stop my job and get up and go, “What? Now?” And its like ‘there’s another song’. I mean, by the end of the day, I’ve written five albums. There’s madness everywhere, just watch the news. If its not Mother Nature rebelling, its somebody doing something stupid. Man, this guy was caught fucking his dog, and I’m like “God damn! What’s the world coming to these days?”, you know? And its a joke! We live in a joke. I see a lot of us living a normal life and getting through this stuff and you see, well some people just can’t handle it. And then they go and they make the news even worse than what is was. So, I mean, for me, inspiration is just watching the news.

KNAC.COM: And news is usually just negative stuff.

RIVERA: That’s it, its overblown on the negative side of things which is why we wrote that song “Pandemonium” on the last album. Its how the news networks are making money. So at the end of the day, its all about the mighty dollar, and who runs the mighty dollar? Your government. And see? Back and forth, we live in this wicked nest. (laughter)

KNAC.COM: What’s going to give you better ratings, and more money for your ads?

RIVERA: Exactly

KNAC.COM: Good news or bad news? Its the truth though.

RIVERA: Exactly, and good news pays you less. Bad news pays you more.

KNAC.COM: Its true. So lets go through some of the tracks on the album. I had a chance to listen to it at a premiere and the first track “Fall Of Dominion” had the great intro, like the first couple minutes that really stylistically changes when the song really kicks in. Let's talk about some of the tracks on the album.

RIVERA: Okay, well “Fall Of Dominion” is about the movie V {for Vendetta}.

KNAC.COM: Really?

RIVERA: Which is a cool thing that kind of leads into the whole concept of ‘wicked nest’, because the whole movie’s based on a crooked government and he wanted to just make justice for us normal people. And that’s what that whole song’s about is that movie, “Fall Of Dominion”, you know and its about how you can make people see. We don’t believe in ‘okay, let’s start a bunch of revolutions’ but at one point in your life you’re going to say “Hey man, I’m tired of this shit. I’ve done everything right, and you’re still fucking with me. And no matter what I do right you still want to just mess with me, you want me to think that I am not...no! But yet, this guy can get away with that and I can’t? I got beat up and arrested for jaywalking. He stole millions from a corporate thing and he’s playing golf. What’s the deal with that?” You know? So basically, its based on that movie.

KNAC.COM: Lets go through some of the other tracks on the album. There’s the one that definitely stands out for me. Its a slower track, very doomy, very CANDLEMASS in nature.

RIVERA: “Curse”. Well, see that is totally separate from the whole concept of the album. Its simply about death. One day we are going to die. And Larry wrote the lyrics because his grandmother is 101 years old. And you get that age where you get delusional. And you’re always kind of like “You know I don’t feel good, I think today is the day.” Because you live so long you just waiting like *makes knocking sounds* “Who’s that? That’s the reaper. Yeah? No, no, no, he’s wearing a tuxedo, he looks nice. Go ahead, go with him.” You know what I mean? We all know that’s the only promise in life.

KNAC.COM: Its the one thing we all have in common.

RIVERA: Exactly. You’re born, but there’s only thing I can promise you. You could become a millionaire, you could become a rock star, you could become a movie star. You could become nothing but a drunk under the bridge. But I do guarantee you one thing, you’re going to die. Its called a curse. So you make what you can out of your life. Some people die, unfortunately, through an accident, which is unfair. If they lived a good life, he’s 22 years old, on his way to become a doctor, and some guy hit him on the freeway, he’s killed. That’s the way things happen, but you do need to know that one day this shell that you have will end. And whatever’s inside is going to go somewhere else or maybe not, whatever you believe in. So that’s what the song “Curse” is about.

KNAC.COM: Okay, that turned really somber and very morose really quickly. Lets go to happy now. Lets talk about the collaboration you guys did with Jeff Loomis, how did that come about?

RIVERA: Well, that all started because me and Jeff have been friends since ‘99. When I was in DESTINY'S END I did my first real U.S. tour with NEVERMORE and ICED EARTH. It was a three day, three band package and it was incredible. That was the resurgence of power metal again. And it was a great tour and we’ve been really good friends since then. And it turns out that when you tour together with people, you get together, have drinks, and you start to bond. And then the emotions come out and he’s like “Dude, you have no idea how big of a HELSTAR fan I am, I didn’t even want to talk to you for the first few days because I was afraid you’d be weird.” And he’s all like “I know who you are, where you came from, and you’re touring with us.” And he admitted to me that he’s a big HELSTAR fan and I said “Aw dude, that’s killer!” Well, as time went on Larry and Rob started getting back into the music industry and their favorite guitar player was Jeff Loomis. And so they somehow started mingling with each other on the internet, me already having the connection with him, and then when it came time to write the instrumental Larry just reached out to him. And after all the nice conversations he said “We would be honored if you’d be a guest on our record” and Jeff said “Hell yeah!”, you know? And that’s how it happened.

KNAC.COM: Wow, that’s great. Before we move on, lets talk about any other tracks that you’d like to touch upon.

RIVERA: Well like I said, the majority of the record is about the concept of, which I already explained, what This Wicked Nest is about. “It Has Risen” is dedicated to my Turkish metal family because I was there during that whole thing that was going on. You know, unfortunately and fortunately when the riots were going on, and they’re going through some shit right now. The song is based on the regime of how people will make you believe, “Oh yeah, don’t worry my friend, I will make this all great” and then all of a sudden, their colors start changing. And you’re all “Well, wait a minute” and they’re “Yeah, I said it was okay to do this, but now I’m changing my mind.” Now, I’ve heard that they’re getting Facebook taken away from them and all this other stuff. That’s getting scary. When I was there and I was in the middle of people getting gassed, and I’m sitting there having dinner with friends, and people walking around with gas masks and they’re revolting. Soldiers are walking by throwing more bombs. I was in the middle of something that I thought I would never in the middle of. Like, to me, it was like watching the news and it was a dream, and my friends were like “Oh, its okay, they’re not going to mess with us. Let’s eat and drink.” And I’m going, “How can I fucking eat and drink when its *makes screaming and explosion noises*” They’re saying ‘The hell with the government’ and soldiers are walking in, beating people with clubs, and I’m like “Holy shit!”. So when I wrote “It Has Risen”, it was about the regime and once the friend that I stayed with explained the story of what’s happening, what they want is the whole of Turkey to become Muslim. When some of it was Christian, some of it was Muslim, that’s why they have heavy metal there, that’s why they get to live the way they want to. Now, they’re like, “No, no, no more of that.” And I’m like “Wow.” So they’re slowly but surely getting pushed out of being themselves. That, to me, is not right because you’re not God whoever you are running this place. Now I’ll probably never be allowed in again, I’ll be arrested right away. “Its the long haired Mexican guy we’ve been waiting for.” (laughter)

KNAC.COM: So let's talk about the cover and what influenced that. You guys have had this skull character.

RIVERA: “Skulley. Yeah, he’s a crackhead (laughter)

KNAC.COM: Its took a while into your career to come up with that character, it’s branding. IRON MAIDEN has done it, MEGADETH has done it. What was the decision to have that character and tell me a little bit about it.

RIVERA: It accidentally happened when a friend of ours, John Fossom, came up with the design, a skull with some devil horns, and we started using it in “Glory And Chaos”. Then we started using it in the live thing, then we perfected him, and then now we’ve made him in a politician on this record. He’s got a suit, he looks all sharp, looks like Frank Sinatra doing too much crack. (laughter) And so now he’s a trademark, so he’s always going to be our dude, no matter what. He’s even been a pirate for the 70,000 Tons of Metal Tour, we put a little patch on him. *pirate voice* Ahoy, matey. *normal voice* So he’s become our mascot, and there’s nothing wrong with a mascot. People can say, “Yeah, but everybody’s done it.” But then other people say, “Dude that’s cool, you finally have one!”

KNAC.COM: But you know what? It works!

RIVERA: It does work. Its not like someone is going, “Oh, I’m not going to buy their album, they’re trying to have an Eddie.” He doesn’t look like Eddie, and he doesn’t look like Vic (Rattlehead). He’s his own guy. Basically, Skulley is Satan’s skull, and whatever Satan decides to wear on the next album, we don’t know. Satan may decide to wear a doctor’s suit. We may be talking about the corruption of the medical system. And he’ll be in between some lady’s leg doing *makes growling sounds*, being a gynecologist, no that sounds more like a death metal album. (laughter) But you know, Skulley is going to be there now, forever. And a lot of people are going to be surprised when we play live, that’s all I can tell you.

KNAC.COM: Okay. So who do you collaborate with now for the album covers?

RIVERA: We were using the guy who did the NIGHTWISH albums for a long time. Skulley was created by John Fossom, he took it and made a better image of him. But our new guy, Yohan, gave Skulley that real individual look, and we’ve wanted him to look meaner. And this album is exactly how we want him to look now.

KNAC.COM: Going back to that, branding is really such an important part of marketing and it seems to be missing from a lot of fucking heavy metal bands right now.

RIVERA: Exactly, and you know what? Skulley is getting made on to some very personal wrist bands that I’m having done, and he’s going to be like the Bubblegum guy. We’ll have Skulley bubblegum (laughter). He’s just a simple skull with devil horns, that’s all it is, but he’s unique. He’s different. Skulley is cool, he hangs out with us. He’s very cheap to take out to eat, he doesn’t eat very much. (laughter)

KNAC.COM: I can imagine. You have a lot of t-shirt designs coming up in the future?

RIVERA: Oh yeah, we can go crazy with Skulley. Panties, Socks.

KNAC.COM: There you go. So what is the writing process like for the band? How long does it take for you to go from concept to completed album?

RIVERA: Well, you know, it used to be old school. You’d get together and jam and write songs, and you’d rehearse them for a whole year before you went into a studio. By the time you went to a studio, you were laying them down like nothing. Now, with technology, we write through the internet. You know, everyone has Pro Tools, and we send the ideas back and forth, and then we all get together and talk about the ideas. We have a pow-wow, and we’ll be like “Yeah dude, what you sent me sounded great, I was wondering if you should do this on the melody.” And then the producer, he hates it, but he loves it, because he gets to be a part of it. And there’s no sense in having a producer if you’re going to have it all written and lay it down. No, that’s not fun for him. He wants to go, “You know what I was thinking…”, and that’s why we love working with Craig Dekels and Mark. They’re the greatest from Sound Origin, especially when it comes to the vocals. You know, they’re the greatest guys in the world that I’ve ever worked with and they took the vocals very seriously on this record, and that’s why it came out so good. We took our time with it. So I’d go in there and say “This is my idea” and 90% of it, to them, is done. But the perfection part, the key, the notes, that’s their expertise. Bringing out the xylophone, “James, what if you did that?” and Mark is phenomenal at that. He used to be in “Deep”, that’s why he’s a vocal producer.

KNAC.COM: Really? I was good friends with them, I was a big fan of theirs back in the day.

RIVERA: Yes, I call him “Marky Mark”, but he’s nothing like the Mark (Wahlberg) that we know with the muscles in the rap group. (laughter) He is a god at vocal melodies and that surprised the hell out of me. And, according to him, I’m one of his favorite singers to work with because I listen to him. I don’t fight with him. You’d think someone at my level, I’d be like “Well, its all about me!” No. So we would do things where we’d record stuff on the phone, and he’ll say, “Remember that melody, tomorrow we’ll lock it in dude.” And then he’ll go home and *sings different harmonies*, and I’ll be like, “Fuck! How did he come up with that? Dude, that’s spooky!” And then we’d go in there and he’d just have this smile, “Yeah, that’s my boy.” But, its his work, its his magic.

KNAC.COM: So, we talked a little about what inspired the album. What inspires your personal writing process? What gets you going besides the news?

RIVERA: A lot of inspiration just comes from trying to stay in the race. I mean you have to be ready to deliver something to stay in the race. My inspiration actually comes from a lot of live shows. I think when I did this record, I had toured so much in the year, that when I was starting to do the record my voice was already still wide open. It was a great feeling to not have to go in there and warm up for five days. First day I was already nailing shit and running through tracks because I had been singing for so long. But a lot of the inspiration just comes from the fact that you know that you’re going to be doing this for a while, so every time you do it why not do the best that you can. It's only going to be better for you in the long run. You can take shortcuts and go “Ehh, I’ll put this much work into it,” but you’re not being fair to yourself and you’re not being fair to the fans. But I think most of all you’re not being fair to yourself. If you don’t like it anymore, then get out.

KNAC.COM: I know you do a lot of touring with different projects, but how do you prepare yourself when you’re about go into the studio?

RIVERA: I warm up in the car, I try to as much as I can. I know you’d be surprised when I get into the studio I’m still sounding like *makes raspy and snotty noises*, and there’s some stuff left. And then you start laying down stuff and you’re like, “Let’s just keep rolling”. Then what’s funny is towards the end of your session you’re all on fire then. *makes wailing sounds* And its like “Hey man, its time to go home.” Wait a minute! (laughter) I was just getting started!

KNAC.COM: So how do you feel personally that your vocal style has changed over the years?

RIVERA: Well, its remained what it always has been through the years, but its also expanded to different styles of singing because over the last few years I’ve adapted to different styles of metal. I’m one of the few singers, and this is just what I’ve heard which I take with a grain of salt and I pat myself on the back, that I’ve never lost anything and I’ve gotten stronger over the years, and that’s nice to hear. I’ve started mixing in things that I would’ve never thought to do back in the 80s, and things I think back then wouldn’t have fit if I was doing them then, but now they do. And that’s what’s making the HELSTAR fanbase grow more and more is its not just another power metal band with a *makes wailing sound* singer guy. “Oh yeah, he sounds just like a young Geoff Tate” constantly through the album.

To me, that gets old after a while. I call those the canary singers *makes cawing sounds*, and its all so nice and so high all the time. Let me show you how I was operatically trained. Whatever. Do you have some other character in there? Do you have some depth? Do you have some *makes low growling noises*? There’s other dimensions of singing that can make a great metal band still be melodic, still be very musical, and still be killer. But that {operatic singing} got old to me, and that’s why I think I started turning to the swedish death metal bands and the really good black metal bands because musically they were killer. The singers, they’re not singers, but they had good melodies. They had a different dimension to it. I love Dani Filth, I love the old CRADLE OF FILTH stuff. It stole me, like that, and I was like “Wow! I like that!” And so I became a fan of that. Some people hate me for that, they’re like “Dude, you just need to sing like Bruce (Dickinson) and Geoff (Tate) for the rest of your life.” Come on, that’s boring, you know? That stuff is another whole dimension, you know?

KNAC.COM: Let’s talk about the band. The band has been around for over 30 years now, did you ever think that the band would come this far?

RIVERA: No, I never would’ve thought we would’ve came this far. Luckily, at the time that I think we reunited Larry and Rob and them had been out of my life for about 15 years and they were on their own listening to heavier shit. So when we started writing The King Of Hell that was a sign that people should’ve known, “Uh oh, this government is going bad.” (laughter) Because we gave them signs, we’re getting heavier, we’re getting darker. I was already incorporating the Dani Filth stuff, even in the DESTINY'S END stuff. So expect, well, I hate to use the {phrase} “expect the worst” for people who don’t like that, but expect that we’re not going to be all *sings “la la la”* stuff, its going to have that in there but its going to also have some other elements. Then by the time Glory came out we were already going to the top. You know this is it. So we’ve reached our plateau of how heavy, how dark, how fast we’re going to be. We don’t need to go any further. That’s why Wicked Nest brought back the old HELSTAR elements mixed with the new stuff. So it’ll bring back the old fans, “Oh, now this is the HELSTAR I love and its heavy, but I like it now”. So we had to find ourselves and go “okay, let’s do this.” But you know, in a million years, we would’ve never thought we would evolve into where we are now. It happened.

KNAC.COM: To me the album feels like a great combination of new and old.

RIVERA: Exactly, and that was our goal. Because we knew that with Glory, we’re talking about losing some big people in the industry. Well not industry or promoters or certain people that are important in the old school metal scene. And well, we when did this new record we thought, “We know we’re still capable of writing the old stuff, but we’re not going to go back and write a complete Nosferatu again, that’s just unnecessary.” Because then you’d have the press go, “Oh, that’s a great album, but it sounds like something they’ve already done.” Then you have that. And then that fan will be first one to say, “Oh its a good album, but it sounds just like Burning Star.” Oh, now you’re unhappy again, so what difference does it make? It's like my dad said, you can only please some of the people some of the time, you can’t please all the people all the time.

KNAC.COM: Exactly, and you guys did go back a few years ago at one point and did Sins Of The Past, which was reworked and re-recorded versions of older tracks.

RIVERA: And again, what we were doing was setting the stepping stone of how we were playing the old songs now. Which is much heavier. You listen to "Burning Star” on Sins Of The Past and you listen to “Burning Star” on the Burning Star album, its like “Is that the Frank Sinatra version?” (laughter) This is the HELSTAR version that I’m listening to now, you know what I mean? So we had evolved, and basically we’re like one of those weird bands that found ourselves 20 years later, and this is what we should’ve sounded like then. And maybe we would be on that boat with the rest of the big giants. Instead we were doing THE BEATLES White Album, *makes light guitar sounds*. I listen to the original version of “Burning Star” now and sometimes I cringe, it sounds like THE MONKEES (laughter), but hey, I love THE MONKEES.

KNAC.COM: Well, I think a lot of it had to do with the way things were recorded back then.

RIVERA: Yeah, you see that’s what I’m saying. You can’t control that destiny. But now, we know who we are, we know what we want. And you listen to the “Burning Star” song now, you’re going to think it fucking fits right in with This Wicked Nest. Because now we know what we’re doing. Its a learning process, everything is an experience in your life.

KNAC.COM: So once an album comes out, do you guys look at reviews, and do they matter to you?

RIVERA: Yes and no. Because it doesn’t matter. Good reviews make you feel good, but you’d be surprised how many of them are friends. The bad reviews could be by some guy who didn’t get laid by his wife that night, or he’s not even into that style of music. Especially the guy who’s not a musician himself, doesn’t play an instrument, you can tell those kind. They’re just ready to slam you for everything you’ve done in your life, an arrogant guy behind a keyboard. “This band sucks! I never liked them anyway!” “Do you even know this band?” “No, I was just giving the review.” “Did you listen to the album?” “No, I skipped some parts of it” So you take them with a grain of salt. Like I said, you can only please some of the people some of the time, you can’t please all the people all the time.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, and when people get behind the big bad internet, they’ll say shit they would never say to your face.

RIVERA: Yeah, of course, and they’re the ones that ask to be on your guest list at the show. “Oh yeah, your album is great.” But you know, a lot of the reviews and interviews I’ve been doing for the big magazines in Europe, one guy said, “if I had four thumbs, I’d give this album four thumbs up.” That makes you feel good, because they don’t like anybody. They do, but its hard to please the big wigs. Like “Sweden Rock” and “Rock Hard Germany”, “Art Shock Holland”, that’s like being in the god damned Houston Chronicle or something, its hard to please those people. So when you start hearing those kind of things, you know you’re on the right track. So whatever other numbnuts out there is going to be like “Oh, I hate this, my preference is to hear the new KORN!” Well, this is not your style of shit, so what does it matter to me what you don’t like? I could care less. It's not going to make me go kill myself and drive off a bridge. (laughter)

KNAC.COM: So let’s talk a little about your past. What first got you into music and what got you into metal?

RIVERA: Well, what first got me into music was THE BEATLES, and then going to see my first concert, THE MONKEES, when I was 1. (laughter) What got me into metal was ALICE COOPER, my first icon of all times when I was in junior high school because he was a dark guy. That’s actually when metal started, in my opinion, though its considered hard rock now. You have a guy coming out {on stage} with a snake and all that shit, and hanging himself.

KNAC.COM: It was a spectacle, it was a show.

RIVERA: Right. And then BLACK SABBATH took it to another level. And then BLOWERS to COLT and U.F.O. and then JUDAS PRIEST came to America and it was all over. So that’s what got me into metal. That style of singing. So it all started as a fantasy as a kid, we’re all kids. We become adults, but we start as kids and we dream. “Wow, I want to be a firefighter, I want to be a police man.” What I wanted to do was be an actor, I was a big James Bond and Clint Eastwood fan, which is pretty obvious to people who know me personally. But acting was way out of my league because I was a fat, ugly kid, so that was never going to happen. But singing was a different thing, I had a voice. So when ALICE COOPER came around and combined the acting and the singing, hey, maybe I can be like that guy. You know ALICE COOPER never had a spectacular voice, he has an identifiable voice, but he was never a great singer. But he did what he did, and I would never want to hear anyone but ALICE COOPER do ALICE COOPER. Right? But then bands like JUDAS PRIEST started coming out and you’re like “Whoa!” *sings falsetto* Yeah, what if we sang it like that? So that’s what made me want to sing was the early British and German metal invasion. So I joined my first garage band and I duplicated those guys, I mimicked them because I wanted to be an actor. So if you and I were in school, I’d be like (Clint Eastwood voice) “Hey Cary, you made fun of my mule. My mule doesn’t like to be laughed at. Now I know you’re going to apologize.” (laughter) I would quote stuff from the movies I was raised on. So when I started singing, I was able to duplicate these guys without actually thinking that I was singing. I was doing it more as an imitator. And that’s when this one guy goes, “Dude, you should sing because you sound just like the guy.” “Oh, really? Maybe I should.” That’s how it started.

KNAC.COM: How do you now discover new bands and new music?

RIVERA: Most of it happens when you’re on tour or you watch what’s happening on the internet and you wonder what makes these guys a great sensation. I’ll listen and I’ll either say, “Yeah, these guys are cool” or I’ll say “I don’t get what the great sensation is”. I’m only human, and when you’re in the music business you listen to so much that not everything you listen to is going to take you by the boo-boo, only certain things take you by the boo-boo. And you’re like “Wow, that’s cool! Who is that?”, “Oh, that’s so and so”, “Really?” “Yeah, it's only their first album, they’re getting a lot of promotion”, “Wow, I like these guys”. You stay truthful to your heart, and you can never like a lot of things either. Unfortunately, I don’t like a lot of things, and that’s just because I’ve heard it all. Just like anybody else in the world. Can you imagine giving your CD to Bruce Dickinson? (laughter) *british accent* “I’ve got a plane to fly, thank you.” It goes out the fucking window. And it's not that he’s being a dick, it’s just he’s heard it all, and look at who he is. And that’s the most annoying thing when someone is like “You have to check this out! You’re going to love it!” Well, as much as you stood in my face tonight and made sure I got it, I hope I like it because I’m going to be really pissed off if I don’t. (laughter) And it's not going to take any room in my god damned luggage, I can tell you that right now. (laughter) And if it did then it's coming home with me, and I’ll play it in my car, and I’ll give it to my secretary and I’ll say “Hey guys, check these guys out! They’re cool!” But if it sucks, then I'm going to be the person you wish you never gave that to because you’re the guy who fucked with my day! (laughter)

KNAC.COM: Is there anyone recently that you’ve gotten into?

RIVERA: Like a new band? Not really, because I’m always busy and touring so much. I hear certain things here and there. One band, they’re not even new anymore, they’re about 5 - 7 years old, but to me they’re new, but they took me by storm, is 3 INCHES OF BLOOD. I’ll still consider them pretty new. When you’re a band that’s only 5 - 7 years old, you’re still new. But I heard them when they first came out and I was like “Wow! That I like!” I love those kids. I call them kids because they’re still new, but those kids on the right track. They’re probably in their 30s now, that was one band that took me by storm though.

KNAC.COM: So what are your thoughts on the current music scene with people able to access music illegally as well as Spotify and things like that?

RIVERA: Well, I think it's a problem. But, to me, your real fans will refrain from doing too much of that because your real fans are going to want the actual product. And they know, they’re not stupid, everyone is educated on what’s happening in the internet world. And I think they know that they’re only hurting the band, and a lot of these people don’t want to do that to the band. It's just the ignorant people out there trying to make a buck or two with their illegal bullshit. God, you can order something on the internet and now your credit card is out there and then you have people in Cambodia fucking charging shit to your card. But, I think, for the most part, spreading your music through the internet is a good thing. And like I said, your real fans are going to want the product. They’re going to want a physical CD with a cover and the lyrics. And you know if there’s people out there trying to steal from you, whatever! What can you, again The Wicked Nest, what can you do? You can lose sleep over it, you can send lawyers after these people, and for what? But if there’s people out there that want to screw the bands over, then you’ve got to have no life, and you’re just jealous because you’re not in the system. Find something to do with your life, don’t try to illegally download our shit and pass it around because you never made it in the music business. And you might not even be in the music business at all, you might just be a crook. And there’s plenty of you out there, I know that. Hell, sometimes I’m afraid to order anything online anymore.

KNAC.COM: Well, you know besides the illegal downloading. Things like Spotify where you can pull up your entire career, all of your albums. And from what I’ve been reading recently, bands get pennies from it, it's fucking pittance.

RIVERA: We never get any royalties. You never get any royalties really because the label is trying to recoup their money, which is their job. They’re the ones who are owed money. And nobody is paying them. You start trusting new people with distributors and next thing you know there’s a guy in an Eastern European country that sold 5,000 albums. Where is he now? And you’re yelling at the label and the label is saying “We haven’t gotten the money from the guy!” It's a sick world in this business and I can’t say that I wish I would’ve chosen something else for my life. It's like that old saying, “If I only knew then what I know now.” There’s no promises in this business. You may as well be a drug dealer, to be honest. You never know when you’re going to get busted, so enjoy it while you can. One day you’re at the club buying drinks, rolling in the money. Next thing you know helicopters and it's all over. (laughter) Same thing with the music business. You never know what’s going to happen. All the big guys, how they got there, I have no idea. I have this thought in the back of my head that I’ll bet you those big guys still live with a major fear in the back of their head because of how they got there, and how they’re remaining there. Because we don’t know really what’s going on behind those closed doors. For all we know they have mafioso guys watching them every time they go to the store (laughter). That’s a little far-fetched, I just watch too many stupid movies, but you just never know. Maybe their lives are little more uncomfortable than you think.

KNAC.COM: There’s so many huge metal bands that are so into the pop culture zeitgeist that you really wonder how they got there.

RIVERA: Exactly, and who knows how comfortable their lives really are outside of that. Why do you keep touring so much? You have enough money, that’s always been my question. “But we made you so much money.”, “It's not enough, go out and tour some more.” (laughter) I watch a lot of criminal shows, so my mind wanders. Maybe, thank God we never made it. (laughter)

KNAC.COM: So besides MSRcast, I also host a podcast called “Metal Geeks”, and we talked about movies just recently. So what, besides music, do you really geek out on?

RIVERA: Old movies. I love Clint Eastwood movies and old spaghetti westerns. Yeah, I love spaghetti westerns. I saw one the other day with Lee Van Cliff called Sabbata. They use the same characters, the same music, it’s fucking amazing man.

KNAC.COM: So going back to music. What one band do you really geek out on?

RIVERA: As far as inspiration and everything, does it have to be metal?


RIVERA: THE BEATLES, easily said. Talk about some harmonic minor spooky melodies that they didn’t even know that they were doing. They were on drugs. And for us to do stuff like that, we’ve got to really think. (Laughter) “Nowhere Man” is one of my favorite songs by them, all of my life. And I listen to that melody over and over again and it's so haunting that they came up with it just doing acid. If I did that, the new HELSTAR album wouldn’t be This Wicked Nest, it’d sound a lot like Jim Morrison. (laughter) I don’t know how they sing so clean! Its magical. Especially as a vocalist, THE BEATLES are #1. Always.

KNAC.COM: It's one of those bands that’s so fucking universal, everybody loves them.

RIVERA: There’s young kids that love THE BEATLES, THE BEATLES craze with the young kids now.

KNAC.COM: And their first album came out like 50 years ago.

RIVERA: Way before I was born (Laughter)

Stay tuned for part 2!

Pick up a copy of This Wicked Nest in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.

Cary Gordon has been podcasting since 2005 when he started MSRcast, a heavy metal show where Cary and his cohost, JMMetalGeek play music, discuss and interviews bands. He is also a lifelong geek, and that is why Metal Geeks Podcast was born, where they geek out on heavy metal, comic books, movies, video games, tv and various other sorts of geekery! You can check out both of the podcasts, MSRcast and Metal Geeks podcast at www.metalgeeks.net

Back to Top



 Recent Features
The Silver Key: An Exclusive Interview With MARTA GABRIEL Of CRYSTAL VIPER
Pillars Of Creation: An Exclusive Interview With RYAN CAUDLE Of SOUND&SHAPE
Return To 1984: An Exclusive Interview With BLACKIE LAWLESS Of W.A.S.P.
Victorious: An Exclusive Interview With TOBIAS GUSTAVSSON Of NESTOR
Theories of Emptiness: An Exclusive Interview With JONAS EKDAHL Of EVERGREY
It's Come To This: An Exclusive Interview With BILLY MORRISON
Rise: An Exclusive Interview With HOLY MOTHER
Defiance: An Exclusive Interview With TINO TROY Of PRYAING MANTIS
Wheel Of Illusion: An Interview With ROGER NILSSON Of THE QUILL
Guitar Drama: An Exclusive Interview With Guitarist MARTY FRIEDMAN
Always Believe: An Exclusive Interview With GIANCARLO FLORIDIA
From Hell I Rise: An Exclusive Interview With Guitarist KERRY KING
Light 'Em Up!: An Exclusive Interview With Guitarist DOUG ALDRICH Of THE DEAD DAISIES
Tattoo Me On You: An Interview With LEE AARON
A Symptom Of Being Human: An Exclusive Interview With BARRY KERCH Of SHINEDOWN
Beyond Shadowland: An Exclusive Interview With ROBERT BERRY Of SIX BY SIX


©2024 KNAC.COM. All Rights Reserved.    Link to us    Advertise with us    Privacy policy
 Latest News