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A Sterile Existence: An Exclusive Interview With AGGRAVATOR

By The Hermanator, Contributor
Monday, April 10, 2017 @ 12:13 AM

"We don’t fuck around. We get it done."

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When you think of “underground” music, the first thought might be of a hard rocking band, with their vests and beer in hand, playing either punk or thrash metal. Texas has produced many such bands throughout the State. But one band out of San Antonio is trying hard to throw off that “underground” moniker. AGGRAVATOR is a band that first took to the scene in 2008. Their brand of “Thrash Metal” quickly showed bands and fans alike that they were destined for greater success.

I first caught their music in the compilation Legion Of The Deaf. This album featured bands that were up and coming from all over the world. So to see a band that was basically in my backyard took me by surprise. I then looked them up and was pleased when they sent me a few demos and their first album Age Of Combat. This album was released on the Ukranian label Dead Center Productions. The follow up album (Populace Destructor), was released on the Canadian label Mulligore Productions. The music is a throwback to such bands as TESTAMENT or OVERKILL. Besides the thrash element, the music speaks to the conditions of society that in today’s world seem so very appropriate. So it was no surprise to hear they were accepted to do a European tour that included the Muskelrock festival in Sweden in 2016. That same year the band released Sterile Existence, again on Dead Center Productions out of the Ukraine. I caught up to the band in Houston. After getting blown away from their 40 minute set, I sat down with them in an SUV with a case of beer and discussed the new album and tour. The band features Derek Jones on Rhythm guitar and vocals, Mike Cortes on Drums, Tristan Hernandez on bass and Jesse Lopez on lead guitar.

KNAC.COM: So tell me, how is the new CD Sterile Existence doing so far?

MIKE: It’s doing well. We have gotten some great reviews, some great write ups, especially in Europe. The album seems to be catching on in the metal community.

DEREK: I think people see and hear our drive. They dig the music. We don’t stop. We keep on pumping out good music. And I think this has led to our staying together, all original members in the band.

KNAC.COM: With the past albums, the band managed to get invited onto the European scene. Is this something that you think the new music will do, that is open more doors in Europe?

DEREK: Hopefully yeah, to be positive about it that is in our plans.

MIKE: It takes a lot of work, a lot of planning, but yeah the current plans is to hit overseas sometime within the next year.

KNAC.COM: Okay the new CD sounds amazing. Tell me where did you record Sterile Existence and how long was the process?

DEREK: The drums were recorded at Tristan’s house. Bass was done there as well. Then everything else, guitars and vocals were recorded in our practice room.

TRISTAN: And Dennis, Dennis Munoz from the death metal band “Solstice” out of Miami, Florida, just an old school band. He came over to San Antonio to record us. Now that was awesome.

DEREK: Yeah, he came over and got it all done in just over four days, about 38 hours.

KNAC.COM: You guys recorded this CD in just four days?

DEREK: Yeah, we didn’t have the luxury of having months to do this. So we just went into our room and did it. Just some storage units, we got everything together and just knocked it out. Four and a half days!

KNAC.COM: So how did you guys get so much material written in such a short time? Who was the main contributor to the album?

DEREK: It was probably Jessie.

TRISTAN: Naw! It was Derek. He’s the man. He put it all together and we just naturally followed along. Derek is the mastermind.

KNAC.COM: You guys told me briefly about your label. It was a Russian Label. So what exactly happened to it as best you know?

MIKE: Dead Center is actually a Ukranian company. With the recent Russian takeover of the Ukraine, the label was forced to downsize. They just had some difficult times right now so the label had to close its doors.

TRISTAN: Not to say that the Russians “took over”. But there is fighting, violence and poverty. They can’t sustain much business right now. People there are just trying to eat and drink. Not much opportunity for an American band to do much in such a market.

KNAC.COM: If people listen to the music and to the lyrics specifically, there seems to be a lot of political aspects to what you write. Is that what you would say is at the core of the band?

DEREK: No! We can’t do this as an individual or as one band. I just don’t believe that just one person or just one band can be heard in these times. It has to be a group effort by the masses. No one band can change the world. No one person can do that. But we write fictionally and non-fictionally, which I really don’t think of as being “political”.

KNAC.COM: If you listen to Age Of Combat and compare it to Sterile Existence, there seems to be a “political” carry over in the lyrics. How would you say the two are different or how are they the same?

DEREK: Well, yeah it’s the same concept. I just think we just did it better this time.

TRISTAN: I think Derek is indeed writing about some of the same ideas. I think he’s writing about life in general. Like some the fucked up things that can happen. You know about the shit you see in the day and you just interpret that into a song. I don’t know about it being “political”, but it gives you an idea of how we see the world around us at this moment. Life is ugly so we just take it in a more aggressive kind of way.

DEREK: It’s more than just death. If we can tap into something that might mean something to them, something that they can grab on and say, “Yeah that is how I see it. That’s how I interpret life.” If the writing means something to someone then you can say life can be negative and the writing can be easy.

KNAC.COM: Besides wanting to get on another label, what else would you want American fans to know?

DEREK: We don’t fuck around. We get it done. In fact, expect a new album in just a few years. A tour of Europe and then you’ll see us in your backyard.

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