Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22, 2012 - Call Of A Metal God: An Interview with Katon De Pena of Hirax!!

I've got an incredibly special Thanksgiving treat for you tonight my friends... an interview with Mr. Katon De Pena, lead singer and founding member of the amazing thrash metal band, HIRAX!!

One of the original thrash metal/speed metal/crossover bands from California, HIRAX exploded onto the metal scene in the mid-'80s along with Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, among others.  HIRAX's brutally fantastic first album, "Raging Violence" debuted in 1985 on Metal Blade Records, which was then followed up by the classic thrasher, "Hate, Fear and Power" in 1986.  HIRAX never received the fame and noteriety they deserved, but thankfully are still going strong today after reforming several years ago.  I recently had the great privilege of doing an e-mail interview with Mr. Katon De Pena:

1.Mr. De Pena will you please tell us a little bit about the history of HIRAX How did the band come into fruition?
Katon HIRAX: We HIRAX started in the early 80s alongside bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Armored Saint, Megadeth as well as many others.... Playing concerts in Los Angeles and up in the bay area - San Francisco. We recorded our first demo tape in 1984 and soon after in 1985 got our first record deal with Metal Blade Records. I am the founding band member and we have been going strong ever since then!

2.Who came up with the name of the band and what is the story behind that?
Katon HIRAX: I came up with the band name HIRAX. I got it off of a bathroom wall off of some old wallpaper. I thought the name sounded great and when I told it to the rest of the band they loved it.... The rest is Thrash Metal history.

3.I don’t want to dwell on this too much, but I think it is important to note the incredible influence regarding you as an African-American front man in a heavy metal thrash band... especially when the band first hit the scene in the 1980s. You obviously helped open a lot of doors for many other heavy metal and hard rock musicians of color like Black Death, Doug Pinnick of King’s X, and Living Colour to name a few. What was the scene like for you in those earlier days of the band in terms of acceptance from thrash and hardcore fans?
Katon HIRAX: I am humbled and thank you for noticing. In the early days of the thrash metal scene I had no idea the impact I would have on the Underground metal music. I really never thought about it I was just trying to do the music that I love. I am flattered every time someone approaches me and sites me as an early pioneer. And I am proud!! I have always been pretty well accepted by heavy-metal music fans and I always try to give my best and 100% to the music that has given me notoriety.

4.What bands/musicians have been the most influential on your sound and on your stage shows and why?
Katon HIRAX: I have been influenced by many bands... not always just metal bands. Here are some of the names of people who have inspired me: Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, KISS, Judas Priest, the Ramones and Motorhead to name a few. All of them are great live bands and have written some of the greatest music in the history of heavy metal! So as a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s they influenced me and have helped shape who I am as a musician.

5.Your music obviously has roots in thrash metal and old-school hardcore and punk, but how would you describe the HIRAX sound?
Katon HIRAX: Yes HIRAX has roots in thrash metal and hard-core punk crossover... But we've always tried to create our own sound. I think we've done a pretty good job of that. More importantly I think that is a question for our fans to answer ... not me. Their opinion Is all that matters....
I would rather them sing our praises and not myself. Obviously I'm biased about my own band.

6.What can you tell us about your current project?
Katon HIRAX: Right now HIRAX is working on our fourth full-length studio album. Release date 2013. We have just released our first single from the album, "La Boca de la Bestia - The Mouth of the Beast." HIRAX will play in Brazil and then Los Angeles, California. Early 2013 the release of the new HIRAX Album/CD.

7.Can you tell my readers a little bit about your songwriting process? Do you usually start with lyrics first or with the music?Is this a collaborative effort between you and the band or is there a primary songwriter?
Katon HIRAX: Our songwriting process is very creative! Sometimes we start with the lyrics ... and other times we start with the music...The main guitar riffs, then we build upon the song. Usually myself and my guitar player, Lance Harrison work on hundreds of guitar riffs in my home studio. We go through all the recordings looking for the best material. Then we arranged the music and bring it to the rest of the band at rehearsal. It is always exciting writing new music! The payoff is listening to the song when it is completed.

8.What has been the biggest challenge for you as a musician and as a band overall?
Katon HIRAX: The biggest challenge for HIRAX Is mainly finding the time to write and record the albums in between touring all over the world. We are a very independent band and very focused on all the daily activities of the band - seven days a week. I can't complain because at least we're very busy and more popular than ever before in our entire history. Our fanbase grows bigger every year as we continue on.

9.HIRAX has recently been playing quite a few live shows. I know how high-energy and entertaining your shows are for fans. Where can my readers see you perform in the coming weeks and months?
Katon HIRAX: The final shows of 2012 will be on Saturday, December 15th In Brazil & Saturday, December 22 in Hollywood California at the Key Club.
Then we will prepare for new tour dates for 2013! We are looking forward to the new year!

10.What is your favorite song in your repertoire to play live and why?
Katon HIRAX: I really don't have a favorite HIRAX song... But I will say at this time in my career my favorite song is our newest song "La Boca de la Bastia - The Mouth of the Beast." We have just released it as a single on iTunes And it is selling amazingly well...

11.If you could tour with any band, who would that be and why?
Katon HIRAX: There are many, many bands we would like to tour with. The list is very long. But I will say If I had to name a few it would be Thin Lizzy, Motorhead and Iron Maiden - Because we respect those bands and their integrity.

12.What does the future hold for HIRAX- both short-term and long-term?
Katon HIRAX: We have a HIRAX new album in the works and it will be released in early 2013. Then there will be massive touring worldwide. We will be back on the road to see all our fans! We are really looking forward to it!!!

13.My blog, Brews and Tunes pairs craft beer with music. So Katon De Pena gets home from a hard day of thrashing, what beer do you grab and what album do you spin?
Katon HIRAX: Some of the beers I like are Duvel, Hefeweizen or Old School cheap beer Budweiser. And I'll put on one of my favorite Motorhead albums "Iron Fist" and crank it up LOUD!

14.Anything else you would like to add, discuss, or announce?
Katon HIRAX: Right now we are finishing up our new album slated to be released in Early 2013. We promise all HIRAX fans a very heavy and brutal THRASH METAL RECORD. For more information on tour dates merchandise and new releases go check out our web page

New Single on iTunes:
HIRAX Live at Zoombie Ritual Festival Brazil.

Ratos De PorĂ£o, Vital Remains, Malevolent Creation, Nervo Chaos, Volcano, Violator, Bandanos, Comando Nuclear, Battalion and many more...
local: fazenda evaristo rio negrinho – sc City: Rio Negrinho State: Santa Catarina South of Brazil.
U.S.A. - Hollywood - Key Club - ALL AGES!
Saturday December 22nd 2012.
HIRAX and Agent Steel, Midnight (from Cleveland, Ohio), Bonded by Blood, Demolition.
Venue: the Key Club West Hollywood, CA. 9039 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA. PHONE: (310)274 - 5800
— at Key Club.


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