Interview by: Marianne Jacobsen
What’s a musicians’ dream come true?
Id say to be able to do what they love for a living.
What’s a teenage musicians dream come true?
To play with their musical heroes I would guess.
Combine those two and you get (insert ring announcer’s voice) Jose Manuel Gonzalez aka Blue also known as the guy who hits so fucking hard Peridore made him his own drumstick because the others kept breaking.
If you are not familiar with Mr. Gonzalez – He is the drummer for such bands as Warbeast, Superjoint and PHA and the Illegals.
MGM would like to note that this was my first skype interview and Mr. Blue made it very fun and entertaining as well as gave me some good hair tips!
Ring Ring!!! (Skype noise)
MGM: Hey Blue! Thank you for taking the time this afternoon to talk to me. This is the first time I’ve done a video chat so you’ll have to bear with me!
JMG: No problem.
MGM: K, so let’s start at the beginning. How old were you when you started playing drums? (as there is no Wikipedia page on Mr. Gonzalaz as of yet – the year of birth is 1990).
JMG: I started playing drums when I was 12 years old. My first time behind the drum kit I was at a church youth group.MGM: Nice! A lot of people’s musical backgrounds began at church through the choirs and things like that.
JMG: Yeah I would never really say that I was that involved in the church, but it was one of those things where it was down the street and a friend of mine, his dad was a Pastor so it was kind of a fun thing. I went back a couple of times to play the drum set. On my 13th birthday I got a full kit and never really cared about religion ever since.
MGM: Yeah I went to Christian summer camp for year and learned to horseback ride and windsurf!
JMG: We didn’t really have summer camp here. It was more like “do you want to go see your Grandparents in South Texas.
MGM: Are you Texas born and raised?
JMG: Absolutely! I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas.
MGM: You guys have a great Six Flags there!
JMG: Actually that’s in Arlington.
MGM: Right! I was down there in the summer of 2004 for Ozzfest – and actually Superjoint Ritual was on the bill. I remember kinda seeing them but not knowing what I was looking at.
MGM: Now on to you. You are extremely fascinating in the fact that you are in 4 bands that are actually functioning and recording. You are basically anchoring down the beat for some serious and seasoned musicians.
JMG: It’s definitely been good for me and a great honour to be a part of it. Its tradition, its history. Even talking about it makes me smile. Being able to play this music with all these great people in this music scene, no matter what age you are, everyone is really just a big kid and super passionate about what they do.
It’s a huge deal to me that they allow me to bring the thunder and sit behind that kit and be part of this.
I never saw Pantera live. I never saw the original Superjoint Ritual live either – I never saw EyeHateGod back in the day. All of this was very foreign to me – so being a part of this now is just incredible.
I remember when I was a teenager and started playing drums the big bands were MudVayne, SlipKnot, Shaows Fall – you know it was the whole Nu Metal thing that was coming out – and I have to say that once I got into Pantera – that was my gateway to everything else that was heavy.
Once I started listening to Pantera then there was Suffocation, Corpse, Slayer – you know, all your standard greats!
For me, to only get into metal a decade ago (Blue is 25!!!) all these great bands were already out. I never wanted to get into anything new. I never cared about anything new. I just wanted to listen to that and at 15 I was playing in bars and stuff. So it really just became about creating and listening to the same bands.
MGM: So now working with all these salty road dogs, you must find inspiration through them as well as gain some sort of knowledge being around them?
JMG: Yeah, well I’m such a young musician I still have to find myself what my style is. However I think I have come to the conclusion that I just hit as hard as possible and hopefully – like I said – these guys are just like – they are just absolutely awesome to jam with and they teach me something every single time I play with them. So really for me Im trying to keep up with them and they are trying to keep up with me. We are trying to do the best we can and so far it seems to be working.
MGM: I think it was Jimmy Bower that said that this Superjoint album this time around its more authentic and that the band members are more aware of the process. Would you say that?
JMG: Yeah well, without sounding cheesy and saying its magic. However, it’s kinda like magic when Corey Mitchell (Housecore Family Member) brought up the idea to bring Superjoint back. It was just sort of a bit of a pipe dream and Phillip was like “Well I guess I could do this but why?”. Then we got in a room together and it was fire. We jammed, and I have to say that everyone was super excited and the very first time we jammed we started kicking around a few riffs.
So from this one-off thing for Housecore has now become – we are gonna do a fucking record.
From there for me the idea was to just have fun. We knew what we didn’t want to sound like and everything to me is Thrash. What I talk from Thrash is that high energy and having a fucking blast!
Some people will take the negative side to it the “Argggghhh!” stuff and that’s fine.
I love the circle pits and the smiles on everyone’s faces and blood and guts!
MGM: Yeah, I always say it’s not a good show unless someone loses a shoe.
JMG: Yeah! (laughter)
MGM: One thing I have to do is thank you for coming to Canada. I know that sometimes you guys will cross the boarder for one night just to play for us. I just want to thank you so much for doing that. I know that it is time consuming, however we really appreciate it.
JMG: The few times that I have had the pleasure of playing in Canada its been incredible.
We did Heavy MTL one year and that was probably one of my first big festivals. So that was completely nerve wracking for me because there’s nothing like stepping out there in front of several thousand people and you’re loud and like you said I’m back there bringing up the rear so – if you hear me – you are GONNA FUCKING HEAR ME!
MGM: Ok, so roll back for a sec. You are 15 and you are playing full time now. Did you drop out of school?
JMG: No I actually went so far as to finish school and enroll in a community college. One of the rules of me touring was that I had to graduate high school and get my diploma. Once I got that – I wanted the real world experience. I moved out on my own when I was 18 – I was not depending on my parents.
I wanted to take the hardest route possible so that I could prove to myself that I could do this.
I never wanted to be a burden on anyone as I think that being a musician is a very selfish thing.
At very high points when someone tells you that your music has made an impact on them – that’s when it becomes selfless.
JMG: This Skype session is showing me how fat I am.
MGM: Whatever! If you were a little guy you would never be able to hit as hard as you do! You don’t go to the store and buy a skinny chicken! John Bonham and Bill Ward are perfect examples of big boys making big thunder.
JMG: Yeah well I’m really lucky to be part of this legacy. However, if people ask me if I’ve made it I always say “Well how much more making it can you get?” I mean I’m jamming with living legends – all of these musicians are seasoned and accomplished. We also have a new star in the Illegals and we are trying to solidify that line up and we are not gonna stop.
MGM: I think its exciting how all of these bands all intermingle with other bands to make such an original and unique sound.
JMG: We like to think of it as making it as productive as possible. They way that I started in the Illegals was Philip had had this material he had recorded with another drummer but he didn’t get what he really wanted out of it. The drum parts just weren’t what he wanted. He wanted to create a different kind of monster and go extreme. So when we finally started working on that and once Philip realized he could push me in any direction and mold me and change my way of thinking so that he was able to get something out of me. So from there we just decided to go more and more extreme.
However, we got to the point with the Illegals that is was so extreme we realized we needed to do something different.
MGM: Over extreme!!!
JMG: Yeah well we have a new guy in the Illegals Mr. Mike Deleon. He is another bretheren of the Taco/Latino faith. Another Satanic Hispanic has come into the fold! (note: Blue is a self proclaimed Satanic Hispanic – yes that’s a real thing!)
MGM: You grew up in Fort Worth – I have been told that Texas Pantera fans are on steroids – is this true? My 14 year old niece says that Pantera saved her life.
JMG: Well I live right near Joe’s Garage and that’s the crazy thing to me is that Pantera is so big and they still continue to make that impact – and that’s because the songs are timeless. And when the songs are timeless and the real fucking deal and you cant deny that.
Even if you are not a fan you cannot deny what they did and continue to do. That would be silly. Pantera were for sure a part of a musical revolution.
MGM: How are you handling the whole fame thing and your ego? I know that you are kind of stepping into a position similar to that of Robert Trujillo of Metallica.
JGM: I met him at Dimebash!
MGM: Robert is an amazing guy! Did you meet is awesome wife Chloe (artists and all around amazing force of nature)?
JMG: Yes, I met them both and Chloe was so sweet and Robert was one of the coolest – I mean – I’m not the biggest Metallica fan – I do acknowledge the impact they have made.
When you are at a show like that and I’m like the kid at the event and there are all these legends there I’m not gonna be rude and just go up and start talking to someone. However, Robert was just sitting there tuning a bass and I’m just gonna go over and say hi – so I did. Robert was really cool and we talked about some of the studios and his kids.
MGM: TRU CRU are the best!
JMG: Yeah the whole thing was an incredible experience. Dave Ghrol was there and he seemed nice but Robert Trujillo was waaaay nicer.
MGM: His son is a very accomplished musician as well.
JMG: Yeah he was telling me a bit about his son’s (Tye) band and how they played Lollapalooza. I said “proud Poppa moment!” and Robert actually indicated that his son is better than him on the bass. Robert said that Tye is really really insane with the stuff he plays.
MGM: Musical hope for the future!
MGM: Ok so rolling back again. How did you get an opportunity to be tapped for your other bands (PHA and the Illegals/Superjoint)?
JMG: I was playing in a band called Demon Seed and got invited to try out for Warbeast. I was still in High School when I was playing in Warbeast.
MGM: How old were you?
JMG: I was about 16 or 17.
MGM: So how do you keep your ego in check when you are a touring musician and 16 years old?
JMG: As far as ego goes. I don’t think anyone ever told me because it was just GO GO GO. As soon as I graduated high school within two weeks we were doing out of town shows and it was just up from there. So as far as coming home and bragging about what I was doing, I’m not that person. I do have friends that I can share with who are generally excited for me.
MGM: Is there a pitfall to all this?
JMG: Well, I will say that if it wasn’t for my amazing wife I would not be able to do what I am doing. I am still leaving broke and coming home broke. It’s not as glamorous as everyone thinks it is.
MGM: Once again proving that the most important thing a fan of your music can do is go to a show and buy a shirt or some type of merch. For the price of the ticket for most of these shows I have seen lately there is no possible way anyone is getting rich off the ticket sales.
JMG: You can quote me on this – “If you want to directly help a band, local or national. The best way to do it is to go to a show and buy a piece of merchandise. Merch is the easiest and fastest way to directly help the bands that you love.”
“CD sales and record sales are all good and also appreciated. However, you going to the show and being there – that’s real. That’s the movement and that’s what needs to continue. Because if the shows don’t happen the band is not gonna happen. We need fans to just be there. I know that everyone has their own situations and priorities and not everyone can make every single show. I know some towns get tons of great shows. However, if you as a fan want to make that impact for your band, you have to be there. Even if its as small as a tshirt – that’s gonna put gas in someone’s tank that is gonna get them to the next town.”
MGM: K…I have an idea for the new Superjoint album. I think you should make it like that old Cheech and Chong record that had the giant rolling paper in it!
JMG: (steps away for a moment and appears with two Cheech and Chong vinyls) YOU MEAN THIS? (holding up exactly what I am talking about).
MGM: Yes, that’s it!!!
JMG: These are some of my prize possessions!!! Besides my family!
MGM: Speaking of family. It must be hard to leave your family behind when you tour. How do you handle that?
JMG: I will say that in this case we can be very selfish and we are big kids and we are gonna do what we want to do. As much as it tears us apart being family men. And I’m not gonna speak for anyone else but I know for me I’m addicted to the road. We are addicted to jamming and we want to be as creative as possible – because you don’t know how long you’ve got and I’m not saying that my guys are feeling like time is gonna run out. And I know how you said I’m the one bringing the thunder but really I have these talented musicians all around me, encouraging me to “Get into it! Hit harder!” and reciprocating just as hard.
You know we are in there and we are bringing the shit and are like foxhole brothers. We all have that same goal in mind that we want to rock the fuck out and give people a show.
That is the entire attitude to me for this new Superjoint record is that – you want a big production or a big spectacle – you want all this shit that could be metal. But we are gonna give you what we are gonna give you. Its raw and we are having fun. The new Superjoint record is going to be THRASH AS FUCK! When you hear it you may think it has nothing to do with thrash metal. I’ve told you what I think my definition of thrash is and this new album is gonna kick your fucking ass all the way through. So you can’t put a price on that, you can’t expect someone not to want to be a part of that – and we are all in 110%. So these guys are just as dedicated as I am and still have plenty of life left in them. Our studio sessions are anywhere from 7 to 9 hours!
MGM: Magic again!
JMG: Yeah magic to me is probably when you are in the studio and you make something really quickly and you just look at each other and say “Dude that’s crazy where did that come from?”. And yes, that did happen on this record.
Actually if you want me to be completely honest this new Superjoint album is prophetic.
MGM: I believe that Corey Mitchell’s spirit was in the studio while you guys were recording this Superjoint album. I mean, it was Corey’s wish and why wouldn’t he be there?
JMG: I look at this whole experience as a blessing. That might not sound very metal but if you don’t know what a blessing or a miracle is – you need to do some homework.
No date has been announced for the release of the new Superjoint album, however Blue has advised me that once he knows – we will know.
Keeping this in mind – Don’t forget to support your bands like Blue says and don’t be a dick – buy some merch and keep the Metal Train Rollin.