Eight Questions with Katon W. De Pena of Hirax

Interviewing Hirax singer Katon W. De Pena is sort of a waste of time. You see, journalists (me) are supposed to find news and then announce said news to readers (you). But I shit you not when I say that everyone knows De Pena and De Pena knows everyone. This makes my job nearly impossible, as there's nothing I could ask him that someone who otherwise would read this blog couldn't just ask him directly. Seriously, the guy's that popular.

For both of you reading this who don't know De Pena or his thrash metal band Hirax, here's a brief history. The group formed in Cypress in the early '80s. The played with everyone (Metallica, Slayer, Exodus) and released Raging Violence on Metal Blade Records in 1985. The group stuck around until the late '80s and reunited on 2000. Since the reunion, De Pena has remained the only consistent member and has toured the United States, Norway, Japan and all over South America. Next month, the band releases El Rostro de la Muerta on De Pena's Black Devil Records.

In full discloure…I like De Pena. Sometimes I see him walking with his wife walking the bike path in Long Beach. He's always upbeat, energetic and easy to talk to, which probably has something to do with why he's so well known. Plus, he sings in a metal band and — I'm not making this up — his apartment number is 666. 

1. Tell me about the new record.
The new HIRAX CD / 12″ vinyl is titled El Rostro de la Muerte  (The
Face of Death).  It is our tenth studio recording and the best sounding
album that we have done to date.  Top notch production of thrash metal
music at it's finest. Fifty minutes and 52 seconds of HIRAX music and the
first full length that we have done since 2004 (The New Age of
).  We are very proud and excited to release this HEAVY METAL
BEAST to the WORLD!!  To preview 3 songs from the album check out:  http://www.blackdevilrecords.com/el_rostro_de_la_muerte_MP3.htm

2. When's the record coming out?
End of October 2009 with worldwide distribution iTunes
and simultaneously in eight countries: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, France,
Poland, Holland, Puerto Rico and the U.S.A.  We have
been receiving a lot of pre-orders for this release through Amazon.com
as well as a large amount of orders from Japan. The anticipation for
the new record is bigger and better than we could have expected.  

3. Are you releasing the record yourself?
Yes, Black Devil Records is our record label and home base. We work
with many distributors and record companies around the world in order
to get our music out to the masses.  We maintain complete control, which is very important!  This way we can make sure that our music is
promoted and marketed to the right audiences. We are an underground
company with a do-it-yourself work ethic. No matter how many records
we sell, we will never forget where we come from!
4. Tell me a little about the writing process. How long have you been working on the record?
This CD has been in the works for over two years now. Basically, this
is how we worked on this album … the guitar players – Glenn Rogers and Lance Harrison — write the music and I write the lyrics. Our bass
player, Steve Harrison (Lance's brother) brings in a big sounding bass
element to our music. Our drummer, Jorge Iacobellis, comes up with
different drum patterns and we settle on which drum parts work best
with each song. The main goal is to come up with the best material
and we throw out anything that we think is not good enough. We work
very well together and we take everything very seriously, including the recording studio, cover artwork, lyrics, song concepts,
arrangements, etc. We wanted to make an album not
only that our fans could be proud of, but that we as musicians could
be proud of also. We wanted to put a large amount of material / music
on this record so that people would get their money's worth. With El
Rostro de la Muerte
, (The Face of Death) we definitely accomplished that! 

You have more than one thousand photos of yourself on Facebook. Where
does someone find that many pics?

I am getting ready to post more! The
pictures you see are from our travels. Since there is a place to post
pictures on Facebook, I do it. If you have noticed, I
don't just put pictures of cats, dogs and birds… there
are pictures of me and my band playing all over the world. Obviously I
really enjoy what I do. I feel very privileged and honored to be a
musician, so I show it on my Facebook page. If you think that my
Facebook page is crazy, you should see my MySpace!

6. According to Wikipedia, you are a teacher living in the Isle of Man.
What do you teach and how is that commute from Long Beach to the Isle
of Man?

I didn't know that I was a teacher. I
thought that I was a singer for a thrash metal band. Somebody needs
to update Wikipedia. 

7. OK, a serious
one…You are an avid walker. Why? What does walking do for you? How
often do you walk? Do you walk when you are on tour?

I am way more into exercise than you know.  Usually when you see me, you see me walking with my wife. When we are not working, we take
walks. After being on the computer all day, every human needs to
take a break. Exercise, I think, is good for every person, no matter
who they are. If you don't blow off steam, sooner or later you will
end up going postal/crazy. That is one of the reasons that I love
playing the kind of music that I play. People come to our shows and
forget about all of our daily problems. Even if it's only for a little
while. They get to have one hell of a good time!!  If they feel like
it, they can even run across the stage and stage dive!!

8. Speaking of tour, you've been and are going to South America a lot recently. Tell me a bit about that.
I love touring in South America!  The people there are beautiful and
they really do appreciate music! Most recently we have toured
Colombia, Chile and Argentina. We have a very loyal fan base in South
America and we will continue traveling there to play concerts. The
shows keep getting bigger and we are selling more and more records
throughout those countries. When we play live shows, you can always
hear the fans chanting and singing our name! It is a
very beautiful thing. Needless to say, I love it!

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