Bonded By Blood – Alex Lee (guitar)
BONDED BY BLOOD represent the new guard of the thrash revival, neo-thrash or whatever you want to call it wave. This is something that doesn’t bother the young thrashers from LA, either. Named after the one of the best masterpieces of thrash metal history, the BBB boys were obviously influenced by the Bay Area veterans. Currently on a colossal tour along with thrash’s best; FORBIDDEN/EVILE and GAMA BOMB, BBB have been proving themselves night after night by providing some spark into the burgeoning thrash movement. Speaking with guitarist and original member Alex Lee after their set at Reggies Rock Club in Chicago, the young shredder spoke about their new album, their current tour and their new vocalist.
This is a great bill with yourselves, Forbidden, Gama Bomb and Evile. How has the tour been going and do all of the bands get along?
We all hang out. Sometimes Forbidden, they want us on the bus to have a few beers and party. It’s all smooth. Everybody’s real nice to each other and looks out for each other, especially with the gear. Everybody helps set up. They’re almost like family.
Who’s the biggest drinkers on this tour?
I’d say the guys from Gama Bomb. Definitely those Irish bastards! (laughing).
Obviously, you’re named after one of the masterpieces in thrash metal history. You guys weren’t even born when the album was released, but what is it about that album that got you interested in thrash.
I remember listening to Bonded By Blood for the first time … our ex-singer showed it to me, and I was more of an old school (fan), the Big Four, Metallica, Megadeth-kind of bands. When he gave me Bonded By Blood, I really liked the ferocity of it, the aggression. It was really fast and intense, but it also had a lot of really crazy guitar playing in it too. And that really interested me as a guitar player to get into that kind of style. After that, we just started to go to thrash. It wasn’t much of like a focused progression to move into the thrash scene, but our music just turned into it as we went and made music. It was a good influence.
What gave you guys the gigantic balls to create a concept album at this early stage in your career and have it be so thorough and entertaining?
It happened when our new bassist came into the scene. He had a lot of ideas for an album, and being new in the band, he was really excited about the whole idea of starting out with a new album. He’s a guy who has a lot of conspiracy (theories), believes in a lot of crazy stuff. He gave us the idea of something about the government conspiracies. Our old singer was a big comic book fanatic and an alien and conspiracy kind of dude as well. They came together and started to make up this story, which is the Exiled To Earth story. They brought us ideas as a five-piece, all of us together, huddled around. We checked out what they had for the album. We ok’d it, and we went through every step of how the album was going through story-wise. And once we were finished, we were all very satisfied with it.
Your sound is definitely more mature with this release. What were you listening to or reading for inspiration for the concept and musical pieces for this release?
Mainly, for the musical pieces, I’d say it’s a little bit of influences from everybody. In this band, there’s a lot of different varieties of music (influences). My other guitarist is a big Nevermore fan and Dimmu Borgir. Just all around, a lot of metal. For me, it was a lot of (instrumental) guitar players and a lot of soloist. As well as other progressive bands like Dream Theatre and stuff like that too. Our old singer had a lot of punk influences like DRI and Misfits. Our bass player is a big Megadeth and Metallica fan. He also likes Mars Volta. Everybody has huge influences for every kind of music. So, what we did was basically tried to do what we did with the first album, but we wanted to make it a lot better and more technical, and it kind of turned into what Exiled To Earth is right now.
You represent the new guard of thrash metal, along with Evile, Toxic Holocaust and Gama Bomb and others. Do you even like being considered part of the thrash revival movement? How do you feel about that whole moniker?
I really don’t mind it, I mean, we are thrash. As a band, we really appreciate it. I might not be speaking for everyone else, but personally, I think it’s a big honor to be considered retro-thrash or coming back with the new wave of thrash. I can’t wait to see what happens for us next. You never know, it might change, or it might stay, music’s always changing. We’re really excited to see how our band pulls through in the next years.
You’ve had great support from Earache Records since the beginning. How have they been treating you?
They’re really cool guys. They contact us whenever we need help. Just on a daily basis they check up on us, they text us, they hang out with us whenever we’re at the office in New York. They fully support us with everything we need. They like hanging out with Earache bands, which is a really awesome thing. It’s almost like a family.
Losing vocalist Jose Barrales must have been difficult at first. How has Mauro Gonzales fit in so far?
He’s doing good. He’s got a couple of things to work on. So, we’ll see how things go as time goes by. We’re still trying him out. He’s not official yet, but we’re trying to work with him as much as we can. This is his first tour he’s ever done, he’s filling in huge shoes, so to speak. So, it’s quite a lot of pressure on him for his part.
He has a different singing style than Jose, but he’s only had about a month or so to rehearse before this tour, right?
Actually, before we went on this tour, we just came off the Exodus tour in August/September, almost. We were back on the road almost a week and a half after. So, he technically only had a week and a half to practice, as well as the shows we’ve been going through. So, it’s been about a month and a half.
The solos on Exiled to Earth rock, and a lot of that I’m sure, has to do with you. They’re very thought out and technical-yet-memorable. What do you consider when you’re writing for the solos?
I like complex and fast solos. But I feel that, if you’re listening to a lot of shredders here and there, it’s just a bunch of notes and just a bunch of runs. A good example, some people like Yngwie Malmsteen, he’s always playing like this certain kind of scale, and it kind of sounds like every solo is the same. And I really wanted to get out of that kind of thing. I’m the person who likes catchy choruses in songs, so I put that in my solo writing. I try to make it really good but memorable as well. I try my best.
Who were some of the guitar players that really influenced you?
A lot of Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai. Jeff Loomis, even some Buckethead. Dimebag Darrell, Gary Holt as well. He’s really a good guitar player. The list could go on … Jason Becker, the good shredders out there, the old school ones. Greg Howe, crazy jazz fusion kind of guys.
What do you hope happens next for BBB? What’s next for you guys?
Well, we’re not done yet with touring. By next year we’re going to be touring with Death Angel by the end of January or February. And I believe we’re going to Europe with Lazarus A.D., and then we’re going to come back and do another tour or so. And if not, we’re just going to get ready for the next album and then hopefully tour the crap out of that one as well.
By Kelley Simms