|Hello Alex! How are you nowadays? What's up with you? I hope everything all right.
Everything's great man, thanks for asking.
I think so, you are one of the best drummers of all time and I want to do an interview with you, because the fans don't know so much about you. I would ask you both about yourself and about music, can we begin?
Go for it dude, it would be an honor.
Where and when were you born? How was your childhood?
I was born in Miami, Florida on September 7, 1970. My parents are Cuban. My childhood was pretty normal for any kid.
When and how did you get in touch with metal music? Which was the first metal album what you have got respectively what you have bought? Did your parents also like the metal music? Did they support later your career?
It all started with KISS. The first actual metal album I bought was BLACK SABBATH's "Master Of Reality". I say that because I really don't consider KISS a metal band.
Did you take part in the tapetrading? Did you collect fanzines, metal magazines, pictures (posters) or articles about you favourite bands?
I tape traded for a while in the late 80ies and early nineties. I still collect vinyl till this day. I have well over 1000 LPs.
When did you decide to be a musician? Why did you become drummer? Who are/were your patterns? The first five best drummers of all time in your opinion? As far as me, the first five best drummers are: Dave Lombardo, Gene Hoglan, Pete Sandoval, Hellhammer and you.
When I was 12 years old, I joined the school band and from then on I've been playing. Actually, when I got to band I arrived later than the other students. It was either percussion or the tuba, so it was pretty much an easy choice. My five favorite drummers from 5 to 1 would be:
5) Eric Carr
4) Pete Sandoval
3) Dave Lombardo
2) "The Hog" Gene Hoglan
1) Tommy Aldridge
Thank you for the compliment on your top five. I fall short from all the others you mentioned.
Did you go to music teacher or did you learn self-taught? How often did you practice when you were younger and how often do you practice nowadays?
I was pretty much self-taught. All I really learned in band were basic rudaments but aside from that it was listening and playing along to records. Oh and that one lesson from Sean Reinert that turned into a jam session. Before I'd practice 7 days for four hours a day. Nowadays between work and all the session work I've been doing as a vocalist I'll be lucky to do 4 hours a week.
Which is your favourite drumkit? What kind of drumset, cymbals and sticks do you use?
There's so much good shit out there. The Spaun kits are pretty sick though. Right now I have an old Pearl World Series kit I refurbished to look band new so it's really sweet. Sabian 22" mega bell ride, 2-18" Sabian AAX crashes, 1-14" Sabian Hi-Hat, 1-13" Sabian X Hat, 22 inch Paiste 2002 china. Vic Firth American Classic rock sticks or Easton sticks.
Let we speak about those albums them you have played on. I would ask you to speak detailed about each records, about the songs, about your experiences, about the recordings in the studio etc. Did you also take part in the songcomposing? Did you write the drumparts? Which song(s) is/are your favourite one(s) from the records? Let we begin with the SOLSTICE period!
||Solstice - "Solstice"
On the first album my favorite song off an album that I hold close to my heart, would have to be "Cleansed of Impurity". That song was finished at the recording sessions. That whole recording process was smooth and a blast! We were like a well oiled machine. From the second Solstice, "Denial" would have to be the one. I like all the songs but that album sounds like the recording process was shit. One word - nightmare.
||MALEVOLENT CREATION - "Retribution"
Ahh, the mighty Malevolent. You're asking me to pick one song off the best death metal album EVER! Ha ha. Just joking. I would have to say "Coronation of Our Domain" or "No Flesh Shall be Spared". Again, as in the first Solstice we were like a well oiled machine firing on all cylinders.
DISINCARNATE - "Demo"
How was to work with James Murphy? How would you charakterize him personally? Why didn't you play on DISINCARNATEs debut "Dreams Of A Carrion Kind"?
Working with James was awesome. I've heard people say he's a pain and too meticulous but you have to be to get it done right. He's a total pro and a blast to hang out with. He opened his doors to us when we were doing the SOLSTICE CD and ended up playing on it. In turn, I did his demo. When they went in to do the CD, I was already busy working with RESURRECTION so couldn't commit.
||RESURRECTION - "Embalmed Existence"
Great fucking album! I've gotta say it's the one I planned out the most. Every drum part was pre-planned which is something I never did before - not to that extent. "Torture Chamber" would be the song on that.
||DEMOLITION HAMMER - "Time Bomb"
"Time Bomb" was very groovy which was cool because I got to be a part of an album that was not fast or full-blown death metal. On this CD, "Mindrot" or "Bread And Water" since you're asking me to choose.
You have replaced Vinny Daze, because he has died, haven't you? Why did he die, what happened with him?
Actually, no. He was out of the band before he passed. I guess they had differences or something. I really never asked. I'm not totally sure about his death so I won't comment.
Anger is an interesting story. When I was in Malevolent, we did a tour called the "Hangman's Ball" with Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and Agnostic Front. The reason we started Anger was because of the friendship we struck with AF. When I say "we" I mean Dennis Munoz and myself. Favorite Anger song "When Anger Turns to Hate".
||DIVINE EMPIRE - "Doomed To Inherit"
Divine Empire... I'm not gonna comment on this because the whole project with me involved was all fucked up. We were ALL fucked up. Not just me like Jay tries to say. He's a liar and not worth my time. (there is also no pic of Alex in the whole CD...)
ASHES OF EMPIRES
OK. This band was born through Phil Fasciana. He remembered a jam tape I showed him years ago with me singing. He thought I was good so he calls me one day and asks if it was true that I had a new band called "Apocalypse Rising". Also, if it was true that I sang. I said yes and months after, Dennis and I drove up to Fort Lauderdale to take Phil the AR demo he fucking flipped when he heard the vocals (much to my surprise). A few days later, he calls and tells me he was working on a new project with Gus Rios and that he showed him our demo. Naturally, he wanted me to sing on their demo. I said yes. We recorded some songs and they turned out awesome, so it turned into a real band. The name is "Erased" and the members are:
Alex Marquez - Vocals
Phil Fasciana - Guitar
Dennis Munoz - Guitar
Gus Rios - Drums
Garrett Scott - Bass (ex-Solstice bass player on "Pray")
We're working on a deal for the band, hopefully we'll get one soon. On this one I love all the songs but my favorite is "United By Hatred". The most personal song is "Shaken by Sorrow" because lyrically it hits home the most.
Apocalypse Rising was initially a project started by myself and my best friend Willie Medina who had written songs for Anger. For quite some time we had been talking about doing a total straight-forward heavy metal band. We started writing songs and we actually wanted to find a singer but after looking long and hard Willie suggested I sing on the demo and I did. I would say my favorite on the demo is ’Rise for the Cause’.
At the late ’80-s/early ’90-s was death metal very popular, a lot of cool death metal bands have appeared. As far as the American scene, the centre of the death metal movement was Florida. In your opinion, why did Florida become the hotbed/centre of death metal?
Well, in the late 80’s / early 90’s was when it was on fire here. As far as why in Florida, I really can’t explain it’s just the way it was.
How was the underground scene in Florida? Why have had death metal such a strong background in Florida? Do you have some storys, experiences?
The scene was awesome. I have so many fond memories of a lot of people in the death metal scene. Steve Ashiem, Chuck, James Murphy, were all super cool people. Glen Benton is another cool fucker. Very funny story one time when we were doing the first Solstice CD... We were staying with Murphy and he is a very neat tedious person which is the total opposite of myself. What happened was he was anal about his carpet so any time I’d put a cup on it he’d flip out. So one day he went to work... he worked at a kick-ass record store in Tampa called Ace’s Records a total metal store... but anyways, I went ahead and put a cup full of soda on the carpet. I got up, kicked it over and spilled it on the carpet. When he came home, it took him a few hours before he felt the damp carpet. When he did, he totally flipped out. He asked if I knew what happened and I said no. For days after, he would stare up to the roof looking for a leak. Listen James I spilled Coke!
Do you agree with that Chuck Shuldiner was the godfather of death metal? Did you know him? I think so, his death is a big loss for the scene.
Yes, I agree. Although there were traces before (i.e. Tom Warrior), Chuck definately was the true death metal pioneer. He and Pat Renieri from Hellwitch. Yes, I did know him I had a chance to get to know him when Death was reahersing for the ’Human’ album. He was a super-cool person. His passing was a total blow for death metal.
The classic death metal albums of the early 90ies were recorded in the Morrisound studio. I think so, you have also worked there, haven’t you? What could you say about Scott Burns? Why was this studio so popular? Were/are there good equipments and experts?
Yes, I did record at Morrisound studios. Scott Burns is the best producer EVER! He makes you feel good but if you fuck up he’ll make you do it again until it’s right. Why was it so popular? One name Scott Burns! Total pro gear.
Did Scott help a lot to the bands? Was it easy to work with him?
Scott made bands sound better. He turned shit into music. Yes, he was very easy to work with.
Do you consider yourself a session drummer or a permanent member in a band? Didn’t you think about to form an own band?
There’s a fine line. Solstice was Rob Barrett, Denniz Munoz and Alex Marquez. It was very much a band. When I joined Malevolent, I considered myself a part of the band. After that the Resurrection and Demolition Hammer CD’s were definately sessions. Anger was for the most part a band. Divine Empire they are a fucking awesome band. I think when I did the ’Doomed’ CD, I hurt them more than I helped. I was fucked up but so was Jay. Erased Despite all the names, it is a full on band and not a project. Apocalypse will eventually be a band. For now it’s Hiatus.
What’s your opinion about the present death metal scene? Do you follow the formation of the scene? How far did change the scene compared to the late 80ies/early 90ies?
I follow metal in general now. I’ve gone back to my roots but there are a few death metal bands that are sick! One band that comes to mind is VOMITORY... those guys are awesome. Necrophagist... what the fuck are they playing??? It’s inhuman! Defleshed... very good band tight. One album that is fucking amazing and I’m not saying this because we’re in a band together but Warkult is the best album Malevolent has done in ages. One CD, I don’t know how old it is but Vital Remains ’Dechristianize’ is a fucking brutal album.
You have played on very much albums with very much people. How did you get on well with the musicians? How was the work with the bands? Was it hard to fit in with the others? What kind of experiences did you gain during the studiosessions?
I’ve been lucky in the sense that for the most part everyone I’ve recorded with has been cool. There’s always arguments but that’s normal. Fitting in was never a problem because it was the same circle. Aside from Demolition, I already knew everybody from all the other bands. What have I learned? Always get paid in advance.
Who are your best friends? Do you consider friendship important?
Aside from my two cousins who I consider brothers, the only true friend I have left is Willie Medina. My best friend Lionel Rodriguez took his own life and the erased song ’Shaken by Sorrow’ is partly about him.
You have played only on death and thrash metal albums. What are the differences and similarities between these styles? Haven’t you had enough of always playing such brutal music? Can you imagine to play e. g. in a glam rock band? Ha-ha!
The biggest difference between death and thrash metal is obviously the vocals. Aside from that, thrash tends to slow down a whole lot more than death metal. Don’t include Obituary in that statement. Listen, I’m a big boy. I weigh 315 pounds and am 6’5” and currently singing. Can you imagine me in Spandex and a cut-off shirt? Come on!
How would you define the essence of death metal? Is death metal lifeform, hobby, fun or job for you?
Metal in general is a lifestyle. If you are a true metalhead it will always consume you. You may be able to listen to something else. I personally love listening to Afro Cuban music. Do you know why? It runs in my blood as metal does, only metal consumes me much more.
When we are speaking about death metal, what would you say about the European death metal movement? Which bands do you know respectively do you like? Do you like the complex, the melodic or the raw, intense death metal?
If it’s death metal, let it be raw and brutal! If it’s melodic, let it be melodic including vocals. If it’s complex, confuse me baby! Intense? Death metal’s always intense my friend.
What do you say to the reunion of SUFFOCATION and OBITUARY? Did you already hear that MORBID ANGEL will go on European tour with David Vincent?
Suffocation... awesome. Obituary... the kings. Morbid Angel with David Vincent... I did not know about. Thank you for making me piss my pants!
The first ten (death) metal classics of all time in your opinion!
I'll give you ten of all time. In my opinion, actual death metal (in no particular order)
Possessed - Seven Churches
Death - Leprocy
Deicide - Deicide
Morbid Angel - Altars Of Madness (best ever)
Morbid Angel - Blessed are the Sick
Obituary - Cause of Death
Suffocation - Effigy of the Forgotten
Obituary - Slowly We Rot
Entombed - Left Hand Path
Death - Scream Bloody Gore
Alex, thanks a lot for your answers, I wish you all the best and good luck. What are your future plans? Tell us please your closing words!
Thank you for asking. Nobody ever does. Look out for Erased and Apocalypse Rising coming your way soon!
P.S. Venom, Lizzy Borden, Manowar, Raven, Tank all rule!
Interview: David Laszlo