Interview with Chris Valenzuela of Burning The Masses

Hey Chris, how’s the band been?

The band’s been good. We just got back off a tour with Cattle Decapitation and Devourment a few weeks ago. We’re currently home right now, getting our van shaped up. We’re trying to get ready to go on the road with As Blood Runs Black in December in the snowy, icy terrains of the U.S.A.

Sweet. Let’s talk about your new album. Who came up with the cover art?

Well, we were talking to our graphic artist from Sweden, Pär Olofsson, and we told him that we wanted something that looked like an acid trip. We were trying to get away from all the fire, demons and other typical metal symbols. So, Pär came up with a couple of drafts and all we did was change the coloring. He had it purple and blue at first and we started messing around with it until we came up with all the yellow, green and turquoise in it.

Nice. This record has been a long time coming.

Yeah, it was supposed to come out July 20, but got pushed back all the way to November 9. Then, it was pushed back to November 23.

I’ll be honest, your label might not want it to come out!

[laughs] Our fans started getting real mad at us. We had to explain that it was completely out of our hands. It just had a lot to do with distribution and the label. Why would we wanna push it back?

Absolutely. When did you start recording ‘Offspring Of Time,’ back in January?

Yeah, we started recording back in January.

Was everything recorded in your hometown?

We recorded it up in Portland, Oregon with Stephen Hawkes, the same person who recorded our last CD, ‘Mind Control.’ He had a new studio and so we pretty much lived there for a month. We’re pretty happy with how it all came out.

Was this all in Stephen’s house?

He actually moved into a way more legitimate studio. He has sound-proof rooms and stuff now. He upgraded.

Did all the songwriting take place in the studio?

We wrote everything beforehand. We usually like to write our songs right away.

What we used to do — me and the other guitarist, Arde [Ostowari] — is write together at my house. Lately, we’ve all upgraded to iMacs and Garageband to make the process go a little quicker. So, Arde might do five song and I’ll do five songs and then show our drummer [Chason Westmoreland] when we practice. Our drummer pretty much puts all the taste into it — he’s a machine when it comes to that. The vocals then come last.

It sounds like everything comes together piece by piece. Do you guys ever just jam until you come up with a song?

Well, it’s hard because our drummer lives in Las Vegas. When we comes out here, he comes out strictly to write his drum parts. All the guitars and the song structure will be ready for him and we’ll show him the riffs so he can start working out his parts. The songs get done in about three weeks because he’s such a fast learner. That’s pretty much how it goes. There’s a good amount of collaboration, but we don’t jam it out like we used to.

Tell us a little about the track “Lair of the Blind Ones.”

That’s one of the songs that I wrote after we did our first CD. I put it together to be more of a technical song. We recorded all the rough tracks and handed it off to Cameron. He would then put the tracks on his laptop and sit there that day and write the vocals. He did it pretty quick. He has weird meanings behind all the songs — I’m not sure what it’s about. I really like the song title though.

Does the rest of the band get involved with the lyrics?

Not on this last CD. We kinda let Cameron handle all that. I think for the next CD we’ll all probably have a little bit more input on the lyrics. I definitely feel like collaborating more on the vocals.

You guys have an upcoming tour with As Blood Runs Black. Are you excited about it?

Oh yeah, before I was even in Burning The Masses I asked to play guitar for them, but they told me I was too young [laughs]. They’re cool guys. We’ve been friends for a while. We did a tour with them in July and we’re on the same label, [Mediaskare].

Awesome. You’ll also be playing the 3rd annual December Decimation Festival with a whole bunch of other bands.

Yeah, we’ve never played that fest before. We’ve played a lot of other California metal festivals, but never Decimation. It should be fun. Carnifex is going to be at the festival and they’re our good friends.

Great. Thanks, Chris. Have fun on tour!


Pick up Burning The Masses’ new record Offspring Of Time today!

Check out their official Myspace page for a list of upcoming tour dates.