Vermin is Plague That's Been Unleashed!

Death metallers Vermin says "that the human race is a plague and a virus. Constantly multiplying and ravaging it's environment, depleting all resources until what is left scarcely resembles what once was, then moving along to the next host. We have come to realize that we are nothing but insignificant peons among a throbbing mass of infectious life. We are Vermin, and so are you."

1. What type of band are you?

Death Metal. I think any sub-classification beyond that is unnecessary, but if I had to say something I'd say we're more "old school" death metal than anything else. We're not super technical, and focus more on songwriting, lyrics, and overall heaviness, than overt technicality.

2. Tell us the brief history of your band.

Well, Marissa Marquez (drums) and I used to be in a band called Excruciating Torment back in '05-'06. A few years later after playing with a few different bands I got the chance to play with Marissa again when her and a mutual friend asked if I was interested in starting something new. The 3 of us, including Xavier Figueroa (guitar), started Vermin in late 2008. Fernando Alvarez (bass) actually initially auditioned to be the vocalist but ended up taking the bass position when our first bassist quit in the early stages of the band. Chris Mellon (vocals) came on board after we put out an open call on MySpace for anyone who could do "real" death metal vocals and not just pig squeals and screams which was really prevalent at the time. He was only 16 at the time, which made us pretty skeptical, but when he came to audition we were all blown away by how fucking brutal he sounded. The 5 of us set out to make more traditional, "real" death metal than what was going on around us at the time. We are from a really small community on the border of Southern California and Mexico, and there were a ton of deathcore and screamo bands around at the time. We were the only people we knew who liked death metal so it made sense that we were in a band together. David Padilla came on board and took my spot when I left the band in 2010, and has stayed on in place of Xavier since our reunion in 2012. After the breakup, Marissa, Xavier, and Chris all moved to Glendale, AZ while Fernando and I stayed behind. It's made it difficult to move forward but we all missed the band so much we decided to give it another shot.

3. Who are your musical influences?

As a band I think our common influences are pretty prevalent in our music. Cattle Decapitation is one of our biggest influences as far as an overall aesthetic, meaning our lyrics and overall direction, and our sound comes from kind of a mixture of Dying Fetus, Suffocation, Deicide, and Cannibal Corpse. On an individual level, our influences vary pretty far on the musical spectrum. I personally am influenced by more by an aesthetic than any particular sound. I enjoy really big, chordy, evil sounding stuff, like Behemoth, Nile and even some black metal like Emperpr and new bands like Fallujah. Chris is a huge Pantera fan. Fernando loves Vital Remains and Deicide. Marissa I think is closest to our core influences, Cattle Decap, Dying Fetus, Cephalic Carnage etc.. but she has also been a HUGE Slipknot fan for as long as I can remember.
I guess those are our influences sonic-ally, at least from my perspective.

4. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Our songs have a pretty simple and constant message throughout. Human beings are horrible, horrible creatures. This is a very general and broad statement. Beauty and goodness exist in every aspect of humanity, but mostly on an individual level. On a wider scale, humanity is the worst thing that ever happened to the planet earth. People are disgusting, stupid, and violent, and nothing exists in nature to rival the absolute heinousness of humanity. The 5 songs on our EP are written somewhat as "Variations on the Apocalypse" which is a phrase we threw around for awhile. They're about the different ways the world could end and how it'd be our own fault. The song Wartorn is about a worldwide genocide based somewhat on the idea of extreme nationalism and religious fervor. The idea that "my beliefs and my country are better than yours, you are below me, and I will kill you". The song One Good Reason poses the question "Why shouldn't I kill you? If the entire world was on the verge of apocalypse.. why should I wait? Give me a good reason not to destroy you." Can you honestly think of a GOOD reason why you DESERVE to be alive? It's a tough one.

5. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)

Yes, the 5 songs on "You All Deserve to Die" were all written by me. I actually wrote the brunt of the material as far back as 2007, and they were just songs I had laying around waiting for the right project. When the band started I basically said, "Ok, here's our first demo. Learn it." Dilution was actually the only song of the 5 which was written AFTER the band was formed, and had any input from the other members. When I say I wrote all the material I mean strictly from a musical standpoint. I would record guitars over some programmed drums on my own in my room, and later send that to Marissa who would modify the simple drum parts I had put on there. Chris wrote most of the lyrics, with some input from myself and the rest of the band.

6. How do you sell your CD’s/Audio Files?

As far as sales go... we're still about as underground as it gets. We have no label or distribution, and our music goes as far as we're able to promote it. When we recorded "You All Deserve to Die" we intended to do a small production run of legitimate CD's with cover art and packaging, but that never happened. We normally sell burned CD's at our shows for a dollar or two, with a nice Vermin sticker for your Trapper Keeper. It's more about getting our name up and getting our songs out than making any money. Our entire EP is available for download for free on our Facebook page.

7. Have you recorded any previous CDs or posted any audio files on the Internet?

We actually recorded a horrible version of You All Deserve to Die with shitty microphones in Marissa's bedroom in the first few months of the band's existence, and that was available on our MySpace for like 10 minutes before we were so ashamed of it we actually got our asses in gear and paid someone who knew what they were doing.

8. Can you tell me about your release "You All Deserve To Die".

You All Deserve to Die is our only release to date. We recorded it over the 4th of July weekend in 2009 in Brea, CA with Adam Campbell of The Funeral Pyre, who I came to know a few years before through a mutual friend. He let us stay in his house while we recorded the whole thing in 2 days. It was a lot of fun for us and was a really cool experience. I performed both guitar parts on this recording, as Xavier had left the band at this point. Also notably, Marissa recorded all of her tracks in one take. It was intended to be our first legit demo and to be used for promotion, as most venues and promoters want to hear your band before they work with you. It's the first step in a lot of bands' journeys. You have to have a demo.

9. Who was the one who designed the album artwork and what does it represent?

The cover art for YADTD was actually created by Alex Hoffman of Fallujah, ( ) one of my favorite bands at the moment. He does a lot of graphic design work under the moniker Cypher Visual. ( The idea was to have a vast landscape of horror. Just a sea of bodies and death and sadness. It was something of our take on humanity. A sea of writhing bodies, eating and fucking and swarming and dying. The idea actually came from a scene in Exorcist: The Beginning (2004).

10. In 2012 you had a reunion show, what happened prior that made you all put this particular show together.

The reunion came to fruition kind of on accident. Marissa and Xavier had been living together in Glendale for a few months, and the band had been broken up for over 2 years... when Marissa started talking with a local promoter at some show she was at and mentioned that she was in a band. She neglected to mention that we hadn't seen each other or played together in 2 years... but when he asked if she was interested in playing a show, she called us up and the stars kind of aligned  Fernando has a wife and child now, and I work 2 jobs, but we happened to be free that weekend so we decided it'd be fun to do a one-off show. When we started to announce the "reunion show" online through social media, we actually got way more of a response than we ever expected. We started getting more interest than we ever had when we were really together, and offers for more shows started POURING in. We decided it'd be fun to do a couple shows a year when we could... and when it was something worth our time, and it has kind of snowballed from there.

11. Describe your show, visual and musically for us.

At this point, we're pretty low key. Simplicity is actually kind of our thing. No gimmicks, just metal. We don't dress up on stage or have any lights or pyro. It's kinda just straightforward and blunt like our music. I've been told our live performances are kind of punishing.. even sort of uncomfortable. I've taken to talking a lot in between songs actually, and most of my onstage candor is pretty misanthropic. I like to tell everyone how much we hate them and basically insult and degrade our audience as much as possible. This is art, and our message is clear. We are VERMIN, and so are you. We're not here to have a good time or for you to have fun. We just happen to enjoy it.

12. What image do you think your music conveys?

I think I've described that pretty thoroughly in my responses to the previous questions, but essentially, we are a nihilistic, misanthropic, death metal band. We believe that humanity holds no intrinsic value, and that as a whole, the entire species is a plague upon the earth, and that we ourselves are no different. We are all living, breathing scum.

13. What advice would you give to fellow bands?

I try not to care what other bands do with themselves. Not everyone has the same perspective about their music as I do, or that Vermin does. Some people just want to have fun playing in a band, no matter what that means. If their music is meaningless and their intention is to blow the fuck up and get famous, then great. More power to you. Personally, however; I have a very specific vision and tend to choose wisely what we do and say as a band. My bandmates get frustrated with me sometimes but I tend to control what we put out on social media, who we choose to work with, and what we present publicly, because Vermin is an artistic expression for me, and it means a lot to me.

I suppose if I were to give some general advice, it would be don't be afraid to talk to people. Promote the shit out of your band. Don't expect things to just happen for you. Find local promoters and tell them who you are. Give them a demo. Don't ask for favors but get your name out there. Don't ask to get put on a certain show just because that one famous band is on it. Take baby steps and when it's your turn, you'll get yours if you deserve it. You'll go as far as you're willing to sacrifice for.

14. How do you describe your music to people?

It's hard to describe death metal to anyone who isn't already a fan... but when I tell people what we sound like, I usually try to make it sound as horrible as possible. Horror novels and movies are art that depict morbidity through sight and through imagination. They make the viewer and the reader uncomfortable using graphic and frightening imagery. Our music is the sonic equivalent of a horror movie. We describe death and horror through the use of sound. It's not meant to be soothing or enjoyable. It's brutal and uncomfortable and scary. We are not one-dimensional beings. Terror and death and hatred are part of life, and our music reflects that.

15. What do you have planned for 2013?

Well, since our "return" last year, things have kind of been snowballing. We've played some of our biggest shows ever in the last year, and next month, we were lucky enough to land a spot opening for one of our favorite bands and biggest influences, CATTLE DECAPITATION, on Feb.09th at SOMA in San Diego. We're super excited for that. It's been a long time since we've released any new material, so I think that's going to become priority #1 for 2013. A new album by the end of the year.

16. Anything else you want to say or add?

Fuck everyone. We are VERMIN and SO ARE YOU.

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