From San Antonio to Now
Being born & raised in the Alamo City was an amazing experience. From an early age I remember the city being referred to as “The Heavy Metal Capitol of The World” via the legendary DJ, Joe Anthony. Joe spun & broke bands that the rest of the country had barely heard of, including Judas Priest, Rush, and Def Leppard to name a few. I stayed up late many times on a school night just to record new undiscovered groups like Metallica, Motley Crue, & Accept onto my portable tape recorder. During this time, on my 11th birthday, my parents got me an electric guitar. I no longer had to go to my older brothers room to learn the opening chords to my favorite songs. For the first time in my life I was actually pretty good at something. Up until that point I was “the girly boy” that sucked at sports, couldn’t get good grades, and didn’t want to be in the drama or dance class. Soon I was making friends & music with other formerly awkward guys in school.
My first gig was our 7th grade dance where my band Venjentz played the intermission. Our troublemaker singer (I had an affinity for befriending these types) was on suspension, so I was forced into singing our cover of Motley Crue’s Red Hot. I’d mastered the guitar solo so I figured “fuck it” I’ll try singing it too. As soon as our drummer launched into the double bass intro we were off to the races. The opening vocal line “Fight for the black shark see what evil brings” was met with a wall of shrieks from prepubescent girls. I was scared out of my mind but I felt I’d arrived. Playing locally was a real treat but we always had to leave after our set as we were barely teenagers.
I’d entered and won local guitar solo competitions so my mom felt I deserved the Marshall stack that I always reminded her about. Being 15 years old playing a Randy Rhoads V through a full stack was the closest thing to sex I knew, and sex it would soon bring but that’s for a different blog. In high school I met up with another wanna be guitar hero. I figured like my heroes Judas Priest, two badass guitarists is better than one. So we formed a glam, meets shredder band. Just like high school, trends came and went until we formed our band named after our recording studio: The Union Underground. Many line-up changes and self-produced demos later we were becoming one of the “bands to watch out for” in the SA scene. We promoted & marketed ourselves like we were gonna be the next national band from our home town. After a favorable review in a high profile west coast publication that was notorious for ripping bands apart, the phone in our studio actually started ringing. One of the calls was a slick talking manager from LA. He claimed that if we delivered what he heard on the demo live onstage, he could get us in front of record labels. Six showcases & five labels “no we won’t sign ‘em”s later, Sony/Columbia signed us to a major label deal. The ride that took place over the next few years was amazing but came to a halt like an abbreviated version of “Behind The Music”. But in that time we got to sell records, tour the world and learn things I’d only seen in books & on TV.
After it ended, instead of staying in SA and lamenting about the “good times” at the neighborhood bar , I moved my ass to Los Angeles to begin the next chapter. My first gig was recording guitar tracks on Rob Zombies “Two Lane Blacktop”. John 5 would ultimately get the gig in his band, but not before I laid my tracks on that song you hear today. I’ve been further blessed to work with other legendary artists onstage & in the studio out here. I’ve even managed to elevate my own band Heaven Below to semi-national status. To think all of this because of my portable radio, Joe Anthony, and playing Red Hot at the 7th grade dance. Full circle indeed.
Sketchy Minds is now accepting reviews. See below to post yours! You can also buy the latest music for Heaven Below on our website! Ensure Heaven Below has a Christmas; buy their new album Sleeping Giants for only $3.96.
It includes the Rush cover “Subdivisions” (featuring William Shatner). Click here