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An Interview with Mr. Rust of Rusty Eye
By Rob ”Bubbs” Harris
Rusty Eye are one of the most talented up and coming bands I have had the pleasure of hearing this past decade. Their latest effort, Possessor, is a face melting attack on the ear drums that is hard to describe, and impossible to ignore. Mr. Rust of this ultra-gnarly trio took some time to answer some questions for you, our cherished readers. Enjoy!
Metal Exiles: First off, tell me how you came to Hollywood from Mexico City. Was it a difficult process to gain U.S. citizenship?
Mr. Rust: It’s a good thing you asked that because people tend to be confused when it comes to that matter. Miss Randall and I, we are both American Citizens and always have been, but we were raised in Mexico City. We have dual citizenships. We decided to come to the States because we felt our music was not well suited for the Mexican music scene and because we are aiming for a more global audience.
Metal Exiles: I’m digging the shit out of Possessor. Kind of makes me wish I would have heard it before I made my best of 2009 lists. Do you feel as if this new record is the best yet?
Mr. Rust: That’s a great compliment, Bubbs. We got on several “Best of 2009” Lists and the real accomplishment has been that some publications have gotten past of the usual “only signed bands allowed” mentality since it’s the music that really matters. Possessor is definitely our best record yet, but that doesn’t really mean we tried different things or new ideas, it’s simply that we have improved everything we can from release to release. The essence of the band and the Rusty Eye sound remain the same. If you get past the DIY production on earlier releases, you can tell that Possessor has certain resemblance in essence to Rust n Roll, more than with Stendhal Syndrome which was more experimental.
Metal Exiles: When you guys first got together and made a go of it, what was your goal? You know what I mean? Some want to play just to play; some want to make some money, but nothing serious; and some want to conquer the fuckin’ world. What does Rusty Eye want?
Mr. Rust: From the very start, the idea was to be an original band. In order to achieve that we had to disconnect from the current musical consensus at the time and we had to make many sacrifices. More than world domination our goal is to be heard. And we’ve been fully aware that everything has to be done step by step and that “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock‘n‘roll”. We believe that profit is simply a reward for a life devoted to hard and constant work, yet, music is to us the most important thing and it is our motivation. People that are in for the money usually don’t last very long and in most cases they don’t even make any money whatsoever. And nowadays, there’s no money in music anymore. Which is good because people that only do it for money are going to have to go away and that should clean up the current saturation and state of confusion in music, leaving space for the real artists.
Metal Exiles: You guys draw a lot of influence from a wide array of bands, which is good, considering that you hail from a hot-bed of generic cock rock. What are your feelings on the importance of spreading yourself out musically and not pigeon-holing yourself into any one style?
Mr. Rust: It’s very good that you mention that whole Hollywood thing . There’s an actual reason for us to be here. We indeed noticed it was a hot-bed of generic cock rock, but Hair Metal is something that’s been dead for decades. There’s a lot of young revivalists, has beens and what not, yet it is all generic stuff and nostalgia. We realized it was a ghost town in a way, so we feel it’s the right place for us to be and do our original stuff and being completely opposite to the environment has worked very good so far. It’s always been very difficult to categorize our sound because we have many influences we have and our music has always been in constant evolution. Many people have tried to label the sound: Progressive Punk Metal, Horror Thrash, etc… But the problem with this is that narrow minded people get offended with this tags, if we say we are progressive they complain because we don’t sound like Opeth or Dream Theater, and there is no possible way of getting them to understand that the whole Progressive thing is wider than 2 bands. Thrash? “This doesn’t sound like Megadeth”, Horror? “They don’t have bee-bop songs about Frankenstein”, and the list goes on. It’s even been hard for us to come up with a simple, brief and accurate description and it’s so impossible to satisfy everyone, so to keep things simple we just say we are “Heavy Metal” and we let people figure out the rest by themselves.
Metal Exiles: I not only hear a solid heavy metal upbringing in Rusty Eye, but a pretty solid dose of punk rock as well. Would I be correct in assuming that?
Mr. Rust: Absolutely, our sound is an elaborate jigsaw puzzle with many pieces and Punk is indeed one of the elements. Especially in the early stuff.
Metal Exiles: How many people did Miss Randall have to annihilate to get to the finals of the World’s Fastest Drummer contest?
Mr. Rust: There were hundreds of participants and only a few finalists. Although she didn’t win it was a very special moment, not just because she’s a girl but because the people that were there practiced for a year and most of them didn’t even have bands. Miss Randall just went for it without practicing or training for the event and she made it to the finals.
Metal Exiles: So, when you all sold your souls to the devil to become so good at playing your instruments, did you have to go out to some kind of crossroads type setting, or did he just come to you?
Mr. Rust: HAHAHA… it was indeed a crossroads type setting but he told us that times had changed and the only faustian pact was to become good with the playing but we had to settle for DIY hell in exchange.
Metal Exiles: There has been a good response to your records, none more so than with Possessor. Are you pleased with all the positive feedback? Does it make you more confident in the need to experiment, now that you know your fans are eating it up?
Mr. Rust: We are very pleased that people are getting into Possessor and we are very happy with the critical response so far. The most important thing is that we are being finally able to make the word of mouth effect faster through our new website rustyeye.com. Being DIY, word of mouth is pretty much the only thing we have on your side and we are very proud of putting out something good and offering something instead of the usual hype that labels offer with their “flavor of the week” marketing techniques. We expect Possessor to last and survive the test of time, like our other albums have. As far as experimenting, we’ve always been doing it and making our puzzle bigger adding more pieces. Our goal for the next album is to improve Possessor. That’s always been our rule, every recording has to be better in every sense than the previous. it’s been that way since the early demos.
Metal Exiles: “The Serial Kind” is one song in particular that I find as interesting as it is rockin’. You see, I enjoy studying serial killers and such. I don’t know why; I just like that shit. Where does your interest in the darker side of humanity come from?
Mr. Rust: We do feel attraction to that subject too. That’s one of the reasons we wrote the song. The darker side of humanity has always been a constant in our lyrical content. This time around we made the Horror influences more obvious and had references to movies and such, yet the lyrical style of the band didn’t change. It’s always been about existentialism, which to certain degree tends to be compatible with everything horror, the darker side of humanity being one of these themes. The male vocals on the song were a guest collaboration with Alex Mitchell from the cult hard rock band Circus of Power. We had a song on the Circus of Power tribute album and Alex liked it a lot. We gave him some demos and when he showed up at the studio he brought a spoken word type of poem and it became one of the coolest moments of Possessor. And not a lot of people have figured it out but if you listen to it with headphones and you take off the right one and only listen to the left side you will hear Alex say: “My name is Richard Speck, my name is Theodore Bundy, my name is The Son of Sam, my name is Charles Manson, I am The Green River Killer, I am a victim of being born”.
Metal Exiles: You were featured on an L.A. metal show hosted by Jasmine St. Claire. How weird was it, knowing that you were being interviewed by the woman that formerly held the record for world’s largest gangbang? I would have a hard time talking to her without picturing a bunch of wieners knocking her on the head.
Mr. Rust: We’ve know Jasmine for years now. To tell you the truth, the two times I was there I had the worst stage fright that I’ve ever felt ,because of the TV studio set and the cameras and all that. That was really the only thing I was thinking about. And I don’t feel like that when I go on stage, but TV was different. I guess because I had never done that before.
Metal Exiles: I saw the video for “Mr. Cannibal”, and was blown away by how good it was for such an underground band. Did you have a lot of fun filming that?
Mr. Rust: It was a lot of fun. When we opened for Katatonia and Moonspell at the Whisky in 2006, Alejandro Ordoñez, a Mexican horror director was there as part of the audience. He was blown away by our performance and months later he approached us with his plans to finance and direct the video. It was all done with 16mm film, not digital cameras, it was done that way to capture the grainy look and feel of grindhouse b-movies from the late seventies and that’s was the best decision because all these videos from underground bands are done with digital cameras and it feels like they don’t have any texture. He wanted to make something different, and we didn’t even get involved too much because we were exactly on the same track. We had the same type of ideas so we gave him complete freedom to do whatever he wanted to do.
Metal Exiles: Speaking of filming, you are offering up a visual stream of your entire new album on your website for free. That is fantastic! Despite how cool that really is, do you think that will make anybody think twice about buying the album?
Mr. Rust: I guess things have really changed with the media. Personally, I love CDs and Vinyl, I still buy them and have a massive collection. At the same time I love the portability of the iPod because it allows me to take all my collection in my pocket so I have all my CDs wherever I go. This understanding of the media allowed me to design the website that way. The whole idea is for people to know who we are. We are showcasing ourselves playing the whole album but that can only be done online in front of the computer, I’m guessing you would like to listen to it on your car or on your iPod. Besides, as soon as Possessor started getting attention it got uploaded on Russian illegal mp3 sites, mp3 forums, rapidshare and torrents. People can download illegal copies the album just by going on google and searching. And believe it or not, we thing this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to us because way more people are going to get to know us. Of course it would be great to sell all the CDs and make a second pressing, just to get the manufacturing and studio money back. Yet, while not being signed we been doing our music for free for quite a while, and some people are still buying the CDs online and on Best Buy. So this only means one thing: If 1 out of 10 buys the album and the other steal it, we only need more people to know us to make more sales and make the money we invested back. And we sure don’t have anything against the whole more people knowing us.
Metal Exiles: How long did it take to shoot the entire performance of Possessor for the website?
Mr. Rust: Each member had to play the album entirely twice, with 6 cameras on each take. The final version you see only is 50 minutes long, but three movies are playing at once with 12 angles each, that’s a total of 2 hours 30 minutes of footage and 36 angles. The rough footage was around 30 hours long and was edited by Miss Randall in about 3 weeks. The whole shooting only took 12 hours and was done at a showcase stage in Burbank.
Metal Exiles: I can’t find any tour dates for you guys. Are you just playing West Coast gigs right now, or is there a tour in the works?
Mr. Rust: We are only playing local shows at the moment and there is a reason for that. We’d love to go out on tour and spread our message, yet we don’t have label support so we can’t afford to do thing the right way, which is to tour and promote at the same time. If we tour like everyone does, just blindly and without promotion we wouldn’t be able to really get our message out. So, embracing the new DIY methods of this era, we are going to do “cold touring”, that means that when our web statistics show us that we have enough following in a certain place will go there and come back to our day jobs to be able to finance promotions and the trip itself. I know, it blows, but no single label has come up with any offers, except the one where they want Miss Randall to join prefab all female bands made by the label, as if we didn’t have anything to offer as a band. And this is simple, if labels don’t believe in us then we don’t have any reason to believe in then. So we are kinda forced to the DIY methods we’ve been developing for years, and we are sure going to make the best of it.
Metal Exiles: Are there any plans to re-issue the older material?
Mr. Rust: So many plans, yet so little time and money. There’s a big box full of CDs waiting to be released. There’s a project to restore, remix and remaster all the early demos, that’s around 12 releases. There’s also an unfinished Stendhal Syndrome restored, re-amped and remixed version in the works, we even worked on it at Raymond Herrera’s studio during the Possessor sessions. This version has as a bonus the remake of 5 songs from Rust n Roll completely re-recorded with the current line-up and were done during the Possessor sessions so they have pretty much the same sound as Possessor, we only need to add a few more vocal tracks and solos here and there that we couldn’t finish because of time and budget constraints. We have so many things to do that we haven’t been able to find time to finish these projects. Of course we’d love to put out some vinyl too, but we can’t afford it.
Metal Exiles: Thank you for your time. Did we leave anything out? Cheers!
Mr. Rust: Thank you for such an in depth interview. I guess that’s it. Thanks.