There’s nothing quite like a local show at a small venue, such as a metal concert in Amarillo TX. Hugging the stage becomes an assumption. You get so close to the band that their hair brushes your face when they headbang. Local acts usually open for the headliner, and you meet those local folks, and a community develops.
Then there’s a moment when a local band takes the next step. Not so long ago, they were playing the local venue to 15 or 20 friends some nights, and then a couple of years later, they’re playing to 15 or 20 THOUSAND people in a foreign country.
Of course, it’s not that simple. I know that because I’ve watched it happen. I’ve heard them budget for the regional and national tours they’ve taken with other local bands-sharing rooms and roads and relishing the dream. I know about the dilemmas and discussions. I know about the life that goes on off-stage, which is as relentless as anyone else’s-with jobs and families and tragedies and triumphs. That “couple of years” isn’t just 730 days. It’s lives and lifetimes.
So, when Extreme Management Group landed my second family, Texas death metal band Abolishment of Flesh, a gig at the 2016 Hell and Heaven Fest in Mexico City, I saw the reward for all those struggles, the relish on the dream.
So, I offer you a brief conversation with Abolishment of Flesh. Please send them vibes as they embark on this journey.
Vinyl Lair (aka Dr. Metal): First off, who’ll be in the band?
Jess Cazares (co-manager/tour manager, Ramon’s wife): Ramon on guitar and vocals, Izaak on Guitar, Mariel on Bass, and Rene on drums for the Mexico show. The last 2 are session musicians.
(Dr. Metal’s Note: That’s Ramon Cazares, founder of Abolishment of Flesh; Izaak Chavez, member of my inaugural Heavy Metal as a Literary Genre Class; and session musicians Mariel Miele and Rene Martinez.)
Vinyl Lair: Any set secrets to reveal? Will you play from across the history of AOF, or will there be all new stuff? How long will you have?
Izaak Chavez: This set will have a few newer songs that we haven’t really played in front of a lot of crowds; I actually wanna say 2 of them we have played in Mexico before.
(Dr. Metal’s Note: Before means last year when AOF toured in Mexico with Origin. Jess gave up that they will close with their signature song [and my personal favorite], “The Suffering”– What a marvelous metal IRONY!)
Vinyl Lair: What’s it feel like to be part of a festival with so many musical heroes? Izaak, the slate seems especially suited to your influences. Hoping to meet anyone in particular?
Izaak Chavez: It’s pretty surreal to see the bill and know that I “might” get to meet and/or share the stage with some of them. When Jess first called me at stupid o’clock in the morning to tell me about the gig, it didn’t register until later in the day. I just kept thinking, “Hoooly shit, I might get to meet one of the guys in Rammstein, or unknowingly meet one of the guys in Ghost”
(Dr. Metal’s Note: Izaak’s final project in my metal class treated Rammstein’s videos.)
Izaak Chavez: Total SFB moment
(Dr. Metal’s Note: SFB is shorthand for So Fucking Badass-developed as a code for showing our enthusiasm during my metal class)
Jess Cazares: Yeah that was disappointing. I was expecting you to scream and instead you just asked about whether our flights were covered
Ramon Cazares: This is the biggest fest we’ve done so personally I am happy to be performing with all the bands. It’s not often you play on a bill like this. Looking forward to meet Amon Amarth and Suicidal Tendencies.
Izaak Chavez: That’s right! I forgot Suicidal Tendencies were playing too.
Jess Cazares: I like Rammstein, so that is cool.
Vinyl Lair: That’s too awesome
Vinyl Lair: What a marvelous opportunity. Will you stay for everything?
Jess Cazares: Hell yes! Looking forward to seeing all the awesome bands. But these guys know how to support.
Ramon Cazares: We will be there from start till the after party!
Jess Cazares: I am already tired, haha
Izaak Chavez: Plus it’ll be kinda cool to see all the other “openers” on the small stage
(Dr. Metal’s Note: AOF will be taking the New Blood Stage, one of the six stages for Hell and Heaven Fest. In reality, AOF has been a band since 2006 with one EP-Decimation (2012) and one full album-Creation to Extinction (2013))
Vinyl Lair: Any estimate on the size of the audience?
Izaak Chavez: Fucking huge
Jess Cazares: Indeed. Lots of bands I’ve never heard of. Plus motor cross stuff and so much more-about 15,000-20,000, supposedly from past years
Ramon Cazares: Between 12 to 20 thousand
Vinyl Lair: Wow
Jess Cazares: Indeed
Vinyl Lair: That’s astonishing
Jess Cazares: And people there are so open to different styles. Will be a great crowd.
Vinyl Lair: How do Mexican crowds differ from American crowds?
Izaak Chavez: Exactly! That’s why I love playing in Mexico; the audiences take it all in.
Jess Cazares: SO different. Mexicans are so open and kind-hearted. They take it all in and appreciate everything.
Ramon Cazares: Haha, They seem very open to music and not scenes or genres or what’s popular. They just like good music!
Accidental Guitar Center Reunion: Left to Right: Izaak Chavez (AOF guitarist), Rebekah St. Clair (Izaak’s lady and my former student), Jess Cazares (AOF co-manager/tour manager), Dr. Martin Jacobsen (aka Vinyl Lair’s Dr. Metal, the author of this story), and Ben Jacobsen (my son). Photo Credit: Dr. Metal-Actually it was some chick we didn’t know at Guitar Center, but it was my iPhone
Vinyl Lair wishes Abolishment of Flesh the best tomorrow in Mexico City.
(Dr. Metal’s Note: I am so proud of you. Give the show you always give. You are my metal family. I love you.)