Interview with Rick Baez
Welcome ! Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions from our end. How are things in the Amulance camp ?
We all have different schedules and can only get together once a week to rehearse, to show each other ideas for new songs, and then to hang out over a few beers. Of course it would be cool if it could be more than once a week but the upside of this is that there is really great chemistry with the guys and I’m looking forward to writing a new album with them !
How long has the band been together ?
Amulance was founded by guitarist Bob Luman in 1984 but has had several lineup changes over the years. I joined in 1985, we rocked & raised hell for almost 5 years, then the band split up in early 1990. We tried to reunite the “Feel the Pain” lineup unsuccessfully in 2007. We made changes to the lineup and got Amulance back into the scene in 2009 but it all went straight into the toilet when we got back from playing the Headbanger’s Open Air in 2010. Bob and I, along with 3 new members started jamming as Amulance once again in 2012. Since then drummer Marty Gonzales joined us in 2014, guitarist Steve Mikals joined us in 2015 and bassist Patt Maxwell joined us as recent as January of 2017. I feel like I’m in a real band again with this lineup!
Outside your own releases, what have you been listening to lately and what’s coming out soon you are looking forward to ?
There is so much music that it’s hard to keep up! The local music scene is pretty hot in the Tri-States of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, not to mention the bands from surrounding states that come out here as well. There have been some incredible shows promoted here within the past few years with an awesome blend of international, national, and local bands. I’m hoping to attend the Legions of Metal Festival in Chicago in a few months to check out some great bands both new and old.
Back to the early days what led to the creation of Amulance and this particular type of sound over any other style of music ?
We all had some similar tastes in music but had diverse backgrounds. I practically grew up listening to 60’s rock n roll and The Beatles as my all-time favorite group (to this day). When I first jammed with Amulance, the only cover that the band did was “Lady Evil” by Black Sabbath. We never talked about writing in any specific way. We shared an interest in jamming heavy music and what we wrote is what we wrote. I have said in the past that we are a metal band and personally don’t like to delve into the sub-genre categorizing of our songs because then people expect you to only write and play within that sub-genre of music. If we wrote a song and someone thought that it sounded like it was inspired by Exodus, or by Rainbow, or by The Rods, then it was cool because those are great bands! I feel the same way now and want us to write whatever the fuck we want to write as long as we as a band are happy with it. Over the years, I’ve learned that I will never be able to please everybody so I’m not going to bust my ass trying to please everybody.
Please tell us about your latest release ?
We released “Unleash the Beast” on December 31, 2015. There are 15 originals plus a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Sea” for a total of 16 songs, a 12-page booklet, it was recorded in analog at Bob’s studio, and on our own True American Metal Records label. The music for the majority of the songs was written by Bob Luman and literally spans some decades of music that he had written and finally recorded. The music for two of the songs was written by Vince Varriale who was an Amulance guitarist from 1986-1990 and of the classic “Feel the Pain” lineup. He had written those for Amulance, one in 1988 and the second one back in 2007 which had originally been intended for the “Deutschland” release. The album was supposed to be completed and released in 2013 but there was always some kind of bullshit which would delay our progress and the reason that the album utilized three drummers! Right before beginning the recording sessions, our drummer quit for personal reasons. Instead of waiting to get another drummer, with their permission, we decided to use the rock solid drum tracks that had already been recorded for Bob’s writing sessions with drummers Ken Comer and Eric Wedow. While working on those tracks, we eventually worked current Amulance drummer Marty Gonzales into the band and he ended up recording the remaining tracks.The reception of the album has varied. I’ve heard from people that love it and I’ve also heard from people that aren’t happy with it because it doesn’t sound like Amulance of 30 years ago. We didn’t change our genre of music; we wrote and recorded new songs because this is what musicians do. If we were in this to make a couple bucks, we wouldn’t bother writing and just book gigs doing a setlist of “Feel the Pain” songs. Although it would be fun for a while, it would eventually get old. Part of the fun for me being in a band is writing and recording music. Of course, it would be great if people are into what I’m recording, but at the end of the day, I need to be into what I’m recording. If not, what’s the point in even doing this ?
How important are lyrics for the band ? Who writes them? What kinds of themes inspire you guys to write about ?
The lyrics are very important as they are integral to the story being told; whether the story is of a serious nature or whether the story is being told (sung) for laughs. I write the lyrics and incorporate my interests of mythology, monsters, movies, the paranormal, and life events. With some songs it’s taken me weeks to come up with a verse or a word that I feel works for a song. On the other hand, there have been songs that I’ve written in minutes because the creative juices were flowing and I was in the right frame of mind to write.
How do you think your music will progress in the future ?
Rick : The good news is that we have a complete band and there seems to be great chemistry between us, so I anticipate nothing less than a full, collaborative effort in writing the next album. On a personal note, I would love to kick it up a notch or two on the heaviness factor and think that it’s do-able while keeping everyone in the band happy.
What are the next steps for your band ?
Plans can change from one day to the next but our immediate plan is to play some live shows so that we can break ourselves in with our new bassist and then get our asses to writing the next album !
Thanks for your time answering my questions. I wish you the best of luck! Please close the interview in any way you like…
All of the great bands were once local bands. Support your local bands, go to the shows, if you can’t do that, buy merchandise from them, and if you can’t do that, then help spread the word about them. There’s ALWAYS a way to show your support ! Stop by our page at Facebook Page
Thanks for the interview brother! Peace & love to your readers !
Interviewer : Med Manef Slama