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Interview

Wrong Relates Band's Brief History And Philosophy

Even though Miami, Florida-based Wrong played a stoner/doom-heavy festival called Heavy Metal Parking Lot during the week of SXSW in Austin, Texas, the band didn’t display much of those sounds. Sure, singer/guitarist Eric Hernandez claims the Melvins as an influence. Also, he played in bands that seem more aligned with that movement like Kylesa and Torche (and even spent some time as Corrosion of Conformity’s drummer). Wrong’s style is more in step with groove metal bands from the ‘90s like Helmet and UNSANE.

Wrong plays syncopated, aggressive rhythms that get into your brain and beat on it. They were certainly one of the bands that stood out at this festival. The group is still a new entity, though, so we caught up with Hernandez to talk about some of the band’s history, influences and philosophy for making music. Read on to learn more about this new band and watch for their self-titled, first album to come out on Relapse Records at the end of this month.

Rex_84: How was your tour last year?

Eric Hernandez: The first tour we did was with Torche and Nothing. That was three weeks. We grew up with half the guys in the band because we’re all from Miami. We started doing Wrong, locally, and then we played a couple of shows with Torche. Then, we ended up going on tour with them and with Nothing, who is another awesome band. We ended up doing that tour and then getting signed to Relapse because they are all on Relapse. That was some of the most fun times ever because those guys are awesome! Those are all our friends.

Rex_84: Hernandez: Did your tour lead to signing with Relapse?

Hernandez: We were doing that tour. We got along with everybody so well and they all loved our band. All the guys from Relapse were at our show in Philly because that’s where they are from. They all came out to the show and saw us play. As soon as they saw us play they were like, “All right, your record is coming out on Relapse.” We were like, “cool,” so that’s pretty much what ended up happening. We started the band because we’ve all been in bands for years together. We all ended up hanging out. We wanted to have a local band to play with our friends’ bands from Miami. We ended up touring and now we are signed to Relapse. Now we just want to be able to get to do this all the time because we have so much fun doing it. It’s the kind of band we’ve wanted to be in since we were kids. Now we are just doing it. Thanks to that first tour that we did, we had some opportunities open to us, so it’s pretty awesome.

Rex_84: You’ve been compared to UNSANE and Helmet. You have brutal grooves, kind of mid-tempo, but really punchy. Tell us about growing up with some of those bands and some of the other bands that influenced you guys.

Hernandez: We’re all thirty now, so we all grew up in the ‘90s and all of those bands. It’s not even just that, I’m influenced by Helmet. One of my main influences, though, is James Hetfield, vocally and doing the rhythm guitars. Really, a lot of the stuff that we do is from growing up and seeing heavy metal being a really big thing. I remember seeing those “Live (Shit): Binge & Purge” videos and thinking, “Yeah, that’s what we want to do,” and playing on the Diamond stage, playing metal.

Rex_84: But you wanted to make it heavier. Was it a progression for you?

Hernandez: Me and the other guitar player, Ryan[Haft] were in this other band called Capsule. A lot of the stuff we did there was a really fast and off-kilter. The craziest shit we could come up with was what we would do. Once that band split, everybody moved to different cities. Once we did that, we wanted to do something more stripped down. We wanted it to be more straight-forward and we wanted to write a bunch of songs for one period and play them all because the record and EP that we did, we had fourteen/fifteen songs written. We wrote them all over a summer. It all just came naturally because it was just so simple. It just came naturally for us to do this kind of music—riffs, guitars, vocals and a drum beat and that’s it.

Rex_84: What is it about simplicity that works so well? If you’re a snob you can say, “I learned how to play that in fifth grade,” but if you listen to simple riffs, they’ll resonate with you. What is it about simplicity that resonates with people?

Hernandez: I think it has something to do with learning, age and experience. When you start off playing as a kid and your hungry and hyper, you run before you can walk. You do the fastest stuff ever. Then as soon as you get older you go, “Man, I just want to write songs.” You start to really appreciate the song writing process. You just want to make stuff more straight forward. It has something to do with how everybody wants to play Black Sabbath now. Those songs always had this point and they were never really technical. It was just about vibe and having a certain vibe for a song. That’s how we ended up going. When you’re younger, you throw as much into a song as you can. Then, once you start to learn how songs work, you start to really strip it down. I just feel it’s something that comes with experience and progression. You end up appreciating the vibe and the groove as opposed to throwing as much shit together as you can because you have so many influences when you’re young.

Rex_84: You grew up in the era of groove metal, in the ‘90s.

Hernandez: Pantera.

Rex_84: Playing a stoner/doom-heavy festival like this, I expected you to sound that way. Wrong is definitely one of the more diverse bands playing here, yet at the same time you mentioned Melvins as an influence.

Hernandez: One of the things that I like about the Melvins, and I’ve seen interviews with Buzz [Osbourne] lately, and one of the things he says is he’s never been wrong about his ideas he has for the Melvins to go. He said, “Anything the Melvins have done is something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve never been wrong because it’s always been good.” It’s something they’ve had a good experience with. I feel like the Melvins, no matter how long they play, always feel comfortable doing what they do. Whatever they do, they are happy with and that’s a big influence because people say that heavy metal is dead. You can’t write new music anymore. What, are you kidding me? It’s infinite. You can constantly come up with new things to do as long as you’re happy with it. The Melvins are one of those big influences. They’ve been going for so long and they always push it. They always appear satisfied with what they are doing. I feel like that’s something that can never end.

Rex_84: Did you get your band name from what he said earlier about how he can never be wrong?

Hernandez: Actually, no, we came up with it through asking the question, “Is it wrong to have a band that you came up with through everything you listen to?” There is so much pressure to be original all the time. Really, every band began as something influenced by another band. I feel like if there is a good point to start is with Amphetamine Reptile [Records], Helmet, Quicksand and UNSANE. A lot of bands, lately, don’t have that. It’s all about that vibe. The songs area really simple, but it’s more about the aggression and about feeling that hatred. At the same time, whenever those bands would play, whenever you would listen to that music, you feel what they’re feeling. My thing, too, is it’s about not knowing what the songs are about so you end up with your own interpretation. You can hear it and make your own thing about it because it’s so in-your-face and it demands that feeling. Nothing really matters. All that really matters is the riff, really. It just makes sense.

Rex_84: This is true of the metal community. If a faction of your fans think you have sold out, do you think the reason is you’re not being true to yourselves, you’re not pushing what you’re truly feeling?

Hernandez: I always like it, too, when bands evolve and become this totally different sound, especially when you follow the band from the beginning. The classic example is Metallica when they go and do “Load” and all of that shit. The first thing you think is, “What the fuck are these guys doing?” Then there is the thing with Metallica saying, “This is what we’ve always wanted to do.” We don’t give a fuck what you think about it because if people still come to the shows like I did, then we are happy. This is where we are. Of course, there are some exceptions. There are some bands that start out selling out and doing whatever other people tell them to do. There was even the same thing with Celtic Frost and how they started changing their sound. I always respect bands when they change their sound. The best bands always do it because that’s what they want to do. One of my favorite examples is C.O.C. They start out with the punk rock roots. They invent the cross-over shit. Then they get Pepper Keenan and they sound like The Eagles. They were still awesome to me because they’re doing whatever they want to do.

Here’s a little story: I ended up filling in for Reed Mullin for two weeks. Reed tore his rotator cuff and had to get surgery. I knew their manager at the time because he did the Kylesa stuff. He called me and asked, “Hey, do you want to fill in for Reed Mullin on their Australian/New Zealand dates?” I was like, “Yes!” So I ended up going with three-piece C.O.C. in 2014. It was me, Mike Dean and Woody Weatherman. Reed Mullin is my hero. That’s how I learned to play drums. There’s Lars Ulrich and then there is Reed Mullin and then you start hearing Deep Purple and Black Sabbath ‘cause that’s where they learned their shit. They auditioned a bunch of guys and they were like, “Nah.” I showed up and was like, “I was born to play this shit. This is C.O.C.” Most of the set was songs from “Animosity” and “Technocracy” and their new two records that they did as a three-piece. I was actually supposed to be with them for the rest of the year, then Reed ended up getting better and coming back, but those two weeks were amazing. I was playing songs that I grew up with. We did “Deliverance” because Mike Dean sings it. I’m sitting up here playing “Deliverance” and “Mad World.” I was like, “This is awesome!” It was surreal. I’m hanging out with these guys, drinking beer, talking shit. We all loaded the gear together and took the gear out of the van everyday. We played shows and they shared everything with me like I was in the band my whole life. I grew up listening to them, so it felt like I had been in the band my whole life. It was so weird. Those are the moments you really appreciate playing music. C.O.C. has had so many different eras and they’re one of the bands that influence me the most how you can play whatever the fuck you want as long. Aas you’re true to yourself, you’ll stand the test of time. They’re still touring with Pepper Keenan now.

Rex_84: Now I’d like to switch gears to talk about your debut, self-titled album coming out on Relapse Records. When did you finish the album and when can we get it?

Hernandez: It’s coming out April 29th. The record has been done for a little bit. We’re in that time period when they’re going to put it out so they need to promote it a little bit, so it’s good to be done with that and be able to move on.

Rex_84: Is it a good progression from the EP?

Hernandez: A lot of the songs were written at the same time. They were all written in the same batch. We still like playing all of those songs. All of those songs were written in the spirit of doing what the fuck we want to do. Let’s take what we’ve wanted to hear from a long time from somewhere else and doing it ourselves. It’s still just a blast to play all of that stuff. Now that the record is out, we’re going to play more of those songs. I’m looking forward to it.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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