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Extinction A.D. Frontman Rick Jimenez Discusses New Album "Culture Of Violence"

Crossover thrash is a term which can be easily applied to some bands, but it's still perhaps a bit of a loose term. After all, thrash metal itself was inspired by hardcore punk to begin with, so to try and label a portion of it as being more hardcore influenced is perhaps a little strange. Nonetheless, it's a fond tag and one that assures the listener of what they're in for. It may have reached it's zenith with bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Cryptic Slaughter, but the sub-genre is still going strong today, with one of the strongest examples being Long Island's, Extinction A.D.

Having been formed by members of This Is Hell last decade, Extinction A.D. released their first EP, "Plague Prophecy" (a somewhat eerie title in the modern world) in 2014, with their debut full length, "Faithkiller" following the next year. While their next album, "Decimation Treaty" would hit the shelves in 2018, the group were always hard at work on material and looking well past the next album, honing their craft and becoming one of the hardest working bands in the game.

Perhaps it's easy to forget just how hard some bands do work, but when catching up with frontman Ricky Jimenez to discuss their latest opus, "Culture Of Violence," it became very clear, very fast, just how diligent the quartet are. "Culture Of Violence" is out now and after reading (or watching) the story of how it came to be, you'll surely want to give it a spin yourself.

Diamond Oz: The new album, "Culture Of Violence" is out now. What can you tell me about the title of the album?

Rick Jimenez: The title of the album was almost the last thing that we settled on. The only thing done after the title was the artwork, which was a result of the title. It was the last song that we wrote lyrically. It kind of ties in everything the band has always spoken about, especially on this album and over the last couple of years. Everything's been crazy. We've all lived through kind of the same stuff, we just have different perspectives on it.

It was almost by the time the final song was being written, instead of focusing on one specific occurence or my reaction to one specific topic, it was like a summation of everything the band and the album had been about. By the time I had that in my mind that was the direction I was going lyrically, the song kind of wrote itself and the first line in the song, "Unending culture of violence...", that's what we've been living in for thousands of years.

I should maybe only speak for my own existence, that's forty one years. "How is everything resolved?" A power play that results in violence, whether that's physical, mental or otherwise. Then, you know, I don't want to say "simplify" things but you write things in, I guess in my style, a pseudo philosophical way, maybe sometimes in a hip hop approach to a metal album. We had a different album for probably about two years, but once that song was written, everybody was just like, "Yo, that's cool," so that's the way that we went.

Oz: Has the other title been put on hold for use for another day or has that more or less been scrapped?

Rick: No, no, actually, ironically, the first song on the album is called "Culture Of Violence" and the original title is the last track on the album, "National Disaster." We were happy with that and it made a lot of sense when we were writing the album and completing it, especially once the pandemic hit but as time went on it didn't feel right anymore and it felt almost pigeon holed. We get pegged with the "political band" or "social band" thing, but the band is just our reaction to what's happening in the world and "Culture Of Violence" just sounded better for us and fit the album better. It just happened that the tracklisting worked out that way but it makes me like the song, "Culture Of Violence" more, knowing it's the title track and the song, "National Disaster" has its own special place on the album.

Oz: It's cool having a title like that because it's broad enough that it could be applied to so much, whereas if you call an album, "World In Pain" or "Fuck Racism," then the point gets across but it's not as memorable.

Rick: Yeah, it's riding that line between being too on the nose, which I believe we are very direct with what we're saying and our opinions, very confrontational, but at the same time, I don't think it's so fun when something is so spelled out. You don't want the album to feel like a third grade reader. I want people to have their own spin on it, although I may know what every song is about specifically or from a broader point of view. It's the age old thing, it's for anybody's interpretation, within reason. As well as if you take the literal meaning out of it and get right into the meathead/metalhead fun of it, we even went that direction right off the bat. The first tour we're doing supporting the album is called the "Glorious Violence" tour. The title of the album puts that in a negative connotation, the tour is like, "Let's go out. We're singing about this dark stuff and everything is heavy, let's just have a good time and have some responsible violence."

Oz: Very Exodus! It's been four years since the previous album, "Decimation Treaty" was released. Obviously in that time a lot of things have changed, Extinction A.D. has since brought in a new bassist (Tom Wood.) How did he fit in with the recording?

Rick: You know what, the switch from Pete to Tom has been so seamless, but the reason why is because even in the band we played in prior to Extinction A.D., This Is Hell, which Pete and I were both in, Tom would sometimes join us on tour and taker over on bass, while Pete would switch to second guitar. Now, with Extinction A.D., Tom was always kind of like an unofficial member of the band and has a writing credit on our first EP. And now once Tom went from the unofficial fifth member to the official fourth member and Pete kind of transitioned in reverse. Pete is still my writing partner, he has plenty of writing credits on "Culture Of Violence" and Pete does almost all of our videos and he's part of our inner circle and does merch designs and stuff.

So that transition with Tom, he's been there since the beginning anyway and Pete, who's not on stage anymore, he's just as much a part of the band as he's always been, so there's the core four of us that are on stage, but then we have our other guys that are unofficially in the band. We're all older guys too, so sometimes we're going on tour and one guy just can't make it so we'll bring in a fill in drummer or bassist.

Oz: That's pretty cool, it's like Extinction A.D. isn't just a band, but a spirit.

Rick: Absolutely and "spirit" is such a great word for that because, we just did a tour where we had a fill in drummer and bass player because we've been doing so much touring since the lockdown ended, that some people's jobs weren't ready for them to say "Hey, I gotta take off for like six weeks" when they'd just been on tour for two months. But, we have this constant communication and everyone who's in the band is with us and in the thick of it, so "a spirit" is such a great way to put it.

Sometimes it's a pain in the ass because there's a lot of cooks in the kitchen and a lot of moving parts but in actuality, a lot of times it makes it more fun and it feels like a team, as opposed to, "We're just four guys doing what we can and nobody understands unless they're in this specific situation." It's cool to have that support and all that positive input. The more friends you have and the tighter a group can be, the more you can insult each other through text messages all day!

Oz: Well, we've mentioned the recording. How was the recording process for this album? Were you able to come together or did all the parts have to be done separately due to restrictions and things like that?

Rick: Dude, this recording process was the most ridiculous that I've ever been a part of. First off, we started writing some of these songs, if memory serves, in December 2015, which pre-dates our last several releases and the writing process didn't end until November 2021. So there's a lot of time, tweaking, addition and subtraction. All that being said, the recording process started in March of 2020. We were on tour and the pandemic hit hard and forced us home. So we were like, "OK, we'll start recording our new record." Then it was, "Hey, this pandemic is crazy, no one's allowed near each other, get out of the studio!" So we essentially recorded the drums for ten songs, everything went into complete lockdown and we didn't see each other for months and months.

We did remote recordings and remote writing sessions and at that point, once we realised this was going to last for a year, possibly eighteen months, I said, "Screw it. I'm going to record all the guitars at home." I was still working and we weren't on tour or anything and I had a studio where I was living and since I wasn't really on a deadline anymore, I spent two months recording the guitars. Even when I was done recording and editing and all that stuff, we were still at a standstill. We couldn't get back into the studio and as time went on we were talking to our then label Good Fight Music and the conversations came up about us finishing this record, so I asked, "What do you guys want to do? You're the business end," and much like so many other businesses, they had to completely restructure and figure out how to stay afloat, so a casualty of that was we got dropped from the label.

But you know, I completely understand, everybody had to make sacrifices and we're four guys, one of several bands on the label, choices had to be made and were made and at that point we're like, "We have a half done record, we haven't been on tour for a year and we have no idea how long this lockdown is going to last. What do we do? Do we just give up?" We entertained that option for about seven and a half seconds and thought, "No of course not. We're too stupid to do that. But if we're not going to give up then we need to double down, write some new stuff remotely, record remotely, let's essentially come up with a new demo and shop that around." So, that's what we did.

We spoke to a handful of labels and long story short, Unique Leader seemed like a perfect fit right off the bat and that demo essentially turned into the "CCCP" EP which they just released, but once that all got done, we said, "OK, let's back into the studio, let's get the ball rolling, it looks like the lockdown is going to chill out and we're going to go out on tour in September and November..." So we went to go back into the studio again but being that we were sitting on these ten songs and we'd written and recorded the EP, we continued writing more songs and while the old Extinction A.D. would have said, "Let's just finish these ten songs and wait until the next album, whenever that may be," we thought, "What are we doing? We've always been at least an album ahead." So much so that like I said, "Decimation Treaty" was recorded and released in 2018 but some of these "Culture Of Violence" songs were being written at the tail end of 2015. So, why do we constantly wait on these songs?

We'd just written a handful of new songs, are these our best even if they're brand new? Of course they are, so let's edit ourselves and we ditched a handful of songs from the original recording in 2020 and then instead of going into the studio and putting down vocals for the ten songs we'd done and doing the mix, we re-recorded a handful of songs and did some of these new songs. It was like, "Wait, wait, wait, OK go!" and then we had a deadline of this day and we've got to get a video done and artwork and a tour coming up. All of a sudden, we had about three weeks to get a year and a half's worth of stuff done. So, I built a vocal booth in my place, recorded the vocals on my own, recorded the guitars on my own, we went to the studio, Scuzz laid down drum tracks for the new songs... It's kind of like moving parts. A million things were being done at once, to the point where we had this deadline of a week that we need everything in, so we had to get the drums edited, get the guitars re-amped.

It was break neck pace, from something that we'd sat on for almost two years to almost like a brand new project getting completed in a three week to possibly three day process. But you know what? The urgency of that, as well as the brand new songs as opposed to just wanting to hear a three year old song done properly instead of as a demo on my computer. To go from the creation of a song musically, to learning it as quickly as possible as a band then writing my lyrics and doing a quick demo of them, then honing them on a demo, to being in the studio and having a final mix, making sure we get it mixed before we go out on tour so we're not approving a mix through email or having to listen to it in the car.

It was so much to do at once that it was kind of mind bending, but at the same time, so exciting and I think that energy really pops through when you listen to the record. I know people say that stuff all the time, "Oh this new record is so energetic! If you liked this aspect of the band it's got way more!" Everyone says the same stuff, but I'm going to also say that same stuff because the energy is so palpable and it just crushes the energy we've had on prior records. I think these songs are written better, I think they sound better, performance wise, I think it's everybody's best recorded performance so far.

I've been recording music now for longer than I want to admit, like two and a half decades. So, at this point in my life, to feel that this is the best performance of my life, especially vocally, I had so much fun screaming and yelling but I don't consider myself to be a good singer or anything. Yet I can listen to this album and be like, "Yo, that sounds good," at least to my ears. I am proud of that and it's definitely my best vocal performance.

I think lyrically it's the same thing, I'm really proud of my lyrics and that comes through in my vocal performance. Everything kind of works off of each other in that way. Everybody in this band is a professional and an adult but still, to hear the lead guitar and think, "Ian, those are the greatest leads that you've written." Scuzz is a professional musician, he's been doing this forever and we're like, "This is the best drum performance you've ever had." Tom has been with us since the last EP, but to go from a home recorded EP to a legit studio and create the best sounding record we've ever had and to hear Tom's grit on the bass, it's like, if you're from the eighties, it's like Voltron, or if you're from the nineties it's like the first generation Megazord!

Oz: You definitely have to be very professional and very disciplined to take that approach, knowing that you're going to have next to no time to do it. I think a lot of bands would have said, "We've got these songs, let's just finish the rest at a later date."

Rick: After the first two years where we were so calculated, and I was speaking to somebody about this recently, I almost feel like we were overly calculated and made a lot of bad decisions as far as certain tours that we accepted or turned down. Decisions like, "This is an older song but let's push it and take care of this newer stuff later." Once we realised that we're being too calculated, since then this band has been about biting off more than we can chew and then figuring out a way to swallow it and to make it work for us. We've really embraced that.

I mean, the pandemic does stuff to people and to us that's what it did. You can't take this shit for granted, or you can but then you're gonna suffer for it. At that point, everything that seems like it's going to be fun and worthwhile, let's go for it. If it was easy, anybody would do it. The internet has made being a "professional musician" a lot easier, so then you gotta go above and beyond because we're more than just internet people. There's people on YouTube and TikTok and whatever that are way better musicians than us but that doesn't mean shit to me. It's about your passion, your drive, your message and how genuine you are and how far you're willing to go for the sake of what you feel is right and self satisfaction, without the "fame," though I guess at this point fame doesn't exist. Everybody's either completely famous or a nobody. It's all the same because anybody can put their face on their phone and say, "Hey! Now I'm famous!" but at the same time, you're one of a million people.

I like to think that we have a good meeting of the old school work ethic of maybe printing out flyers for a show, as well as embracing new things like the internet and technology and social media and stuff like that. I might even sound like a dinosaur saying that and thinking that I'm using those things properly and I'm not but trying to use everything in a positive way and tune out the negative stuff and do something that we think is important and gratifying and there's no time better than now. That goes back to what I was saying as far as biting off more than we can chew. If you want to have the record out by mid-March, that means having the artwork done by this time and the masters done by that time, having the video done by a certain time and needing merch done for the tour and all this stuff. It's like, "Alright, we have three weeks to get this stuff together." On top of that, let's do a second video because we think doing videos is fun and we're hoping to get a new backdrop for the tour and film a YouTube show and also learn a brand new setlist. We've never played this song live before? Let's learn it and put it in every night. It's just kind of the way that we've been, not since the very beginning, but once everything became threatened.

Oz: Hearing how much you put into this band and the album, it really makes the newcomer or the neutral want to check out the band because it's fucking ridiculous!

Rick: You know what? It is ridiculous and sometimes when I look at it on paper or if somebody texts me, "Hey, what have you been up to?" then I write out what I've been doing and realise that I am completely overwhelmed with my to do list for tomorrow. But, what else am I going to do? I don't know how to half ass something. If I did, then I probably wouldn't bother. I don't like my time being disrespected, so I'm not going to waste anybody elses time half assing something. We like doing it for the music. We're not doing it for the money! If we were, then we'd have some serious maths problems because something's not working out right. So you gotta do it for that gratification and a lot of that comes from busting your ass so you can listen to your record and go, "Yo, this fucking rocks!" first and foremost.

So where do you go from there? I want to go out and play shows, not because I want to jump around on stage and feel like I'm king of the world. What's fun is getting up on stage and playing songs that are musically or lyrically important and affecting somebody else, whether they're taking your lyrics to heart, or thinking, "I don't agree with that so let's have a conversation about it." Sometimes, "Hey you guys were playing really fast and said 'Do a circle pit and do some push ups in the middle of it.' I've never seen that and it was so much fun and everything else in the world that sucks didn't matter during your set or throughout the rest of the show." That's an amazing feeling and what makes all these things important and makes the sacrifices worth it, even the way some of us live monetarily. Like I said, there's not a lot of money to be made in music at all, unless you're at an extremely large level which we're not. I would love to get to that level but that's never been the point for me.

If we come home from the tour and we're able to pay for the van, I can pay my rent and eat, maybe have a couple of spare bucks, that's legitimately mind blowing to me. Even as a kid when people would ask, "Why do you want to be in a band?" I'd say, "Well, I like Metallica." I never thought I'd be Metallica or be on Cribs or have a car that works! So if I could break even, or even not lose too much money, then I just got to go out on tour for six weeks and play guitar, crack jokes, have conversations with people, that's kind of like the point of my life. It's not like I'm just having these revelations right now, but saying this stuff out loud just reinforces why I do that. Gratification and feeling like I'm doing something important to me and maybe to other people. You can't put a price tag on that.

Oz: It must be an incredible feeling. You know yourself, there's going to be someone at every show that's had a shit day or a crap week and this little bit of time that they spend with you is like a completely new world.

Rick: Exactly. There's literally no other feeling like that and I've dedicated my life to chasing that. Even before, like I said, I grew up as a metal kid watching these untouchable metal bands and it took me until I started my own band to realise that that was what I was looking for with music. It wasn't to get up there and be Mr. Rock Star. And the thing is, like the tour we just did where we were the first of four on a package, I'd say 98% of the crowd had never seen us before, so it's not like they were there to see us. So to get up there and play and still get that feeling with 98% new people, that is just so mind blowing.

That tour was a long tour and we played some headline shows on the way back, so it's like back to reality, we'll see how many people come out to see us and I was really surprised. We played in four cities that we've never been in before and people were coming out because they had our last record or the first one or heard us on SiriusXM, or even "You guys are funny on Facebook so I thought I'd check you out." So it turned out a lot of people had heard of us even if they didn't go to the Cattle Decapitation tour that we just did but we didn't go through their town so they came out to our headline show. That's unbelievable and so gratifying and that's with no ego whatsoever.

Don't get me wrong, I have a huge ego when it comes to certain things but surprisingly, to me at least, when it comes to music and my band, aside from three talking to the other guys and saying, "I think our record really kicks ass." I don't have an ego anymore, so it's really cool and really humbling that we get to go out on tour throughout America for six weeks and be welcomed in all these cities, especially our own headline shows and getting very diverse crowds. That's really gratifying too because it's not just the stereotypical metal guys that like the band. It's cool to even get beyond that a bit. Music knows no bounds. Lyrics and topics do because it's still in the box, even if you're writing something more abstract, it's still words so it's going to be in a box. So when that reaches someone outside of the metal world, at least the very small thrash metal world and gets to people from all walks of life who maybe only like a few heavy bands but they like our music or our message, I can't really think of anything more mind blowing than that.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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