Punk In Metal: Ray Mendez Of Al-Ce-Mi
It's really amazing how the world works. I remember just months back for the very first time meeting Josh, the lead singer for Whittier, California's Al-Ce-Mi, in front of The Whisky A Go Go, sharing just a few words, and now here we all are linked up and working so closely together. I'm even prouder that this talented and dynamic punk/metal act is going to have its debut EP recorded by pretty much the best in the business in Ryan Green (Bad Religion, NOFX, Nerf Herder, The Dickies) and it seems like they are really about ready to start turning a major corner now in the music world. I think it's important for us to stay open minded, even being the diehard extreme metalers most of us are. A band like Al-Ce-Mi really does refuse to be labeled and I think that's why they are becoming more accepted in the harsher circles. I got some questions answered recently by the band's guitar player, Ray Mendez .
Rocket: So what city are you originally from here in California, bro?
Ray: Santa Ana. Deep behind the Orange curtain.
Rocket: When did you start playing electric guitar? And did you ever take any lessons?
Ray: I started playing guitar at eleven and have been playing everyday since. I did take one formal guitar lesson but the pace was way too slow. I learned faster by playing along to the music I was into and with other musicians.
Rocket: Besides obviously being into heavier forms of music, what are some of the other styles of music you like? Aren't you really into Jazz music too?
Ray: Jazz? Only if you consider Hendrix to be jazz. Maybe Miles Davis too. Oh yeah! and Banyan, Steve Perkins, Mike Watt, Nells Klein, and Willie Waldmen . That's more punk jazz if you want to get into labels. As far as other music is concerned the list is pretty extensive.
Rocket: What kind of guitars are you playing on?
Ray: Right now I'm exclusively playing G&L's but I'm in the market for a vintage Fender Mustang. I really dig the single coil sound and how it cuts through everything. In a scene were everyone is playing Gibsons and triple rectifiers it is nice to stand out.
Rocket: What kind of amp set-up?
Ray: As of now I am using a Fender Blues De Ville. That little combo $%*!@! screams. Soon I will be complimenting that with Fender Baseman to add a bit more bottom end.
Rocket: Do you play with any pedal effects?
Ray: I like getting most of my tone from my amp but I do use the MXR Distortion pedal, the Dallas Arbitar Fuzz Face, and a vintage Vox.
Rocket: How did you feel about Dimebag Darrell's onstage murder in 2004? Were you a
fan of Pantera?
Ray: It scares the @^%%$%.. out of me. I mean who the hell let that %^$*&* past security. Extremely tragic. I thought this kind of ..@..^% only happened at the BET awards. He will be trully missed. Oh yeah......I was and still am a Pantera fan, but not a fan of guns at shows.
Rocket: Who are some of the other local bands you've seen play recently that impressed you?
Ray: They're not local but Wolfmother is probably one of the best bands out there right now. If you don't believe me go to a show. Those guys have got it dialed in. As far as local, the Eagles of Death Metal really know how to give a show. " Lets here it for the Ladies." If youv'e seen them, you know what I'm talking about. Other local bands that have impressed me recently are Scarling, TheBronx, The Vacation( They're local now anyway ), and Queens of the Stoneage. ( They're local right? ) Other bands that I have seen recently that are not so local but kick @^&* live are, Death from Above 1979, Peaches( that girl is raw ), High on Fire, and Al-Ce-Mi. Wait.... I'm in that outfit.
Rocket: Does the songwriting process for this band start with you on the riff?
Ray: As of lately I have been coming up with riffs and songs on acoustic first. Melodies come to my mind automatically when I'm playing a riff and Josh has no problem elaborating on those melodies and putting words to them. I think in layers, hearing the guitars, bass, drums, and melodies all at once in my head. I'll usually track everything on a four track before presenting it to the band. It sometimes starts with a guitar riff, sometimes a bass riff, sometimes a drum beat. Either way, I usually try and record all of my ideas whether they work with the project or not. I usually record the initial idea with an acoustic and then I'll build a drum track on my drum machine. After I've tracked the first guitar I'll go in and lay down the bass. When that's done, I'm really able to get creative with my second guitar track. Once that is finished, I'll take it to Josh and see what he will come up with vocally. A number of our tunes have been written this way including Singing Frogs, Scenester, Spider Head, and Adipocyte. The other tunes were already established before I entered the outfit and the rest of the guys have given me the freedom to put my own style on them. That's the great things about this outfit. Everyone has a voice.
Rocket: That's awesome, bro. So what's the funniest thing that's happened to you on the stage?
Ray: Ripping a fart next to the girl I had a crush on in 3rd Grade while singing "Silent Night" durring the school Christmas play.
Rocket: Hahaha. Man, I was really hoping you'd drop a bomb on that... and boy, did you ever. Excuse the pun on that one too. Ha! What's been your favorite new Rock album for 2006 so far?
Ray: Wolfmothers debut album. Hands down.
Rocket: Do you enjoy answering your fan mail on MySpace?
Ray: I don't have fans, but it's nice hearing the rest of the band talk about it.
Rocket; What are the next upcoming shows for the band?
Ray: It looks like a showcase at Swinghouse in Hollywood and then it's off to record our first E.P. with Ryan Green in July. By August we should be terrorizing a venue near you.
Rocket: Yeah, Ryan's the perfect guy for this band! I am so stoked for all of you. He's worked with former Megadeth bassist, Dave Ellefson on his new F5 project and with NOFX on their classic album Punk in Drublic. It was released on Epitaph in 1994 and is considered one of that band's best albums. Well, I certainly wish you and the guys of Al-Ce-Mi the best of luck on it all. Go ahead and give a shout out to your biggest supporters.
Ray: My Grandmother who is fighting ovarian cancer, my dog Isot, my band, the Metal and Rock & Roll community at large, and of course to you Rocket.
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