Interview With Rob Trevino Of Eternity Black
I am so thrilled and honored to be interviewing my next subject, Rob Trevino, lead guitarist of Houston, Texas' ETERNITY BLACK. A lot of you know him from his days with the legendary HELSTAR, but I have to get on the bullhorn here and tell you metalers that this dude is not playing around, even this late in the game of his highly respected musical career. When most others his age, Dave Mustaine notably, clearly are slowing down and not flashing much of the past great virtuoso chops in newer material any longer, it's a great thing to see Rob truly sticking to his guns, no matter what anyone thinks. And I'm here to say that this is a heavy metal band that could go head to head right now with just about anyone. They are that impressive musically, dropping sonic atomic bombs to wipe thousands around them off the map... and into ETERNITY BLACK.
Rocket: Are you originally from Houston, Texas?
Rob: You got it brother, born and raised!
Rocket: That's the answer I was looking for. Haha. Getcha pull for the Lone Star state! Now, everyone knows you were with Helstar for many years. That had to be an awesome experience. Can you tell us what went on that made you decide to jump ship and form Eternity Black?
Rob: That’s correct and yes, it was a pretty awesome experience; I was 17 when I joined that band, so senior year of high school and straight out to California to record my first album! We opened for some of the bigger bands of the time, Megadeth, Anthrax, King Diamond, etc… Actually, I quit Helstar around the middle of 1987 when I was 20. I did it to form my own thrash band with then Helstar drummer, Rene Luna. Long story short; I went through band members and bands and could never quite keep anything going for any amount of time. The closest I got was with a band named Typhoid Mary –there’s a demo floating around somewhere… I did also briefly re-join Helstar, but there was a change in the musical landscape; grunge was taking off and no one wanted anything to do with us anymore, so I basically gave up on music as a career entirely in 1992… I never totally put down my guitar, but it became secondary for many years. Eternity Black is the band that Larry and I have talked about forming for probably the last 6 years. It just finally came to fruition when Larry called me up out of the blue one day 3 years ago and said, “Hey man, I’m having a birthday party at my house and I want you to bring your axe so we can jam…” That sealed the deal and we’ve been at it ever since.
Rocket: You have actually been doing a 20th anniversary reunion tour with Helstar, correct? How's that been going?
Rob: Ah, bro’ it’s been awesome! We’ve played about 5 shows, most of which were this past month. We started in June playing the first show in San Antonio and then we flew out to San Diego and headlined two shows in San Marcos at a place called the Jumping Turtle. It was great to see and hear the fans singing along to all of these old tunes! Next, we had our first homecoming show in Houston and it sold out! That was a very special night for us; seeing people we haven’t seen in years and some people seeing us for the very first time. The next week we flew to Minnesota and played the Minneapolis Mayhem festival along with Raven, Hirax, and Tankard to name a few… Again, that was another awesome night for us.
Rocket: Sounds about as metal as it can get. I am really pleased to see the success going on for your new band and indeed, Helstar's past great music itself. It's so killer to see. Now, I really love your new band's form of heavy music. It pretty much covers all bases, going from a bit of the thrash to the highly technical progressive metal approach. How exactly does the band sit down to write its music?
Rob: First off, thank you! You fucking hit the nail on the head with that one!
Rocket: Well, I am on top of my game over here! Haha!
Rob: That is exactly what I told Larry I wanted this band to sound like.
Rocket: Yeah, this is really like a progressive thrash metal band to me. And that is something so many of us have been dying for, dude. And the deliverance has happened with Eternity Black!
Rob: The way this band works is, usually, Larry or I will come up with a riff or two and we’ll record it on our PC and email it to the other for approval... We both have recording and drum software we use to get ideas to disk. I am more of the band’s producer in that I tend to have a vision for how the drums might sound or how the arrangements or structure of the songs might go. So, if Larry sends me a .wav file of just guitars, he’ll tell me the BPM (Beats Per Minute) he recorded at and I will ‘write’ drum tracks to go with it. Next, I’ll import the two files to my recording software and mix it down for the others to hear. From there, we’ll get together at rehearsal to learn and fine tune it. And of course, there are always those special songs that come together in rehearsal from us playing a riff or even a drum beat over and over.
Rocket: Who are a few of your biggest guitar playing influences over the years?
Rob: I’d say Randy Rhoads, (early) Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Angus Young and Tony Iommi were my earliest influences. As I got older, I’d say Dime was a huge influence. Also, Stevie Ray, Gary Moore, Uli Jon Roth… On and on and on! I am really a huge fan of the guitar, so these are the guys that are coming to mind, but there are so many more who’ve influenced me in one way or another and not just metal players.
Rocket: Killer names for sure. SRV is never mentioned enough in metal circles. That guy was a beast! What kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio?
Rob: For Eternity Black I play an LTD (ESP) Viper Baritone tuned to B and for the Helstar stuff I have a Carvin CT6M that I tune to D. I would love to design a guitar with a slightly extended scale, say 26” or 26.25” that could handle both B and D tunings because just as I get used to the baritone’s 27” scale, I’ll switch back to the Carvin and it feels like a toy since it only has a 25” scale.
Rocket: That's some great stuff. What kind of amp rig?
Rob: Both Larry and I play on Vox Valvetronix 120 watt heads. We run a BBE Sonic Maximizer through the amp’s effects loop and that is it. We recently signed an endorsement agreement to use Diamond Amplification cabs exclusively. Diamond is a new company based here in Houston and they are producing killer stuff. They debuted at the summer NAMM show and had a lot of positive feedback. The cabs are handmade out of 11 ply Baltic Birch plywood here in the US and have Celestion V30s in them. At some point, I imagine I will switch to their heads as well since they are killer high-gain tube monsters!
Rocket: People complain about me asking this next question all the time, but I think it's a highly important one still, certainly with a well established guitar player like you, Rob. Let me touch on the tragic loss of Dimebag Darrell back in December, 2004. How did that affect you personally when you heard the news? I tell you, I'm still shocked he's gone.
Rob: I am still shocked. This answer may take some time because there is some background there. As you can imagine, I am one of many people here in the south who had the opportunity to witness Pantera evolve from a cover band into one of the biggest metal bands in the world. Larry and I used to go see them in the pre-Phil days just to watch Dime shred it up. We even shared the stage together twice; one time they opened for us and Anthrax in 1986 and the other time, we opened for them on New Years Eve in 90… And then there’s the time they played in Houston at a placed called The Unicorn (?) and Dime and Rex got me drunk on Coors Light and Jose Cuervo backstage before the show and I got to watch their set from the side of Dime’s rig. I ran out on stage during Cowboys and sang backing vocals on the chorus. I was never what I would consider a close friend of his; more acquaintances or peers at the time, but he always made me feel welcome backstage, so I guess that is what most triggered the emotions when I learned of his murder. Even our singer, Ryan has a Dime story; the week after he auditioned for us, Ozzfest came through town. Well, Ryan is the kind of guy who likes to take things to another level, so when Ozzfest came through, he booked a nice hotel room near the venue so he could get shit-faced and go back to the hotel with his girlfriend and buds and continue partying. Well, long story short, Dime, Vinnie, and Rita just happened to be in town for the show and what do you know, they too were in the same hotel. So, who ends up in Ryan’s room that night? Well, Dime of course! He didn’t know Ryan or his friends, but he felt comfortable partying with them. I guess he didn’t think of himself as this untouchable person who couldn’t hang with his fans and that is what made him special. They got so fucking wasted and noisy that night that the management ended-up kicking out Ryan’s party!! Haha! By that time, Dime had gone to his room and passed out. One thing that is kind of eerie for Eternity Black is that we played our first ever show on November 20, 2004. This was a very stressful show for us because one, it was Larry and my first time back on stage together in over 15 years and two, because we didn’t have enough songs written to play a full set! Well, a couple of weeks before the show, I told the guys, “Hey, we need to learn a cover song to give us more time. I think we should learn Hostile from Pantera.” So, in the last two rehearsals we learned Hostile and it was going to be our last song of the evening. When the show rolled around, we played all of our originals and when the end of the set was upon us Ryan went into a speech about us doing a song from a little ole’ band from Texas… A lot of the crowd thought we’d do a Helstar song, but instead, we busted into Hostile and the crowd went absolutely insane! It was THE PERFECT SONG to end our set with. Less than three weeks later, Dime was gone. It hit us all very hard. Ryan even made the trip to Dime’s house in Arlington to lay flowers and a note for Rita. For the next year, Hostile became our tribute to our fallen brother and we closed every single show with it and it never failed to bring the house down. I know it became the thing to do for a lot of bands after his death, but every time we would launch into that song, it brought a huge smile on everyone’s face.
Rocket: Getcha pull, no doubts. Texas-style. All sorts of killer new metal albums have just hit the market, including Iron Maiden. Do you have a favorite metal album for 2006 yet?
Rob: I really like the new Lamb of God CD.
Rocket: Yeah, it is pretty damn intense and really dramatic and complex. It'll be in my top three for 2006. Now, over your 20 year career now in Rock N Roll, touring all over the place, what's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on the stage?
Rob: Offstage, there have been plenty, haha!! Probably the funniest was last year when we opened for Rigor Mortis although at the time I wasn’t laughing at all. Our second song into the set, our drummer Russ somehow confused the set list and started the wrong song. Oh man, you wanna talk about funny! Ha! I was like, “What the fuck? This doesn’t sound right,” and I’m trying to look back at him and get his attention by motioning my head and giving him the eyes! He looked like a deer in headlights. It totally threw Ryan off vocally, not to mention the rest of us. Finally, about a minute-thirty into the song, I threw my hand up to signal ‘cut it’! I was so fucking pissed, but we pulled it off by saying that we had no guitars or vocals in the monitors and that we couldn’t go on until the situation was resolved! That was the first time in my 24 years of playing live that had ever happened to me or any band I was in! And, to top it off that wasn’t all; during one song I was on the drum riser and jumped off during a drum break. Well, my hand must have hit my strings really hard because it pushed my low E string off the bridge and fucked me up for the rest of the song. Then, Ryan gets tripped by some dude we know and he steps all over my freaking foot controller and busts the connector. It worked through the show, but after the show I was so pissed about everything that I fucking yanked it out of the controller, thus destroying it!
Rocket: Haha. That's what people do not understand about performers. And see why I truly believe that I'm the best at what I do is because I have performed in front of crowds too and when shit goes wrong it's 'not funny'... it's totally terrifying. Now when can we expect a new album release from Eternity Black? Man, I can't even begin to think about how kick ass it's gonna be. I love the tunes you're cranking on MySpace!
Rob: Thanks, man. Well, the plan is to try and get some sort of deal by shopping this new demo and record sometime early or mid next year. If we can’t get something relatively soon, say within six months to a year, we will simply record our own CD and put it out ourselves. We already have more than enough for a full CD and we have more ideas to work on until then. And if you like what we’ve just recorded, it will only get better. The band has hit its stride and we are in this space where each new song we write we sit back and think, “Wow, that’s just brutal as fuck!” I am very excited to get working on the new ideas we have.
Rocket: Do you actually take time out to answer all your MySpace fan mail? Or do you have someone else doing that?
Rob: Right now I do and I intend to keep it that way as long as I can realistically continue to do so.
Rocket: What are some of the next upcoming Eternity Black shows?
Rob: We have several coming up in our area. September 30th at a place called Jake’s Bar in Houston. Then we have the Lone Star bike rally in Galveston, TX on November 2nd and then the following week we play another show in Houston at a place named FBI Rock Club. That is on November 11th. All of the shows can be found on our MySpace site @ www.myspace.com/eternityblack.
Rocket: Thanks for taking the time out, brother! Give a shout out to your biggest supporters.
Rob: Hey, thank you Rocket! Let’s see, I’d like to thank my entire family, especially my wife Carrie and my kids, Kirsten, Robbie, Christopher, and Jonathan. I’d like to send out thanks to all of our fans worldwide. Lastly, I’d like to thank my band mates, my brothers Larry, Ryan, Russ, and Carlos for putting up with my anal retentive self and creating some of the most intense music I’ve ever had the pleasure to play!
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