The interview below took place on July 13, 2018. The text featured is only a portion of the full interview. Follow the YouTube link above to listen to the entire thing. It is definitely worth a listen!
The smell of beer and tacos fills the air as I arrive at the Hop Shop in Harlingen, Texas. Inside the venue there is some strange stripper show going on, but that is not what I am here for.. at least not tonight. On this Friday the 13th I am here to see the mighty Archangel A.D. take the stage for the first time in a month. Thanks to some high-class arrangements through Facebook Messenger, I am also meeting with the band for an interview.
Meeting with a band before a gig is sometimes an uneasy experience. Will they drag you backstage and offer strange drugs? Will all of your questions be dodged by the band’s assertive manager? Will something I cannot even imagine take place?
Luckily, with Archangel A.D., none of that is a problem. We meet up in the parking lot where the members are drinking soda and having a chat about their favorite places to eat. When the interview began I slowly realized that this band is brilliant is every regard. Their bond is real. Their love for metal is true. Best of all, they kick ass!
Metal Addicts: It’s great to be here today with Archangel A.D. Before we start can everyone tell me their name and role in the band?
Justin: I’m Justin Lopez. I sing and play bass.
Jacob: I’m Jacob Garcia. I play lead guitar.
Matt: I’m Matthew Karr. I play guitar.
Edward: I’m Edward Vera. I play drums.
Metal Addicts: You guys just released your debut EP, Warband. What are your personal favorite songs?
Justin: That’s tough to say. I love them all, but I would have to pick “Unto the Evil.” It’s fast, heavy, and talks about dead things!
Jacob: Mine’s probably “Blightning.” It has my favorite riffs on the album.
Matt: “Blightning.” It reminds me of Forbidden and Testament. More technical stuff. It has a bit of every album that I like.
Edward: It’s between “Warband” and “Evil Dreams.” I love the bassline in “Warband.” “Evil Dreams” has a doom metal vibe that I love.
Metal Addicts: Are there any songs that didn’t make the EP that you guys have?
Jacob: There’s one that Matt wrote called “Fire of Fury” and..
Justin: That’s about it [laughs]. We had a lot of older songs that we threw away.
Jacob: There’s a old one called “Priest of the Void” that I like, we’ll have to bring it back at some point.
Metal Addicts: Who is the main lyricist? Who writes the music?
[entire band points to Justin]
Justin: It’s mostly me, not all me. Early on, most of the material was mine. They all had a fantasy theme. I like to tell stories with my songs. I don’t write from the heart. I just write music to write music. Stuff I want to hear. The farther we progressed I tried to get the other guys to write too. I kinda forced [Jacob] to write with me. We co-wrote “Blightning.” For the most part, “Evil Dreams” was his song.
Jacob: Each of us throw in a riff here and there. It’s a team effort. [Justin] does the bulk of the work, but we all do something. Even the drummer!
Metal Addicts: What was the craziest thing that has happened to each of you in the band?
Jacob: Our first time playing in Austin, it was a battle of the bands. We were kinda hanging out listening to the other bands. People came up to us saying we suck or whatever. Some lady comes up to me really drunk, and asks “how old are you?” I said “I’m 18” and she yelled “I knew it!” and walked away. It was really strange [laughs].
Justin: We don’t really party. We are pretty tame when it comes to a metal band. We don’t drink or do drugs. But one time we were playing here at the Hop Shop and there was a bachelorette party going on. We were setting up when she comes up to us and yells, “hey, y’all wanna f*ck?” Then her friend runs up to her and says, “no no you can’t say that! They are just kids!” That’s definitely one of the funniest things that’s happened to us.
Matt: After the Adrenaline Mob show there was this bald guy. We kinda had the crowd in a trance, I guess, ’cause after the show people were coming up to us and telling us stuff. There was this guy about 60-70 who was clapping off stage and that never happened to us before. His friend comes over, talks to Jacob, and I was just watching. He looks at me and says “You guys are f*cking great! I’m proud of you. I don’t even know your name. What’s your name?” I said “Matt,” and he goes “Kat? That’s a nice name, man. Your name should be Andrew.” I’m like alright when he says he “used to be in a band.” Then [Jacob] comes next to me so I just leave him on his own with the old guys [laughs]. So he’s just talking to him about whatever and for some reason he yells “You guys just need PERSEVERANCE!” Then he asks us to play at his granddaughter’s girl scout party. And we’re just thinking “you really want us to play a thrash show for girl scouts?” He offered us $300. But we never saw him again.
Edward: Here at the Hop Shop. Right after we played there was this guy looking directly at me. He started rubbing his nose and I was really confused. I soon realized he was offering me cocaine. I just shook my head and said “no I don’t do that.” So the guy was like okay and gave me a thumbs up [laughs].
Matt: Oh I got one! After we played here in Harlingen, there was a drunk guy who came up to us. He was really emotional and said “I wish I could give you money, but this is the next best thing.” He pulls out an eight-ball or a bag of weed or something and I had to tell him “No we don’t roll that way.” And he was so sorry, but we appreciated the offer. Nobody gives us anything.
Justin: Most of the time we reject people’s drugs they go “you guys are such smart kids!” [everyone laughs]
Metal Addicts: Okay back to the music. Who are your biggest inspirations at the instrument you play?
Jacob: Marty Friedman, no question. He’s so unique.
Justin: Vocally, it’s James Hetfield. He got me into metal. I tried to sound like him early on. As I got older I got more into Dio. I try to sound like him when I sing. I wasn’t originally a bass player, I played guitar. Then a friend lent me a bass and it was amazing. My idol is Cliff [Burton]. I’m a big Metallica boy!
Matt: When I got onto the electric guitar at 13 I was huge into Judas Priest. I wanted to look like KK Downing, I wanted to play like him, I wanted a Flying V. Priest was all I listened to for years. My favorite guitarist now is Andreas Kisser of Sepultura. I heard “Beneath the Remains” and the intro was really evil sounding for acoustic guitar. My riffs sound like his now unconsciously. I feel myself doing that. Another one who really influenced me is Chuck Shuldiner of Death. Spiritual Healing is one of my favorite death metal albums and the riffs really inspire me.
Edward: Lars Ulrich, Nick Menza, John Bonham, and Neil Peart. Everyone hates Lars, but I still appreciate his drumming.
Metal Addicts: Hot take right now. Why should people love Lars [Ulrich]?
Edward: Because he revolutionized thrash metal.
Justin: He’s what made Metallica what they are. [His management] led Metallica to be the biggest band in the world.
Jacob: There goes our fan base [laughs] “Oh no they like Lars.”
Metal Addicts: What sets Archangel A.D. apart from other bands? Why should people check you out?
Edward: You don’t really see Thrash metal around here. We are one of two bands in this area. So that’s interesting.
Justin: Our songs are memorable. Every song sounds different. When you play our CD, it’s not going to be the same song six times. Each song is a musical journey. We have developed our own sound in the three years being together.
Matt: When we started this in 2015, it took about a year but we got our own unique sound. Justin is a classically trained musician. I’ve never seen anyone write music the way he does. He wrote “Blightning” on paper and we played it.. I was like “f*ck.” It’s about quality over quantity. We write things people would like to hear. We work hard at getting everything down to a tee.
Metal Addicts: What are your goals for this band?
Justin: I would hope to make Archangel A.D. a household name. A name that people recognize and know. Whether they like it or not. I would love to tour the world. We have an oldschool thrash vibe that a lot of people like so far.
Jacob: I’d love to open for someone who is already a household name. I would love to say we opened for Megadeth. I want us to be known. It’s a dream, just to be recognized. People look at you and think “it’s just another guy with long hair” but I hope that people can recognize us soon.
Justin: On a personal side note, I just want the black metal community to appreciate us. We are not black metal, but their approval definitely helps [laughs].
Edward: I can’t wait till we have a tour van or bus [laughs].
Matt: We are on a mission to make the heavier -faster stuff more well-known. Down here the scene is very different but we hope to bring back our stuff.
Justin: On another side note, we aren’t the fastest band around. We have people say “you guys are good but you aren’t very fast.” It’s not about speed. We’re not speed metal. Our tone is important to us. We don’t crank the gain up to 10. Musical quality is important.
Metal Addicts: Now some questions about metal. This one might break the band up though. Megadeth or Metallica?
[entire band gasps]
Jacob: We already answered this question. On the road I just ask these guys random questions just for fun. So, origninally for me it was Metallica without a doubt. Now I’m diving into Megadeth a bit more and I like them more.
Justin: My first love was Metallica. My last love will be Metallica. I will always love Metallica. I gotta say I like Dave Mustaine and the musicians he’s worked with over the years. Don’t like his voice but it’s a personal opinion [laughs]. But yeah Metallica through and through every day.
Matt: Megadeth. It’s always been Megadeth. They got me into the thrash sound when I heard “Peace Sells” with [Edward]. “[imitating Edward] I was pirating music off the GTA soundtrack” and I was like “I don’t know but it sounds great.”
Edward: It’s gotta be Metallica. When I was 4-5 I heard Ride the Lightning. That’s the album that made me want to play drums. But I love both bands.
Jacob: Well now Matt and I are gonna break off and make Megadeth part two [laughs].
Metal Addicts: Who is your favorite band of all-time?
Jacob: First one that comes to mind is Coheed and Cambria. But as of recently.. Opeth. I love them. They are so technical.
Justin: Well I already answered this question… [laughs]. Metallica. When I saw them live last year I cried the whole time. Even when I couldn’t cry I forced some out.
[mic points towards Matt]
Edward: “[imitating Matt]” Judas Priest.
Matt: Yeah I already said it but..
Matt: Ed thinks “Hot Rockin'” sounds like “butt-f*cking” Priest yeah love them, but after that it’s between Sepultura, Death, and Testament.
Edward: I don’t want to be generic but my favorite is Metallica. The past few years I’ve been trying to stray away from that. But now some of the bests are Led Zeppelin and Havok.
Metal Addicts: If you could add any band to the Big 4, who would it be?
Justin: Evile, hands down.
Edward: Yeah, Evile.
Jacob: I really want to say Evile, but Exodus. They are like the unofficial fifth member.
Metal Addicts: Any other thoughts you want to get out there?
Justin: Everyone listen to the EP, on YouTube. Leave your thoughts whether positive or negative.
Edward: New EP, Warband, now streaming on Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music.