It’s Hard Not To Be Political: an interview with California punk act DEATH EYES!

Former members of RATS EYES and DEATH CRISIS sit down with us to talk about their band, new 7" EP on Three One G label, recreating the energy of 80s punk, and more!
DEATH EYES band
Si La Revancha Fuera Una Opcion” 7″ EP by San Diego raging hardcore punk act DEATH EYES came out a couple of days ago via Three One G Records and digitally in iTunes, and we’re pleased to give you a proper feature to celebrate it! The veteran punk act proves that California still has much more to offer than just nostalgia and documentaries on the old punk of the 80s and there are bands that create the new, storied political punk history of modern days. To celebrate the release of their new 7”, we are giving you an interview with DEATH EYES and a full stream and blast of their fury that absolutely demands your attention.

Death Eyes first came to be in January of 2014, a merging of members from San Diego bands Rats Eyes and Death Crisis (hence the name), made up of Alberto Jurado (vocals), Jimmy Armbrust (bass), Jason Blackmore (guitar)and John Cota (drums)The band released their debut 12” in 2015 via Route 44 Skateboards & Records. Having since played with bands such as The Weirdos, Agent Orange, M.D.C., Nails, and Big Business, it’s evident that what emerged is something brutal, potent, and relevant to hardcore punk.

Amid the angry breakdowns and evil fits of rhythmic blasts via John Cota on drums and Jimmy Armbrust on bass, the energy Death Eyes emits is both penetrating and intemperate. Jason Blackmore adds to the collective turmoil with layers of guitar serving as gasoline thrown on an already raging flame, at times all-out raw and unrestrained and others calculated, waiting to burst forth with new assault. At the center of it all is vocalist Alberto Jurado: a force to be reckoned with, a larger than life personality that has the seemingly effortless ability to take attention by force and keep it for the duration of a set. Lyrics are as likely to be in Spanish as English, alternating between the two fluidly and with fierce confidence. His delivery works in the same way, vacillating between spoken-style lyrics and all consuming caterwauls, wild-eyed stares and flailing body in tow.

Hi guys! It’s so nice you chose my birthday (June 28th) for the release date of your new vicious offering! How does it feel now that the ‘Si La Revancha Fuera Una Opcion’ is finally out?

Jason Blackmore: That was our plan all along. So, Happy Birthday! Hope you like the record. Feels great to release some new tunes! And we are stoked to be putting the EP out with Three One G. We were working towards releasing another 12″ but we haven’t really had the time to put the finishing touches on a handful of new songs. So, we just thought that we would release a 7″ for now.

Please drop us a little introduction on your backgrounds. What led you to form this unrelenting pack?

Jason: Our singer Alberto Jurado was born and raised in San Diego. He used to be in a Chula Vista based band called CHICKEN FARM. Our drummer John Cota (who recorded the new ep) is also from San Diego. He has played in numerous bands such as CONGRESS OF THE COW, HOSTILE COMBOVER and GHETTO BLASTER. Jimmy Armbrust and I are from Kansas City. We both moved out here about 17 years ago. I used to play in a band called MOLLY MCGUIRE in the 90’s. That band turned into GUNFIGHTER and Jimmy was the bass player. We have both played in various bands since moving west. I had a band called SIRHAN SIRHAN and Jimmy played in LOUIS XIV. Jimmy and I decided to start an old style hardcore band I guess you could say. More specifically 80’s hardcore. John jumped in on the drum kit. We wrote a handful of songs and made a few demo tapes to pass around to friends in hopes that we could find a singer. I contacted Gabe Serbian from THE LOCUST because I thought that he might have someone in mind that we should contact. And he responded by saying that he wanted to give it a go. He came to our jam space and killed it right out of the gate. He had lyrics written for the songs and everything. After two 7″s and however many shows he moved to LA. Then to Austin. So, we hit up Alberto who had been singing in DEATH CRISIS and asked if he would wanna get together sometime and rock out. He was down. DEATH EYES was born. And here we are 3 years later.

DEATH EYES live by Karen Goldman.

Photo by Karen Goldman.

Awesome! So, what’s been keeping you busy since the release of your debut over 2 years ago?

Jason: We have played some pretty cool shows around southern California over the last couple of years. With bands like SCREAM, MDC, THE WEIRDOS, BIG BUSINESS, RETOX and NAILS just to name a few. We did our first west coast tour last year. We all work jobs. Bars and restaurants. John tours a bit doing sound for bands. He was just out with BIG BUSINESS for a month. And I have been working on my second documentary film Records Collecting Dust II with my editor Brian Desjean. Which we hope to release later this year or early 2018.

How did you team up with Justin and Three One G?

Jason: We released the second Rats Eyes 7″ through Three One G in 2010. And I interviewed Justin for the first Records Collecting Dust film as well. He helped put me in touch with a couple people that I interviewed for that film actually. Nice fella!

Ok, so diving into the new record, what were the catalysts that inspired the lyrics for these jams? How political are DEATH EYES?

Alberto: The lyrics are inspired by current events, recurring events and personal experiences. As for being political, it’s really hard not to be political when one is aware of what’s going in this world. I think that as long as the “elite” keep controlling what is happening and the guys keep producing bad ass riffs DEATH EYES will be as political as possible.

What concerns you’d like to address more in yur future tracks?

Alberto: Well that all depends on what’s going on in the world and in my personal life to be honest. There are ideas in my head but I can be in the studio and change my mind in the last minute and write something completely different from what I had in mind.

Who are some of your beloved bands that you see as the forebears of this record?

Jason: I’d say side A (Death) is our tip of the cap to 80’s hardcore. With our spin on it. At least for me as a guitar player I can point out the bands a guitarists that influenced me from that scene. Seeing BLACK FLAG on the My War tour in 1984 when I was 14 completely changed my life. Hearing the BAD BRAINS ROIR cassette around that same time totally floored me. So Greg Ginn and Dr Know are a couple people that come to mind immediately. Seeing and or hearing bands like BL’AST!, GOVERNMENT ISSUE, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, RKL, AGRESSION, DRI, MDC… the list goes on. Those bands were the soundtrack to my teenage years. I think that we as a band are trying to capture and recreate a bit of that energy.

Now as far as Side B (Eyes) goes. That is our straight up JESUS LIZARD song. Ha! Gotta love THE JESUS LIZARD.

Which modern artists do you believe are still able to influence younger generation’s own writing and participating directly in the punk scene?

Jason: I’m way outta touch with modern music and or the “punk” scene. I don’t have a clue as to who is who or what new bands or artists are the shit at this point in any music genre. I just know that we love playing music together and doin’ our thing. I don’t know if it’s cool or lame or any fucking good. But it’s pure and it’s fun. That I do know.

Haha, fair enough. Ok, so what’s up next for you guys? Will there be more new music from DEATH EYES along the way?

Jason: We hope to release another 12″ sometime soon. Or at least another EP by early next year. Maybe a folk polka acid funk box set? We shall see.

Oh, be sure to let me know once yoou launch a folk polka project :) How about touring and hitting the road outside California? Are there plans to arrange some shows in the coming months?

Jason: We are playing a record release show for the new EP at The Whistle Stop in San Diego July 30th with BIG BUSINESS. And we are doing a west coast tour that starts August 1st in Ventura CA. Heading up to Seattle and Portland and a few other places. That should be fun! Other than that we are just waiting for DEAD CROSS to take us on tour. Ha Ha!

Alright, so I guess we’re good! Thanks so much for your time! Feel free to add anything you want and drop your final words. Cheers from Warsaw!

Thanks and Cheers!

DEATH EYES Facebook
DEATH EYES Bandcamp
captainblackie@gmail.com

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels. Contact via www.idioteq.com@gmail.com

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