Metal Mofos’ Isaac Sauers chatted with Illegals drummer Blue Gonzalez about the album Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue out now on Housecore Records. Read the article below to see what Blue had to say.
Metal Mofos: Hi Blue, what’s happening?
Blue: Just here at Housecore Records in Louisiana doing promo stuff, videos, and pictures getting ready for the album release of Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue.
MM: Tell me a bit about the new album. You recorded this a couple years ago actually, right?
Blue: Yeah, we’ve had it on tape for a minute, but we got busy with Superjoint and pushing that so we resturctured and put Illegals on the back seat. A lot of things happened. Every time Steve and I got together to write this record it was just heavy fuckin riffage. It’s the shit. The bee’s knees. The cat’s meow. It’s fuckin badass. It’s going to blow people’s fuckin minds.
MM: It blew mine. I couldn’t believe how brutally heavy this album is.
It’s great. It’s fucking great. I love it. It’s absolutely extreme and what the Illegals are striving for.
MM: What inspired the change in sound from the first Illegals records? It was certainly heavy, but it had more of a thrash oriented sound whereas this is full on death metal.
Blue: It has a lot to do with what Phil is into at the moment musically. He’s very drawn to unique riffage and obsessed with writing stuff against the grain. You have to take heart of where it’s coming from. He wanted less herky jerky and more fuck your face.
MM: Did you approach your drumming differently? This album is full of fast blast beats all over the place.
Blue: I was first in death metal bands and did that style of drumming. I went from there to Warbeast which gave me more structure. This style makes an appearance in the earlier Illegals stuff. Now it’s like let’s fuckin go for it. Let’s push it and that’s exactly what you here. It’s my favorite shit. It’s the best.
MM: I can tell everyone in the whole band plays their hearts out on this album. I can hear your excitement seeping through my speakers.
Blue: Oh yeah. If you listen to us in Superjoint it’s night and day from this. It’s still us, but the Illegals I just get to fuckin open up and go bananas.
MM: Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
Blue: We’ve been practicing the album from start to finish so from that I’ll say the last one! They’re all a motherfucker to play. They’re all different and unique. I change up my favorite riff all the time. People are going to trip out. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose it would be “Choosing Mental Illness”. It’s got that herky jerky from the first record but it’s just smoother.
MM: How old were you when you first started playing drums?
Blue: I was like 12.
MM: What inspired you to play drums as opposed to guitar or something?
Blue: I think my friends said let’s start a band, and I said I’ll play drums! I got a kit for my next birthday. I was playing in bars by age 14 and opening up national tours at 15. I played with Six Feet Under and on the Summer Slaughter tour. When I graduated when I was 17 or 18 I went on tour with Warbeast and have never looked back.
MM: How do you go from playing in bands at age 15-16 to go with being in a band with Phil Anselmo the frontman of one of the biggest metal bands of all time?
Blue: It had a lot to do with Bruce Corbitt who I’m in Warbeast with. He was on Housecore Records and friends with Phil. I’ll never forget the first time I met him. I was just like holy fuck. We had a beautiful giant studio when we recorded our first album. A multi-million dollar place. After doing some major tours with Warbeast Phil saw I had some potential and we just started to jam. The rest is history.
MM: Did you record the Illegals album in the studio you mentioned?
Blue: No, all the Illegals stuff was recorded at Housecore Records. That was like 10 years ago we did the first Warbeast album. Now we do everything in house at Housecore. We get a lot of variety here and record all our sessions to capture all the magic. We get in the jam room and jam and record everything. Something every musician should do is record everything.
MM: That’s definitely good advice. Unless you’re like Kirk Hammett and record it on your phone then lose it.
Blue: Yeah, but we all do that shit. It’s convenient. The technology makes you feel safe. Then you drop your phone in the toilet taking a piss at a restaurant. The worst feeling is losing all the work. Or losing a hard drive with all kinds of shit. You just lost the magic you captured. If you lose it you might not remember what you recorded.
MM: When you recorded the album did you record it live? It almost sounds like that.
Blue: No, we did it all with separate tracking. Standard procedure. We wanted that raw sound that would translate live. I can’t stand it when bands sound completely different live from how they sound in the studio.
MM: When can we expect to see the Illegals live?
Blue: We’re going to be pushing this heavily. Superjoint as well. We’re going to go back and forth. You’ll see us out this year, and it’s going to be fun.
Keep your eyes peeled for Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals tour dates!