The Kyngs of LA – Tony Castaneda of Kyng

Kyng band image

Rock music is deeply rooted with the Los Angeles music scene and has produced a number of acts who have helped shape a section of music history. One of the city’s rising stars is East LA natives Kyng, who have made a name for themselves over the past few years with their back to the roots heavy rock sounds with heavy grooves and melodic overtones.

Veterans of the LA music scene, the three members of the band (vocalist/guitarist Eddie Veliz, bassist Tony Castaneda and drummer Pepe Clarke Magana) created a powerful yet hard-hitting sound that fans discovered on their latest album Burn The Serum (out now via Razor and Tie), and their recent journey found themselves on Knotfest 2015, becoming extra special for them being this was in their backyard in Southern California.

kyng knotfest

Castaneda shared his thoughts about the show and playing at San Manuel Amphitheatre, the Devore, CA based venue which held events such as Ozzfest and Rockstar Mayhem Fest in the past. “The main difference is this is in our backyard. We’re from Los Angeles and this is a hometown show for us, and it’s always nice to go home after the night and sleep in your own bed. That’s not to say the other festivals aren’t awesome.

This is definitely a venue that individually we’ve played here in the past. To be here with Kyng is definitely awesome. We love this place. There’s definitely a lot of history here, as you know Ozzfest and I’ve seen Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I’ve played Ozzfest back in 2007 with Pepe in another band we were in.

He shared his thoughts about playingKnotfest and taking part on a much talked about event. Being asked to participate on a festival run by one of the biggest acts in heavy music is an honor for most bands, but Castaneda chose to take in as much of the event as he could, aside from himself playing on it.

Not falling on my ass from all of the dust on stage and wearing my Vans, and having more canvas underneath them!,” he said, with a laugh. “The highlights for me are yet to come. There’s a lot of friends here. Devour The Day’s here, Suicidal Tendencies…which I’ll be catching. After I’m done [here], I’ll be catching Cannibal Corpse. Clutch…so many bands. I missed yesterday’s set [but] I’m excited for what’s to come.

Photo Credit: Alyson Coletta Photography

Photo Credit: Alyson Coletta Photography

Their journey has taken them on tour with a variety of audiences, from Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch, to Seether and then even Megadeth. They discovered along the way how they have managed to work their sound towards that respective audience and winning them over along the way.

We discovered that we can be as heavy as we want to be and still be melodic. That’s what separates us from all of the other bands. We have a drummer like Pepe that’s a beast and can basically play in a heavy, heavy metal band and plays in a rock band like us. We do both and I feel we do it well as it works for us and we’re going to continue to do.

Kyng Album cover

Coming out of an area such as East Los Angeles and often overshadowed by the bands coming out of West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip area makes their story even sweeter. Having flown under the radar and slowly building an audience at every

It means a lot because not too many bands come from East LA. A lot of band would be Hollywood bands, but you do have your bands from Los Angeles like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s a lot of bands. I guess for a band of this genre, there’s not too many of them from LA. It means a lot especially being from East LA and myself, growing up in a predominant Latin community, I’m proud of that all of us are Latinos and that’s something that’s cool to us. We’re very thankful that we can be in this genre and making our stamp and let it be known.

Photo Credit: Rob Fenn

Photo Credit: Rob Fenn

One of their biggest supporters from the early days was Jose Mangin of Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal, who befriended the band and helped spread their name around the scene. Castaneda acknowledged how his influence greatly helped them towards bigger things such as Metallica’s Orion Festival.

He’s the biggest supporter since day one. He is the reason why we have gotten a lot of attention. He’s the type of guy everybody knows. Everybody in the industry knows that guy knows his shit and he vouched for us since day one and everybody jumped on board that was a friend of his and believes in it as much as he does. For that we’re grateful and will be forever grateful,” he said.

On the subject of a new Kyng record, the band teased the Knotfest crowd with a brand new, yet untitled tune. “We played a new song today. I’m not sure if it’s a working title at the moment. We only played one new one but the rest were some from the first album and some from the second.

Photo Credit: Shawn Evans/Sonic Visions Photography

Photo Credit: Shawn Evans/Sonic Visions Photography

While specifics on when a new record is coming are yet to be determined, Castaneda gave an update on the status on their third album, which they are currently working on.

It’s a little bit of the first album and a little bit of the second album intertwined. There’s gonna be a few new things we may or may not try. Generally it’s definitely a Kyng album. It’s heavy music, melodic with harmonized vocals here and there, [with] singing. So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

Lastly, he shared his goals for the next record. While the members of Kyng have accomplished many personal goals within their first two albums, he admits he is working on a new bucket list as they are entering a new album cycle real soon.

I think every year there’s a new bucket list, as you mark things off of your list, you want to stay hungry and find new stuff. We got to play with Metallica so it would be nice to tour with them. We’d like to tour with Megadeth again – that’s definitely on the top of the list. It would be cool to play with bands that are not just heavy metal. We’ve done tours with bands like Seether. We would like to do something Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age. I think we can adapt to the different types of fans within the genre. That’s definitely something on my list.

We actually went from Seether, which we finished that tour and then went straight into Megadeth. It’s two different worlds. So it worked. It’s weird because we get concerned sometimes when we do tours like that. With Seether, a lot of the times with fans like theirs, we’re a little too heavy for them. Then when we jump onto a tour like Megadeth, we’re like ‘well I wonder if we’re heavy enough…’ Like I said, we pride ourselves on being able to do stuff like that. That’s something unique that we have.

By Rei Nishimoto

[amazon asin=B013H1XMAI&template=iframe image]

Interview: Sworn In – Lovers Or Devils?

sworn in

For the members of Illinois metalcore outfit Sworn In, the past four year’s worth of hard work and roughing it on the road has slowly paid off into their latest album The Lovers/The Devil seeing a release through Razor and Tie this past April 7th.

“We have a record before this [2013’s The Death Card] and two EPs [2011’s Catharsis and 2012’s Start/End]”, explained frontman Tyler Drennen, about their history. “It’s three or four years of solid shit eating and get where we need to get to, and biting the bullet to do the shitty shit. Being at the point where we’re doing [Rockstar Energy] Mayhem Fest and stuff like that, we’re grinding it out and doing whatever tours come our way, staying on the road and playing music.”

sworn in the lover the devil

Like their previous recordings, The Lovers/The Devil is a concept album that sticks to a theme based on tarot cards. But aside from that, their songs are also built around personal stories relating to that theme as well, which became relatable to Drennen.

“For Sworn In, all of our full length CD’s are conceptual albums based on tarot cards. So this album combines two tarot cards into one. There’s the Lovers card and the Devils card. The whole idea is that it’s a two part CD – part one is songs one through seven, and eight through thirteen is the devil’s side. If you follow the story of the destructive relationship, with one character being the lover and one being the devil and on the CD it switches and the characters switch too. So it starts off as the lover and then the devils side starts up. It’s a long way of saying everyone has a lover and the devil side of them.”

He went into depth about how the songs tied into his own personal life. “I wrote all of the lyrics. It was a collection of observations that I made on love. My parents didn’t have a great relationship. I wasn’t in a great relationship while I was writing that CD. So there’s some personal stuff in there too.”

“I mean the entire time I was writing the record, I was dating a girl and we didn’t have a very good relationship. That was a lot of what I was thinking about while I was writing it.”

Musically, The Lovers/The Devil showcases a mix of heavier metalcore-esque tunes on the Devil half of the CD, while the Lovers side experiments with a darker yet melodic flavor less featured on past recordings. He talked about their wide range of musical influences that have been within the band and how tastes have changed over the years.

“The early days we were a lot heavier than we are now. We were listening to bands like Between The Buried And Me, Meshuggah, The Acacia Strain, Emmure and stuff like that. But we also have more mainstream-y influences like pop music. We all like rap music. I’m way into My Chemical Romance, Thrice and stuff like that. It’s a nice little potpourri of stuff we’re into.”

“We wanted the Lovers half of the CD to be a bit more straight forward and mainstreamy with singing and catchy choruses. We wanted the Devil’s side to be the same. So that’s what we did,” said Drennen.

sworn in 2

At the time of the interview, the band just endured a minor dilemma when Drennen sat out a leg of their recent support slot with Chelsea Grin with throat problems.

He explained what exactly happened. “The day we left, I got strep throat and that led into bronchitis and straight into laryngitis. Then from there I went straight into some walk in clinics and they were worried that whatever infection I had got septic and got into my blood. So they suggested me to go see my primary healthcare physician, so I went home for a few days and he said it would take a few days of no talking with antibiotics. Long story short, after I stopped yelling every night I got better.”

“It was a matter of my larynx got super inflamed from a symptom of being sick. It got all swollen and was hard for me to talk and scream and do anything. Our merch guy Kenny was [filling in for those shows].

Sworn In will be spending this summer on the Rockstar Mayhem Fest across North America, sharing the side stage with Whitechapel, Thy Art Is Murder and many others. Drennen shared his thoughts on their upcoming summer touring plans.

“That was mind-blowing for us. One day we got a call from our manager and he was like ‘we got Mayhem [Fest]’ and we were like holy shit – can’t even believe it. We didn’t think we were going to get it and it worked out.”
He also shared what to expect from their appearance on the tour. “We’re going to play a couple songs off of The Death Card and the rest are going to be new songs. It’s going to be really cool. We’re working on some cool stage production so it should be an amazing show to watch.”

“I’m excited to see Slayer every night. It will be crazy. We’re really good friends with the guys from Thy Art Is Murder, so we’ll hang out with them a lot. I’m pretty stoked to see Code Orange every night.“

By Rei Nishimoto