Metallica recently announced that they would be giving local bands the opportunity to open for them on their current Latin American tour. Based on a voting system, the most popular bands at each stop will be granted the opening spot, and the awesome Zafakon won their way to the stage in Puerto Rico. The San Juan metallers got 40% of the votes, which was more than enough to beat out the other four bands, and on Wednesday night, their dream became a reality. Zafakon opened for Metallica at Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan, and they’ve given us an exclusive recap of the night!
Metal Mark- Just like every band in Puerto Rico, you guys entered the contest to open for Metallica. When did you start to realize that you guys could actually win?
Marcus Veit: I tried not to think about it too much. We were supposed to open for Slayer on October 29th, and that show got cancelled shortly before the Metallica one was announced. So I guess I didn’t want to get my hopes up. We had a strong lead from the get go, but I’d seen leads like those be quickly turned around before. I was stressing out until the very end of the poll.
Weslie Negrón: In my case, I did not want to feel like we’ve won until it was confirmed. I know that we had a 500+ votes ahead, but we had tough competition. All of the bands that were in the poll could easily bring as many people as we did. but an hour prior to the poll closing, I was feeling pretty good about it.
MM- What was your first thought when you got the confirmation that you would be opening for Metallica?
MV: I think I was the first of us to find out. I dropped everything I was doing (I can’t even remember what it was), and texted these guys something in the lines of: “IT’S OVER!! WE WON!” After that I was pretty much in shock. My inbox started flooding with messages from very excited fans and friends.
WN: I started to scream at my work (laughs). It was a great feeling to know that we were going to share the stage with them, especially knowing what it means to share the stage with the most important band in metal. I was just thinking about rehearsals, and the production aspect of our show. It was an insane evening.
MM- Talk about the show. Walking on that stage, seeing all the fans, how was it?
MV: I can say personally that the whole thing didn’t hit me until we actually started to get changed to go out on stage. It was insane. I started pacing and whispering “holy shit” to myself over and over. Before that we were just chilling backstage just goofing around. Those five minutes before climbing the stairs to the stage were intense. I could hear the crowd being loud as hell as they turned off the house lights. I was on the edge of freaking out, and then we walked on stage. As soon as I walked to the front, all the anxiety was replaced by adrenaline. “We are here, we are finally here.” So I raised my arms to the crowd, and let it rip.
WN: I just felt the wave of people screaming, and some of them were even screaming my name. That was very surreal. After that, the rush of knowing that you are on the biggest stage in Puerto Rico, and that you are opening for Metallica hits you in the face. After that it was a no brainer, I had to raise hell and play the best I could, and I think we did overall. It was an amazing experience.
MM- You guys got to meet the band after the gig. How was it meeting your idols? Did they give you any advice or funny stories?
MV: Those guys were the best. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. We were taking some pictures in the hallway, and then they came over to greet us. Lars asked me if we were local, to which I answered “Yeah!” He said “Oh, so that’s YOUR crowd out there.” I said, “Yeah, but we can lend them to you. I made sure they scream and clap for you, so you’ll be okay.” (laughs)
The best part was when they left, and we were just standing in that hallway not believing what had just happened, and we saw Lars walk back. He stopped and said “Who’s the drummer?” We pointed to Nicko and Lars says to him, “You go play,” and then he just walked away! That was surreal.
WN: I got to see Trujillo and James before we met them, and I was just super excited. When we officially got to meet them, I was just stunned. They were all super cool with us. They said jokes to us and complimented our outfits. It was about a 3 minute meet, where we got to take a picture with them. My highlight would be me high-fiving James for sure!
MM- For any band, this is a huge deal. For Zafakon, and yourselves, how much did this whole experience mean to you?
WN: It means the world to me. It has been 6 years of sacrifice, hard work, and overall hustle. I think we are super lucky to have the support of our fans and friends, because they made this happen. This is definitely a huge step for the band, because not a lot of bands have the chance to play with Metallica.
MV: As my band mates are aware, I can sometimes be a bummer. If you were to tell me 3 months ago that we would open for Metallica, probably the biggest band in the world, I would probably say “Yeah right, a huge promotion like that one would never give us the chance to stand on that stage, dream on.” I am happy to say, I have completely changed my view on things. After this I feel like anything is possible. Even the most bizarre of events!
MM- Now that you can say that you’ve opened for Metallica, what is next for Zafakon?
WN: We got a new video coming out in about two weeks. We also have some local shows coming up, and next year we’ll go back to the U.S. to tour. After that we’ll start writing new material, so busy months ahead!
MV: Definitely this is a hard one to top! We’re looking to tour again very soon. I think we will also be looking at some unexplored geography for us in the near future. Stay tuned! 😉