Greetings Eric and welcome to Voices From The Darkside. Even though I own your debut album "Crime Against Humanity" since its origin in 1991 I gotta confess that I hardly knew anything about NAUSEA’s background before I started the research for this interview… So, maybe we can talk a little bit about the very early days as well here now?!
"Thank you and glad to be part of this interview."
From what I understood, NAUSEA rose from the ashes of the L.A. band MAJESTY, which already featured Oscar Garcia (on guitars / vocals), Carlos "Cosmo" Reveles (on bass / vocals) and yourself on drums… Was MAJESTY the first serious band for you all or have you already been playing in any bands before?
"Yes, NAUSEA was born out of the ashes of MAJESTY around 1988. Oscar and I were neighbours at that time, he had been making noise with a couple guys. One day his sister stopped by and mentioned his brother was looking for a drummer, so I gave her my number. But we actually met on the bus a few days right after that, exchanged some words… next thing you know we started messing around with riffs in my garage that he had and soon it became what was known as MAJESTY. Oscar took care of the logo, the name (after an influence band MASTER). Now “Bestial Vomit” was recorded just out of fun we had… so much time in our hands back than, no jobs or school and it seemed so easy. My father’s band would leave all their equipment in our garage so we would just start plugging mics to a small 16 channel mixer to a cassette deck and next thing you know the demo was born, back in late 1987. We where shocked to hear the quality of the recording, I myself would say it was my first mess around band. When I met Oscar he had a band with 2 names basically (UNKNOWN DEATH / DECOMPOSED). It was Death Metal, but they had no demos recorded. Shortly after they met Pete and changed the name to TERRORIZER."
Why was MAJESTY so shortlived (1985-1987)? Is NAUSEA the continuation of MAJESTY under a different name? When and why did you exactly change the bandname?
"MAJESTY pretty much wasn’t a serious band. We were just experimenting ideas over some cold beers, recording ideas down. I would say we made a switch from bestial vomit Black / Death Metal to more punkish style after listening to early "Scum" NAPALM DEATH, ENT, DOOM, HERESY… the music completely changed, lyrics, covers… pretty much everything. One day I remember Oscar came to my house and we started both talking about changing the name or pretty much starting a new band. I liked the idea and it was weird that we both agreed on naming the band after the HERESY song NAUSEA. This was around 1988."
Tell us a little bit about the two demos you recorded and released as MAJESTY in 1987 ("Bestial Vomit" and "Demo II")? Did you spread them around in a big way or was it mainly locally to get gigs and stuff?
"MAJESTY did only release one demo: “Bestial Vomit”. The so called "Demo II" are just songs under NAUSEA that somehow got leaked via tapetrade. Also that’s basically how the demo got attention in the underground, all through tapetrading. Jesse was heavily involved in trading tapes back then, so that’s pretty much how it got to people’s hands. I might have sold 3 or 4 demos for $2 back then."
Talking of live shows: have you already played many shows as MAJESTY or did that come later, after you’ve had changed the name of the band to NAUSEA?
"Honestly MAJESTY did officially play one show only. It was myself and Cosmo, 2 piece band and that was with TERRORIZER at Hoover Park."
In the early days of MAJESTY / NAUSEA Oscar already had his other band TERRORIZER going with Pete Sandoval (drums), Jesse Pintado (guitars, RIP) and Alfred "Garvey" Estrada (bass)… why was he working in two bands that musically aren’t so different from each other?
"Hmm, that would have to be answered by him but from what he would tell me, TERRORIZER was a bit more inclined towards Death Metal and he wanted a band to take it more on the D-beat / Punk side, more simple, which was what we in NAUSEA were focused on more, Drunk / Core."
Alfred was also playing in both bands (TERRORIZER and NAUSEA) in the early days, wasn’t he? Whatever happened to him, by the way?
"He did play with us here and there… See, we (NAUSEA / TERRORIZER) both would rehearse at my home at the same time, like back to back, so when Cosmo wouldn’t be around he would grab the bass and jam out with us. Then he went off for a long vacation to a Correctional Facility. We met up again and he did help us again. I am not so sure to say, but it was around 2001, we recorded “Images Of Abuse” with Garvey… he was one of our best bass players we ever had (no offense to all our homies that played and helped us out). A while after that demo and a few shows things got on the way so he departed from the band. We have not heard from him ever since, at least I haven’t."
TERRORIZER and NAUSEA even released a split demo together in 1987 / 1988, which got heavily bootlegged in the years to come. What was the intention behind this and how did people react on a split demo in general, which wasn’t really a common thing back then? Did one of the bands get a better response than the other or have both been received equally well from the fans?
"Well it was pretty much just to say "Hey, here is some Grindcore bands from Los Angeles." We used to practice and do shows together back in the day. I would use Pete’s drum kit and we would just switch the bass players, minus Jesse of course, so with that idea in hand is how the split came about, which I think up to today was a great thing to have done. Also remember that back in 87-89 there was zero Grindcore bands here in Los Angeles. It was just Death Metal. would say both bands got a positive feedback."
Why did TERRORIZER break up back in 1988 and did NAUSEA get more into the focus of Oscar from then on?
"I was there and seen it all happen and I really don’t feel comfortable speaking on behalf of the brothers (TERRORIZER), but Jesse left to NAPALM DEATH and Pete left to MORBID ANGEL, so pretty much Oscar was left alone back home. But it was like nothing happened to NAUSEA. We just kept going at it, we both got more focused on the band."
I honestly didn’t really understand why there’s 4 NAUSEA songs on the TERRORIZER debut album "World Downfall", that still got recorded in 1989 (‘Corporation Pull-In’, ‘Need To Live’, ‘Condemned System’ and ‘World Downfall’)… I mean, TERRORIZER had written enough songs for themselves, so weren’t they satisfied with most of them or what lead to that decision?
"They wanted to add more punkish / Grind tunes to it, so Oscar brought them over to TERRORIZER."
What did you personally think of that decision at the time? I suppose you were part of the origin of those songs, weren’t you?
"I was a bit disappointed, but it was a bit messy at least from what I had been informed back then. I was told at first it was going to be a split album, kinda like the ENT /CHAOS UK album, but towards the end Earache did not want to spend extra cash. But whatever, not sure what was really all behind that. But I thought it‘s all good, these where my brothers, so what’s the big deal I thought. And we really all got along pretty well, drank and partied together. It was like a little Grindcore family."
NAUSEA recorded quite a bunch of demos over the years, but there’s only two full length albums out ever since the band’s origin in 1987 ("Crime Against Humanity" from 1991 and "Condemned To The System" from 2014). Why do you stick to demos instead of recording full length albums for so long?
"We just wanted to do what we wanted to do, so demos was our thing. Also it kept NAUSEA low pro in the underground scene. There wasn’t many labels interested at the time, it was kinda like you had to know someone to get signed. The first album was released by this label that ripped us and many other bands." (Wild Rags Records – Frank)
In the meantime there’s already at least two compilations that feature old NAUSEA demos ("The Suffering Continues" and "World Struggle: Demos ’88-’92")… Are those official releases that have been created in co-operation with the band or do you consider them bootlegs?
"No these 2 albums were released under our supervision and approved by us."
What had caused the split-up of NAUSEA in 1994 and what made you return in 2001?
"We never broke up, it was just a little break we wanted to take plus it is a bit complicated sometimes to keep a band together. So, sometime in 2001 and prior to that I would occasionally phone or tell Oscar “We should get NAUSEA back in the scene, we can look for new members” here and there, and believe me, it was a bit hard for me and not easy to convince Oscar to get back into it. Had to drag him back in, until that day came he just called me and said “Hey man, let’s start rehearsing again”."
How did you get together with new members Alejandro Corredor (on bass) and Leon del Müerte (on guitar)?
"I met Alejandro through Danny Herrera. It was at a get together over some cold ones and a few lines. He was very easy going from the start, so I told him about getting NAUSEA back in the scene and if he was interested in playing bass for NAUSEA. He right away said yeah. Now Mr Leon was brought in by Alejandro. We needed a guitarist kinda urgently to do a comeback show which was MDF and there he was. I must say these 2 guys are what NAUSEA was in need of in all forms musically and easy mellow going persons. They both are excellent musicians and homies."
When did Willowtip Records offer you a record deal for the release of a new NAUSEA album and has there been any other label interest as well?
"Leon was the one who took care of reaching out to labels since he has more experience when it came to dealing with contracts and what so ever. We had 2 choices to go with and Willowtip was the one we decided to go with."
Did Willowtip live up to your expectations or have there been any problems since you worked together?
"Willowtip has been great so far."
Tell us a little bit more about the origin of the new album… when exactly did you plan to go into a studio to finally record another album and how did everything develop from there?
"Well, that had been in our minds for quite a while. We were just lazy, perhaps about searching for the right label, also with Leon and Alejandro the band seemed more steady than ever, so that had an important role in realizing a new album I would say."
The album was recorded with Sean Vahle at Architeutihis Sound in California… what made you choose this particular studio and are you satisfied with the result?
"Sean is good friends with Leon, so he suggested NAUSEA record the album at his place. We pretty much went with it. Myself, I am my own worst critic, I always think my parts could have been done better, time is my worst enemy I must say."
Besides the re-recorded version of ‘Corporation Pull-In’ (that most people probably know from the TERRORIZER debut full length) your new album "Condemned To The System" features no less than 7 songs that previously have already been released on demos between 2002 and 2006 and only 3 brand new tracks (‘Hate And Deception’, ‘Falsely Accused’ and ‘And We Suffer’)… What was the reason for you to use so many songs from your demos for the album?
"These are great songs that we never had the opportunity to record at a professional studio, so we wanted to include them and ‘Corporation Pull-In’, we wanted to record it the original NAUSEA way. Low and high vox. The rest of the new songs we just wanted to add a little teaser of what’s to come."
To me "Condemned To The System" sounds pretty much like the album that TERRORIZER should have released after "World Downfall" instead of the records that are out there now ("Darker Days Ahead" and "Hordes Of Zombies"). I mean, your new album doesn’t really have much in common anymore with the band NAUSEA that delivered "Crime Against Humanity" more than 20 years ago, which isn’t really a big surprise, but: was that intentional or did it happen by pure coincidence?
"We hear that often, the album being compared to the follow-up of "World Downfall" and that is Oscar to blame for, haha, in a good way… As far as the change of pace I must say it’s been over a decade since "Crime…" came out. "Condemned…" is what NAUSEA has developed to. "Crime…" was a mix of ideas we wanted to create back then. Also I must admit to say that with NAUSEA we have had the freedom to play and create whatever we felt like through the years. We don’t stand or believe in just one musical gender style, at least I don’t, from D-beat / Grind / Industrial / experimental to whatever fits in."
How did Matt Harvey (of EXHUMED etc.) end up doing backing vocals on ‘Corporation Pull-In’?
"It was Alejandro’s suggestion."
From what I’ve seen you’ve been playing out live very often again in your area lately, so have there been any shows that – in retrospect – you would consider as really special? Any bands you shared the stage with that you became a fan of afterwards maybe?
"Yes, finally we as NAUSEA got the opportunity to take our noise outside and around the US, but memorable shows I must say while out in Europe, great shows, very supportive fans."
NAUSEA have mainly been labeled a Grindcore act, even though I find a lot of old school Death Metal in your material as well, so what is your definition of a Grindcore band and would you say NAUSEA fits into that genre first and foremost?
"Yes, again different people have different opinions, but I must say we have zero affiliation with the Death Metal label. Our lyrics / covers have nothing to do with Death Metal music at all. I just see our music like old school don’t give a shit D-beat / Punk / Grind and I think nowadays it’s pretty hard to describe who and what is Grindcore. There is tons of bands out there. Some good, some bad."
Ok Eric, I hope I didn’t bore you to death with all these questions… Thanks a lot for taking the time. I’ll leave the last words up to you… if you have any news or merchandise available, feel free to promote that here. All the best!
"Thank you again for your interest and support in the band. We have a facebook page that keeps our fans updated with info (see below – Frank). Also we are currently working on new material for the follow up to "Condemned To The System". Tons of luck with Voices From The Darkside, long live the old school."