Los Angeles, California has brought us a lot of amazing Death Metal bands over the years: BRAINSTORM, ENGRAVE, ENTETY, INFAMY, COFFIN TEXTS, SADISTIC INTENT and NAUSEA are just a handful of names that immediately come to my mind when thinking about that area. UNHOLY LUST from Wilmington, L.A. is another great band to be added to that list and "Taste The Sin Through The Fire" (2010), "Banished From The Light" (2014) and "Humanity And Its End" (2018), their three most recent releases via Blood Harvest and Iron Pegasus Records respectively, are just prime examples of excellent old school Death Metal for all fans of POSSESSED, SADISTIC INTENT or old SLAYER. To find out more about these guys we contacted guitarist / vocalist Alvaro Sancen, who kindly answered a bunch of our questions…
UNHOLY LUST is located in Wilmington, Los Angeles… What can you tell us about this particular area? Do you have a healthy Metal scene there, with good possibilities to play shows and all that? Have you lived in Wilmington your whole life already or did you move there at one point?
"Wilmington, CA is a small industrial port city between Long Beach and San Pedro. Not much to see here, but you’ll find a lot of authentic Mexican food and fresh sea food. The Metal scene here isn’t much, but you’ll see a local Metalhead from time to time. It’s not as big as when I was a teenager. You won’t find any venues or clubs here to play. You’ll have to do that the old school way and perform in someone’s backyard. All the big clubs and live sound approved areas are in the downtown LA area, Hollywood, or larger neighboring cities. I’ve spent my entire life here, but home is where you make it."
The band originally started out back in 1999 as LOS WINOES, which was more of a Punk band if my information is correct… What can you tell us about those early days? How did you all get together, who founded the band, and which other members have already been part of the line-up back then?
"Yeah, sounds about right… well the early days would have a lot of drinking and a lot of skateboarding and not so much rehearsal time. LOS WINOES was the life of the backyard scene back then. We got along with just about anyone and we always had a 40oz or wine bag in hand. The way the band got started was kind of random. Jose aka Chihuahua Dog, our ex founding drummer, came home to see that his dad bought him a drum set, so the next day at school he brought that up to us. So for some reason I said I’d play bass. Could be because I didn’t know how to play anything and bass just seemed easier hahahaha, who knows. We spent a few weeks as drum and bass until we contacted our founding guitarist Erik aka Smiley / Jegs and began to jam MISFITS, MINOR THREAT and other Punk Rock covers. In need of a second guitarist, we later contacted Victor aka Vamps and began writing our own songs which kinda sucked, but had a raw groove which gave us our own style in comparison to other local Punk Rock bands at the time. As for the past members, we have a few hahahaha. I won’t name them. I don’t want to miss anyone, but they know who they are… horns up."
In 2005 you changed your name to UNHOLY LUST… What made you choose that new moniker and who created your logo? Any story connected to the name’s origin maybe? Had your music already changed so much at that point that you simply wanted to separate yourselves from the LOS WINOES past?
"Around 2005 or so, Franco Lust who by then had been in the band for a few years and I decided for a change. Miguel aka Black Metal Miguel came up with the logo which we later modified into the current logo. As for the name, it came from one of my favorite POSSESSED songs ‘Holy Hell’. About 33 seconds in “Holy hell, Death to us, Satan fell, UNHOLY LUST” and the rest is history hahahaha. Our writing style changed and so did our music, so that as well was part of the change. We did record a LOS WINOES original ‘Politics & War’ and the most recent ‘Los Winoes Unholy Drunks’ (L.W.U.D) which has old riffs and new riffs."
Which bands still influenced you as LOS WINOES and which are to blame for the origin of UNHOLY LUST more or less?
"I feel that I’m still inspired and influenced by a lot of the bands I grew up listening to. My library of music has expanded for sure, but wow, the list of bands would be way too much to put down here, hahaha."
The 4 tracks of your debut demo "Los Winoes"(from 2007) re-surfaced on the second demo, "Natas Fo Snos", which was already released a little bit later the same year (amazing title, by the way, hahaha!)… Did you use the same recordings or had you re-recorded those songs for the second demo?
"Wanna hear something funny? I don’t remember much from that release and I don’t even own any of the copies! It was a very blurry time in my life, hahaha. Sex, drinks and Metal. I’m honestly sitting here at work trying to reflect and give you the correct answer. I’m sure we ended up using two different recordings for each release and from what I can somewhat remember, we did them in our garage under my friend Anal Jeff’s label Anal Funk Records. Wanna say thanks to Jeff for giving us that help and boost. Who knows where we would’ve been without his help."
Was your debut demo still released as LOS WINOES or did you just use the title to show people the connection between LOS WINOES and UNHOLY LUST?
"The first demo release was as LOS WINOES for sure. As you said, we released two under LOS WINOES, but the first official album and whatnot was as UNHOLY LUST. We recorded the first song we ever wrote as a band (‘Politics & War’) in the "Banished From The Light" release. It was our tribute to the past and we felt it needed to be honored. Also, this new release features ‘L.W.U.D.’ (Los Winoes Unholy Drunks), which has a riff from back in the day that we mixed in with some current ideas. So give it a listen and drink a beer because just before it starts, I crack a beer open… salute!"
What can you tell us about the "Burning God – Live at Wilmington" cassette that you released in December 2007. Is it true that it was limited to just 20 copies? When and where did you record that and was it mainly to let people hear some of the new songs you had already written by the time?
"May I add it seems like you did your homework on us hahaha. That release was limited and I do think I own that cassette copy. That was a live recording we had in our garage and if I’m not mistaken we had a keg, DJ, and a little over 100 people attended. It was total chaos, dude. I hope I’m not confusing this release with another, hahaha. We just partied really hard back in the day."
Some of those previously unreleased tracks from the live tape finally could be found on the 2008 demo, "Unholy Lust". Would you consider this release as the real starting point of UNHOLY LUST, due to the demo’s title? Why was it so strictly limited again (40 copies)?
"Fuck, this is another release I don’t own so I can’t recall much on it!! The long list of merch I don’t own keeps adding up. The pressure is on, let’s leave this question on hold. I’ll have to dig through boxes and call people to see who owns one and time is ticking down. I will say this is one of the LOS WINOES releases, we accidentally gave out demos with blank CDs, hahahahaha. Daniel of SAKRIFICER brought that to our attention. Must have been a disappointing and confusing moment for him as he went to play the CD hahahahaha… good times."
Is "Live At Mirror Image Studios Anaheim" really another UNHOLY LUST live recording or more of a "live in the studio" sort of release? Was it only released on cassette again? If so, what was the purpose of it and how many copies did you make of this release?
""Live At Mirror Image Studio" was a live gig. They had a few bands and a high as hell stage that had awkwardly placed stairs right in front. That was a crappy evening and I was totally disappointed in the recording quality and performance on our end. I don’t think we released this one, but it’s possible that it leaked out. So if you own it, burn it. Oh, and I pushed that night way into a dark corner in my head and thanks for bringing it back to light, hahaha. We had a special guest that evening which I won’t mention his name hahahaha, you know who you are!! He got completely wasted before coming on stage and let’s just say the cover we did had way too many mistakes. Let’s never do that again!"
You seem to play live quite a lot, so which shows have been your most memorable so far and why? Which bands have been the most fun to share the stage with?
"Oh yeah, back in the day we would maybe average out 20 gigs a year or something like that. Playing live was amazing man. The rush of drinking beers and kicking ass, the fans in the pit, the dirt, sweat and tears. Total chaos and good times. We don’t play live as much now, but we still get the same kicks out of it. We’ve had a ton of great moments with bands, so I find it hard to put an exact fix on which one was the best. Shit, we still look forward to many more amazing moments, so ask me that same question in another 20 years hahahaha, if I’m still around."
Was the track ‘Wilmington Warriors Of Death’ a sort of anthem for the band, because it is connected to your home area? If so, why did you shorten it to ‘Warriors Of Death’ for your "Taste The Sin Through The Fire" debut full-length from 2010then?
"Yeah, it is an anthem song, but we felt it would be best to remove the Wilmington part so we could allow a larger fan base to feel more welcomed. But depending on Franco Lust the title will change."
Talking about the debut full length… how did you hook up with Blood Harvest Records for the release of it? Have you been satisfied with their promotion and the distribution of the album?
"Our friend Anal Jeff from Anal Funk Records was in contact with Blood Harvest and Jeff was the one who approached him with our music. Somewhere down the line we just took over the negotiations and came to a deal. I think the promotional part could’ve been a little more, but to be honest we took a little longer than expected. All in all, I do feel it was promoted and distributed correctly. I mean we have people in different parts of the world that own it. That truly brings a smile to my face."
The first and last seconds of the track ‘Thy Angel Dust’ on that album sound a little strange to me, with those unexpected stops… was that supposed to turn out like that or is it just a technical error? It sounds cut off a little bit too early to me, somehow (if you know what I mean)…
"It was a technical error that we don’t know what happened to this day. Something happened to the recording on the last few days of mastering. Everyone was confused. The song was almost completely lost and we salvaged what we could. We didn’t have the time to come back and completely redo it. All the drums had gone back to the rehearsal studio and the guitar amps and the mics were put away. We voted to just try and save the song and put it back as best as we could and use it. I guess we need to play it live so you could get the true effect of the song and hear it the way it should be."
In 2014 you released the "Banished From The Light" vinyl 12" EP through Iron Pegasus Records. What made you work with Costa instead of Blood Harvest for this release and was it your personal wish that it became a vinyl only EP?
"Well, how that all came to be was I think Blood Harvest was looking to repress the first album or Iron Pegasus was looking to. I don’t remember who asked who, but we all started talking numbers and trying to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, we didn’t and the conversations ended. I kept in contact with Costa of Iron Pegasus and later down the line I mentioned we had a few new tracks and if he would be interested in releasing them. Before anything went any further, we contacted Blood Harvest and asked for his blessing to move forward and here we are today."
What can you tell us about the live tracks on side two? When and where have you recorded those?
"I haven’t heard that side in some time. The main reason is that my record player broke and I haven’t found something reasonably priced or of my liking. Record players have gotten so expensive in the last few years. When we recorded it?!?! I forgot the date hahahaha, but where we recorded it was here at my house. We rehearse here so it felt like it would be the easiest way. We invited a few friends, give or take 20-40 people. We had Adrian of Dungeon Sound Studio place a few mics around the room and mics around the equipment. I gave everyone beers, weed, other party favors and let the tracks roll. I didn’t think it was too bad for a last minute low budget quick mix project."
The "Banished From The Light" studio tracks just re-appeared on your newest release, the "Humanity And Its End" CD, which once again was released through Iron Pegasus Records… Who’s idea was that and what can you tell us about the brand new material on that CD?
"Well the reason the "Banished From The Light" stuff came out on this CD was because it’s previous release was on vinyl only. Costa planned to release it on CD later on, but talks began for a warm up release to gear up for the second album. So Costa was the mastermind behind the "Humanity…" and "Banished…" joint release. This will also be released under Iron Pegasus Records. A vinyl release may be in the works for the "Humanity And Its End" as a split, so keep your eyes posted for news."
On the track ‘Ancient Times’ Wannes Gubbels (PENTACLE) and Emilio Marquez (POSSESSED) make guest appearances… how did this happen?
"It was an honor to have worked with both of them. Cheers lads! The plan came to mind a little after I started talking to Wannes about bringing PENTACLE over to the US for the first time. I’m a big fan of his vocal style and band, so I’d figure “hey what the heck, let’s ask and see if he would be willing to work with us.” Once he was on board, I approached Emilio at a gig and ran the idea by him. Once I mentioned Wannes was in, he gave me the two thumbs up and the rest is history. Cool fact: Wannes finished writing and arranging the lyrics on his flight over here, no rest for the wicked hahahaha."
Where do you see the main differences between "Taste The Sin Through The Fire" and "Humanity And Its End"?
"Our writing styles and patterns have been consistent, but our riffs have evolved over the years, as they should. The goal is to always step up from our last recording and try something a little different. If you don’t try something new or change it up a little, it can get boring. I do feel that has been achieved and I do hope the outside ears have noticed, so expect the second album to have some extra fire."
Even though "Humanity And Its End" has just been released, you’re already working on your second album, so please reveal as many details about it as you can already?
"As you know and as I’ve mentioned in a few of the other answers, we are currently working on a second album. I can’t get too much into detail because nothing is finalized. What I can say is to expect 8 total tracks of Death Thrash Metal. Some guest appearances, nonstop headbangers, and it will be released under Iron Pegasus Records… be ready for a teaser."
Ok Alvaro, that’s about it. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. All the best for you and UNHOLY LUST… I’ll leave the last words up to you.
"No, thank you for taking the time and listening to our music. We truly appreciate the support. On a parting note, I would like to thank Blood Harvest as well as the fans who are spread all over the world who’ve supported us from our first release. A big thanks to Iron Pegasus for all of the support and advice. R.I.P Big Robb, thanks for all of the great memories. You will be missed brother."