One of the hidden gems and surprising highlights of this year’s Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival is San Antonio metal quintet, Upon a Burning Body. When Mayhem rolled through Boise on July 4, the Examiner was on hand to talk to three of the band’s members about the tour and their new album: “Red, White, Green”.
If one could take the cast of the movie “Scarface” and turn it into a band, what you would have is Upon a Burning Body. The band came together in 2005; a violent collision of happenstance and misguided depravity. Bodies came, dropped, and were buried in the desert. In 2008, the formation congealed with vocalist Danny Leal, guitarist Chris “CJ” Johnson, bassist Ruben Lemos, and guitarist Sal Dominguez. One more bullet in 2012 would see the addition of drummer Jonathan Gonzales.
Upon a Burning Body’s debut full length, “The World Is Ours” landed in 2010. The band’s mix of death and hardcore metal genres created a massive buzz throughout the Lonestar state and beyond. Upon a Burning Body mixed triturating breakdowns with, gang chants, and blast beats to create a brutal opening salvo. Drawing on gangland imagery, the band based its debut album theme around the movies of Al Pacino with song titles like “Donnie Brasco”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Heat”, “Devil’s Advocate” and of course, “Scarface”.
This year the band released its sophomore effort, “Red, White, Green”, which taps into the movies of director Robert Rodriguez. Song titles include, “El Mariachi”, “Desperado”, “Dusk till Dawn” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”.
Danny talked about the origin of the album themes:
“The first one kind of came with our look we were already planning. So it made sense to do sort of a mafia vibe. And [Pacino’s] definitely an iconic figure in that genre, as far as movies go. It’s a lot more identifiable when you can name a song like ‘Scarface’ which has already made a huge name for itself. And people will remember that because of what it’s already done for itself. So we utilized that. For the second record we did our own thing, but went with the same kind of vibe. We went with Robert Rodriguez which was really Chris’s idea, and he’s from our home town so it was just like a puzzle piece. The names are pretty scary. It’s pretty cool, it’s got a vibe, and it works.”
With the band’s label, Sumerian Records, launching its own stage at this year’s Mayhem Festival, Upon a Burning Body are front and center for all the action. This fall the band will also head over to Europe with Trivium, As I Lay Dying and Caliban. “It’s gonna be sick,” Chris smiled.
I asked the band if it worried them to tour overseas now after the recent Randy Blythe situation. “It does now.” Danny offered.
“Obviously that was just a mistake gone wrong,” Chris chimed in. “It’s insane.”
When asked about the theme for the band’s next album, they said Mayhem has all their attention at the moment. “We’re just trying to wrap this Mayhem thing around and do the best we can. It’s enough on our plate right now.
“It’s still unbelievable, man. It’s still soaking in,” grinned Chris. “Every day playing with Slipknot and Slayer… It’s a huge opportunity. Anybody would pay to be in our shoes right now.”
Watch the entire interview with Danny, Chris and Ruben at left, pick up your copy of “Red, White, Green” and catch the band on the second half on Mayhem Festival 2012.