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With a quarter-century of history (albeit one with long gaps...) behind them, Las Cruces are close to completing their fourth album. Guitarist George Trevino gives Aleks a brief tour of the Texan band's current status.

Interview with Las Cruces.
"24 years on stage is a big deal! Las Cruces - named after the second biggest city in New Mexico - is a Traditional Doom band from San Antonio, Texas, and since 1994 they've been spreading low heavy vibes in Sabbath's name. The start was promising: their first two albums, 'S.O.L.' and 'Ringmaster' were supported by John Perez himself, and were released through his Brainticket Records in 1996 and 1998 respectively. But then the self-released brief ten minute EP 'The Lowest End' (2001) marked the beginning of a deep slumber for Las Cruces, ending when they managed to return with new studio recording 'Dusk' in 2010. Despite the band's original vocalist and bass-player Mark Zamarron leaving in December 2017, they continued to work as a quartet, and they have almost finished their fourth full-length album. That's the right time to recall Las Cruces' story with the help of guitarist George Trevino."

Las Cruces: Paul De Leon (Drums), George Trevino (Guitars), Mando Tovar (Guitars), Jimmy Bell (Bass) - Mark Zamarron (Vocals) not in picture.

George, how did the La Cruces story start for you? What was on your mind back then?

I started Las Cruces in 1994 because I wanted to play something heavier and darker than what most people were doing. You had bands writing and performing Grunge or Death Metal which I had already done with bands like Mercynary, Streetwise and Sound Asylum back in the late '80s and early '90s. It was time for me to start my own project, my way. My own vision. I wanted to write songs full of dark and gloomy images; kinda like short Horror stories that people can imagine in their heads while listening to the songs. I started looking for likeminded individuals that would help me realize that vision of Metal. Luckily I didn't have to look far as I reached out to a couple of past band members and we rented a small rehearsal jam on a Sunday evening and that is where it really started to take shape. I had already written songs but never jammed them with bass or drums until that faithful day.

Actually, I've seen that you were in the band from very beginning, but you aren't mentioned in the 'S.O.L. line-up, so I don't know if this question fits… The debut album 'S.O.L.' was released in 1996: how did the recording sessions go?

While I unfortunately was not able to make it to the recording sessions on the S.O.L. album. Prior commitments didn't allow me to take time off from work and make the 5 hour drive to Dallas Texas. I highly regret not quitting my job to go record that album as I and others in the band were not happy with the guitar tones on it. Production was weaker than what I would have wanted but not much I can do about it. Other than that, the songs are solid and still a good album in my opinion.

'Ringmaster' is a pretty Traditional Doom-sounding album, what influenced your manner of songwriting? What helped you to form your sound?

The biggest influence is Tony Iommi. The master himself. Some of the stuff he creates is unbelievable. Of course Horror Movies are second biggest influence when it comes to writing riffs. I sometimes watch an old Horror Movie and then a certain scene comes on like in a graveyard or in a gothic castle etc…and I hear this doom riff out of nowhere. I run to grab my guitar and bam! Record the idea then work around that…sometimes that works and other times it doesn't. For the album Ringmaster I was totally into reading William Peter Blatty's "Legion" which of course was used as the basis for The Exorcist 3 movie, which also influenced me, especially for the song Black Waters.

Las Cruces - 'Skin Chamber' (1996):

John Perez was your producer at the studio - how did you build a collaboration with him? How much of John is in the album?

John is a huge part of Las Cruces and will always be. He gave us our first break back in 1995 when we were the local openers for the Mercyful Fate / Solitude Aeturnus tour here in San Antonio. He approached us after the show and asked if we would be interested in signing with his new label Brainticket Records. When we went to record our second album Ringmaster, John really threw himself in to the project. He produced the majority of the tracks alongside Mike T. and myself. His influence can be heard on tracks such as Pigs and Ringmaster. There would not be a Las Cruces without John.

What's the story with the 'Dusk' album? The recordings took place in 2006-2007, but it wasn't released until 2010.

Many pressures with the revolving line up changes have caused long breaks in writing and recording of a Las Cruces album. Sometime we have to wait months to go record then re-record. Unfortunately this happened with the Dusk album.

Las Cruces - 'Farewell' (2010):

How did you record 'Dusk'? How did these recording sessions differ from the one you had for 'Ringmaster'?

We recorded the album in Austin Texas this time around. We used a smaller studio this time versus Ringmaster. It felt a little cozier than most studios we've used before.

The recording for Dusk was so spread out and tedious that it made the album's production suffer tremendously. The guitars, in my opinion were not even close to the tones and sounds of Ringmaster and that is partially my fault. Again due to the hectic and sporadic schedule, it made it near impossible for me to spend time on my tone and actually more on the recording. Thus my sound suffered. With Ringmaster, John, Mike T. and myself spent quality time on building the guitar tones. It's a lesson that I have learned and will never make again. Listen to me kiddos; "Suffer for your art." With Ringmaster we took a full week in the studio, and I mean 9-10 hours a day, Dusk I think I spent maybe at the most 5 hours doing my guitars. Huge difference.

Do you feel that Las Cruces' albums reflect your intentions properly? To put it simply, are you satisfied with the path the band has walked?

I feel the band used to walk my way and only my way but a band is group of musicians, friends and brothers so we must all walk in different paths sometimes to meet somewhere in the middle…When you listen to any Las Cruces album you will hear all the members' influences in the songs themselves…I tend to paint a darker and ominous picture with my riffs than let's say Mando Tovar does. But the combination is the remarkable outcome of our different influences and ideas. I believe that it should always be that way.

There haven't been any new records from Las Cruces since the release of 'Dusk': what's the band's status? Is there a chance of getting some new tunes in the near future?

Right now we are currently working on our latest effort called Altar Of The Seven Sorrows… We are just in the final stages of recording vocals and then on to the mastering process. We will be shopping the album around to see if we can get it picked up or get some distribution for it. We are also going to work on a short tour sometime after the album's release.

I am currently working on my side project Plague Rat. Mando Tovar is working at his Recording Studio and Paul and Jimmy have their own side project with Mando's brother Anthony Tovar called Astral Project. Las Cruces will hopefully be on the road soon and we sincerely hope to make it to Europe very soon.

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Visit the Las Cruces bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-10-30 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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