Thursday, March 3, 2016

Interview with Cedric Santillan from Pulled Under

Pulled Under is a young, up and coming hardcore band from Texas. I’ve actually seen their name around for a couple years as they’ve played Michigan twice, but I missed them both times. Anyway, a couple months ago Harm Reduction posted their upcoming 7” “The Antithesis of Life” on bandcamp and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard it.

The band definitely has a lot of awesome heavy 90’s vibes going on….I’d say they sort of sound like Axis Jr., haha. If you know me then you know I think Axis is currently the best band in hardcore, so that’s definitely a compliment.

As I always do when I discover a new band that blows me away, I wanted to learn more, so I reached out and had the following conversation with vocalist Cedric Santillan. He gave a lot of very in-depth responses, which I definitely always appreciate.

The new 7” should be out at some point in the next few months via Harm Reduction, everybody should definitely check it out and snag a copy.

Alright so talk to me a little bit about your background and how you eventually started getting into aggressive music.

Word, so I'm 22 years old, the first exposure that I had to aggressive music was when I was probably in 6th grade when I was 11 or 12. I remember my parents had just gotten cable in the house and I was exposed for the first time to an endless array of channels to watch. I remember a lot of my friends at the time talking about MTV and one morning while I was getting ready for school a My Chemical Romance music video came on. It was the music video for “I'm Not Okay, I Promise”. I remember hearing the song and catching glimpse of Gerrard Way and Frank Iero and I immediately was hooked. The aesthetic, the sound, everything was what I felt at the time being a kid in 6th grade who didn't have any friends. I remember riding my skateboard to school and telling myself, I want to be like that.

So, that was like my epiphany where I realized I wanted to be a sub culture freak…later that week I ended up painting my nails and stuff. My parents ended up getting me a computer that I could use for myself and I ended up watching a bunch of music videos, mostly Jimmy Eat World, Senses Fail, Green Day, Slipknot, and stuff.

We live in the heart of the Bible Belt and Christian Metalcore/ Facedown Records and Tooth and Nail shit was really popular around here. I ended up going to a church in 7th and 8th grade and a bunch of the kids there were really into metal-core and stuff so I got exposed to bands like Point of Recognition, August Burns Red, Zao, and stuff like that. I ended up getting in to the goofy metal-core scene in like 8th grade and stuff. I remember the first show I went to was at this super Christian venue in Fort Worth and after that show I was super sucked into it.

Going into 2008 was when Power Trip was getting together and having a giant power force of a band like that from around here was really helpful toward getting me into hardcore. I ended up getting into Champion and Terror and Chain of Strength and shit like that and eventually got more into the hardcore scene.

How did you go from that young kid who was more of a spectator to feeling like you wanted to be on the other side being in a band, making music, writing lyrics, etc.?

When I was in 6th grade, my girlfriend at the time and I tried starting a band together, she plays drums and I tried to play guitar in it. It was as all elementary school bands go, not good and never anything more than making noise in a garage. I actually found a diary with a bunch of old songs I wrote when I was a kid.

Throughout middle school and high school I attempted to try to make bands, but you know how that goes. Funny thing about Pulled Under, in 2009 four out of five of us played in a straight edge youth crew band called Think Twice. We put together one song and eventually we ended up scrapping it and our guitar player Jordan ended up forming the band TRUTH (which I would later join and play bass in). I think I've always had interest in playing music and doing all of this stuff.

So how did you guys go from doing Truth which was more of a youth crew style band to doing Pulled Under? We're there particular bands or experiences that influenced you guys, or more of a general desire to do something a little different?

Well, Pulled Under started in winter of 2011 with Me, Brady, Kyle, and our original guitar player Daniel Malette. We kinda jammed around and put some stuff together and would kinda go static for a minute. I joined Truth in the summer of 2012 while Pulled Under was still kinda just a jam band. Jordan and Jerrad from Truth had a band that they were trying to put together called Forge with the singer of now Scourge which was like a Strong Arm/OKD band.

However, it wasn't working out due to distance so I decided to ask Jordan if he would have any interest playing Pulled Under. In the Fall of 2012 we got together after a Truth practice and Jordan showed us this entire song he had written…that song would become “Born Again” and after that practice it kinda just clicked.

At the time we just wanted to do something that we weren't hearing much of and we wanted to do a band that we wanted to hear which is what brought us together.

You have a couple demos and now the upcoming 7" "The Antithesis of Life" which went up a couple months ago digitally and will be out soon physically. How do the new songs compare....what was the writing process like this time around and were there any new things you wanted to capture with this batch of songs?

I want to say that the new record is a lot more mature. Jordan kind of comes to us with these songs that he has put together. I don't know much about where he draws all of these ideas from. But once he gets us all together and shows us what he's got it's definitely interesting. I will say that these new songs on this record are a lot more mature and kind of staple our desire to write something new and refreshing but still pay due homage to the sound and bands we appreciate.

Talk a little bit about the lyrical themes on the new record. Which songs would you say are the most important to you and why?

The lyrical themes of this record are all based off of the ideas of the strength of conviction. When I first started writing, I told myself I didn't want to write 4 or 5 songs based off of my own problems or some bullshit about myself. I've written my songs about my own personal self-loathing and I wanted to write about topics that I felt get swept under the rug. I wanted to write songs that would push people's thought processes on the way they viewed certain issues and maybe even bring some sort of insight to others convictions.

One of the most important songs on the record to me is “Victims of Addictions”.

“Victims of Addiction” is a song that I wrote about how being straight edge. I know that generally; when people talk about being straight edge they usually associate it with a personal choice that has no correlation to the outside world. However, I believe that by being straight edge, you choose to deny some of the most fucked up things that happen in the world. I'll give you some insight on why I believe this to be true.

When I chose to claim edge was around the time when the heat of the Mexican drug cartel was popping off. You would read newspaper articles about how a major street in Ciudad Juarez was littered with dismembered cartel members, how the death toll in Mexico was reaching to 9,000 known murders, and how Cartel members were going as far as killing dozens of innocent people for just one person.

The police in Mexico could do nothing about any of the crime and if you were a police officer trying to do anything against the cartels you would get murdered in the streets. It got to the point where you could murder someone in the streets of Mexico and get away with it. The violence got so severe that even living in El Paso, Texas meant that you couldn't go to the mall without seeing Army officers patrolling the mall with automatic weapons and even US citizens were told to stay out of Mexico as cartel members would kidnap Americans for ransom.

The only options living in Ciudad Juarez were either to be poor, born rich, or be involved in the drug cartels. Because of this harsh reality, kids as young as 14 were joining cartels and becoming mob bosses and shortly being murdered by other cartels, all before they were ever old enough to drive a car legally.

A lot of Mexicans ended up trying to flee Mexico to make better lives for themselves in America because of how dangerous things were. A lot of these poor people would end up getting trafficked into American in dangerous conditions through a group called the Coyotes. If these people didn't die or get sold off into sex trafficking they would make it in America as illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, what was fueling this war?!  It was directly correlated with America’s consumption for drugs and it gets so crazy deep that it involves corrupt police and politicians in America, murders of other American gangs, and almost every drug dealer having some hand in the cartels.

I've told myself that I wouldn't live with those people's blood on my hands and that even however small my abstinence from that whole industry is that I would always choose not to partake in something so detrimental to this world.

So the new stuff is obviously dropping courtesy of Harm Reduction? How'd you hook up with Patrick and Jami? Were you guys sending the songs out to people or did they approach you?

Jami and Pat showed interest in us after they discovered Drown/Sentenced To Burn. We kinda linked up information with them and showed them what we were about and they kinda kept around. We did some demos of the songs and sent them there way and they were about it so they put us on. I'm extremely proud to be a part of their label. It's sick to be a part of a label that backs you and believes in the things you're doing.

So you guys just got back from doing a run with Detain and my local friends in Breaking Wheel. How did it go overall? Best shows, bands that perhaps surprised you, etc.?

The tour was absolutely incredible. Being on the road with Detain and Breaking Wheel was such a pleasure and it was so sick getting to know those dudes and watching them kill it every night of tour. We've never been to the East Coast and I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the reactions and turn outs each night. The fest in Florida (FYA) was incredible and I had so much fun being a part of it.

I think one of the most surprising/sick shows of the tour was North Carolina. We played in this small living room and coincidentally the guitar player of Day Of Suffering happened to be there, he ended up having a lot of really positive things to say about our set and it was badass to receive positive feedback from someone who was around when some of my favorite bands were kicking.

Detain also played a set that night that was similar to the Billy Club Sandwich attic show (if you've never seen that video, YouTube it, it's absolutely insane). We ended off that tour on a real high note in Baltimore, which was one of my favorite cities we played mostly because I got to see the Edgar Allan Poe grave and we got to play with nothing but our friends’ bands.
We ended up having to end tour after that Baltimore show because our drummer had to be in a wedding at the end of the week so we did a 24 hour drive home from Baltimore to Dallas. It was one of the most miserable drives of my life, all of us were sick and we all decided to trek it out all at once because we're a bunch of masochists. We ended up getting home and I was so sick I was out of work and shit for like a week. To be honest, I'm still not at 100% and that was all like a month ago, haha.

What's 2016 and beyond look like for you guys? Is the emphasis gonna be on hitting the road hard to support the new record, you gonna be back in the jam space working on new material, or a little bit of both?

I'm not too sure what 2016 has in store for us. As of today, I'm still waiting on our records to get to us and I'm not sure 100% when that's gonna happen because of issues with the pressing plants. We got a few shows coming up and we're doing some small weekend stuff with a few of our friends’ bands. We've already started working on some new material we got a few songs done and we're really happy with the progression of where the materials heading. I'm sure we'll probably do some touring in the Summer and Fall.
Lone Star Mosh:

1 comment:

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