2015 Shattered Sun interview with Marcos Leal
Every year at Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival there are two or three bands on the bill that generate a lot of buzz, and for 2015 one such band is Alice, Texas sextet, Shattered Sun. For most, the band seemed to appear out of nowhere last fall when they signed as the debut act for Breaking Bands, a new management company run by industry legends like Jon and Marsha Zazula (MegaForce Records), Maria Ferraro (Adrenaline PR), and Chuck Billy (Testament). With support like that there were immediate expectations that Shattered Sun must be something special, and they are working their collective asses off every day to make sure they deliver on the hype.
Despite the Cinderella feel of the Shattered Sun story, the band is no overnight success. No one expects to find success as a musician in Alice, Texas, a small town near Corpus Christi, and the guys in the band have been fighting for a decade to make something happen. Guitarist Daniel Trejo founded Shattered Sun in 2005. Vocalist Marcos Leal joined a year later, and drummer Robert Garza a year after that. Over the last decade, the band has recorded four EPs and watched as members have come and a gone. In 2011, after a brief hiatus and reformation, the band added bassist Joseph Guajardo, keyboardist Henry Garza, and guitarist Hector Villarreal. The latter was replaced when he went to work, like so many friends from their small town, in the oil fields. Jessie Santos joined in his stead while the band was recording its debut album, Hope Within Hatred.
Metalholic and Metal Nation Radio sat down with frontman Marcos Leal on Day 5 of their debut Mayhem tour to talk about the Shattered Sun journey so far, their debut album, the positive message in their lyrics, and how fortunate the band feels for the opportunities they have worked so hard to make.
After signing with Breaking Bands, the band was snapped up by Victory Records, and Shattered Sun was tabbed to open this spring’s heavyweight tour with Testament and Exodus. It became a proving ground for the young band, and as Marcos Leal tells the story, they had to earn every inch:
“It was a lot of learning for us. We knew from the second we got on the tour—of course it was exciting—but then it sank in, whoa we’re opening up for probably the heaviest tour of the year and nobody knows us. And instantly there was the YouTube hate: ‘Who the hell are these guys?’ But I think they put us on the tour to earn it. We’d earned it all the way up to that point, and that was like ‘Here it is. Here ya go. What are you gonna do?’ And we went out and killed it every single night.”
Shattered Sun is defying the odds, and that optimism shows up in the band’s lyrics and attitude. They work on breaking away from conventional themes, and moving beyond stereotypes and the limitations placed on them by naysayers.
“A lot of people told us we couldn’t do,” said Leal. “A lot of people told us we were never going to make anything of ourselves. In that town, and down there, the mindset so small. I tell people all the time, when you come out and see stuff like this (referring to Mayhem Festival), it’s unreal. It’s something that small town [minds] can’t really grasp. We always knew we wanted this, so to explain that to people, they’re like ‘You’re never gonna get there, not from here. Not from this town.’ I think we’re just the living embodiment of the American dream.”
“A lot of it comes from stereotypes, from my home town. Just people thinking oh we’re a metal band; we don’t have a message. We don’t have anything to say. You’re just screaming into the mic. You must be summoning Satan or something like that. To us it was just like; No, I do have something to say, and I do have a message. I’m going to show you that what I am doing is meaningful. I went with the approach that we’re surrounded by the negativity and hate, 24/7, in every single outlet—internet, social media, news. It’s brainwashed into you to where people forget to have a voice. People are easy to say, ‘What can I do? I’m just one person.’ Well if you keep having that mentality, that’s where ‘they’ want you to go. I just wanted to put that message out and I’m kind of hoping that kids are seeing it as an uplifting, positive thing.”
After Shattered Sun wraps up Mayhem Festival they will join another of the year’s big tours, opening for heavyweights Soulfly, Soilwork and Decapitated.
All photos © 2015 Katarzyna Cepek Photography.
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