Interview with Juan Garcia.
Juan Garcia is the guitarist for LA based Agent Steel. Agent Steel did a few albums on Combat records back in the mid-late 1980’s before breaking up. The band reformed in the late 1990’s and started recording shortly after that. Their new album “Alienigma” is their third album since reforming.
MM-It’s been four years since your last album. What’s been going on with you and with the band during that time?
JUAN: Well, let see since ORDER OF THE ILLUMINATI was released in 2003; we’ve done an European tour, we performed at the Dynamo Open Air with SLAYER in The Netherlands. We released a DVD in Europe entitled “Live @ Dynamo Open Air”. We signed a new record deal with Mascot Records and wrote a new album ALIENIGMA which was just released and we just finished touring Europe last month.
MM-What has been the response to your new album “Alienigma” so far?
JUAN: For the most part, very positive. You have to understand on this new album we pushed ourselves in a heavier direction; we did not play it safe and we did not write in the same style as the last album. The new record is by far our heaviest work to date. I am not saying this is our new direction or anything. We just wanted to make an album for ourselves, and not the critics. It was fun working with Bill Metoyer and we are proud of our new album.
MM-What are some of the songs off the new album about?
JUAN: The majority of the theme of the new ALIENIGMA album is based around Zecharia Sitchin’s work of the Earth Chronicles series of books that deal with Ancient Gods, The Creation, Pyramids, and Sumerian texts that talk about a 12th Planet with an elliptical orbit around our Universe, really interesting stuff. We also have songs about world pandemic devastation, and a little bit of politics as well with the track “Hail to the Chief”.
MM-How did your European tour last month go? About how many people were you getting per show?
JUAN: It varied a bit, on the average 200 plus people a night. Some show the attendances were more. The show in Slovenia was incredible and it was sold out, Athens was a madhouse; we need to return there because our set time was a bit limited and we feel we owe Athens another Agent Steel performance, but this was not our fault, there was some politics involved from other people involved on the tour. We also had a couple other sold out shows. The show with DESTRUCTION was great, and we also performed with CANDLEMASS (those guys are fuckin great), the support on the tour came from a Belgium band called AFTER ALL which are great guys and a very solid band.
MM-Do you have your North American tour plans set up yet?
JUAN: Not at the moment; we are working on a Los Angeles Date for December, and also a festival in Puerto Rico with CANDLEMASS for 2008. We are also confirmed for Bang Your Head Festival in Germany with SAXON for June 2008. We are working on a proper U.S. tour so we will see what develops.
MM-How does this version of the band compare with the version from the 1980’s?
JUAN: Good question. I personally feel that musically we are the tightest we’ve ever been. I don’t have to look at anybody on stage; everyone has the songs down tight, and this is a great thing. We are machine like on stage, it’s an awesome feeling to go out every night and give it 100 percent knowing that everyone is on the same page. We are here to deliver the metal goods!!!
MM-There has always been a theme of the supernatural and mainly aliens in your lyrics and on your album covers. Why is that?
JUAN: Because we are freaks! I’m kidding of course. We like to be original and AGENT STEEL always has had identity; we are like the X-files of Heavy Metal Music; at least lyrically and overall themes and concepts. We feel we need to carry the torch of the supernatural alien theme; I suppose we were abducted by aliens and reprogrammed and they want us to talk about it in our music.
MM-Why did the band originally break up back around 87-88?
JUAN: Long story short; because personal differences and part of the problem was bad management decisions. I mean we were so close to signing with a major record company for a lot of money and then the band broke up, but life goes on.
MM-Why was it about a decade until the band reformed?
JUAN: I went on and recorded a few albums with EVILDEAD for SPV Records, I wanted no part of AGENT STEEL after the harsh brake up, but time does sometimes heal, and when Bernie contacted me and Chuck Profus to reform the band and perfom at Wacken Open Air; we were open to the idea and the rest is history; we’ve recorded 3 studios albums since then.
MM-It seems like the metal scene has heated up this decade. Do you agree and what do you think about the near future metal holds for your band and for your peers?
JUAN: hard to say, we do this for the love of Heavy Metal Music, we are not trying to get rich of it that’s for sure. It’s great to see a new generation of metalheads discovering 80’s thrash music again, for me it’s an awesome feeling, because I remember when I first discovered bands like IRON MAIDEN and SAXON when they were underground bands just making it.
MM-Do you wish that you had done anything differently in your music career?
JUAN: You can’t turn the clock back and go back in time so I really don’t think about things like that, we must push forward and proceed with our lives.
MM-If someone had never heard Agent Steel and could only afford to buy one of your CDs then which one would you recommend to them?
JUAN: Another good question, well since we don’t have a best of album, that is a tough question because I like all our albums equally, I would of course suggest the new album ALIENIGMA, but any of the five will be just as good.
MM-What younger metal bands are you impressed by?
JUAN: DAMCYAN, FUELED BY FIRE, BONDED BY BLOOD, CHILDREN OF BODOM, VOLBEAT, and lots of respect goes out to TRIVIUM.
MM-What impact do you think Agent Steel have had on the metal scene? Do you hear of today’s bands and think that they were influenced by your music?
JUAN: For sure I hear it a bit in some bands, bands come up to us all the time and say they are influenced by AGENT STEEL, it’s a honor of course.
MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
JUAN: Just want to thank you for your interest in AGENT STEEL and your support for Heavy Metal Music. For updates on the band visit us at http://www.agentsteelonline.com/ and www.myspace.com/agentsteel
Thanks to Juan for doing the interview.