Interview with ZAFAKON

Zafakon is probably the most famous metal band coming from Puerto Rico these days. They have been voted as an opening act for Metallica when the biggest metal band on planet played there a few months ago. The band released two albums so far, and in the interview below they tell us about their music, metal scene in Puerto Rico, etc.

Hey folks. How are you doing?

Weslie Negrón: Pretty good, thanks for having us!

You released “Release” back in January 2016. How do you feel about the release?

WN: Personally, I think it’s the best record I’ve worked so far. It has such a natural flow through the songs that it almost feels like the album goes by in five minutes. The melody is there, the heaviness is there, the proggy parts are there too, I think it sets perfectly the direction we’ll take for future releases.

Marcus Veit: I’m very proud of this album and how it turned out. I think people were not totally expecting such a different sound from us, but the reception for it in the end was great!

ReleaseHow much of a challenge was to work on the album?

MV: Well, I’d be lying if I said that this process was easy. The writing part was fine. It actually flowed extremely well. It was our first album with Yhann on board, so it was very important to us that the in writing process we could all be on the same page. Which we were! The recording process was more challenging. We kept running into obstacles and other issues that we had to pull through. We had a deadline to meet and the pressure was on. But we got it done.

What other artists similar to your genre that are coming from Puerto Rico are you friends with? Recommend us some good Puerto-Rican bands.

WN: There are SO many! But you can check bands like: Calamity, Fullminator, Ritual Kannabis, Dementium, Cold Times, Massive Destruktion, Omnifariam, Paricia’s Patience, Argyle, Deus Inc. We have a lot of bands with a lot of potential over here.

MV: At our scene we have something for everybody. There are some bands over here that I would gladly put up against any international act for sure. Puerto Rican bands have the hunger that a lot of bands lack. And that’s what makes them work harder and kick ass.

What is your opinion about the current metal scene?

WN: In Puerto Rico, the Metal Scene it’s at its best time in history. All of the bands that are coming out are bands that are caring about their product, they give the extra effort to make a great show and to do things the right way. People are being very supportive as well, coming to the shows and having a good time. I can’t really help to feel proud of our Metal Scene in Puerto Rico, just check the bands I mentioned above and you’ll see what I mean.

MV: Internationally, I think it looks promising. We still have the old classics to show everyone how it’s done, and the newer generation is spawning some interesting new sounds. I’m pretty excited for Metal overall. I think it’s only gonna get stronger.

Can you tell me something about your influences?

WN: I have a wide and, somewhat strange, set of bands that I listen to. I didn’t started listening to Metal until I was 16 and, up to that point, I was listening to “Emo” bands like My Chemical Romance, The Used, and bands around that genre. I still listen to them occasionally for old time’s sake, but not as much as I used to. I consider them to be part of my primitive influences to become a musician. Once bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, etc. were introduced to me, then everything changed and I was looking for the musicianship of each band member. As time went by, progressive music came into my life and that’s where I found most of my actual influences. So, just to name a few, my current influences are: Martin Méndez (Opeth), Collin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Cliff Burton (Metallica), Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), among many others!

Zafakon band

What are you listening to these days?

WN: I’m listening to a lot of 70’s prog lately, so bands like King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Curved Air, etc. are constantly on my daily playlist. I’m also getting into a lot of Doom and Stoner Metal so bands like Yob, Pallbearer, Red Fang, Windhand, etc. are also part of my playlist. But I always go back to the usual music I listen to all the time: Opeth, Porcupine Tree, and a lot of Steven Wilson.

MV: For me, it depends on my mood. As I answer this question I am listening to Russian Circles. But earlier today I was listening to ‘Animals’ by Pink Floyd, and before that, the new Kreator album which is kickass. Lately it’s been a lot of Black Metal too. Mostly Taake, Watain, Emperor and such.

Your 5 favourite records of all the time?

WN: Mine are: (The first two are in correct order, after that, no order in particular)
1. Ayreon – The Human Equation
2. Opeth – Ghost Reveries
3. Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet
4. Protest the Hero – Fortress
5. Metallica – Master of Puppets

MV: I hate this question *laughs*. The answer would probably change each week but here goes (in no particular order):

1. Behemoth – The Satanist
2. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were here
3. Testament – The New Order
4. Dissection – Storm of the Light’s bane
5. Slayer – Reign in Blood

Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you use to record “Release”?

WN: I used an Orange OBC 410 and a Terror Bass 500 for the studio. I just wanted to get a really warm sound but with a somewhat high mid as well and I think we accomplished that. On the song “Prevaricator” I got to play with a Pigtronix Bass Fat Drive with a Dunlop Bass Cry Baby and we got to do an eerie distortion for the breakdown part, which I think came out pretty nice. As far as the bass goes, I used an RG Custom basses, which it’s what I use live, and it gave the right balance so I could play around with the dynamics of the songs.

Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?

MV: We have a few ideas for songs which are pretty abstract for now. But, we’ll probably start writing for our next record really soon. Also we’re planning on hitting the road again possibly this summer.

Any words for the potential new fans?

WN: First of all, thank you for this opportunity! I would like to tell potential new fans to give “Release” a listen if they are into melodic, heavy, and fast Thrash Metal. We incorporate many influences in our music, but I believe we make a good blend out of everything. If they like us, they can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and/or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

MV: What he said.