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Anialator Interview W/ Alex Dominguez

I remember thrash band Anialator when Wild Rags Records was around back in the 80s. With the band re-forming not that long ago I got in touch with bass player Alex Dominguez to see what the band is up to these days: 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

AD: I was born in Corpus Christi, Tx. Lived in Corpus up until 6 years ago when I moved to Houston.

What sort of kid were you growing up with?

AD: Hyper, always getting in trouble at home.

What did you do for fun as a kid and what did you want to be when you were growing up?

AD: Well there were no computers, cell phones, shit we didn’t even have cable tv hahaha. I was always outside riding my bike, skateboarding, and playing street football for that time period normal kid shit. I never thought of what I wanted to be when I grew up hell I still haven’t grown up yet according to my wife.

When did you start to discover music and what were some of the early styles of music that you heard?

AD: As far back as I remember, there was always music being played at my house. My mom was into Elvis. She also listened to some country stuff like Dolly Parton, and Glen Cambell, My dad was into Spanish music and I grew up with 3 older sisters who were into pop music like KC and the Sunshine band. My oldest brother was into jazz. So I was exposed to all different types of music.

When did you start to discover rock n roll and metal and what were some of the early bands that you heard? Are you a fan of any of these bands today?

AD: My brother-in-law had just gotten out of boot camp and was on leave so he and my sister moved back to Texas. They bought all their stuff and stored it in my Mom and Dad’s garage. So when my brother-in-law finally got stationed somewhere they left a lot of things behind. Me being a nosey kid went through some of the boxes and found my brother in the law’s record collection. We had a stereo in the living room. It was a turntable with a built-in 8-track player and a cassette player. The first record I pulled out of the box was Led Zeppelin’s” Song Remains The Same” Lp. I put it on. I wouldn’t say it changed my life but it did catch my attention. I had never heard anything like that before—distorted Guitar, heavy drumming, bass rumbling and that style of singing. So you could say that was my introduction to Rock N Roll. Along with ZZ Top – Fandango, a Chicago album, I can’t remember which one and Montrose debut album. There were a lot more albums in the box but my dad busted me it didn’t matter I was hooked. There were also TV shows that helped me discover other bands. I saw AC/DC play on this TV show called The Midnight Special. They did ” Sin City”. Another television show called Don Kirshner Rock Concert is where I discovered Kiss, I must have been about 13 years old. I go back and listen to these bands but I wouldn’t say I am still a fan. All these bands were stepping stones that helped me discover bands that I am still a fan of today like UFO, Thin Lizzy, old Riot, etc

Now as a teenager and stuff, were there many malls and record stores where you could buy cassettes and vinyl back then? Do you remember those days even these days?

AD: In 7th grade thru 9th grade my Jr high school years I remember buying most of my albums and 8 tracks from this place called Dirty Dave’s it was a headshop (rolling papers, bongs, shit like that) this was around 1978 but there was also a record shop in a different section of the store. Great store I Discover Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, B.O.C., Foghat, Nazareth. Only 2 malls, Padre Staples Mall which had Craigs Records the other mall which was built later had a Record Bar and Camelot Records. Record Bar is also the place I discovered Metallica’s ” Kill Them All” a year later after it was released. It seemed like Corpus Christi was a city that was always behind when it came to music. Years later the small record store in the Padre Staples mall called Craigs ended up renting an old furniture place moving into it and changing its name to Craigs Record Factory which was the best record store Corpus had for a long while. They had a huge Import section. The guy who worked there had his nickname was The Reaper. He was all about metal!!! The last true record store in my opinion was a place I worked at in the early-mid ’90s called Splatterfest we specialized in Thrash, Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Crust, Punk, Hardcore everything all the way down to White Power music like Skrewdriver, Aggravated Assault.

Now how did you end up discovering the underground side of metal? Was it a friend or something you heard on the radio or a record cover you saw in a store and you said I gotta have this?

I found an outdated Metal Force Magazine it was I think the first issue with Ronnie James Dio on the cover and an old Sounds magazine/ newspaper from England in the bargain bin at one of the record stores. Those two publications changed my life. The bands I read about and discovered. Bands like Tank, Diamond Head, and Venom, just to name a few. There is a record store in San Antonio Tx called Hogwild it’s been around since the 80’s it is a mom-and-pop kind of store and had a great selection of metal and punk stuff. They carried all kinds of band shirts bands you only read about in zine. They also had a good size zine section black and white xeroxed cut and paste ( not done on a computer cut and paste real scissors and glue) type of zines. every few months we would head up to San Antonio go to Hogwild and buy all kinds of stuff. I would come back with all kinds of the zine from the East Coast, West Coast, Mexico, etc. I would read reviews on bands who had demos out at that time and write to the bands and buy their demos and that’s how I got into the underground scene.

What were some of the early bands that you heard? Did you get into the music right away or did it take a few listens until you were hooked? Are you a fan of any of these bands still today?

AD: Motorhead, Venom, Slayer, Exodus, Anthrax, Hell Hammer, SA Slayer, Xecutioner (Florida). All the bands I mentioned my first listen and I was hooked. I’m a fan of their old stuff.

Now, what made you decide to pick up the bass? Was the idea that further on down the line you hoped to join a band? Did the idea of ever picking up the guitar cross your mind? Who are some of your favourite bass players?

AD: Actually I started off as a guitar player. I bugged the shit out of my mom in 8th grade that I wanted an electric guitar. She wrote me a note that I had to sign that I would do good in school, get rid of the neighbourhood friends that I was hanging out with that were in and out of the juvenile hall and learn to play acoustic guitar first. So I signed it and took 3 months of guitar lessons. The dude that was teaching me worked at a guitar shop the first day I walked in. He tells me to make a list of songs I want to learn. I’m like hell yeah. On my list is UFO – Lights out, Judas Priest – Beyond The Realms Of Death, and Thin Lizzy- Jailbreak. Next lesson I give him the list he looks at it and rips it up. He reaches into his guitar case and gives me his list of Mary Had A Little Lamb, a couple of Christmas songs and I can’t remember what else so after 3 months I quit. I broke one promise by quitting. I had to take summer school just to pass to the next grade that’s number two but I did get rid of the friends my mom never liked. She broke down and bought me an electric guitar. It was a Fender Lead 2. I was just a Bedroom player. I was never good enough on guitar to actually join or start a band. I was better at coming up with original songs than playing copies. It wasn’t until I met Rodney Dunsmore Vocalist for the band Devastation (Tx) at a couple of underground shows we would always talk about different bands that we liked became friends a year later he called me up one day tells me he was starting a thrash band. The devastation was the first thrash band to form in Corpus I have to give credit where credit is due Rodney was responsible for that movement in our city. So he calls me asks me if I want to be part of the band I told him sure I’m still playing the guitar then he tells me we only want one guitarist in the band and we are looking for a bass player you think you can do it and that’s how I ended up being a bass player. Lemmy, Tom Araya, Blacky from Voivod not for their skills but for who they are.

What did you think of the band when you first heard them? Did you feel right away that this was something you wanted to be part of?

AD: I put the band together from scratch after my time put in with Devastation (Tx) I still wanted to be in a band. I learned a lot from Rodney Dunsmore the singer for Devastation on how to go about doing things in a band so I formed Anialator. A few of the members I found I met at local underground shows and they knew people like drummers and other guitarists. At the time I put the band together, there was no music written. All we had was a band name

How long were you in the band before the recording of your self-titled demo? Did you help with the writing of any of the tunes on it or were the songs pretty much ready to go and you just went in and played bass on it?

AD: When I started the band no music had been written yet. If I’m not mistaken it took us six months after I started the band before we recorded our first demo. I wrote the intro to the song Anialator and some of the riffs in the song and added parts here and there to other songs on the demo. It was a group effort with everyone in the band throwing in riffs and ideas.

If you remember, who came up with the name of the band?

AD: After my time in Devastation (Tx) while looking for members to start a band I came up with the name first before I found any members. I always loved the band name Devastation it had meaning behind it one word but powerful. So I started trying to come up with one-word names but a lot of them were already taken. I would find out every time I bought a zine that the name I wanted was taken. I finally came up with the name Anialator. I wrote it down while I was at work on a piece of paper. When I got home I looked it up in the dictionary and couldn’t find the word or meaning till finally, I noticed I spelt it wrong. Luckily I was a bad speller. I just decided to use it the way I had written it down on paper. This was 1986 no google search so I had no idea there was another band from Canada with the same name same pronunciation different spelling.

Now in 1987, when your demo came out, thrash was riding high. How was the response to the demo and did you send it out to the many fanzines that were around and trade the demo with other bands? Did you make up ads and have other bands and fanzines send them throughout the underground to spread your name around?

AD: The response was great! A lot of great feedback and some kick-ass reviews on the demo.
Oh yeah, we all would take a trip to San Antonio Texas which is two hours away from Corpus Christi Texas and go to this record store called Hogwild they specialize in metal, hardcore, and punk, and we’re the first to always get zines and new releases from different thrash bands from all over. I would buy all the zines I could find there I didn’t care if they were a year old I still bought them. I would write to the bands who had their demo reviewed in this zine and order their demo or trade demos. So when I would get a demo I ordered I noticed inside the envelope with the demo were like 50 little pieces of paper that were ads for other bands selling demos, zines I never heard of from all over the world. There was no Facebook, My Space, or Instagram this was all done through the post office. That’s how you build up your following that how you got your name and music heard and seen. I always had a blast sending stuff out and receiving stuff. When I would send a demo off to someone I had a box of extra ads from bands and zines that I would just reach into and fill that envelope with and mail it off.

Looking back, what are your thoughts on your debut demo? Can you even listen to it today?

AD: In my opinion, I love the production on the demo better than the production on our first Ep. Yes, I can go back and listen to it.

What was the 1st show like for you that you played live with the band? What was the thrash scene like in Texas at the time? Were there many regular clubs that booked underground tours that came through?

AD: It was crazy our first show was with a band called Angkor Wat they had a huge following right up there with Devastation. Angkor Wat had more of a punk and metal following. So we probably played in front of about 300 people that night. There was a lot of pit action and plenty of stage diving. The south Texas scene was big when I say south Texas I’m talking about cities like San Antonio Texas, Corpus Christi Texas, and McAllen Texas. No clubs to play at anywhere the only way to do a show was to rent ballrooms, dance halls, and VFW halls. Hell, even the Boys and Girls Club. Some shows would bring in 1000 kids some shows 300 and these were local bands that at the time didn’t have record deals they would trade shows with other out-of-town bands. Before there was a thrash metal scene or really any kind of scene. Rodney from Devastation kind of managed this band from Corpus called Final Assault and the only way he could get them a gig was to rent a dance hall, rent a PA, light, etc and print up 1000 flyers and pass them out at local schools. He kind of started the scene in Corpus Christi, to be honest. Later on, in the late ’80s this bar called Zeros started having local shows there. We would get a few cool shows to come through Corpus Nasty Savage, Dark Angel, Crumbsuckers, and Crypt Slaughter just to name a few.

You caught the eyes and ears of Richard C. over at Wild Rags, who in 1988 released a 4 song EP by you guys. How did you end up hooking up with him and how was it working with him at the time? I imagine original copies of this EP going for a pretty penny these days. Do you have an original copy of it?

AD: Hooking up with Richard all go back to buying zines and seeing ads for different record companies. I happen to notice an ad for Wildrags Records the place was a record store and clothes store in one. He had just started a label and was looking for bands. At the time I’m not sure if he had already released albums from Bloodcum, Resistance Melita or was going to anyway I sent him a demo a couple of months later he called me we talked and he was really into the music and offered us a deal. Richard C was cool to work with he pushed all his releases took out ads in zines got his releases reviewed in big magazines like Metal Force, Kerrang, and Metal Hammer. I wouldn’t say our EPs go for big bucks I’ve seen it for $20 on eBay. Yes, I have my own personal copy of everything we have ever released.

Did you manage to do any type of tours whether they be small or not beyond the EP? Did you ever get a chance to meet Richard C and if so how was it? What are your thoughts on the EP these days?

AD: We did a lot of 3 days I wouldn’t call them tours but shows in a row all over Texas and Louisiana. We set up 3 shows for Bloodcum in Texas, Corpus, San Antonio, and McAllen the Corpus show was the big draw with 800 kids we set up 2 shows for Nuclear Death McAllen Texas and El Paso Texas. Anialator also did 2 shows in Mexico City. Mexico shows were set up by a record company that made some kind of licensing deal with Wildrags to release all our EPs on one vinyl and release it. I’m proud of those releases but you always look back and think if only we would have done this or that you are never completely happy with the finished product.

Did you guys ever get to play any of those Milwaukee Metalfests back in the day?

AD: No. I am not sure when the first Metalfest took place I think by then we had already changed our name to Sufferance. Sufferance played 4 Milwaukee Metalfest.

Your next release was back to a demo, the 3 + 2 release. Did things not work out with Richard C or you just wanted to move on and maybe try and sign with a bigger indie label, which was all over the place by now? There are also 2 live tracks, where were they recorded?

AD: The 3 +2 wasn’t a demo like everyone thinks it’s the same songs off the picture disc we released he just did it in a different format cassette the only thing I can come up with why he called it 3+2 is because the picture disc wasn’t titled just like the rest of our EP’s. I don’t know why to this day why our EPs never had names. But 3+2 just in case you all didn’t know was 3 new tracks and 2 live tracks. Live tracks are soundboard recording from somewhere in Texas.

It took 3 years until your next release, why was that? Was the band doing much during this time?

AD: We spent a lot of time doing out-of-state shows and plenty of shows around Texas. In 1994 I believe we had signed with a management company out of Houston TX they booked a month-long tour of the Midwest and West coast that July of 1996 with a band from England called Morbid Symphony. Booking a lot of shows and rehearsing a set list for shows took up most of our time. Not to mention all of us working day jobs to save up money to record and save up money for the road.

Now in 1997, a full-length came out called “Existing Anger”, which is sort of in a technical thrash metal vein. Would you agree with me on that? How did this release do at the time and how did you hook up with UW Records? Is this release still for sale?

AD: I’ve heard a few people call it technical thrash but when we set out to do this album there was no planning or even any kind of talk about trying to be technical I guess that’s the way it came out. We made 1000 copies of the CD and I sent it out to every zine that I could and college radio stations. I had people who owned or worked in record stores from different parts of the world writing to me to buy 10 or 15 CDs to sell in their stores. It sold quite well. UW wasn’t a real record company it was just something we thought would look professional if it seemed like we were signed. I still have maybe a little less than a hundred somewhere in my storage unit.

Now, this was the last release for Sufferance am I correct? How soon did the band break up after your last release? Were you sad at the time to see the band break up?

AD: Yes that was the last release. The band broke up in late 2000 I left the band in early 1999 to get married and after 9 yrs of blood, sweat, and almost getting signed twice but it falling through took a lot of fun out of being in a band. No, I wasn’t sad.

So now after the band broke up what did you do with yourself? Did you get any offers to join any other bands? Were you pretty much done at this point with being in bands?

AD: Everyday life kept me busy. I had a few local bands asking me to play bass for them but I really didn’t have the desire to do it. But around late 2000 I started up another band it didn’t take very long for me to miss playing live shows. The band was called Broken Face we recorded a demo but this band didn’t travel out of state to do shows we mainly did local shows. That’s one thing about me I’ve always been in a band since I started playing bass in 1986 for Devastation. With just a couple of breaks here and there not very long breaks either. It’s in the blood it’s just hard to walk away from. I’m a lifer I guess.

Now was sparked the interest in Xtreem Music in 2017 to put together a compilation (16 songs) of your stuff on a CD called Mission of Death? What songs are on there I guess with Facebook and all, it wasn’t that hard to find ya. Did they just want to reissue your old stuff or did they also ask you at the time if you wanted to get the band back together or did the release of it spark your interest in that?

AD: Well Anialator reformed in 2015 our cult following had gotten bigger thanks to the internet, Facebook and our old EPs being sold on eBay. We just put the word out that we were doing shows again and promotors from all over started asking us to do shows. The Xtreem Music deal wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for this fan and now a friend of mine who lives in Greece named John Kyrousis. He contacted me through Facebook and asked me if I would be interested in releasing our demo tape on vinyl through his label called Weird Face Productions. Weird Face released a limited edition double vinyl album that contained 3 different recorded versions of our demo and some unreleased tracks and live songs that never made it to vinyl. John then asked me if I knew Xtreem Music owner Dave Rotten. He knew Dave and told me Dave was a fan of Anialator and Dave would be more than happy to release both our WildRags EPs on CD for the first time. He set up a meeting through Facebook messenger and that’s how the Xtreem Music CD Mission Of Death came about. It almost took a whole year to gather everything up from old pictures to old cassette recordings of unreleased songs. After he released Mission Of Death I asked Dave if he would be interested in releasing new material from the band 5 new Anialator song. He was more than happy to do it. I had completely different members in the band at this point I was the only original member left from the lineup in the 80s. When we reformed in 2015 there was another original member but he only lasted two shows and quit.

What was it like seeing your stuff on CD after so many years? The underground had changed from snail mail and tape trading to downloads, YouTube, Bandcamp, etc. Did you follow the scene much over the years and still go to shows? What was the feedback like to the comp?

AD: I thought it was cool. To me, it was more for people who collect CDs because like you said times had changed and everything we had ever recorded is on the internet. Always being in a band is what’s kept me tuned into the scene. So many genres from 1986 to now. I went from being a teenager at shows to now being the old guy who stands in the back hahaha. The feedback on the comp was great old fans had something to add to their collection and new fans we discovering our music on sites like Spotify, and YouTube music.

So now the very next year (2018) a brand new EP comes out with 5 new tunes called “Rise to Supremacy”. Alex what exactly sparked your interest to bring the band back from the dead and how did you find members to record it? Are the 5 tunes all new and none left over from the golden oldie days? Who came up with the cool cover?

AD: Well when we reformed in 2015 there were no plans to record anything. The main purpose was just to do lives shows and play festivals. People on Facebook who had never seen the band live. That’s what really sparked the interest in reforming Anialator. The new members were guys who I played with in previous bands who were still active in the scene. 3 of them played with me in the band Sufferance.

The artwork was done by Switzerland artist Marco Grommet. I was just googling random ideas and I ran across his work.

So now how did you end up releasing a double CD called “1990 Unreleased EP + 1987 Demo Sessions”? Who is “Weird Face Productions”? I imagine with only 250 made this release is long been sold out. But tell me the story of how this all went down.

AD: It was actually released on double vinyl. I was approached by Weird Face Productions out of Greece. They wanted to release our demo and anything else I had that was unreleased. John Kyrousis owes the label. He has released stuff from Aggression from Canada and Morbid Saint just to name a few. It was only limited to 250 copies.

Now, what is the current line-up of the band? Are you currently working on new tunes as this interview will come out? What sort of style will it be in? When can we expect it to be released?

AD: The current lineup is Alex Dominguez- bass (Former Devastation Tx), ….Jd De La Rosa – guitars (Hexella, Daggra, Former Severance), …. Daniel García – drums ( Kryptik Mutation ), …Dave Collier aka Dave Of Death, Dave Relic, ( P.L.F., Oath Of Cruelty, Former Morbosidad ), .. Bert Morin – vocals ( Transcending).
We are currently working on our next release for Xtreem Music. It will be the first time Anialator will release a 10-song album. We usually release EPs. As for styles, I would say Thrash/ Speed metal. It should be out in early 2023.

What are some of the great memories you have had with the band so far and what have been some of the worst?

AD: Playing Rage Of Armageddon Fest in New York, Milwaukee Spring Bash, Mexico City, and Everything we have released since 2018 old and new. Doing shows with DRI, The Accused, Hellwitch, Sacred Reich, the worst dealing with ex-members Hahaha!

Now, what exactly is going on with the band name as some ex-member I read is claiming legitimacy to the Anialator name over yours. Please just give me your side of the story.

AD: It’s simple I came up with the name and spelling of the name and have the trademark to the name Anialator.

Do you have any goals for this line-up or are you just gonna meet the chips fall where they may so to speak?

AD: One main goal is to take Anialator to Europe for the first time. Play some summer festivals.

Do you ever sit back and “holy shit, I’m still in a band after all these years, playing underground metal?

AD: Only when I visit my mom and she tells me ” your still playing that shit” haha. I’m a lifer I’ve taken a few short breaks but I have been in a different band since 1985. I put a big chunk of my life into some of the bands I was in. Waited to start a family late in life, waited to get married late in life, waited to have a kid late in life.

Have you ever heard a band play a cover tune of Anialator or even Sufferance?

AD: No can’t say I have.

Do you have original copies of all the stuff you played on? Has anyone bootlegged any of your stuff that you are aware of and what do you think of bootlegs?

AD: Yes demos, records, CDs, and soundboard recordings. I’m a pack rat when it comes to stuff like that. I’m sure somewhere someone has bootlegged our EPs. I’ve never seen any online yet but I’m sure. Funny story we played Mexico City in 2018 I took a suitcase full of Anialator t-shirts to sell at our show. I had a nice little section inside the venue with everything I took over there shirts, CDs, ECT. Before we played I had only sold 3 shirts but I saw a lot of people with Anialator shirts on or holding Anialator shirts. I was all.. what the fuck!! I walked outside the venue and right before you walk into the place there was a guy who had a little table selling bootleg Anialator shirts along with different bigger band shirts all bootleg. I could have told him something but I just let him do his thing. If someone takes the time to bootleg your band merch or music I think that’s a compliment at least for a band like us that has a cult following.

Have you ever gone on eBay or places like that to see what some of your old stuff goes for?

AD: No. I’ve been on eBay to buy one release I didn’t have the second EP that was on blue vinyl. I didn’t even know WildRags had put that out!

Now please plug any social media sites the band currently has.

AD:
We have a Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/Anialatortx
And an Instagram under Anialatortx
https://www.reverbnation.com/anialator

What merchandise do the band currently have for sale I take an XL in shirts so I expect one in my mail ha ha. As far as stuff do you have shirts and/or CDs for sale and if so where can people go and get them? Which releases of yours are still in print that you know of?

AD: Hell yeah!! It would be cool to see you supporting the band. (be more than happy too-Chris)
We have shirts with the Rise To Supremacy cover on them XXL, XL, L, and M and shirts with the second EP cover on them with the soldier holding a decapitated head in limited sizes. Rise To Supremacy CDs and Mission Of Death CDs and a limited number of patches. Just go to any of our social media pages and message the band for prices. The Xtreem Music CDs still might be in print all WildRags Records stuff is out of print.

What are your plans for the rest of 2022 and into 2023?

AD: 2022 finish up the new Xtreem Music album.
2023, once the album is released go out and play where ever we can to promote it.

Alex horns up for the interview, I hope you enjoyed our chat down memory lane and into the present. Any last words to wrap this up?

AD: Thank you Chris and your zine. It’s an honour to be interviewed by a legend in the underground scene. I had to clear the cobwebs out of the old brain to remember some of this stuff. If anyone wants info on what’s going on with the band just go to our Facebook page and be on the lookout for our full-length album on Xtreem Music in 2023!!

 

 

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