Facing The Sun are a nasty surprise from the US East Coast. Playing a lethal combination of Death and Thrash Metal since forming in 2006, these scene veterans are bent on carving out a niche for themselves. Like their drummer says, 2009 will be the band’s “make or break” year. As you read this, the quintet is currently hard at work burning up stages and gearing up for a first release. Here’s senior member J and his bro Kevin waxing on drumming, killer gigs, and a few bands they like. It’s good to be scarred and hungry.
Doing what your band name describes can harm your eyesight. What’s it supposed to mean?
J: The name came to me while envisioning and painting a nuclear holocaust back in 1999. Though it truly stuck with me because there’s almost nothing I hate more than the sun, yet I have to see it every day. It gives me some serious migraines. Though it is indeed necessary for the survival of mankind, it is in fact one of the most destructive forces in the universe. I found the paradox of that fascinating. The very key to our survival will also ultimately be what kills us. If someone doesn’t push that big red button first, that is.
And that is a very nice logo you have. How much work went into making it as beautiful as it could be?
J: The concept was developed by our original guitarist Metal Steve (aka Steve LoGrasso). We were practicing in my old house in Bayside shortly before it burned down to the ground when we took a break to go inside, bother my ex-girlfriend, and just shoot around some ideas. Steve started drawing, and there it was. With some additional tweaks by the members afterwards. Then I had my graphic friend over at CPX Interactive actually convert the drawing into something decent that we could use electronically.
Alright, let’s do away with the formalities as soon as possible. Please introduce the warm bodies in the band. Thanks.
J: I’m the drummer, aka Lunchbox, 12 Step, or whatever the fuck my addictions have cost me. We have Joe Cerbone on lead guitar and he’s also the driving force behind writing our songs. We have Rico “True Story” Colon on rhythm guitar. Our bass player is currently our boy Brian “Ham Ass” Cushing (also the guy who has a punch to the nuts coming when he least expects it). He’s filling in until we find someone more permanent. And finally, there’s the Viking himself, Kevin Orlic (my brother) on vocals. The guy is truly a Viking in every sense of the word. You should see what he eats.
According to your bio, it was you and Kevin who founded the band two years ago. How has it been for the last 24 months of Facing The Sun’s existence?
J: If anyone says it’s easy, they either don’t give a fuck or aren’t trying hard enough. With people, there’s the right way of doing things, and there’s the wrong way. With musicians, there’s our way, which is, of course, up to individual interpretation. First off, every band knows how fucking hard it is out there to get decent shows, do your own marketing and promo, and then getting everyone on the same page. We all live spread out from Brooklyn to the Island. We’ve had our equipment and house burn down to nothing, been thrown out of studios (shenanigans), lost jobs, lost girls, lost our sanity. Balancing life and what we would like as our lives is the never-ending struggle for bands. Throw in replacing a member or two here or there, and it’s been fucking rough. It’s a battle for those good times. But man, we’ve had some good fucking times and fatty livers to show for it.
Jay, you’ve been playing music professionally for 14 years before Facing The Sun. Wow. How were those 14 years spent? Did he get to travel a lot?
J: I’ve played everything from jazz and blues, to fuck and punk. Shit, I’ve even been in cover bands of bands I don’t even like. I’ve seen every single end of the spectrum with musicians, and played with all of them from NY to Texas to fucking Croatia. I have definitely jammed out, definitely had my share of traveling, but most definitely not enough. I want to put on a show in Antarctica, where the penguins are moshing in an ice pit. To put it simply, I’ve spent the last 14 years living. Which is way more than I can say about most of the human race. I have shitty credit, no money, a POS car, and plenty of scars. All for the smiles, all for the color. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d never give it up for the bank account and 2.5 spawn.
Kevin¬: Don’t forget about that stint in your AFI cover band.
It would be an understatement to say that there’s a lot of Death Metal out there. It’s more like there’s a whole goddamn universe of Death Metal out there. Why should Facing The Sun deserve the curiosity of the casual metalhead bombarded with free music?
J: We fucking live it. The amount that we put in and give back to the metal community is ridiculous. I think between my brother and I we have thousands of …you know what? Fuck all that. We fucking live it, plain and simple. Plus, the style of metal we have is unique. We have a jazz drummer, and blues guitar player, a classic rock bassist, throw all that together with a fucking br00tal goddamn vocalist, and you have Facing The Sun. I guarantee you that you won’t hear shit like ours anywhere else. And yet we manage to keep the old school element in there. Maybe because I’m fucking old. We’re a great group of guys, and my boys in Facing The Sun have some serious talent. If anything else, let’s grab a fucking drink together. We’ll show you a talent that defies science.
K: To add to J, being unique is crucial to being a recognized death metal band. Metal in general is hated by a majority of the world. But to those few and proud, originality and progressive thought matter a great deal.
For those completely unfamiliar with facing The Sun, can you guide them through your available material/discography?
J: Kevin is the mastermind behind the lyrics and song themes, so I’ll throw that one to him. But I love it all. He sort of turns the History Channel into a Facing The Sun album, and then there’s Joe on most of the writing. Not sure what’s going on in his little noggin’. All I know is that there is something he does with his fingers that I can’t comprehend.
K: We currently have only one six song EP on the market that has a bunch of other tunes that we play to a live audience including a cover of Metallica’s “Creeping Death.” The EP is a conglomeration of tunes that we deemed worthy for release. No specific theme besides, you know… the metal.
What’s going on in your brains when putting together the music and lyrics of a Facing The Sun track? Is it all very spontaneous?
J: I’ll tie in this one with the last question and throw most of it to Kevin and Joe. It used to all be 100% percent on the spot. Me and Metal Steve would drink copious amounts of alcohol and usually bombard it with an ass load of narcotics, then shit would happen. The best shit is when we used to combine the “uppers” with the “downers.” But now, with Joe helping to take the lead, we have a much more formulated and theory-based approach to our writing.
K: As with the lyrics, all of Facing The Sun’s tunes have a dramatically different lyrical approach. Much of my writings come as apocalyptic or philosophical approaches. I try to mix and match historical and literary references to show a point to the audience.
Which Facing the Sun songs so far are destined to be remembered?
J: We have a couple coming up that are sure to ingrain themselves into the metal books. And your mom.
There’s something about Kevin’s vocals that stands out from your run of the mill Death Metal band. Kevin, what is it you do that makes you sound that way?
J: He eats small children and large mammals.
K: Well, I have been inspired by harsh vocals ever since they were invented by some of the greats such as Possessed and Death. Since I could remember I have had a fascination with Death, Black and Grind vocals. I’ve been doing vocals for about five years now and realized that with anything practice gives you the ability to do more and more. From my black metal highs to my vocal gymnastics to my death metal lows, my ability has just built up since I have had a passion in music. Even before Facing The Sun, I took the reigns of doing vocals over from Joe’s hilarious attempt (hahahaha!) at vocals in our original band There Is Nothing.
Facing The Sun has a whole new year ahead of it. What are your goals for 2009? Generic question perhaps, but I want to know what’s stewing in your heads.
J: We have some killer shows coming up with Deicide, Suffocation, and Destruction. It’s going to start off with one hell of a bang. We did some small tours in 2008 and I’m hoping to join some bigger ones. Really though, it’s our make or break year now. I’m going to keep up assaulting the masses with our shit, work my ass off, and hopefully get ourselves in front of the right people. I don’t want to work for a paycheck anymore. I want to work my ass off for a royalty check. My other main goal is to really amp up my drumming and start becoming something great. Though with my recent totaling car accident, that is going to be a little rough.
How much longer before a full length album comes out? Is it still a long way off?
J: We had a bit of a hiatus with the holidays and my accident, but do have several more songs under our belt. So I would definitely look forward for the full length mid-year.
How often does Facing The Sun grace a stage somewhere each evening and melt people’s faces? How would you rate yourselves as a live unit?
J: We usually shoot for three to four shows a month. Sometimes a lot more, sometimes less. I’ve had runs with 20 shows in a month, and as painful as that is, damn I love it. But live, live we’re something else. Joe usually embarrasses the other guitar players in the other bands (not to sound like a dick). Kevin is funny. Well, brutal, but funny. Every time I talk to girls after shows they all want to meet him, but they’re all scared to death after they see him sing. It’s like hearing your worst nightmare, which is fucking awesome. The first time I heard him scream, I tried to make him quit his band and play for me. Which happened anyway. Rico seems to be the pulse of the audience. Crowds love that pocket-picking Spaniard (just watch your wallets). Side by side with Brian, they fucking rock that stage. And Brian has a repertoire of moves, most of which we’ve named, like “The Decapitator.” Then there’s me, who just looks like a hairy beast sweating like Niagara falls. It’s truly a spectacle, but with room for improvement. I want to lay waste to every club we hit.
Do you believe facing The Sun has what it takes to survive in the Metal underground?
J: With a bit more work, absolutely. We have some great focus, just need to push harder and refine that focus.
K: As long as we can get our name out there and for people to check it out, we will have secured a place.
What kind of gear does Facing The Sun have? Now what gear would Facing The Sun want to have?
J: I play on one of two kits. It’s a 1969 Ludwig (a vintage trap set that’s been slightly modified). Also, I tend to play live more often with a Pearl Session Custom. All my hardware is Gibraltar, with Sabian and A Custom cymbals. My sticks are Vic Firth: Omar Hakim. I love them, but it’s a bitch because no one stocks them, so they’re always a special order.
K: Well playing live I try to use my SM-58 microphone. However, through years of marijuana abuse I tend to forget it. It would be nice to acquire the SM-58beta portable. I got a nice little PA rig sitting in my basement waiting to move into the next studio.
Are there any other tidbits and details about the band you’d like the world to know about?
J: I’m fat and will accept any drinking challenge. I’m also trying to get my production company off the ground. Look out for some big festivals in ’09 run by Devil Brothers Productions, with my partner Jared Feldman (of Dead Superstar). Kevin will eat anything. Rico is Spanish. Brian sweats like a mule. And Joe. Well, he’s Joe. And somewhat of a deity.
K: I am an evolutionary biology major and will own your ass in Tekken.
If Facing the Sun’s music reaches a wider audience and this leads to the band being criticized, how do you intend to deal with it?
J: Pushing that reach even harder. To make sure we don’t stop until we take over the world. With the internet, there are going to be thousands of “troo” douchebags who need to insult every inch of metal out there, while not creating any of their own. I’m not worried, nor bothered about criticism, as long as it’s a sound argument. Simply stating “You suck” only proves your own ignorance and stupidity. It’s hard ass work doing what we do, and I’ll gladly take any constructive criticism along the way. While we’re reaching the world, here’s something…What the fuck is it with that hardcore “dancing?” I don’t fucking get it. Most of those kids are fucking pussies that literally run from me and my brother in a pit. But yet they’re all UFC fighters by themselves. And “thugcore?” Fuck you, you fucking pansies.
Let’s go on a Death Metal/Thrash Metal/Death Thrash Metal extravaganza. I name a band, you comment on them. Ready? Let’s start with…
J: Catchy, I love the grooves.
K: Decent band. Older material rocks pretty hard but newer…Ehhhhh, not so much.
J: Goddamn they are sick! That fucking drummer destroys.
K: I worship these guys. Frank the vocalist is one of my main inspirations for my death metal vocals.
J: My future wife. That’s right. I’m a huge fan of theirs. It’s like the best porn out there.
K: Great riffs and great songs. I’m quite impressed with the only girl who has broken through in the melodic death world.
J: I will never turn down listening to Kataklysm. Another great band with some brutal riffs.
K: I was crippled and broken last night after a stoned Taco Bell run.
K: Cool cats, some great tunes, not the world’s most friendly scene. Deathcore is one of the dumber things to offshoot from death metal however Whitechapel does show their appreciation through their music of real death metal.
K: Ironically a fan art of them is my background of my computer screen. I love Thrash! Thrashthrashthrashthrashthrashthrashthrash… I eat up this old school European thrash shit and I can’t fucking wait to play with Destruction.
J: I own every single Testament album that I could get my hands on. I’ve been listening to them for at least 15 years. My favorite moment was when Nick Barker from Cradle of Filth was with them for a short time.
K: This is a band that went through some crazy phases, between thrash, power ballads and death metal, Testament has it all. One of the first bands I ever got into.
K: Cynic is one of those legendary bands EVERYONE should listen to. Weird, progressive and talented beyond one’s own imagination.
Blood Red Throne.
K: They have a song called Eyelicker, this makes me happy. Awesome European death metal.
Hail of Bullets.
J: I think that’s how I died in my dream last night.
The Project Hate.
K: Do you mean The Project Hate MCMXCIX? If so, these guys are amazing with their mix of angelic female vocals, brutal death metal vocals, very rhythm based strings section and quite a bit of sampling and keys. Very interesting band which I have only listened to recently.
K: Never really got into them. Though I should for the mere fact of their hilarious pictures.
K: I haven’t gone too deeply into their discography but “Realm of Chaos” and “Those Once Loyal” are seriously kick ass releases.
J: I love these guys also. Real good old school shit.
K: Thrash is coming back with a fury. Between these guys, Evile, Municipal Waste, and Toxic Holocaust, thrash is back with a vengeance and will take no prisoners.
Sorry, but this can’t go any further unless you want to cancel out the rest of the questions, Hope you had fun though. Are there any bands I missed?
J: Well, we all know the greats. But with the shit that’s currently out? If we’re only sticking to the metal on the scene, I love me some Cradle of Filth, Behemoth, Down… shit, there are just too many to name. But for a side shout, Nine Inch Nails. You’re a fool if you don’t own everything Trent writes. Then there’s Corrosion of Conformity… My spectrum is huge. All in all, there is nothing that can top Beethoven. He would have been a metal head.
K: Some of my main inspirations come from the Godzilla-esque riffs and vocals of Morbid Angel; the sick and twisted minds of the men in Carcass, Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse; the pure blackness of Agaithodaemon, Gorgoroth, and Wolves in the Throne Room; and don’t ever forget Chuck and his band Death. I also forgot to mention my long time favorites, Pantera, Exodus and Deicide.
And now we reach the bitter end. A big Thank You goes to you guys, for everything. When any of you have died and are buried, what epitaph would you like to have on your tombstone?
J: I don’t plan on having a tombstone, because there is no way I am getting buried. Though, I do see myself being pushed out on a raft on the Adriatic, having all my friends on shore, then having an archer shoot a flaming arrow to my raft. As all the on lookers are watching me burn into the sea, you hear “Bury Me In Smoke” by Down. But if there were a tombstone, it would most likely say, “Live for Me.”
K: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”