Just before the release of sophomore album The Evolution of Anger (out now, Victory Records) I had the chance to sit down with SHATTERED SUN frontman Marcos Leal. A lot has gone on in the two years since Hope Within Hatred. The band spent a ton of time on the road, opening for such heavyweights as TESTAMENT, EXODUS, and SLAYER while also hitting the festivals pretty hard, too.
But behind the scenes the group was close to breaking up and calling it a day as internal tensions arose to a breaking point. Luckily, they were able to work things out and channel any feelings of anger into the music. Because lemme tell ya, this new one will knock your dick in the dirt. So get yourself a beer and come join us:
Amps: You’re Texas boys, and I used to live in Texas. When I first heard the last album I was getting ready to move back to Philly so I really couldn’t digest it. It wasn’t until April of 2015 when I saw you with TESTAMENT and EXODUS that I was like, “OK…these guys made me a believer!”
Marcos: (Laughs) yeah man, that was a really great tour. We were thrown into the fire on that one.
Amps: You came out fuckin’ strong in Philly and that’s what really made me a fan. So to hear you were putting out something new was very exciting. You sure toured a lot last time though, huh? Do you plan on doing the same thing this time around?
Marcos: Oh we’re gonna do it ten times more, man. That’s our goal, to play everywhere, whether it be supporting or doing our own headlining run, we’re gonna be out there no matter what.
Amps: Tell me about The Evolution of Anger. How long did you spend putting it together?
Marcos: We had a unique writing experience because we were going through a little bit of turmoil between the band in the latter half of our touring cycle, almost to the point where Daniel (Trejo, guitar), our founding member and main songwriter, was out of the loop for awhile. He took a couple of tours off and we didn’t speak for about six months. So we continued writing the next SHATTERED SUN record without him, and while he was off he just decided to write a record, too. So we didn’t really know what the future was gonna hold. So once producer Mark Lewis (DEVILDRIVER, FALLUJAH) got into the picture it kind of was around the same time we patched things up with Daniel. Mark played producer and therapist for us as well. He really channeled a lot of the anger and aggression we had toward one another into the record. That’s how the title came to be.
Amps: It’s definitely one pissed-off sounding record, that’s for sure.
Marcos: Yeah, that started very early on, man. Once we were in the room together we weren’t fully healed yet, as far as us being friends and such. You have to take into consideration that we’ve been friends since we were teenagers, you know? This barely became a business to us a few years ago. We’re trying to fix things as friends, and then we had all these songs and Mark was the one to be like, “OK let’s get everyone in a room and get these songs together.” And these songs are pissed off, and that became the theme from day one of recording with him.
Amps: I know you’re very passionate and that comes through in the music. But given the situation, are there any songs that stand out more so than others for you on this record?
Marcos: Well we started with 26 songs, so there was a shit-ton of arguments cutting songs that we all loved (laughs). I guess to me there are a couple of songs like “Burn It Down”, the first song Daniel showed me when we started talking again. I immediately came up with the chorus hook to it and it was a reflection of what we’d been through the last two years.
That one holds a special place in my heart. “Out For Justice” I wrote after going to one of my friend’s funerals and I was just really pissed off with God at the moment, you know? I decided to have a conversation with Him, just me and Him. And Mark liked the idea and put it on the album, really pushed me into a dark place. I just thought the irony is that the title of the song is named after a Steven Seagal movie.
Amps: Hey, I love some of those old Seagal movies! Every time Marked For Death comes on I have to stop and watch it. SCREEEEWFAAACE!!
Marcos: (Laughs) oh, my girl hates me because I have EVERY Steven Seagal movie on DVR! That’s usually my choice for the dinnertime movies. So I guess this song is also my ode to him. That movie was pretty much on throughout the entire recording process anyway.
Amps: The one-two punch of “Keep Your Eyes Shut” and “Blame” really sets the tone for the rest of the record.
Marcos: Oh yeah, that was an argument we had up until we sent the album to Victory Records. Because “Blame” was supposed to open the record and a couple of us really wanted “Keep Your Eyes Shut” because of the aggression which makes it perfect to open the record with. We fought a little bit, but ultimately that song won.
Amps: Any concrete tour plans yet?
Marcos: We’re locking a few things down and we’re gonna be announcing some stuff a little bit later on. For now though, we’re just really focused on the record and getting it out there, and then going on Warped Tour and just dominating every single city we’re in. We’ve never done Warped before, and this is a huge honor. I’ve gone to several of them, especially when I was younger and was able to see a lot of my favorite bands. So to be a part of it, especially this year with so many metal bands on it, we’re just gonna bring our brand of Texas metal to everyone.
Amps: What records that have come out in the last year or two have moved you?
Marcos: The new IN FLAMES and the new TESTAMENT records are amazing! Those are two knock your fuckin’ socks off records. The last TRIVIUM record was really, really great, too.
Amps: Both TRIVIUM and IN FLAMES caught such flak from some people for changing it up. How can you fault a band for evolving? I saw TRIVIUM last year at Rock Allegiance and Matt Heafy STILL destroys on his growls.
Marcos: Same with IN FLAMES. What do you want them to do, write Whoracle over and over? I definitely love what they did on Battles. I’ve listened to it 20 or 30 times in a month. But that’s the way people are, you know?
Amps: What are some other things you’re listening to, be they metal or non-metal?
Marcos: I love George Strait, man. I get a lot of shit for being a fan. I own tons of his records. I’ve explained this to some of the biggest names in the industry. We were talkin’ about this in SLAYER’S dressing room one night, and they were like, “Take away this guy’s metal card!” And I’m like, “Hold on, hold on. George Strait has been ingrained in my brain. If you’re from Texas, you know he’s the king around here!” It ain’t even a liking country thing, man. It’s barbecue, beer, and George Strait, and that’s what I love. I list him as one of my influences.
Amps: Away from music what do you like to do to relax?
Marcos: Barbecuin’, dude! That’s my second passion. We owned a food truck for a little bit. In my spare time I just love to get together with friends and barbecue. I actually did a sauce not too long ago with Coldcock Whiskey that was pretty awesome (laughs).
Amps: When the record comes out, what do you want the listener to take away from it?
Marcos: I hope it’s a record where they are able to let some aggression out. Because that’s what it is for me. All the songs are so dark because the band and myself, we were in such a bad place from burying friends to dealing with the band almost breaking up, I kind of vented it all out. I don’t think a lot of people have that way of expressing themselves so I hope`they can identify with struggle. I’m not a dark person, but that’s how I was feeling at that time. I know there’s people out there who feel the same way.
Amps: What do you want to say to all the SHATTERED SUN fans out there in the world?
Marcos: Just thank you for supporting us. And we wouldn’t be where we are without our fans. We’re not a gimmick band, we’re a blue collar, hard-working band, and every fan that we have we’ve earned. Thank you for continuing to support. Go out and pick up this record, it’s guaranteed to knock your socks off.
Make no mistake, Marcos Leal and SHATTERED SUN will be unleashing their Hellish brand of Texas metal on people everywhere in 2017 and beyond. If you haven’t caught them live yet, you wanna remedy that ASAP. And be sure to pick up The Evolution of Anger wherever it is you buy your music, crack a beer, and go nuts!