Sangre: Mayhem and Beyond
From the Inland Empire comes Sangre the hardest working metal band in Southern California that I know. Their tireless promotions, marketing and performances have paid off in the form of being anointed by Jagermeister to open Mayhemfest July 10th in Devore, CA. While Mayhem may be a dream show for any “local” metal band, it doesn’t reflect the depths of their goals nor does it slow their continuing progression that has been building for ten years.
Sangre has shared the stage and performed with some major acts including Sepultura, Suicidal Tendencies, Biohazard, OTEP, Snot, Hemlock, Soilwork, God Forbid and more. Earlier this year they performed at California Metalfest with Fear Factory, Whitechapel, Job for Cowboy and Dying Fetus. Summer Slaughter 2009 found them in the mix with Darkest Hour, After the Burial, Born of Osiris, Suffocation and Winds of Plague. Sangre is no stranger to performing before a good crowd or with some of the bigger names in metal; however, Mayhem figures to be on another level with some of metal’s major headlining acts. The Jagermeister stage alone, which they open, features Chimaira, Hatebreed, Shadows Fall and Winds of Plague. I had the chance to sit down with Sangre recently after one of their shows and asked them about where their emotions fall regarding the upcoming Mayhem slot. Frontman, founder and only original member of the decade old band, Enrique “Henry” Sanchez, offered, “It’s a dream come true. We aren’t nervous as much as we are just anxious; anxious to get up on that stage and do what we love to do and bring our music to a big crowd and hopefully get some new fans.”
Sangre is a prime example of the work it takes for bands to take it to the next level; to go from being a local band playing in their surrounding area, to playing shows with major national acts, touring across the country and landing a gig like Mayhem. Relentless in networking, playing shows across the land at every opportunity, seeking sponsorship, handing out flyers and CD’s at every show they can and appreciating their friends, family and fans that come together to not only support the band, but also to help them in all their endeavors is what sets Sangre apart from most bands that may play great music as well, but don’t put in the work to get to where they want to go. This work is evident in their performance as well.
Ranging in age from 27 to 38, the current line-up has a plethora of experience performing together, as well as before each respective member’s entry into the band. The final piece to the puzzle came in the way of drummer Josh Durante in 2009. While the sound of the band had noticeably evolved, their live performance received a shot in the arm as well. Josh’s skill level and showmanship, a la Tommy Lee, was a huge chunk in the solidification of Sangre as a player in the metal community. I had seen Sangre many times before Josh joined and the first gig I saw with him on the kit was at the Whisky in Hollywood and from the opening of the first song, had the realization, “This is what they needed!” Since that time, they have reached higher and taken their talents to the level they previously only fantasized about. It was the perfect storm and backdrop with Durante’s time keeping to go along with bass player, Danny Perez’, stage presence, the technical axing of guitarists Mike Reyes and Anthony “Ant” Ibarra and Sanchez’ brutal screams. On stage, their performance may look effortless in regards to the punishing metal they are creating, yet as veterans of metal with polished skills, it allows them to play to the crowd and give the fans the show and acknowledgement they deserve. You can see in their presentation, that while the punch-to-the-gut, step-on-your-head aural assault spews across the crowd, they are having fun and thoroughly enjoy the relationship they develop through the music with the fans.
Through all the shows and marketing, etc., the band has made many fans and friends. All the members of the band give so much credit to those people, for helping them continue their climb and how everyone helps them without asking for a thing in return. Whether it is through helping them set up for shows, selling merchandise, making introductions, showing their support at shows, sponsorship, large or small, or any token that lets the band know that Sangre is more than just a quintet; but a family, is recognized.
Durante commented that “Henry is the most dedicated and hardest working guy that I have every met in the music industry and that is no exaggeration. When the economy was down, Sangre was still playing shows and Henry was out there hustling. That is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to join Sangre-this is the most dedicated group of musicians I have ever met.” Sanchez adds, “This group right here [current line-up] have stepped up compared to at other times before where I felt like I had no help in promoting this band, that it isn’t one person driving it; it is all equally dedicated.” Very humble, they can name every person that helps them in their sometimes hectic show schedule, playing anywhere from 6-15 shows a month; recognizing that without the fans they are nothing. Ibarra added that “The work ethic has never changed, never slumped in this band. Economy, changing of members, whatever was going on we always kept working at it.” Their hard work does not go unnoticed.
A few months back, I was at dinner with a record label executive and we were discussing the “state of the union” today regarding the work, or lack thereof, that bands today put in and how they have gotten lazy, relying on the Internet to market and promote themselves. The exec and I simultaneously spoke over each other along the lines of “Sangre is the only band I know of right now in Southern California that does all the footwork and puts in the work to get there…” The band sought out sponsorship through Jagermeister around a year ago, and at the time asked the liquor giant how they can get on Mayhem. The response was essentially “prove yourself.” With that in mind, the band went above and beyond that call to duty. Touring and playing shows beyond just local gigs in their area, taking pictures all along the way of fans sporting Jagermeister gear and merch, proving to the Jagermeister family that Sangre wasn’t only promoting the band but marketing for their sponsors. In the words of their Jager contact, “You are the only Jager sponsored band that is really doing it; playing your asses off, showing how dedicated you are and proving it.” Sangre is proof positive that an independent band can still get recognition, still achieve success through their drive and dedication, but all that work would be for naught if they didn’t have kick ass music.
The band recently released a 4 song EP teaser in anticipation of a full length LP later this year. Going back 10 years they have previously released 2 LP’s titled “Evolution is Necessary” (2005) and “Rude Awakening” (2008); as well as 2 other EPs in 2001 and 2003. Drawing from many influences and incorporating different styles and genres, in addition to drawing on the Mexican culture of its members, Sangre delivers brutal and explosive straight up metal that always has the pit en fuego. The progression of their musicianship from their early recordings to their latest release is apparent, as it usually is with most bands, but the latest release coupled with the passion, high energy live performance announces that they have arrived. Their inclusion in Mayhem only solidifies that arrival. With current sponsors Jagermeister, Cocaine Energy Drink, Hartke, Pit Gear clothing, Vinyl Red Studios and Monkeez extreme apparel…Sangre has climbed a mountain of success with Mayhem, but that isn’t the pinnacle of where they are headed. With humility they aver, “We aren’t trying to be millionaires, although sure we will take it. We just want to do what we love. It is a privilege to get this chance to play with some of our favorite bands, but this is more about the fans, the exposure to Sangre. We love our fans and making new ones.” They will continue to tour to all parts of the country, giving the fans nationwide the metal they have been clamoring for all while retaining the modesty and lack of arrogance that fills the head of many when a degree of success is achieved. Mayhem is merely a step in the path to the top of the metal scene. Sangre music can be heard in a variety of places on line and all are urged to check them out. If you see them at Mayhem or any other venue or show, they encourage your visit, to come say hi, let them know you are a fan. That is how I met them, just hanging out at a show…the nicest, most humble guys that will do a shot with you as quick as anyone.