Heart of Steel: Interviews

IMAGIKA - Interview With Drummer Henry Moreno

Interviewed by EvilG

How many times have I ranted on about how killer IMAGIKA are? I hope some of you have been listening and checking out the band because like I've said many times...they rule!!! If you've been any kind of a reader of Metal-Rules.com you should need no introduction to the band. So without any further preamble, lets get to it...


Since the last time I had the opportunity in interview Imagika, there's been a line-up change. Can you tell us about how that came about?

Yeah, our original bassist Mike Dargis decided to leave the band to pursue an opportunity in his personal life. He felt it was the best decision for him and the band. We wish him well in his endeavors.


Where did you find your new bassist?

Well, I've known Elena since I was 18. We jammed once during that time when I was in between projects and she was looking to start a band. Things didn't work out with us so we ended up pursuing other projects. But, in the early 90's we crossed paths many times. She was in a band called Mother Earth (all female metal band) and I was in a project called Wicked Truth (Metal/Hardrock w/female vocals). We played a couple of gigs in our respective bands together and I would always run into her at other bands gigs just hanging out.

One night at a Nevermore gig, whom do you think I ran into? Yep you guess it, Elena! Right when I saw her that night it hit me, why didn't I think of asking Elena to try out earlier? Ok I admit that I'm a stupid ass sometimes…

Anyway, I hit her with the idea of jamming in Imagika and she was very excited about the whole idea. For her it would be the beginning of a new relationship with music after walking away from it for five years when Mother Earth broke up. She had some reservations at first because she had not played her bass in five years and now she would be jumping into a thrash monster of a band and then what about the whole "Girl issue"? I assured her that I had no doubt about her talent and professionalism and that her skills are like riding a bike, you never forget. It just takes some practice to oil-up the rusted machine. And the boyz don't care if you're a girl just that you can jam and once they see what your all about your a shoe in for the position! The rest is history…


What styles, influences or attitude does she bring to the band?

She enjoys a lot of the same bands that we love. We also got her into a few bands she hadn't heard before like Iced Earth. She plays with her fingers so her playing is really warm and punchy at the same time, which I enjoy because it makes the rhythm section stand out a bit more with her attack.


Is she helping with the writing of new material?

Well a lot of the material for the new CD was already written. Actually, a few songs were written during the And So It Burns era but just didn't make it on the CD. The rest of the songs Elena has more input on and of course as the band continues to write she will have the opportunity to share her ideas and build them into the new songs.


How many bass players did you try out before picking her for replacement?

Like I mentioned above, we tried out about 3 or 4 guys. It was the same bullshit that it has always been when auditioning players, they tell you how badass they are and when it comes to playing they just can't hang. We actually had one guy tell us that he was a G.I.T graduate and he might be over qualified for the position. It turned out that he couldn't play very well, and couldn't keep up with the energy of the music.


In a lot of bands the foundation of the bass and drums being tight/solid is very important. In other bands the guitars and drums are the foundation and the bass becomes (almost) background. How is it in Imagika? How would you describe the musical chemistry in the band?

I think it's a bit of both. It depends on the section of music; the emphasis can be on either the guitar rhythm/solo or the bass and drum rhythm section. It changes throughout the song itself. In Imagika no one goes in with the attitude that I'm the focus of the band and everyone else needs to play behind me! That's utter bullshit. I think that we are all talented players and it would be a shame to hold back any of us because someone thinks they are a musician GOD. We want to compliment each other in our playing so the song will be strong all the way through.

As a drummer, what is your greatest challenge? Keeping perfect time, keeping the drum beats & fills interesting, or is it something else???

To be a creative, kick ass drummer you have to do all of those things you just mentioned and that is a challenge in itself. I face that challenge everyday when I play my drums. I want to be as creative as possible without doing a drum solo for every song, but I don't want to fall asleep playing a basic boring drum section either. I want other drummers to watch the drum parts I play and go "yeah that was cool". Those who do or at least try to conquer that challenge are the kind of drummers I appreciate. Nothing worse than a drummer just holding a solid 4/4 beat with no chops!!! If you have chops use them!!! Show off a bit!!! If your band members don't want you to be a creative drummer, shove a drum stick up their dick holes and fuck their girlfriends!!! Well maybe not that first part, drumsticks are expensive… heehehee. I hate that saying that "less is more" who ever coined that phrase was some fucking uncreative, lazy piece of shit. When I watch other musicians play I want to be inspired and thrilled by their abilities to play their instruments. Amaze me!!! That's what counts in my book. So when I approach an Imagika song I throw everything at it and then take away what doesn't seem to work for that song.


What have been the most rewarding and the most frustrating things about playing thrash metal with Imagika?

The most rewarding was going on tour w/Grave Digger in 1999 for the Worship CD. We played to about 1000 people every night and we had a great response from each city! The fans were great! We hope to go back sometime this year.

The most frustrating thing is the music business. Having to deal with a bunch of fuck heads at labels. The whole system is run to rip off any and every band! No one is immune.


What's the story behind the WWIII re-issue of AND SO IT BURNS with different cover art?

Well, we were shopping for a North American release of And So It Burns. WWIII's Juan Garcia (Agent Steel) heard us and offered us a licensing deal for the states. Juan suggested we give it a new vibe with new artwork and CD layout. So since I've taken over the responsibility of doing the graphic design/web design for the band I figured it was a perfect opportunity for a good learning experience.

WWIII did some good promotional campaigns for the CD and got us to do a mini tour of California and Arizona. WWIII has express some interest in doing the new CD but nothing confirmed at the moment.


The bonus tracks on the re-release are from the WORSHIP sessions if I remember correctly? Is there any reason they didn't go on that album because they are all really good songs!!!

Well, the boyz felt those songs just didn't fit the Worship vibe. So the got on the shelf. We had planned to release them sometime in the future but never got around to it. The WWIII deal was the first real good opportunity to use that extra material. I really love all three of those songs. They are very fun to play.


Was there a printing mistake on the WWIII re-issue?!?

Yeah!!! It's supposed to be "And So It Burns" they printed "So It Burns" on the left and right edges of the sleeves. WWIII Records has got to get those damn graphic artist guys to stop smoking that cheap weed!


How did you hook up with WWIII and so far how happy is the band with how the label has been promoting you and getting the word out on the band?

I think it was Juan who heard about us and sent us an e-mail about a deal for North America. I can't remember…

Our relationship is, so far so good… Of course we would love for them to flip the bill and give us a healthy budget to record and tour with. But WWIII doesn't have that kind of money. We'll see what the future offers…


What is the band's relationship with Massacre Records?

Currently there is no relationship with Massacre. We gave them a demo of the new material and they had 30 days to respond with an offer. The 30 days came and went with no response. So we are back on the market again as far as I'm concerned. Fucking labels…


Does the label actively look for gigs or even opening spots for you on any of the bigger scale bands' gigs?

WWIII did get a string of gigs for us last summer. Massacre, not a thing…


Do you only play Imagika material when you play live?

Yes. We know a couple of covers but we stick to a tight set of Imagika tunes spanning from the first disk to newer material.


Would you consider recording or playing any covers from some of the thrash metal bands from the 80's?

Yeah sure. We did two covers for WWIII tribute CD's: Black Sabbath's "Never Say Die" and Metallica's "Four Horsemen."


What bands do you personally look back on with great respect?

Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Kiss, and King Diamond for their longevity.


What is you opinion on the scene in your area now?

Well, it seems that metal has had a bit of resurgence in the past couple of years here locally but it hasn't spawned a lot of true metal acts. It's still the same shitty mallcore, or rapmetal stuff.


What bands have you been listening to lately?

Nevermore, Evergrey, Mezarkabul, Soilwork, Tad Morose, and Symphony X. Nevermore and Evergrey being my favorites.


Do you get to open for any of the touring bands as the "local talent" when they come to your city? If so, what is that experience like? Do you prefer that type of a gig setting to doing your own show?

We've had a chance to play a couple of shows like that with Testament, Dragonlord and Vicious Rumors. It is a great opportunity to play to a packed club. We would love to play with all the bigger bands all the time but it doesn't work out like that. Doing our own shows is cool cause we get more time to play and get to be the main attraction. But as long as the bill is metal and the fans have a good time then we are satisfied.


What types of other local bands have you been playing or planning gigs with lately?

There's Dragonlord, Zero Hour, Total Eclipse, and Becoming. And anybody else that is Metal!


Did you guys try to get onto the bill of this past summer's "Thrash of the Titans"? It would of been nice to see a band who's been carrying on the thrash metal torch get the opportunity to play there besides some bands who have packed it in and GIVEN UP on thrash metal!!!

Yeah I agree, but there was no chance of that happening. We just aren't part of that clique. It was a day to be fan and enjoy the show. I felt like a kid again at that show. The last time I was that excited about a concert was with the Day on the Green's we use to have here in the Bay Area back in the 80's.


I see you're confirmed for the Classic Metal Festival 2 in Cleveland, Ohio. Are you planning any other festival appearances in the USA or Europe?

No, right now we are just playing the CMF2. Europe will have to wait until we get the new CD out.


Will the first two CD's see a proper re-issue or have you been looking to even re-release them yet?

Actually just recently Elena, Steve and I were talking about re-printed the first CD. We still have the Worship CD in stock so that isn't going to see a re-issue, but I think the first disc will. We have a good re-mix/re-master version that Dino Alden did for the European release of the self-titled disc. If it comes out it will have the first demo we recorded in '93 on it and whatever we can dig up from the archives. The CD cover will be a bit different just with the new logo and a better CD layout.


Where have the bands greatest fanbase been from? Your local area? Europe? From the Internet? etc....

Well, The Internet has been the biggest promotion machine for the band. Your site, Metal-Rules.com, has been, do I dare say, "A God Send"!!! You've got us on the map by producing the first web site for the band and through that our first fan contacted us and got us hooked up with Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger/Flying Dolphin Promotions). Then with the Self-Titled & Worship CDs we got our first exposure in Europe. The fans gave us a great response and welcome. We hope to get back there someday soon.

Our local and national fan base has begun to grow with the North American release of And So It Burns. Some fans thought it was our first disc. They didn't know it was officially the third CD Imagika has put out.


It's been a little while since I've heard any news about new material...so when's the new one coming or how far along are you with the writing?

We have the entire CD written already. It contains left over material from the ASIB era and a few new ones. We are still writing while we wait and see if we can get any label finance for the new CD.


If the writing has begun, tell us about the songs? What can we expect? Any changes or surprises?

I think this is going to be some of the best stuff we have done. It's going to be thrashy as hell of course, but also have some songs that evolve from the "Fade Away" vibe. From a drummer stand point I think it will have some of my best stuff to date. I know this all sounds cliché, so you'll just have to listen for yourself…


Have any song titles or album title names been chosen that you can reveal?

Yeah the tentative title is going to be "FallenGod".

"FallenGod", "Streets Of Gold", "Breaking of the World", "Eternal", "Black Sun", "Push It" and the others don't have titles yet. We refer to these songs as "let's do that one song" (Steve plays the riff) "Oh ok, 1,2,3,4…"


Will the new one be released on WWIII or Massacre or has that been agreed yet?

Not sure… Neither one has confirmed any offer…


Do you know where you will record the new album or who might be producing or mixing it?

We are going to record this one on our own, then we'll have it mixed mastered out of house. We have enough recording experience to get the tracking done by ourselves. So this will help cut costs. Not sure who we will get to mix/master it at the moment. I'll keep you guys updated.


Will there be any more guest appearances on the next one like what happened with Grave Digger?

Hmmm… you never know…
We've been talking with Lars (yes, Metallica Lars) about having him play the triangle on this one song. We'll see what transpires…


What are your hopes for Imagika? Are you personally satisfied with the level of popularity you guys have attained or do you want to be more of a household name?

Yes!!! Of course I would like to be a monster band like Iron Maiden but that's not a reality for us. We play the music we like because we are fans of metal. Sure we could try to be a cookie cutter, mallcore band wearing baggy pants and wife beaters, pretending to be a hip, gun toting, gangsta wannabe's (Maynard rocks) just to make money. But that version of Imagika would have no heart or soul…

So yes I'm happy with this project. We are a band that loves metal and we want to share our version of metal to anyone that will listen. I hope we can get this next disc out to all the fans worldwide and support it with a tour!!! I hope…


What do you think it will take to push the band to the next level?

Money, Money, and Money!!!

It really is all about the mighty dollar. It costs money to take a band to the next level. Great promotion, great distribution, great merchandise, great tour support = $$$.  Until we get a shit load of money we'll just have to do our best to get Imagika into the CD collection of all metal fans!!!


You've done a fair amount of the artwork and the website for Imagika. How did you get involved in that and is that (art/graphics) something you work on professionally as well?

Actually it started out of necessity. We needed to have these types of things done but didn't have the money to spend on an artist or a company to produce the website, CD covers/artwork, and CD layout materials. You started the website and we really appreciated the hard work and time you sacrificed for us EvilG. But we felt it needed to be updated more often and it was going to be an easier task if we had direct access to tweak the page. So I built a computer and got a bunch of software from friends at Adobe and Macromedia and started learning how it all works. It has been very challenging but a very rewarding experience too. It's a cool feeling to walk into Tower Records and see an Imagika CD in the rack with my artwork on it from the cover to the performance of the drums. It always puts a smile on my face. My plan is to continue learning more about the whole computer networking, and graphic art design. I hope to get a job in this new career so then I can make more money to spend on making more Imagika CD's!!!


Are there are ANY other happenings with the band??!!

Nothing new that I know of… heehee we are just working at trying to get this next CD out!!! New sets of roadblocks are before us and we have to figure out the best plan to get to the finish line. Hopefully kill a few label dicks along the way!!!


Thanks again for your time. I am eagerly awaiting the next album!!

Your very welcome and a big THANK YOU to you, the fans and everyone at Metal-Rules.com!!! You guys are part of the Imagika machine, always!!!


Imagika Interviews:
Steven Rice (2000)
Steven Rice (1999)

Imagika CD Reviews
- And So It Burns
- And So It Burns (Demo 1999)
- Worship
- s/t

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