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Interview by Michelle Baker

Straight from Chihuahua, Mexico, Umbrae is a brutally dark, heavy concoction of introspection and death metal. Solid, artful, and gloomily melodic, these musicians cultivate their sound by throwing in new musical elements like a speed metal sound on Empty and a fascinating combo of middle eastern and latin flavors on The Kiss of Fire. For Endemoniada, I talked with singer Mac about his musical project...

How long has UmbraE been a band?
We´ve been together as a band for about a year and a half. I started it along with Ivan (drums) and have had some changes in the line-up even recently, when keyboard player Galia decided to pursue other interests.

What do the band members have in common? Do you have a lot of the same influences and tastes in music? We have very different influences as musicians, but we´ve been able to melt them in order to develop a style of our own, very colorful, some say. Our inspirations go like a rainbow from classic progressive rock all the way to modern death/black metal. We´ve sort of educated each other in different music genres. What we have in common is mainly the idea of making something new, if not to the world then at least to our country.

How old are you guys? Our ages rank from 18 to 25 being the youngest Julio, the bass player and the oldest Victor, guitar/vox. As for me, I just turned 22.

Which do you enjoy more as a musician: the songwriting process or the performing? As a songwriter I must say that the whole process of creation is very liberating. I hold lots of dark emotions within, and my way of dealing with them is by putting them down to paper, where they cannot hurt anyone. Same for Victor, I think. However, there is nothing remotely as exciting as being onstage, where you can feel the energy run among the crowd and see they are indeed having a good time listening to you. We like what we do and people are aware of that and can relate to us by having fun themselves. Definitely, the best thing is going live.

What makes your band different from the others in your area? If there´s an edge we might have above other local bands it´s our communion with the audience. Lots of other bands just stand in there and do their thing, some better than us, technically speaking, but their connection with their public leaves a lot to desire. We let the people actually share the gig with us and feel like a part of the band, which in some way they are and that keeps ´em coming back. I must say that there are not too many metal lovers around, but the few ones there are always ask when the next gig will be. Hail to them all.

What's the biggest show you've ever played? In terms of mass, definitely the one we just had opening for Stratovarius. It was like our arrival to the big league, at least in Mexico and we all really felt the rush. I must say though that the headliners´ behavior wasn´t that cool. Actually they´re the snottiest bastards I´ve ever run into. The didn´t allow us to perform on the main stage and had to set an alternative one up, which was very uncomfortable. They even used some of our stuff without even asking for it and their crew treated us like shit. Bad stuff aside, we had fun playing, as always, and people enjoyed us and themselves and that´s more important.

UmbraE Have you ever performed with a band outside the genre? Would any of you ever be interested in doing side projects? Oh, sure. We all have jammed with friends in other genres. We all like what´s been named Rock en Español, with bands like Maná, Caifanes, La Barranca and Heroes del Silencio. Some of us even performed with bands in this genre. Sure, Death Metal is our battle horse but there´s nothing more likely to kill creativity than listening only to what you play. I personally listen to anything with interesting musicianship. I hate some death rockers´ attitude of discriminating what has a little bit of melody and feeling inside. As for side projects, I´ve been invited by friends to do something like Tool or Faith No More but to my dismay, I barely have time for my band, let alone another project. Perhaps later on.

What do you do in your free time? There´s not much free time available this days, but when I find the time, I like rock-climbing a lot, going outdoors, swimming and stuff. Video games and good movies are also welcome. And you can always rely on sex on a dull afternoon.

If you could put together the ultimate concert, where would it be and who would you play with? The ultimate gig would be in Brazil, with Iron Maiden as headliners. I´d put on Type O Negative, My Dying Bride, Moonspell, Amorphis... it´d never stop.

What are your goals for the band? First than all, doing what we like and breaking with every day living. Then it comes the urge to reinvent the Mexican Metal scene, horribly corrupted by bands that SUCK. We´d like to fix that, either by improving it or by sucking worse!!! I leave it to your opinion. If in the way we could make a profit out of it, it wouldn´t hurt, really...