By Charlie Steffens
Some bands that seem to come out of nowhere, get signed to a label, yet aren’t worth the ink on the contract. Some bands deservedly get a record deal after they’ve paid their dues. Shattered Sun has certainly paid their dues. Formed in 2010, the metal band has packed a lot of stage and studio experience into its relatively short career.
These six guys live to perform heavy music and have continuously put in the work it takes to keep a dream like theirs alive. It’s no big feat for Shattered Sun to win a local battle of the bands contest. It’s just what they do. For them, hard work is the means to propel their band forward. At the 2013 Mayhem Festival in Austin, Shattered Sun won their spot to perform on one of the auxiliary stages. Lead singer Marcos Leal talks about some of that hard work he and his band mates experienced before they actually performed onstage:
“Part of the thing for winning to open that show is you had to work with the crew. You set up the stage, offload the 18-wheelers, break it down. All that stuff. It was a real eye-opening experience for us. It made us appreciate all those road crew guys. When everybody goes to get drunk after the show, they still got to do everything they did in the morning and then do it the next day at six in the morning. We got to see the ins and outs of how those festivals work.”
As for that work ethic, Leal explains that the members of the band come by it honestly, as their hometown of Alice, Texas employs many of its residents with jobs related to the oil industry. “We’re all oilfield workers because that’s where we’re from in our town”, says Leal. “There’s a big oil boom down there, so that’s how everybody makes money. That’s why we do all the things we do and break our fuckin’ backs to do this. Our jobs fund this right now. But when you’re at work and you’re pouring concrete or on that oil rig or moving that equipment on trucks—that’s the thing that gets you through the day. Just keep that drive.”
Leal has the classic metal front-man look, with good looks, long dark hair, and a commanding vocal range. He engages the audience, touching people in the audience as he sings, clearly happy to be there. Offstage, Leal is affable and talkative, slipping easily into interview mode without self-consciousness or posturing. And a very disarming smile that makes it easy to listen to him.
“We’ve been doing this for a while,” he says. “When we went in with the Confessions EP (2011), we didn’t want to do what a lot of bands are doing from our area. They would sit on songs and singles for a year, a year and a half, and just try to put out this perfect song. We weren’t about that. We wanted to put the best songs out we could and immediately get out there and start playing shows and getting our name out there. So we didn’t want to take that approach on the next album. We wanted to be bigger, better.”
The lineup, including Leal on vocals, the duo of Daniel Trejo and Jessie Santos on guitar,
Henry Garza on keyboards, Joseph Guajardo on bass, and Robert Garza on drums, has been playing together since 2010. In February 2014, immediately after the band signed with Breaking Bands management, Leal and his band mates took jobs that gave them the flexibility to pursue music. “I went to go drive trucks for my father’s company,” Leal says. “Daniel found a good welding job. Mick works for his dad also. We found jobs that gave us the flexibility to do this. There’s no flexibility in the oilfields. We’re definitely thankful to have the jobs that we have right now.”
In May 2014 Shattered Sun played the River City Rockfest in San Antonio with Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage, Deftones and Five Finger Death Punch among many other well-known metal bands. “It’s all about getting out to as many people as we can. We did anything that we could to do it. It’s an honor to play with those big heavy weights. At the same time, it’s a mission to be there also.” Marco continues, “We’ve always been a band that fuels ourselves on determination. It’s always about having a goal. It’s always something to work for and that’s always been the plan for all of us. We’ve played the Mayhem Fest with Five Finger, Rob Zombie, Mastodon, Machine Head…we’ve done a bunch of different festivals with Sevendust, Asking Alexandria, In This Moment, All That Remains. We shared the stage with some pretty big acts already.”
Opening for Skid Row at the Whisky on May 17 of this year, Shattered Sun played a set that included music from their upcoming album, Hope Within Hatred.
For the new album, the band has returned to Precision Studios to work with their Confessions producer, Robert Beltran. Spineshank guitarist Mike Sarkisyan was hired to help with pre-production.
“We did a tour with Spineshank last summer,” says Leal. “We liked a lot of stuff they were doing onstage. A lot of stuff they were doing we wanted to do in our band, as far as the melodic stuff. We learned a lot from touring with them and he helped us arrange some of our songs. He helped us do pre-production. We brought in our other producer and we did a lot of collaborating, but all together we had that ‘knock it out of the park’ mentality. We just wanted to perfect our sound and I think we did that with this album. The album’s in its final stages. It’s ready to be mixed and mastered.”
“We’re only young once. We have the time to do this now. Right now all we’re focused on is getting our music out there and there’s nothing else that’s going to get in the way of that.”
Purchase Shattered Sun’s Confessions on iTunes: