Interview – Mina Caputo of Life of Agony

Back in the early 1990s Brooklyn’s own Life of Agony brought something different to the heavy music scene. Unique to other Hard Rock/Metal bands at the time, they offered a distinctive sound that unified various styles while tapping into extremely real, personal lyrical content. Impossible to paint a label on, their 1993 debut River Runs Red earned them a massive underground following which stands as strong as ever near three decades since. Sustaining hiatuses along the way, fortunately, the core of the band remains focused and determined with the release of their jolting new album The Sound of Scars.

Coming out in October of 2019, as the months burn on, more and more are discovering The Sound of Scars could very well be one of the best Life of Agony albums to date. Is it? You be the judge and just listen! Extremely pleased with how it all turned out, Life of Agony’s Lead Vocalist Mina Caputo shared her thoughts on the band, keys to balance and happiness, plus a whole lot more.  

Cryptic Rock – Life of Agony came together over three decades ago and attained a great deal of success in the ’90s with three strong albums. You would reunite briefly in the early 2000s, and then again in the 2010s. First, tell us, what has the journey been like for you and the band?

Mina Caputo – Euphoric and tumultuous. It has been challenging, rewarding, but, as you know, we are still in the midst of our journey – it’s only just begun. There is real no destination in life, you’re not really heading to a destination. Life is about the journey, in a band or not. In a band or not, my life has been very rewarding and challenging. It’s like I have a good Dalai Lama and a bad Dalai Lama on each shoulder taking me through experiences I never thought I would go through.

Cryptic Rock – Well you certainly have accomplished a lot as a musician as well as personally. You had stepped away from Life of Agony to pursue other musical projects, including solo work. What inevitably led you back to the band?

Mina Caputo – These guys are my family. Regardless of whether I make music for a film, TV shows, or do duets, more musical projects in the future, I will always work with the Life of Agony gang. They’re my compadres, we’ve grown up together. Joey’s my cousin, we’re like brothers and sisters; we’re real family. It’s just a different pirate ship, I love punking and thrashing out with them. I love the Life of Agony family, the warriors, the people who have been supporting us for decades. It’s a special, unique brand and experience. I’m incredibly thankful and grateful to be a part of it. We’re all creative individuals. When you’re a creative individual, shame on you for staying inside one little box. I’m always about growth and expansion, I always have been and I always will be.

The perceptions of people, or what I’m supposed to do as a human being, are an incredibly false premise. For example, people just expecting us to keep writing River Runs Red; it’s a false premise and an idiotic request. That just doesn’t happen in life: the worm grows and digs deeper into the earth to find more subsidence to carry on. Creativity is ever expanding and ever growing. I’ll always grow, I’ll always change, I’ll always create, I’ll always destroy. That’s just the nature of life; the yin and the yang, the chaos and the order.

Roadrunner Records
Roadrunner Records

Cryptic Rock – That is very true. Since the band’s most recent reunion, some six years ago, you have released two studio albums, including the most recent, The Sound of Scars. The new album is very powerful and follows a concept throughout. What was it like working on this record?

Mina Caputo – It was a lot of fun and stress free. There were a lot of high-powered, creative moments. It was nice to be back in a room doing it old-school like The Doors and Zeppelin; when the band was in the room together instead of everybody separately at home sending files to one another. That is a very sterile way to write a record, especially if you call yourself a band. I can do that as a solo artist – stay home, play all the instruments myself, hire a few cats to refine certain things that I have limitations on. But when you work with a band, it is all about collaborating and respecting one another’s vision or imagination.

Cryptic Rock – The end result came out quite well.

Mina Caputo – This is my favorite album that we’ve done together. I think it’s incredibly mature, whatever category you want to throw us in – because everyone has their own version of what category Life of Agony should be in. Just put us in the trendsetter category, because that’s what we are really.

Cryptic Rock – Yes, and the album is quite diverse. You cannot really throw it into one category of Rock or Metal.

Mina Caputo – I think every record does that for people. That has hurt us too, I think, as well. Shoving us in the wrong category and lazy journalists just stamping us with a shallow genre instead of creating their own. We’re one of the pioneers of doing what we’ve been doing. Still no one’s doing what we’re doing and they will never be able to.

Roadrunner Records
Napalm Records

Cryptic Rock – Life of Agony certainly is a unique entity onto themselves. One can imagine the artistic freedom the band has displayed throughout the years is much more rewarding than any monetary gain or popularity.

Mina Caputo – Well, you know, it’s really not about any of that, those are just perks that come along with being a creative individual. This is how we survive. You’re doing it because it’s something you need to do, it’s like divine purpose, then the one dimensional world comes into play and obviously you have to buy dog food. (Laughs)

Cryptic Rock – Right, there are bare necessities in life, but in the end the creative freedom is the driving force. Life of Agony was set to do some extensive touring in 2020, but unfortunately due to the pandemic that has been halted. Will the band reconvene and hit the road again once all of this settles down?

Mina Caputo – Yeah, we’ve reposted all the dates that were supposedly cancelled. They’re not cancelled, they are just postponed toward the end of the year. Most bands are cancelling and they’re not coming back with postponed dates. We had to cancel by law, but before we announced cancelling we made sure we had dates in place so that ticket holders/buyers can already use those tickets for the dates that are postponed. It’s just hopefully a minor delay and no more bands or the entertainment industry get hit.

Cryptic Rock – Hopefully not. It has been a tough time.

Mina Caputo – I’m talking to a lot of musicians and artists like Cristina from Lacuna Coil and Alissa from Arch Enemy. We are talking every day, checking up on each other emotionally, because everyone’s up and down and gutted. Everyone’s sad and disappointed for the world, but we are all hoping that we can continue this journey. We’ll see. I’m not buying into the fear. They’re spending billions on dividing the globe with fear. It’s good to take precautions, but the common flu kills 700,000 people a year, vegetable oils kill more than million people a year, all the chem trails they are spraying are getting people sick and killing people year after year; it’s probably not even charted. With all the pesticides they are spraying, even my dog suffers with severe allergies because of the shit they spray in the neighborhood. They are playing one big game, it is one big racket with us it seems. Celebrities and athletes can be tested, but common and uncommon folk can’t even get a test kit? They are playing with our morality. Look at the food companies, look at the pharmaceutical companies – they probably already have a cure.

Anyway, this is just my speculation and I don’t believe 80% of what I hear and read. If you’re an aware person with your consciousness scorching and on fire, you can absolutely see the pattern of how government plays with fear and humanity’s emotions. It’s what the media’s all about: they’re in the business of programming minds and culture. They’ve been doing this for thousands of years already in different ways. This is just another program, and honestly, I ain’t buying it. I don’t care about being quarantined because I have no social life anyway.

Like I said, it’s good to take precautions, but if you haven’t been washing your hands, eating the right food, then you’re a fucking idiot anyway; you shouldn’t need a pandemic to straighten you out, you should already be taking care of yourself. I feel bad for the people in the families that have been affected, and I know it’s a real thing, but I’m reading things all over. Some say it it started from a bat, some say it started in a lab. To be honest, I’m going the lab route because they’re are many agendas on this planet.

I’m not going to shoot anymore speculation at you, but they are playing with humanity’s emotions. It’s unbelievable, and honestly, you know what is even more unbelievable? Society’s reaction. When society reacts in the way it does to things like this, we’re not prepared for anything real at all. We are not prepared as a people, we’re not prepared as a government, we’re not prepared for any real threats. If an asteroid decides to come into our atmosphere and hit the planet, we are fucked. We are not thinking, we are not smart.

We should be focusing on real issues: stop brutalizing the planet and the people. That’s all they’re doing; they are brutalizing people with fear and people are falling for it. I feel bad for mass culture, they don’t know what to believe. They hate themselves, that’s why they hate people like me. They hate trans-people, they hate anything different. They want everyone to be the same and like them – hating their miserable lives and not doing what they really want to do, believing in every little thing they hear on the tell-e-vision. Why do you think it’s called a television? It tells you lies, it programs you into believing things that aren’t true. They’re dis-empowering culture. I don’t buy it.

That’s why it’s important to keep creating, be happy, choose happiness, exercise, do your yoga, meditate, read, etc. Choice happiness, happiness takes practice. You have to practice being in a state of joy. If you don’t give a fuck about how you feel, you won’t accomplish that and you’ll think what I’m saying is airy, airy bullshit. To choose to feel good takes practice, self-love, self-care. It takes practice every day, all day long; it’s an infinite job and responsibility of humanity. Every individual needs to choose that for themselves. That’s what this is all about. The world is out of balance, people are out of balance, children out of balance, government is out of balance, food companies are out of balance, the pharmaceutical world is out of balance. Or maybe everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

Napalm Records

Cryptic Rock – You raise some very valid points that are hard to argue. It is interesting how you say joy takes practice. That is true because a lot of things in life can bring you down.

Mina Caputo – That’s because people have been practicing that negative point of view – that’s what I’m talking about being programmed. We inherited bad programming from our parents, from our parent’s parents, etc. The lineage continues. We are the trademark of what we’ve been taught. A lot of the things that we’re taught need to be unlearned, and you need to learn for yourself. We’ve been practicing that negative program, that’s why there are so many miserable fucks out there; so many haters, so many bullies. Whether they’re in politics, NASA, school systems, or the pharmaceutical world, there are people who have been practicing bad programming.

It’s about breaking the program that you’ve been programmed with. That takes years and a lot of work, but it’s simple. It’s just one simple little thing: if you care about how you feel and care about feeling good, then you’re on your way to destroying that bad program that you’ve been raised with.

Cryptic Rock – Let’s hope more people realize this. It seems like things are changing for the better. Do you feel they are?

Mina Caputo – I honestly think this world is an incredibly beautiful phenomenon. I’m very excited about the miracle of life, I don’t bog myself down with human bullshit. I do acknowledge that half the planet, maybe more, are becoming very aware. There is a new heightened sense and I do feel that. I think things have to get worse before they get better. I feel good about life; I still believe in humanity. I have faith in the unknown. Even if it looks like the end of the world – maybe it is, so be it. I don’t know why amidst all of this I still feel good about life and my life, in general.

I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of being alone, I’m not afraid of diseases; we create the disease in ourselves. This is how fear works. Let’s just say you believe in all the stuff going on, you’re afraid and you’re in fear you’re getting sick. Guess what? The stress levels and cortisol levels are going to be so high in your body’s chemistry that you’re going to compromise your immunity and you’re going to get sick. If you believe you are going to get sick and you believe in this fear, you’re paranoid. Keep thinking about the name of the virus, etc., etc. – that’s how people get sick! That’s how they program people into getting themselves sick; with disempowering news and news to scare the shit out of you.

This world equals two words – Black Friday – nothing’s changed. This is what I’m talking about with how immature, soulless, and fear-based collective society is. Look at the behavior: you have people fighting for toilet paper. Nothing’s changed since the idiocy of Black Friday.  People need to look deeper, they’re not looking deep enough. They are looking at their go-no-where Facebook feeds. Get a life, stop scrolling, stop looking at everyone else’s lives, live your own life!

Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. In a way you could say social media has becoming a major handicap for society. In many ways it is an anti-social network, people are not communicating on a human level anymore.

Mina Caputo – Nope. It’s happening in the dating world, too. If you’re single you understand what I’m talking about. It can be pretty humorous. I can’t tell you how many dates I’ve walked out on. I always tell this story because it’s hilarious. I went out on this date with some guy, first time I met him we went out for pancakes. The guy could not stop touching his phone, looking at it, playing with it. I got up, stood up, and even though our food was there, he was still looking at his phone. I just couldn’t believe. I was saying to myself, “I’m here dolled up and this piece of shit is making love to his phone?” I got up, put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Have a nice date with your phone, goodbye.” He still writes me a year and a half later asking for another chance.

It’s hilarious. I’m from the streets of New York, I’m in New York City all the time. I see tourists come in who probably spend thousands of dollars to come to the city, for what? To sit in a little park and the whole family is on their phone ignoring each other. It’s a fucking joke, it’s one big racket. Anyway, I’m done frowning down upon the ignorance of the world.

Life of Agony live at Rock Carnival in Lakewood, NJ 10-2-2016. Photo credit Andrew Fiero.

Cryptic Rock – You’re story is quiet telling of what has sadly become the norm in society today. It is like a disease. Beyond all of this, do you have anything coming up?

Mina Caputo – I just announced the I Died Laughing Tour, my first solo album is 20 years old this year. I haven’t been out with my solo band in 10-11 years. I just released dates for November-December, so hopefully if the world heals by then, I’m very excited to be doing that. That’s big news for me, I’m very excited.

Cryptic Rock – That is very exciting! You have done quite a few solo records. Are there any plans for a new solo album soon?

Mina Caputo – Yeah, I’m almost finished with a new one. I think I’m going to release it this year before my tour. No one really knows about it yet because I haven’t devised a solid plan for that. I think since all this stuff is going down now, I think I can actually finish it and take advantage of down time.

Life of Agony 2020 Tour Dates:
9/19: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA @ Northcote Social Club
9/22: West Hollywood, CA @ The Whisky
9/30: Cleveland, OH @ The Winchester
10/2: Flint, MI @ Machine Shop
10/3: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Stache @ Intersections
10/4: Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
10/6: Pittsburgh, PA @ The Crafthouse
10/7: Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry
10/9: Lancaster, PA @ The Chameleon
10/10: Asbury Park, NJ @ The Stone Pony
10/11: Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw

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For more on Mina Caputo: minacaputo.bandcamp.comFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

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