February 13, 2018 Interview – Plague of Terror Universal
In a world where many people are trying to be someone else, why not just be yourself? Tried and tested through years of experience in other bands, the foursome that make up Terror Universal stay true to their vision – heavy, emotional, driven Metal. Ignoring whatever the flavor of the week may be, Terror Universal bleed a touch of modern Metal with a classic Alternative Metal styling that creates blistering riffs, chilling growls, and soaring choruses. Doing just that with their 2018 debut album, Make Them Bleed, Terror Universal are ready to make a massive impact on the scene. Recently we caught up with one of the masked fellows going by the name Plague to talk his entrance into Terror Universal, what it is like for him to perform live, the vision of the band, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – Terror Universal has been a project a few years in the making. Working hard and honing your sound, the band recently released their debut album, Make Them Bleed. First, tell us, how did you become involved with the band and what has your experience been like thus far?
Plague – Ever since I was in my early teens, I have always been in a band. It’s what took me from a small town and put me into a bigger town later on down the road. Within this bigger town, we were able to play more shows and meet more people who were doing the same things we were. Some of these shows had nobody in attendance and other shows had just about everybody in attendance. It was at one of the shows that had nobody in attendance except for one or two people; one of these persons was a drunk and the other was in a signed act. This fellow who belonged to a signed outfit approached me after the set and asked me to be a part of something bigger. Being young and stubborn, I turned him down as soon as I found out that it was only me he wanted and not my friends – my brothers, my band. After all, they were part of the whole reason that I was in the big town playing this gig in the first place. Needless to say, he walked, and soon after began the thoughts of “what if.” Fast forward, years later. The dream is basically crushed, the 9-5, or in my case, the 5-9 long, had taken over and I was beginning to except it. It was at this point that the phone rang. Same guy, different offer. I took it.
Let’s just say since I have joined Terror Universal, a lot has changed. I’m still that kid from that small town trying to make it in the bigger town. The only difference now is that it’s possible. There is still a lot of hard work yet to be done and the experience thus far has been a roller coaster. Not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s actually exactly the way that I always thought it would be. People just have no idea how hard this work truly is. That, my friends, is my experience in the smallest of nutshells thus far.
CrypticRock.com – It is great to see in the end you were able to follow that dream. Terror Universal is made of a list of veteran musicians including former members of Machine Head, Ill Niño, Soulfly, and Upon A Burning Body. Needless to say, there is a great deal of experience amidst the lineup. Does each member bring something different to the table?
Plague – There are some individuals in this band to say the least. Each man with his own worn path within a journey that has led them to this very spot. Along the way there were choices made and influences absorbed, crafts honed and ideals established. These are the things that make up just about any band that are serious enough to push forward, to pull themselves up to the next level. Even though at this stage this project is still well within its infancy, make no mistake, this is the place where all of these guys have agreed and decided to be and to have as there next stronghold, there next base operations so to speak to further their pursuit in music. With these guys, even ten big steps backwards is miles farther ahead than I ever was without them.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like everyone is extremely dedicated to the vision. Make Them Bleed hit the public back on January 19th. This album is hard-hitting and a real throwback to some classic Alternative Metal sounds. What was the writing and recording process like?
Plague – It was a blast! For me personally, it was a trip. You’d wake up in LA and go to one studio to record a couple tracks. Then, you’d wake up the next day and record a couple more tracks in some other LA studio. Next, you’d find that you are in Denver writing and recording another one. It’s not until you’re in New York recording more when the reality and scope hits you like a piano falling from the sky that you might be doing something here. I think I even laid down some harmonies on a bus in between gigs on tour somewhere. Next thing you know, you get this call to go to this secret page to hear the finished product.
As far as it having throwback qualities, I think because everybody was so pigeonholed with their prayer acts for so long that with this project they might have seized the opportunity to revisit a few old thoughts that were keeping them awake at night. It wasn’t like we sat down and had a meeting about what this thing should sound like. It was just, at least for this first record, a way of getting things off the chest before moving on to the actual business of what we are collectively capable of doing. I think it was a fun way of introducing ourselves sonically before the chainsaws start up for the second one.
CrypticRock.com – The album is quite diverse vocally as well, putting the right emphasis of emotion on each lyric. As a singer, how do you capture the feeling in the studio to bring these songs to life?
Plague – With this project, I have done something that I have never done before in all my years of recording. I approached it like how a method actor would approach his or her role. Wearing a mask onto a stage, it’s hard to be yourself visually. If not for the angry looking mask, people would see my dumb-looking face smiling back at them all the time. (Laughs) That’s how it was at first anyway. But, I have come to realize that if you are not in the character mentally that you are visually displaying, things tend to get a little confusing, not only for the audiences, but for yourself.
What I feel when I’m shaking a fan’s hand is different than what they see. To me, I’m being a well-mannered human who is showing my appreciation to the fan. To them, or to those who are in witness mode, seeing this monster trying to rip this poor individuals arm off. One has to own their character to certain degrees. So while in studio, I imagine the character and just let it take over. There are things in this album that I hear that I cannot remember doing. Because it wasn’t me. It was Plague.
CrypticRock.com – That is pretty cool that you can get in character like that. So much is made of labels, whether it be Nu-Metal or Metalcore, or whatever it may be. What are your thoughts on these labels and, as an artist, could you care less where Terror Universal fits in? After all, who wants to sound like everyone else!
Plague – It goes like this. There is this thing called the “Human Condition” and it is extremely complex. It is not a problem to be solved nor is it the answer to all questions. It’s more like a guideline to both follow and not follow. Humans have these built-in qualities about them. One of the most common ones is to put things in an order and to categorize each and every little thing that is presented before them. If you’ve ever set foot within a library you have come as close as you will to actually standing within the structure of a human brain. Each book within an area upon a shelf according to its subject matter. I’ve actually been within libraries that have categorized all the way down to the type of pulp the words were printed on. Does all of this really make a difference? After all, it is just a bunch of fucking paper glued and sewn together. Of course it does, we need to be able to b-line to what interests us most. But that is the problem. If you know exactly what shelf your book is on and you head straight for it, you ultimately bypass everything else that could be of greater interest to you.
My point is this, it’s not a bad thing to have everything in a certain order or genre, how else would you find what you are looking for. It’s when genres are broken down into sub-genres that are broken down into deeper sub-genres that it starts getting a little ridiculous. These days you have go through a Mandelbrot set just to fucking hear anything. Fuck it all, music is music.
CrypticRock.com – Very true and also a very valid point. Behind masks, the band has chosen to conceal their identities. As a performer, what does it feel like to be shrouded in mystique while on stage?
Plague – When I first stepped out onto a stage with three pounds of rubber on my head I was taken back at why the audience all seemed to be looking back at us with the same expressions. Head tilted back, jaw slightly dropped, eyes rapidly moving from one side to the other. I quickly realized that I could no longer communicate with them the way that I had in my previous acts. I relied on my face to do half of the work originally. That was now gone. It’s all about the hands and arms now. (Laughs) Can be tiring at times. It is a bit freeing in a way. It has since become just another tool to get the job done.
CrypticRock.com – That is an interesting perspective. Having done your share of touring, can we expect further touring from Terror Universal in 2018?
Plague – My fucking god, you have no idea what’s about to happen.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool! Everyone will have to keep their eyes and ears open for announcements. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Plague – Now we’re talking. So far, with all the interviews that I have done, not one had a question such as this. I’m surprised at that myself. This band is extremely Horror filmed based. The name, “Terror Universal,” was never or has never been delivered from us with any relation to “Terrorism” in the political scene. Fuck all those life-hating motherfuckers. It’s always been about true horror and terror on the artistic spectrum. Primarily film. It is heavily themed in that aspect.
Each song is a short Horror story just waiting to be turned into a terrifying film. Look-wise, our videos are based off of old ’70s and ’80s Horror films. They had this quality about them, or lack thereof, that truly strummed upon that raw nerve. Nothing comes even remotely close these days due to digital. Not saying that digital is all bad, just the way most are using it. Of course this comes with exceptions. I was raised in the eighties and during that time one would always hear about some sort of satanic cult that was sweeping the nation.
So, when I saw Ti West’s The House of the Devil back in 2009, I was immediately dragged back kicking and screaming through two decades of shit just to find my younger self sat back down in front of the family counsel TV. It reminded me of an unforgiving age in my life. We didn’t have this “internet” to hold our hands and Google us out of uncertainty. Fuck no, we had to ponder that shit. The first time that I saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was with one eye peeking out from under my bedroom door because I was sent to bed under the notion that I was too young to watch it. I lived in a small town out in the country.
I don’t care what anybody says. If you were a child in the secluded ’80s of a small town with movies claiming to be based on actual documented events, you were fucked. I carried that shit around with me for years. I remember riding my bike along an old dirt road by myself. Nothing or nobody around for what seemed miles. It got dark fast as a rain storm started in quick. I remember seeing a light off in the distance. It was a porch light on some porch of some house off in the distance. I had to cross this vast field to get to it so that I wouldn’t get caught in the storm. As I trekked along, it got so dark that the porch light off in the distance was the only thing that I could see.
It was then that I began to think about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Part of me wanted to turn back, yet the other part didn’t want to die in a flash flood. It was when I got about half way there that the porch light turned off. I was mentally exhausted at this point. I gave up. I accepted my fate. I was just waiting for the chainsaw to start up off to my right. Thankfully it never rained. It was just a lightning storm. So, I said fuck that house and used the light from the lightning bursts to light my way home.
It’s weird now. I actually miss that feeling of terror from those days. It’s hard to come across anymore.