I had the pleasure to interview Guillermo Izquierdo, guitarist and vocalist of Spanish Thrash Metal band Angelus Apatrida, for the release of the band’s seventh album, Angelus Apatrida.
Hello and first of all, thank you for your time! Would you mind introducing yourself and Angelus Apatrida with your own words please?
Guillermo Izquierdo (vocals/guitar): Hey, it’s Guillermo; I’m vocalist and guitarist of Angelus Apatrida, Thrash metal band from Spain. We’ve been around for 20 years, released 6 albums (the seventh, self titled, is coming out this Feb 5th) the last five of them released with Century Media Records, our family since 2009. And it’s a pleasure to be here answering these questions!
Where does the band’s name come from? Does the meaning changed through years for you?
Guillermo: We were kids when we started playing together, we just needed a name for entering a hometown contest and playing our first show, our former drummer (my brother Alberto) came with this name with a cool logo, mix of latin-spanish. It’s translated like Angelus without Homeland, Stateless Angels, something like this. We gained a lot of popularity very fast first in our hometown and a couple of years later in the whole country, something that was very very difficult in those years, so we decided to keep on with this name, original and strange! I’d say we never liked the name but we got used to that, and through the years it was gaining more and more sense to us.
Angelus Apatrida is about to release Angelus Apatrida, its self-titled and seventh album. Are you satisfied of this album?
Guillermo: Absolutely. This is the most powerful, angry and aggressive album we’ve ever written. Straight to your face, a perfect invitation card for those having first contact with the band. It’s the first time we work with American guru Zeuss and we can’t be happier about the final result and the raw power of the album. This is hostile music for hostile times.
How does the composition process happened? Was it different from previous albums? Did Covid-19 change anything to your plans about this album?
Guillermo: It was formerly planned to be a short EP; we had a lot of tours and festivals for 2020 so we realized we wouldn’t have time for recording a new album, but then the pandemic came and everything was cancelled. The way we composed it and recorded it was exactly the same as always. We like to compose alone at home, each of us, and then share it through internet (we live in different cities) and then each of us, when the songs are finished and approved by everybody, rehearse alone until we enter the studio. This time let’s say that the pandemic “helped” to be 100% focused just on the new music. Touring is our full time job and since we couldn’t keep on touring we were able to focus exclusively writing new music, producing it and then recording it easily, slowly and comfortable.
You teamed up again with Gyula Havancsák for the artwork, how does the cover can be linked to the songs?
Guillermo: Gyula is working with us for the last 3 albums, including Angelus Apatrida. He’s such a talented guy and cool person, he understands perfectly our music and our feelings and is able to put it perfectly every time on the art. He always wanted to do a still life picture, so we gave him total freedom for his own perception of the concept of the album. He came with this “revolutionary” portrait, a real piece of art, full of easter eggs of our previous albums, old songs and other stuff. We love it, and it looks gorgeous on the LP version!
I noticed that the songs names are pretty vindictive, what did inspire you to write music and lyrics on this album?
Guillermo: We always like to write about social issues, injustices, defending human rights, etc., things that we want to praise from society and things that we want to attack from society as well. We are a Thrash Metal band very influenced by the Punk and Crossover spirit, we love to talk about history, philosophy and other interesting stuff as well. This time, during last year, the pandemic itself made us have a lot of bad feelings and emotions, so we put them all down on the paper and on the music.
About your sound, I feel more Old School Thrash roots on this album, and sometimes, I swear I hear Testament’s Chuck Billy vocal hints, do you feel the same?
Guillermo: Yeah, as I told before we are very influenced by the raw Thrash and Punk/Hardcore spirit, this time being more aggressive the compositions you can find it in form of more pure Old School and Punk-a-like music. Yeah, Testament is a great influence and Chuck’s voice was always one of my favourites, sometimes is very difficult not to let those influences go out in form of sound.
Angelus Apatrida’s line-up is pretty much the same since the very beginning, which is very rare. Do you have a secret to keep this cohesion to a Metal band?
Guillermo: Since the very beginning this was what we wanted to do. Maybe that small “secret” is that we practice what we preach. In every sense. This is a band of 4 people, there’s no leader, we are all in the same way, we are friends since we were kids and always looked in the same direction. We grew up together, personally and musically. Most of us we say that probably we won’t be playing an instrument if we weren’t in this band. For me is a total privilege to share more than half of my life with these guys.
How is your collaboration with Century Media now? Is it different from when you begin to work with them?
Guillermo: It is better than ever, I have to say. Since the very beginning they believed in the band and made a lot of efforts to contribute make the band bigger in Spain and more known outside Spain. It’s our 5th album with them, it’s like a new beginning, we are very happy to be part of their family and very proud, can’t imagine right now working with any other label but them. We have a very close relationship, kinda friendship in many ways. They’re amazing people.
I know that Covid-19 fucked a lot of things up in 2020, including the band’s 20th anniversary, but maybe you already have plans to celebrate it next year you can unveil us?
Guillermo: Right now we don’t know what’s gonna be next. We are living through a third wave of the pandemic in Spain, very hard, maybe harder than the first one, so… no things are clear, no plans right now. We are working for making a couple of social distancing secure shows in Spain in big venues, maybe for the end of February or beginning of March if things are getting better, but at this point, everything sucks. We really need to get back to work asap!
By the way, how does the Covid crisis affect you personally?
Guillermo: None of us have been affected directly by the virus, I mean none of us got infected yet, but we live this very close. My girlfriend works in two different hospitals in the UCI room, and it’s crazy, there are hundred of sad and very bad stories… I think when all of this will be over then a lot of psychological problems will come. The band is also our main job, our full time job, and economically we are reaching the point of no return. We are a very small company and we are using every last savings, and we have tons of invoices and credits to face, we need to get back to work, it’s been already 11 months without working.
Aside from music, do you have any hobbies? Which job would you plan to do before you became a musician?
Guillermo: Yeah, as every young person I guess, videogames, books, music, travelling (ok, not much during pandemic, but…) food, beer… I was a graphic and web designer before I quit for dedicating 100% to the band, Jose (J. Izquierdo, bass, ed.) was a worker in a Windmill Energy factory and Victor (Valera, drums, rd.) worked in a steel factory. David (G. Álvarez, guitar, ed.) has been teaching guitar since he finished high school and still does it. Victor also is drum teacher. We all quit our jobs in 2010 and fell into the void dedicating our life only to music!
Do you remember the very first time you picked an instrument up? When and how was it?
Guillermo: Yeah, I think I was 10 or 11 maybe? Don’t remember if it was an Spanish guitar or an electric one already, but I’m sure I learned to play with a Spanish classic guitar with only 4 strings, really fucked up, my whole hand could pass through the strings and the fingerboard. Couldn’t put more strings because it would tear apart. Then I got my first electric guitar at 16 I think, after a hard work campaign collecting grapes; my first Jackson Randy Rhoads!
What was the very first Metal song you ever heard? Which one was the song that made you think “I want to create a band and play on stage”?
Guillermo: Not sure if it was Aces High or another one from Iron Maiden. I was 8 years old I think, I put my brother’s VHS Live After Death from Iron Maiden and then I got completely hypnotized. I loved it, every sound, every image, everything. Since that moment I wanted to be into Heavy Metal and play in a band. This is the way I remember it.
What if I ask you to compare Angelus Apatrida’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Guillermo: Hahaha, I don’t know… maybe some hot spicy and strong dish with seafood, but very spiced. If it were a drink, definitely it would be a beer, an IPA or something strong and bitter, but fresh and tasty.
What is your best and your worst experience as a musician ever?
Guillermo: I got hundreds of great experiences; one of them could be signing to Century Media, or playing at Rock Al Parque (largest festival in South America) or playing Download Madrid right after Ozzy Osbourne, closing the Main Stage. I don’t remember any bad experience; I always try to get a positive thing from every experience so I don’t keep any as a very bad one. I hope to keep being like this in the future.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Angelus Apatrida and three other bands!
Guillermo: I’d love to tour with Pantera, one of my favourite bands, but of course this is more than impossible. Any band that I love, Testament, Exodus, Anthrax, Machine Head… I’d love to. So, what about: Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Angelus Apatrida…?
That was the last question for me, a huge thank you for your time, last words are yours!
Guillermo: Thanks to you for your time! It’s been a pleasure and a very fun interview, hope you enjoy our new album and become new fans if you weren’t before! You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook for a lot of daily posts and information and please stay safe everybody!