Interview: JCM of The Killing Floor, by Anthony Castilla

Taken from SA Rocks Blog: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Pictures by: DJTazz, Rowan and Kel

Interview: JCM of The Killing Floor

Thanks to Anthony Castilla (of SPITFIRE) and JCM for doing this great interview!

Anthony: What made you pick up the guitar? Was it a song or artist, and how long have you been playing?

JCM: Music has been in my blood ever since I can remember… My dad is a percussionist/drummer and my mother would see my father perform during the weekends while she was pregnant, so I guess I was doomed to be a musician…I’ve been playing guitar for about 20 years and it still brings me tears of joy and frustration…

Was the guitar your first instrument of choice?

No, drums were my first instrument of choice, and I played drums during my early teens in middle and high school. My mom couldn't afford or didn't have room for a drum kit. I happen to think she couldn't handle me beating on drums 24/7, and she was also thinking of our neighbor’s sanity.

Where did the nickname "El Diablo" come from?

My parents used to call me that when they'd see the videos I used to watch on MTV's Headbanger's Ball, and my album collection didn't help either. I still get teased about AC/DC “Highway To Hell” .I do remember also way back someone mentioned to me that I play like the devil himself. I guess I should have taken that as a compliment. But the devil always loses…

But more recently Darren, a good friend of mine, is so knowledgeable in everything from music to history from any era, time and just anything, I stuck that name on him… But I think Darren is Cartaphilus, too much knowledge for one man is kinda scary and plus he doesn't age…lol!

I might be speaking out of turn but I think we both come from the hard rock to metal to shredder era, when players like Yngwie and the Racer X type guys came out did you automatically say, "I have do this stuff"?…

Yeah I did… I am guilty of coming from that kind of schooling. I was in my mid to late teens and it was great and healthy in a sense of discipline to strive to be a virtuoso. It took so many hours of my teenage life that I missed my high school's prom and a teenage social life too. I basically became a hermit, recluse for a while…lol

I was guilty of that but learned how to write songs instead practicing from sun up to sun down-haha. I found Jimmy Page and the Edge from U2 to be my turning points after the shredder era, but it helped my dexterity out practicing a lot, how about you?

I still noodle every now and then with picking, three-notes per-string runs, hammer-on and pull-offs, and legato licks, and blah, blah, blah, exercises. But I see that as just that - exercises. When I pick up a guitar now, it’s more of a writing process on how I feel that day or trying to experiment on different compositional things. But when I get bored, then theory or combining different scale exercises to get out of a rut of sounding the same always seems to work. My goals are to create without thinking, to be spontaneous without prediction as an entertainer, writer, singer, and guitarist. I still have to work very hard in all four areas to keep proficiency. As far as performing I just let it flow but most important to me is to be musical and entertaining.

I feel that the shredder era was the best because thereafter it got really boring. If it wasn't strumming at 120 miles an hour, reckless, sloppy or d-tuned to B-flat then you weren't cool. Now I understand that trends come and go, but there has to be a balance too and I've never let radio decide for me what was in or out. I love to listen to Nirvana and Steve Vai, then maybe Dream Theater to Freddie King and not have a problem with any styles or era of music. There’s a band that I heard on the radio, Avenged Sevenfold, that I was totally blown away. So I think guitar solos are coming back. But it will come back different as trends usually do.

I notice you play bluesy rich stuff nowadays. Since when and why?

Texas, Chicago and all style blues I've been always into… In the radio waves back in the ‘80’s were SRV, Jeff Healey, and Eric Gales to name a few and then early ‘90’s came Ian Moore, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang. At that point in time I had made up my mind that I had to learn to sing and be a front man if I was to create and express my own material in my own way. Till this day it’s been the hardest thing I've ever had to learn to do and I'm still learning. To sing and play guitar at the same time without losing the in sync thing was the first challenge. Then writing lyrics and coming up with original material and then presenting them in front of an audience was the next.

Blues and true Alt Rock/Blues Rock (not industry-labeled alternative rock) seems to have lost its place in this overprocessed sounding music these days. What would you like to change about this? Or would you change anything?

There soo much talent out there that will never see the light of day on radio because it doesn't sound like today’s trends. I think that is really sad. It’s not like that in Europe, Japan and other countries. There are a couple of friends of mine that have been asked to tour Europe because they are still well known and received but that's not the case here.

I would love to see a radio station that would play signed, unsigned, unknown, local and regional acts. But that would be a big risk and I know it’s all about paying the bills. .There are other ways to promote and spread your music. Internet sites like this one and public access TV shows and college radio stations do the underground and local music scene a big service and justice. So with that being said… Thank God for the internet sites and public access TV shows that promote local music. You talk about a labor of love that we, the music scene, need to help, support, sponsor and show the love right back.

What is next for your band The Killing Floor?

We are going to the studio in mid to late February and hopefully a release by March ’06. We have a couple of gigs lined up in January 2006..

Sam’s Burger Joint Jan. 7th.

The Rox Room on Jan. 27th.

Your personal performance live with TKF is something to be seen. I hear you take cell phones and make your guitar talk and have sex with it, do you just go for it?

LOL having sex with my guitar?? It was safe sex btw… The guitar was plugged but I wasn't stepping barefoot on a puddle of water. Anyway all kidding aside, it's just a moment thing that I get into the zone and I'm proud to say that not all of The Killing Floor’s performances are ever the same good or bad. I do have bad nights too. There's something about being spontaneous. It's kinda like flirting with danger that can sometimes backfire and trust me it has…

What would be a dream gig for you?

mmm… I wish my bro Anthony Castilla, from Spitfire, would come and see a Killing Floor show. That would be the first one… Yep I put you on the spot now, lol! It’s all brotherly love.

What was your best and worst show?

The best: A gig at Broadway 50/50 and meeting one of the drummers from Toto and his compliments on us not to change our sound and to keep doing our thing. Rick Sanford, of Legs Diamond, as a special guest for The Killing Floor and doing six tunes with us was the next.

Now the worst… There were quite a few of those too…lol!

Let me see… A gig in College Station… The drive back almost killed us… We were all dead/beat tired and we had to wait until 2:00am to get paid. Then the four hour drive back to SA was so grueling. I remember being very sleepy to the point of passing out while driving on the highway and it was freaking cold too…

But the worst was an Austin booking gig that failed to happen. What was strange was five days before the gig our cars were breaking down and we counted fifteen different bad things happening to all of us that would prevent us from not making to Austin. Up until the day we had to leave we were still having problems. When we finally made it, they cancelled the whole show because of lack of promotion. Then to add salt to injury we landed a last minute plug and play gig a few streets down and then David’s bass amp takes a shit and fries on the third song. What a nightmare and after that happened... I felt I was in the Twilight Zone...

What bands have you been in since you have been playing guitar or bass?

I played bass for Double Clutch and I just recently quit. I play guitar and do oldies but goodies for The Psychedelic Jukebox w/ Mark Carrillo and of course I sing and play guitar for The Killing Floor.

What guitar player or guitar players Alive or Dead would you like to trade notes with? Like a Jam session vibe?

Oh man… Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Eric Clapton, Eric Gales, Ian Moore, too many to list here… I think Jimi would be my first choice.

Steve Vai too… But I would need a week to get my chops up to par. So hermit, recluse state here I go again and let's relearn all the bags of tricks of shredding licks. I would also have to dust off my Ibanez RGs and get used to playing 9-46 strings again too... Shit life can never be that simple right…lol.

Where can we get more info on you ( what website)? Where can we buy your CD’s?




What advice would you give a new guitar player starting out?

Nothing in what you are learning or doing is in vain. But you have to keep proficient and always reinvent yourself, for nothing worth having is ever easy. Play from your heart and let your mind guide you and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Always record yourself for there’s nothing more humbling than hearing the playback, and listen. Listening is the key to your answers.

You're stuck in a Biodome for one year. What gear would you take with you?

For one year??… That's an easy one.. Give me an acoustic steel string guitar, a box of compositional notebooks and blue Papermate pens, and twenty packs of GHS 11-50 guitar strings (I break a lot of strings), and I'm ready… Now take me to your leader…lol!

JCM thank you for your time. You rock, brother.…

Thank you Anthony and Rowan of SA Rocks…

posted by Rowan at 9:39 PM


Anthony C said...
Thanks for the Interview. JCM is way to
cool ! Keep em coming guys I dont have anyone for next months guitar Interview.
so far Ron Jarzombek and JCM -you could be nextif you think you have an
interesting story let me know.

Anonymous said... Anthony you're tha man!!! JCM 2:07 AM

Anonymous said... no sir! your the man! I can't mess with the Devil. I am saying this in that Whataburger dudes voice. (( whataburger! hheheheheHave a bad ass new years bro! 7:59AM

1 comment:

D'Ablo said...

Good interview. The secret to nonaging is drinking copious amounts of animal blood daily. It replenishes the body and is good for the soul. Ha-ha.