Rot of any description isn’t the sort of thing that comes to mind when you think of Cancun. But even dudes living life by the beach, surrounded by fluorescent coloured drinks, bronzed locals and tourist eye candy aren’t immune from becoming obsessed with death metal and grindcore, dedicating one’s life to the noise and kicking it all brutal-like. The Mexican mayhem merchants have been around since 1994, have toured the world and gone through as many line-up permutations as the number of countries they’ve played. As 2011 came to an end, Rottenness issued their second full-length, Die Wege Der Lust. We caught up with guitarist, lone original member and driving force, Jaleel, for a quick chat.
So, the album was recorded in Denver with Steve Goldberg of Cephalic Carnage acting as producer?
Yeah, we brought Cephalic to Mexico in December the year before for a couple shows and I talked to Steve at the time about us looking for someone to do the album. He was like, “Alright, let’s do this. You guys can come to Denver. We can do the album and we can do some shows while you’re here.” So we did that. It was in April and we spent like a week recording everything. It was definitely very fun and it was like in a basement which made it even more fun because it wasn’t like it was it was in a “real” studio, but he had all the equipment we needed. We just crashed at his place for a week. [When recording] we [discovered] we had 28 minutes of material and I was like, “We need 30 minutes. What are we going to do?’ It was like, “Alright, let’s do this and that,” and within a couple of hours we had two more songs to make the album more than 30 minutes. I heard if you record something less than 30 minutes it’s considered an EP; if it’s more than 30 minutes, it’s a full album. I didn’t want any problems, so we got to 30 minutes and everything is fine. Slayer had 30 minutes with Reign in Blood, and they’re fine. And we did a couple shows in and around Denver and then we came back to the studio to finish some tracking and Steve mixed the album a couple months later. It was very fun and I really like the production on this album a lot. We really improved a lot; not as musicians, but as far the production, we made a huge step. Definitely.
This may sound like an obvious question, but were the improvements something you planned on happening?
Well, I don’t like to plan anything. If there’s an opportunity or a chance to do something, I’ll take that to see what I can make of that situation. If I tried to plan everything, it would get boring and by the end, I’d want to throw everything away. It’s more like, “There you go,” do you know what I mean? The other guys were like, “You’re just going to leave all the production decisions up to Steve?” It’s like, “Yeah dude, I trust him. Let’s see what he comes up with.” Our drummer was like, “Isn’t someone supposed to be there for the mix?” And I’m like, “Why? I trust him. I prefer to be at home, going to the beach and in a couple months hearing the new album and it’s going to be awesome.” And actually, that’s what happened. Steve did a great job and [Cephalic Carnage guitarist] Brian [Hopp] helped us a lot too and it was awesome. I think we might do our next album up there with them.
What does the title mean?
It means, ‘the way of lust’ in German.
And what can you tell us about the cover?
We met this guy [Israel] a couple years ago and he did some shirts for us in this kind of artwork. He’s pretty new to the scene. He gave me a couple of ideas before for the last album, Sickening Chronologies, and I liked his work. I wanted something different for the new album. I was trying to avoid the clichés of all the Mexican bands. If you grab ten Mexican band’s CD covers right now, you’ll see that eight of them are pretty much the same. So, I was trying to be a little bit different and I really liked his stuff and his layouts. Basically, he explained that he takes pictures of people and he manipulates them on the computer. So, I think that fat woman on the cover is a real person, kind of. I told him the title and that I wanted something different. He brought me the first sketch and I didn’t like it; it was sort of a zombie-themed thing. I like zombies, but not in this case. Then, he approached me with the fat lady idea and I was like, “Hey, that’s cool. That’s different. Let’s go with that idea.” Then, he started adding the other characters.
At the moment, Rottenness is a bass-less trio. Has there been any talk of adding a bass player or another member?
After all these years and as the last original member of the band, I’m always trying to bring people into the band because it’ll make for a bigger sound or whatever. But the problem is that in Mexico there are no musicians who want to make the full sacrifice it takes to do this band. We know how far we want to go with the band, but it’s difficult with the economy and society to do this. It’s hard to actually quit everything; family, girlfriends, jobs just to be in the band. For a couple of years, we had other members, but they left the band because of all the pressure they were getting from their families and jobs. It wasn’t like I kicked anybody out. We’ve had a lot of offers from bass players, but when we start telling them specific stuff like, ‘you need to get visa papers to go to the states, a passport and that we’re going to be touring for seven months and this and that,’ it’s like, “Oh, I can’t.” The biggest thing is that there’s not a lot of money. “Oh, there’s no money? I’m going to find another band.” Whatever. Right now, being a trio is nothing new. When I saw Pig Destroyer for the first time, it was like, “I want to do that.” It was like, “This is it! Fuck bass players!”
The pressure from family and such, have you felt it over the years?
Oh yeah! When we started years ago, my family was like, “What the hell are you doing? You gotta get a job” and all that. I just said no. My main passion in life is playing music and travelling around the world. I talked to the original members, who were my best friends and even my brother, about how I was going to keep doing this and if they didn’t want to be a part of it, I’d get other musicians. They understood that, but sometimes…I saw the original vocalist a while ago and he was really upset. He wanted to continue with the band, but he was married and had kids. He couldn’t do the amount of touring we do with kids and stuff. I was like, “Stay a family man. We don’t make enough money. Keep your job, your family, buy CDs and be a fan.” I’m not telling them what to do, but that’s the way Rottenness is going these days. If people want to be on board, they’re welcome. But people if get sick of touring after a couple of years and want to spend time at home and that’s fine by me. I’m the one who’s a nomad. At sometime, I might settle down, meet a girl or whatever, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop playing music. I might not be able to tour as much, but I’m not going to stop.
Just a couple days ago, Jaleel sent me an email with a bunch of tour dates and news. Check it out…
Rottenness tour dates:
SOUTHERN SAVAGERY INCURSION TOUR 2012
w/ Rottenness, Emperial Massacre & Disfigured
April 5 Harlingen, Tx
April 6 Corpus Christi, Tx
April 7 San Antonio, Tx
April 8 Houston, Tx
April 9 Sheverport, La
April 10 New Orleans, La
April 11 Laredo, Tx
April 12 San Marcos, Tx
April 13 Austin,Tx
April 14 Dallas, Tx
THE MACHETE MASSACRE TOUR 2012
Rottenness (w/guests and local openers)
June 7 Denver, Co
June 8 Tempe, Az
June 9 Flagstaff,Az
June 10 Phoenix,Az
June 14 Las Vegas Death Fest
June 15 Las Vegas Death Fest
June 19 Fresno, Ca
June 20 Central Valley, Ca
June 21 Los Angeles, Ca
June 22 San Diego, Ca
June 23 Tijuana, Bc
June 24 Ensenada, Bc
INGURGITATE (USA), ROTTENNESS (MX) and PRION (ARG)
SEPT 1 SURSEE, SWITZERLAND HELLVETIA FEST
SEPT 7 BIOSFCHWERDA, GERMANY MORBIDE FEST
SEPT 8 EINDHOVEN, HOLLAND GRINDHOVEN FEST
SEPT 13,14,15 WERLSMERSKIRCHEN, GERMANY NRW DEATH FEST
*more dates and cities to confirm*
“There will also be another European tour through July, as well as an appearance at this year’s Obscene Extreme Fest in Trutnov, Czech Republic. During our European tour, we will take 15 days in Austria to record new stuff at Vatos Locos Studios under the guidance of Martin Shrienc ( Hollenthon, ex-Pungent Stench). We will record material for the upcoming EP for Handshake Inc., a split CD with Vaginal Bear Trap for Ossuary Industries and a split cD with Goresluts.
We’re working on a Canadian tour and East coast US tour!! We will be touring with Fuck the Facts and Drugs of Faith for two weeks and after that with Kitzeh and Festerfuck.”
And check out their video for “As Far as the Fist Can Go.” See if you can’t recognise the one dude happily drinking urine 😉