We are very excited to offer Blow The Scene readers around the world an in-depth interview with Bay Area’s Loma Prieta. This four-piece outfit has long been crafting and refining their own definition of modern hardcore music with an amalgamation of sounds that simply knows no boundaries. With musical segments that can pummel the listener with a barrage of blast beats and impenetrable distortion one moment, only to break wide open into a haunting segment of deep melody and emotion that embeds itself deep in the listener’s psyche. Many bands have long tried to emulate this fluid approach and combination of sounds, but most fall far short of the real thing. With years of experience playing shows, touring, and writing music, 2012 is shaping up to be Loma Prieta‘s year to step out in front of the herd as they support their latest release on the Deathwish label, I.V.
Guitarist and vocalist Brian Kanagaki was kind enough to sit down with us and discuss the writing and recording process behind the band’s latest record, influences, plans for 2012, daily life, history of the band, and much more in this feature interview. Without further ado, let’s here from Brian.
Interview by Joshua T. Cohen
Pictures by Dante Torrieri
Joshua BTS: Greetings. Thank you for taking a few moments with Blow The Scene readers from around the world. Let’s kick off this interview by having you introduce yourselves and declare your weapons of choice with the Bay area’s top practitioners of poignant melody and emotional hardcore, known as Loma Prieta.
Brian Kanagaki: Val plays drums, Brian plays guitar and does vocals, Sean plays guitar and does vocals, and Jake plays bass.
Joshua BTS: Your latest LP I.V., has just dropped via the Deathwish family in our neck of the woods. Awesome. Give us the 411 on this record. Where, when, and whom did you record with?
Brian Kanagaki: We recorded the record in East Palo Alto, Ca at The Atomic Garden with our good friend Jack Shirley back in early June of 2011.
Joshua BTS: I find one of the most compelling elements of Loma Prieta is your ability to execute emotional hardcore that draws from a vast range of influences. Everything from melodic-screamo to powerviolence can be heard in the DNA of your tracks..And that is oversimplifying to be sure. With such a broad spectrum of sound- Do you incorporate any odd or rare pieces of equipment to help you garner a sound you are happy with?
Brian Kanagaki: We are a pretty traditional band, just two guitars, bass and drums. We don’t use any weird pedals and Val only plays a single kick pedal. We do use a bunch of overdrive pedals to help our amps feed back. I think that feedback makes up for at least 50% of our live set, its a very controlled chaos. There are so many parts to our songs where the tunings and chords don’t even matter and I really like that. We break a lot of stuff live so we have learned to play our songs in different tunings and with fewer strings if need be. Its not preferred but we can do it.
Joshua BTS: How did you come to link up Deathwish for this current release?
Brian Kanagaki: Val and I (Brian) play in PUNCH as well and we had a pre-existing relationship with Tre (Deathwish) and it kinda slowly came together as our relationship with him grew. He has been a fan of the band for a while know and he didn’t even know that we were both in LOMA at first.
Joshua BTS: It has been said that I.V. was created and recorded during an “intense and emotional time” for Loma Prieta. What were some of the circumstances that played into this tumultuous period and how did this affect the music and lyrical composition?
Brian Kanagaki: The record was written at a time where there was a lot of transition for the three of us. Its kinda of hard to speak for the rest of the band, but for me this record was a response to me growing up and forcing myself to accept myself for who I am. We are all human, we are all the same, it wasn’t anything special. Everyone has gone through this transition or will at some point at least.
Joshua BTS: What does the actual writing process look like for Loma Prieta? Is there a captain of the ship that steers the direction of the music or is it more of a collective effort?
Brian Kanagaki: I love writing with LOMA because we are all equals, it’s a very democratic band. We all write individually all year, keeping track of ideas in our head and then come together when the time is right and then we start putting all the pieces together. I think that’s what makes us interesting as a band. We are all constantly pulling from different times of our lives and in turn we are influencing each other in this circular path. Nothing is forbidden or too abstract. We don’t see any rules that govern the band as a whole so we are free to write in any direction that we wish.
Joshua BTS: Have things smoothed over for band since recording I.V.?
Brian Kanagaki: In my opinion it is too early to tell. We are all so busy and we haven’t stopped working to let the dust settle and see what our surroundings actually look like.
Joshua BTS: What were the circumstances surrounding the band?s formation in 2005? And I?m sure you get this a lot, but for our readers just tuning in to Loma Prieta- Is your name based on the epic Earthquake on Loma Prieta Mountain in North Cali in 89?
Brian Kanagaki: Sean and Val met through their other bands playing shows together circa 2003. Sean liked the way Val played drums and asked him if he would start a band with him. From there the two of them recruited other members to join. And yes, the band is named after the earthquake.
Joshua BTS: You have released several works on your own label, Discos Huelga, since your inception. What are some of the pros and cons of releasing your own records? How much time do you dedicate to developing the label and working with new talent?
Brian Kanagaki: Val has been working on the label or I think almost 10 years and I have been working with him on art and layout/production stuff for almost that long as well. The cool thing about putting out your own record is having complete control of production and the timeline of the release. We have always taken the art side of the band very seriously and its nice to have complete freedom to do whatever we want with our releases. Working with Deathwish has pretty much been the same though, they have been really understanding and helpful all along the way. I wish that we had a lot more time to dedicate to working with other bands, but with our rigorous touring schedule right now we have to focus on putting out our own music first.
Joshua BTS: Do you have any tour plans in the works for 2012?
Brian Kanagaki: 2012 is going to be a crazy year, we have something like 180 shows planned… As I right this it is only the 20th of January and we have already been on tour for 2 weeks.
Joshua BTS: When not performing on tour- What do you do to pass the time?
Brian Kanagaki: All of us play in at least one other band and also have solo projects. I do a lot of art and design for other bands and labels. I have a art label and I also have a tee shirt line (hvmandvst.com). I also run a merch distribution company (hxcmerch.com) where I distro merch for LOMA, Punch and our friends bands, Comadre, Ceremony, etc.
Joshua BTS: Who would you say are some of your immediate influences?
Brian Kanagaki: I would say that modern pop music is what influences me the most. That stuff is crazy. Pop music is a never-ending well of inspiration.
Joshua BTS: Any new or current bands that are really exciting you right now?
Brian Kanagaki: Any time we are asked this question we mention Skin Like Iron. They are my favorite bay area band. They just self-released a split 7” with Nails and it rules. Check that out. Also been jamming Total Control a lot recently.
Joshua BTS: What do your daily lives look like when you are not active with Loma Prieta?
Brian Kanagaki: We are constantly working on new art/music/tours/promotion for the band. We don’t have a manager or booking agent or anything like that. Right now being a DIY band is still pretty much an everyday job.
Between all the bands I haven’t been home for more than 10 days at a time since July. The few days that I am home are spent packing up and sending merch orders. The only consistent thing that I do is go to the coffee shop. I normally head there first thing in the morning and then go home and pack orders until I am hungry and then take the rest of the day off.
Joshua BTS: The Bay Area seems to be a hotbed for exciting and unique bands. What are some aspects of the area that you find especially appealing? Any aspects of the Bay Area you could live without?
Brian Kanagaki: The bay area scene is incredibly tight-knit. I like that feeling of going to a show and knowing almost all of the people there. It’s really comforting and centering to come home after a long tour and see a ton of familiar faces.
Joshua BTS: Apart from shows / touring, what else is in the works for the band in 2012? Do you have other side projects you are working on as well?
Brian Kanagaki: In 2012 we are all putting our lives entirely on hold to do the band full time. It’s a big risk, but so far it has been equally fun and rewarding.
Joshua BTS: Thank you kindly for taking time with Blow The Scene readers. Any final thoughts?
Brian Kanagaki: Thank you.
More info at the Official Loma Prieta Facebook
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