“As far as social media goes, I think it’s a double edged sword.”

The internet has always been a quandary to the music business. On one side, metal is more available than ever before. A group can self-record, build a website, and inundate social media networks with their moniker. On the other side, there’s so much crap out there it’s difficult to wade through all the muck and find the new groups that actually matter.

That’s where the journalist comes in. It’s my job to tell you what groups are worth the investment. One group worthy of your time is a thrash quartet out of San Francisco called Hatchet.

Hatchet is a veteran of the California scene. Established in 2006, the group has three releases: Awaiting Evil (2008) Dawn of the End (2013) and Fear Beyond Lunacy (2015). I recently had the opportunity to speak with Hatchet frontman and founder Julz Ramos at Reggie’s while the band supported Metal Church, please enjoy some excerpts of our 4/4/16 interview…

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David Halbe: Welcome to Chicago!

Julz: Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here.    

Dave: You released a video back in February for the song “In Fear we Trust”

Julz: Correct.

Dave: How was that experience? Who was the crazy guy in the video?

Julz Ramos: The crazy guy in the video is actually a friend of mine from another Bay Area band called Fog of War. They’ve been buds with us for a long time and he wanted to be that back woods, crazy dude. The experience was actually really drawn out. We actually shot it twice. The original concept was better produced. The first shoot was actually on this buddy of mine’s farm, he had this really cool abandoned looking trailer. We had a really cool set-up and everything, we filmed [it]. When we were done we took it home only to find out all of the files were corrupted and we could not retrieve them.

Dave: Ahhh! That’s technology for ya!

Julz: Yeah, we had to go back and re-shoot the entire thing except the footage of the band, which was from way earlier so we were able to save that but the character footage was all lost and then that same day my friend’s whole farm and the entire town around it burned to the ground. It was one of the biggest fires in California and it happened right as we were leaving. We saw on the news ‘they’ve got fire up in the hills’ but that was after we got home. You know, an hour and a half later. It had just demolished everything that we had been filming in. It was pretty fricking weird.

Dave: Hell yeah, that’s pretty strange.

Julz: It was a grueling way to do it but in the end it came out ok. A good friend of ours who shot our last video for “Signals of Infection” on our last album cycle, he did this one as well. It definitely took longer than we wanted and it didn’t come out as great as we wanted but considering what happened we turned it into something that worked basically.

Dave: I noticed the Fear Beyond Lunacy album was released the day before Halloween last year, is there any significance associated with that date?

Julz: Yes, there is. Our label, The End Records, wanted to release it a little later than we did. They actually chose the date, it had something to do with the manufacturing but it was pretty cool because we were on tour with Doyle from the Misfits and he has this whole Halloween punk thing so we were able to chalk it up as having an All Hallows Eve release date, people dug it.

Dave: How’d you guys hook up with Metal Church?

Julz: They as far as I know are actually with the same booking agency as us. This is our first run with that agency and our agent’s been putting us on some interesting tours. This was one tour that really made sense [and] so far it’s been a great run.

Dave: I think it exposes you to a lot of older fans who might be interested in this new wave of thrash metal.

Julz: For sure absolutely.

julz ramos hatchet

Dave: When can we expect a follow-up to Fear Beyond Lunacy?

Julz: Well, I’ve given it thought but I haven’t even written a single note for it. There’s a couple songs that didn’t make the cut on Fear [Beyond Lunacy], I couldn’t quite finish them the way I wanted to so maybe I’ll take a look at those after this tour is done. Probably sometime over the summer I’ll get back at it but for now I’m still kind of riding the ‘breather wave’, letting the album out, getting out there and playing the songs live.

Dave: Awesome. What’s up next for the band after this current tour?

Julz: Well, right after this current tour which ends on the east coast. Which is a bit weird because it started on the east coast but we’re going to be touring back home with another up and coming band called Black Fast.

Dave: Sure, I’ve heard of them yeah.

Julz: So we’re going to be touring our way back with them. It’s going to take us through the east coast and midwest for about two weeks going all the way home to the west coast, ending in San Francisco that’s basically what we’re going to be doing after this in April we’ll be done with touring for now but we do have some other tours in discussion, I can’t really mention what they are, nothing is confirmed but we may be back around in the summer time so we are definitely hoping that those pan out.

Dave: That would be good ok. How important are social media networks to Hatchet?

Julz: As far as social media goes, I think it’s a double edged sword. It definitely has its place and it’s making things easier for bands to come out and be seen whereas before you had to have a label, you had to have some kind out outlet or management company to get you places otherwise it cost you an arm and a leg now everybody has their own recording studio on their five hundred dollar computer at home and the albums they are turning out [better] than most studio albums from the ‘90s or later. So I think in ways its great, it helps the little guys get out there but it also floods the market so much that it’s really hard to pick and choose who is deserving to be out there or who should really get attention. There’s just so much thrown at you at one time which could also allow people to pass over you a lot quicker and it really makes people’s attention span a lot shorter. Then there’s the whole people not getting paid for their music to get it out there. Once again we are faced with a double edged sword, you wanted it to be out there when you’re a young up-and-coming band, you wanna get your stuff out there it’s great but there’s a cut-off point where people can just get your stuff for free and it’s so easy so that makes it hard to get paid for stuff you took the time to create.

Dave: Seems like when you become a legitimate band, a ‘hard working band’ being in the environment itself becomes a struggle.

Julz: Exactly! It has its pros and cons for us because we’re at the stage where we are still a pretty small band but eventually if things go the way we’d like with touring and stuff may change. Who knows how that will affect our perspective.

Dave: That’s what I’ve got today Julz, I appreciate your time.

Julz: No problem man, take care.

Hatchet are:

  • Kody Barba – Bass
  • Ben Smith – Drums
  • Clayton Cagle – Guitars
  • Julz Ramos – Guitars/Vocals
This article was originally published 5/3/16 by Metalrecusants.com
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