Cult of Luna
Voivod: Part 2
Voivod: Part 1
Dillinger Escape Plan
The Year In Metal
Dead to Fall
Tapping The Vein
High On Fire
Metal Meltdown IV
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2002
Century Media Records
My Dying Bride
The Year In Metal
Metal Blade Records
Maudlin of the Well
Thrash of the Titans
Dust To Dust
Six Feet Under
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2001
Metal Meltdown III
Pain of Salvation
Children Of Bodom
Cradle Of Filth
Lamb Of God
Garden of Shadows
March Metal Meltdown
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2000
Flotsam and Jetsam
In 1999 Puya released 'Fundamental' on MCA records and exploded onto the metal scene. For a while, it seemed that every tour that went out included this up and coming act. But what appeared to be a quick ascension to the top of the commercial metal heap was really the culmination of many years of dedication. In fact, the members of Puya have been playing together for a decade. Although Puya has come a long way from playing house parties in Peurto Rico, they have managed to harness the sound of their homeland and fuse it with metal to form a unique hybrid worthy of attention. In so doing, they bring the metal audience and the latino audience together and broaden the horizons of both. Fittingly, the latest album is called 'Union'.
METAL UPDATE: Catch me up on what you guys are doing right now - Summer 2001.
We got a new record 'Union' out on June 12th and we're going on the road. That's it. We have the new record out and we're going to be touring all year probably. The new record was produced by GGGarth Richardson and Andrew Mudrock. GGGarth did most of it, but Andrew produced four songs.
MU: How long will you be touring?
We're on the road with Fear Factory until August 2nd. We don't know what we're going to do after that but we'll definitely be on tour. I was talking to our manager yesterday and he told me he is already working on the next tour. So we're probably going to just stay out on the road.
MU: How do you feel about the new album?
Very good! Excellent! For us we feel it's a great album. So far we've gotten a great response from the fans and the media. It represents what we do live. The other record was good but it was a little bit too polished for our taste. This album is more like what the band is like live. More raw.
MU: I definitely notice a departure from the sound of 'Fundamental'.
The tuning of the guitars is heavier and lower than 'Fundamental'. The sound, in general, is from working with real rock producers as opposed to. . . the other guys were good too, but Garth and Mudrock have worked with Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mudvayne, Godsmack and all those bands. We were able to get that fat sound that we wanted.
MU: It sounds like you don't have as many horns and as much percussion as you do on the last album.
Actually, on this album there is more percussion. Not horns. There is one song that has a trumpet, that's it.
MU: There aren't as many Latin breakdowns either.
That stuff made it more diluted. This is more straight out heavy. There are some songs that have that resemblance to songs on 'Fundamental' and have that Latin breakdown, and it's very . . . obvious. But the idea that we're trying to get is to mix them both - make the fusion one - so that you really can't. . . not that you can't tell or distinguish, but that it doesn' t happen like, "Oh, the Latin breakdown happens here." We want it to be a heavy riff and a heavy feeling and you can say it's just rock. At the same time you might not notice that it's a riff but the backbone of it is an Afro-Carribean rhythm with percussion and everything. That's what we're trying to get to. That's where we want the music to evolve to. This is just the next step up from 'Fundamental'.
MU: There are also less Spanish lyrics, too.
Yes. There is a lot more English on this record. We just wanted to connect with people. On the last record, we connected with people on a musical level. On this record, we wanted to open it up more. We wanted to make sure more people could get involved on a lyrical level as well as a musical level - 'cause that's already there. There are some people who were like, "Man, I love your music, but I can't understand one word you're saying. I don't understand what you're saying, but I still love it." Our lyrics aren't about partying - not that there is anything wrong with partying - our songs are deep songs. They're about introspection and spirituality, righteousness and socio-political views. They are things that you really want people to understand when you are singing them so they can connect with them on that level. We've had songs in English, they just never made it to 'Fundamental' due to the circumstances that we had. We had a Latin producer. At that moment, we were homesick for Puerto Rico from being away for so long. That's what lead to that record being mostly in Spanish.
MU: Takes us back before 'Fundamental'. What were you doing before you got signed to MCA?
Us four, we've been together for eight or nine years before we got signed. Ramon, Harold & Ed have been together for like eleven years.
MU: You guys started out playing in Puerto Rico?
Yes, back in 1990 we started jamming. We all played in different bands, but we all started getting together. Nothing really serious. Just for fun. You know we kind of liked what was going on and people started noticing. We started playing at parties. It was all instrumental in the beginning. We kind of got more attention and it got more serious. We just started it like that. Next step was to audition singers. Once he [Sergio] got in the band, that was the lineup. The band moved to Florida. We lived there for four years - playing the metal scene down there in south Florida. We got an independent label deal and made a CD. Everything kind snowballed after that. We played a few gigs like the Billboard Latin Music Conference. We made a lot of good connections. That's where we met Gustavo who produced 'Fundamental' and a couple people from LA like Bob Ezrin and some producers that later on helped us to make demos. After that we got the publishing deal with Rounder. Shortly after that the MCA deal. Everything moved on after that. Those four years in Florida were the toughest most struggling years of this band.
MU: How do you feel you've connected with the metal community.
That's mostly what we revolve around. We're playing metal shows all the time. Either Fear Factory or Sepultura or Ozzfest or whatever it is, it's always metal. We're getting a good response from the metal fans and the media as well. We came up in the beginning and most people viewed us as a novelty because we sing in Spanish and have horns or whatever, but we didn't want to come off as a novelty act. We want to come off as a real band. We keep evolving and the music keeps evolving and we'll see what happens, but, so far, we've had a good response from everyone.
MU: How about the Latin community? Do you feel you are bringing the Latin community together with the metal community?
Basically what we're doing is bringing our culture - the musical part of our culture - into a different territory. The metal culture of America is meeting with the Latin culture. That's one of those communities that usually doesn't get exposed to that type of music or culture. Most definitely we're bringing them together. You can see it in the crowds. You 'll see a lot of Latin fans, Hispanos, and they'll have flags from their countries. It's even part of the meaning of the title of the new record 'Union'. It's about bringing those two worlds together. It kind of makes sense. The song 'Union' has been with us for eight years. We recorded it once and now we re-recorded it this time and it quickly became the title of our record.
MU: How was touring for 'Fundamental'?
Touring for Fundamental was about opening doors. It was a big struggle at the beginning. I think what really helped to us was that we finally got the opportunity to do something which was in a lot of bands' eyes a nodding of the hat to the band - Ozzfest. As you know, any and every single band that plays metal or rock wants to be on Ozzfest. We got the chance to do that. That definitely opened the door for us. It was also a very big challenge because of the fact that we have horns. Here we were this heavy band that mixes Latin stuff, sings in Spanish, and has horns in front of an audience that basically was just accustomed to listening to metal. We were always playing before or after Slipknot. It was a challenge. When writing the set-lists, there were times I wished we didn't have horns so we could play the heavier songs. Me, personally, and I know Ed are super metalheads. We love the heavy shit. Not that we dislike the Latin parts. For me? If you ask me, I would love to be playing break-your-skull-open type of music. That's what I like. It's kind of a challenge because I felt that the kids expected that. But it's great that I didn't get my way. It opened up the musical spectrum to the audience. Even though I would have just loved to rock out, having the horns made me and the crowd stop and think this is what we do. This is one of the things we do. We do this because we want to open up the musical spectrum and let people in on different things and let them get used to different sounds. That's part of our culture too. Being Puerto Rican, we're just showing a little bit of that to people. Letting them get to know the band a little better.
MU: Who are some of your favorite bands?
Hatebreed. Sepultura. Slipknot. Mudvayne. Older bands like Sabbath, AC/DC, Zepplin, Hendrix. There's a shitload. Santana. I like soul and hip hop too. That's why our music is so diverse. We all listen to so many different things. I listen to Phish, Pink Floyd and that stuff, too. Salsa and Latin music, too. Our bass player is a big salsa head. That's all he listens to.
MU: How is the relationship with MCA right now?
Good. They're working hard. They always have an idea of what they want to do. We made it a little bit easier for them this time just by having more English on the record. Talk about making it tough for them. We are a metal band. That's kind of hard to break in radio to begin with. We are going to have horns in our music AND salsa AND we sing in Spanish AND we're going to be on an American label. How are you going to get the public to understand what we do?
MU: They must have really liked you!
I guess for them it was very experimental. I could tell in some areas they were a little bit lost. They put up with a lot.
MU: You have a lot of faith in them. I think a lot of bands when they get signed think they know everything and start to tell the label how to do their job.
Well, I would hate for someone to come in and tell me this is how you have to sing or this is how you have to write songs. That's what I love about our label. They let us do our job. We tell them we're ready to record and they start setting it up. We record and present it to them and they're cool with it.
MU: The producers were cool?
I love both of them. They're super cool. Mudrock and Garth. It's different working with each producer. These two guys are incredible. They really know how to get the big fat sound. They don't have a sound where they make every band they produce sound the same. There are producers like that. These guys capture the sound of the band and make you sound like you. That's really cool.
MU: What does the future hold for Puya? Where do you see yourselves in the next few years.
I don't want to sound greedy, but we don't want to worry about how to pay for things. If we wanna go do a tour or go play in Africa or go someplace you don't normally go because (a) it costs too much money to go and (b) you're not going to make any money by going there. I think that one of my goals is to have the band be well-off enough to say hey, we wanna go play in such and such place. We ain't gonna make no money. Just take the money from our pockets and go. We just wanna play. We just wanna go and visit the country and meet the people and absorb the culture and play music. That's what I would like to see. More freedom to do what we really want to do from a musical standpoint and a personal standpoint. It's what we've been doing for ten years now and I don't think we'll ever stop. No matter what happens to the band, as long as people keep listening, we'll keep playing.
MU: What about the state of metal music?
I've been saying for the last two years that metal is coming back. The new form of rock is heavier, uglier and definitely a lot more in your face. Not like before, back in the 80s, the hair bands and stuff like that. That was all good and all, but a lot of the bands that are starting to sell significant records, they're very very heavy bands. You got bands like Slipknot with no airplay sold a million copies. You got a band like Mudvayne also sold over five hundred thousand records. It's gonna go platinum by the end of the year. Bands who are actually doing it without any airplay are really opening it up for other bands. Definitely breaking through. Other bands are definitely keeping rock in the public's eye - like Korn and, I hate to admit it, Limp Bizkit. So far those guys have definitely been keeping rock alive. . . heavy rock. I mean there are other acts that are considered rock but we're not going to talk about mock rock right now. If you've noticed there are a lot more bands coming out right now. Which is good and it's bad. It's good because it brings more, we hope, diversity to the music scene. It's hard to be original that's why it' s bad. The stuff that's getting on the radio is heavier these days - heavier than the stuff that used to get on the radio. The parameters are getting wider as far as what gets on the radio. . . not that much. It's still very tough to get a song on the radio, but at least stations are playing heavier stuff. Like all those bands we mentioned.
MU: How is the partying on the road? Any good stories? I'm sure with Ozzfest exposure comes more groupies.
Strippers and rock and roll go hand in hand! Groupies have been around and are going to stay around. We always have a lot of fun on the road. You have to. It's the only thing that keeps you sane. You're away from home for I don't know how long and you start to go crazy a little bit. So it's the only way to release and relax. You have so much goddamn free time while waiting to set up and soundcheck there is nothing to do but party. You definitely have ample opportunities to party.
MU: Do you pull practical jokes on each other? Did you steal Slipknot's masks while backstage?
No. Not us. We're not pranksters like that. We like having fun. One of the bands I had the most fun with was Hatebreed on the Sepultura tour. Those guys are so much fun and supercool to tour with. Every night is a different story to tell. The first half of the tour was with this band called Flybanger. It was Flybanger's last night and we were in Dallas. It was hilarious. The crew for Sepultura started coming out during their set and stealing their cymbals while they were playing. The sound man for Sepultura got naked and ran out on stage. It totally fucked up their show. It was hilarious. The crowd loved it. The crowd new there was nothing but love. They had this mullet wig that looked like David Cassidy and this drum tech who was a big dude and he would put it on and start dancing around on stage. I've heard stories about other bands doing practical jokes like this. I heard some of the guys from Disturbed tied up Gerry who was in Deadlights and now Nothingface. They tied him up on stage at Ozzfest. They tied his legs together and when he fell down they tied him up so he could play. I guess some bands do that, but we don't really play practical jokes on each other. I guess it's because, I know me, I can dish it but I can't take it. So I try not to do it because I don't want it to get done to me. At the beginning you are easily amused, but as time goes on you get used to it and you need something bigger to get amused. The jokes get worse and worse. I get carried away pretty easily. You can never tell how far a joke will go.
MU: You've done a lot of smaller metal shows too. Didn't you do the March Metalfest in New Jersey?
Yes. Then we did Sno-Core 2000 with System Of A Down and Incubus and Mr. Bungle. What I loved about it was everyone was treated like equals. There was no egos. Nobody was a rockstar. It just so happened one band played first and one played second. The crowds were awesome everyday. Even on the Sepultura / Hatebreed tour, one time we couldn't make it to a show on time and Hatebreed was like, "Don't worry, we'll go on first and give you more time to get here." Bands like that are priceless to tour with. That's what I like about breaking through. Once we got that chance to be on tour with these bands. Ozzfest really opened the door for us to tour with a lot of great bands. That's one of the best things that came from doing the Ozzfest aside from gaining the experience of playing in front of really large crowds every night. Other bands saw us as a respectable band: a band they would like to tour with. All the tours we've gotten were from bands seeing us on Ozzfest.
MU: Where do you guys call home these days?
I (Sergio) live in Miami, Florida. I (Eduardo) live in Puerto Rico. Harold lives in Puerto Rico and Ramone lives in LA. Don't ask us how we practice. We just got to buy a few plane tickets whenever we want to play together. You know I get tired of looking at these goddamn faces all the time. (laughs) When we have a break we each stay home. When we have a tour or recordings, we get together a couple of weeks before. We are together pretty much all year so when it's time to go home it's like, "See ya! Peace out! Love ya! Bye! Can't wait to get home!"
MU: Let me ask you about the internet and your website. Do you email with your fans?
If you want to check out our tour dates and stuff it's Puya.com. I am definitely a technophile. I love getting on the internet. I just installed my own hard drive and CD-Rom. I am dying to get an iBook or a Powerbook. I want to delve into Apple now. My next step is to learn how to do webpages and stuff. I always respond to fans emails. Our webpage has a guest book and people write messages and stuff and lately we've been getting a lot of stuff from Europe and Africa. 'Fundamental' is just starting to catch on there. All they have is imports there. We are getting tons of emails from places we've never even thought of before. That's what I was saying before. It would be great to have a lot of money, not so I can be some rich asshole, but so we can go play these far away places for fun. That's our dream.
MU: Got any final words for the fans out there?
Keep it real. Keep it hard. I hope you dig the new CD. Buy it! Don't download it!!!!
METAL JUDGMENT review of Puya 'Union'
Interview: Keith Wittenstein [
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [
Webmaster: WAR [
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