By Nicholas Jason Lopez
San Diego natives Defy The Tyrants are often compared to acts like Slipknot and Lamb Of God and with good reason.
The band released their debut ‘Wrest The Crown’ in 2017, which served as an introduction to their musical style – a hybrid of djent, thrash and metalcore with lyricism geared towards self-deprecation, social commentary and apocalyptic endings.
Last year, they put out two singles, “Guillotine” and “Dominate To Desecrate.”
This past May, the metal unit released the official lyric video for “Salvation In Ruin,” which is off their sophomore EP ‘Asylum.’ Produced by Tyler Sullivan (who also produced their debut), the EP once again blends melodies with unabashed brutality. ‘Asylum’ contains themes that revolve around mental illnesses and its direct and indirect influence on others.
As of press time, they plan to head to the studio in a couple weeks to track a new single they’ve been working on.
Music Bugle – How did the song “Salvation In Ruin” come to be? What’s the backstory?
Anthony – That was a song that was written mainly by our guitarist, Jandro Utrilla. Normally when we write, Jandro or myself will bring in a song that’s almost fully formed and the band will collaborate on the arrangement and maybe add some more layers to it. That’s kind of how “Salvation In Ruin” came about. I do remember that we collaborated a lot on the midsection. I wanted to add a KoRn flavor to the middle, so I came up with a riff that sounded like the riff from Korn’s “Shoots & Ladders.” The guys added their parts and it turned into a very groovy, Lamb of God part, but it’s mainly Jandro’s baby.
Music Bugle – How would you compare ‘Asylum’ to ‘Wrest The Crown’?
Anthony – ‘Wrest The Crown’ is comprised of songs that we wrote before we even became a band. It was back when Brandon (drums), Alberto (bass), and myself were trying to figure out the sound of the band. This was before we had a singer too, so we didn’t know if there would be clean singing, hardcore screaming, or death metal vocals over the songs. It’s a very unfocused EP for sure. ‘Asylum’ was way more thought out. We planned on the idea that we were going to raise the bar on brutality and melody at the same time. ‘Asylum’ definitely has a more prog/djent flavor to it. The songs overall are just better. If someone asks me what the sound of the band is, I just pick any song from ‘Asylum.’ It’s also darker and lyrically, we got real on that one.
Music Bugle – What’s the biggest challenge of standing out in your particular genre?
Anthony – Honestly, the hardest part is finding something new to bring to the table. There’s a lot of death metal, thrash metal, and hardcore bands in our scene. For the most part, they are all extremely talented, but we wanted to mesh all those sounds into something new, but also make it modern. The djent style is what is going on right now and very few bands in our area have tapped that sound. We don’t go full on djent, but we balance djent riffs with death metal songs or thrash songs. Recently, we were called “metalcore” by a local vlogger. I’m like, ‘I listen to metalcore and I’ve played in a metalcore band.’ Defy The Tyrants is not metalcore. We don’t sound anything like Killswitch Engage or Shadows Fall.
Music Bugle – Who are some of the band’s musical influences?
Anthony – We all have our own individual influences, but definitely, I would say bands like Whitechapel, After The Burial, Revocation, Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying, and Jinjer influence what we are doing right now. On the newer music that we are working on, we are going back to our earliest influences such as Slipknot and Korn. Most of us grew up on nu-Metal and I think that with the resurgence of several of those bands in 2019, we’ve kind of gone back to some of our roots and started applying those pieces to our style.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory as a band so far?
Anthony – Our first show in Arizona back in 2018. It wasn’t the show itself that was as memorable, but what happened on the way back to California that was. We stayed in Arizona for three days and made the drive to come back home on a Sunday. Alberto was using his truck to lug the trailer with our equipment during the trip. We were two hours away from San Diego when his truck began to swerve slightly. The other guys in the band were following us from behind. We pulled over and realized the passenger side of the trailer’s tire had blown. I believe we were an hour and a half from the nearest Wal-Mart, so Brandon, Lou (manager) and their wives drove to Wal-Mart to get a spare while Alberto, Chris (ex-vocalist) and myself hung back. We pulled out some lawn chairs from the truck and hung out on the side of the freeway during an Arizona sunset while listening to European dance music.
Music Bugle – What are some of your future plans?
Anthony – I think the goal is always to get signed and make a living off your music. No matter what anyone says, that is the ultimate mission of a musician. That is the super bowl of your career. The WrestleMania! To supplement your life by doing what you love is a dream every single person who has a passion or a skill has, but our more immediate goals have changed. Originally, we had a couple music videos to shoot and just started the process on new music, but with the recent parting with our former vocalist, we’ve kind of had to drop everything and go back into writing mode. We’ll be announcing our new vocalist soon, but we are trying to put something together so that our fans and family can embark on this new journey with us without having to endure too much of a hiatus, so we plan on releasing a single and hope to get back on stage regularly in early 2020 while we prepare a new EP or album. Honestly, we haven’t made a decision yet on what we want to do in that area.
Music Bugle – What is your most meaningful song or set of lyrics?
Anthony – I’ve never been involved in the lyric side of the band, but the lyrics I probably identify with the most are the lyrics for our song, “We Are Sisyphus.” The story of Sisyphus just spoke to me. The idea of being destined to fail. I’ve always had long periods of bad luck, so it was something that meant something to me.
Music Bugle – What’s the most memorable show you’ve played?
Anthony – Most memorable show I’ve ever played with Defy The Tyrants was probably when we opened for Otep at Brick By Brick here in San Diego in August of 2018. We aren’t really big fans of Otep, but we knew it was going to be a big show. We didn’t know how controversial being on the show would be. When we announced that we were on the bill, we received hate right away. See, Otep is a far left group politically and that strikes a nerve with metal fans who are Republican/Conservative. There was literally a group of people from our scene who were going to boycott the show. Really showed the hypocrisy in the metal scene’s whole ‘We are a community’ mentality, at least in our area, but that wasn’t why the show was so memorable. It was because of how successful the show was. We were highly well-received, sold some merch, and met some awesome people, despite the drama that occurred around the show.
Music Bugle – What’s something people should know about the band?
Anthony – We are not politically driven despite our name. Defy The Tyrants doesn’t just mean political leaders, but the ‘tyrants’ in your life, whoever it may be – your boss, your coworker, your parents, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, people just out to hurt you.
Music Bugle – What overall feelings would you say are conveyed through your music?
Anthony – Strength. Determination. Perseverance. The strength to keep moving forward despite shortcomings or obstacles in your path.