Metalcore band Shattered Sun seeks solace from dark emotions and experiences in the form of performing heavy, aggressive music and with the relaxation that cannabis consumption provides. The band turns to metal to channel its rage and anger, and cannabis can be used to temper its emotions. CULTURE spoke to the bandmates Marcos Leal (vocalist) and Rob Garza (drummer) about their approach to music, their latest album and how they advocate for the plant they love.
How did you get started making music?
Marcos Leal, vocals: It started really early for me. My grandfather was a guitarist and violinist, but it wasn’t until I first heard KISS that turned my whole life around. Paul Stanley’s voice turned me on to rock music and the idea of performing, but it wasn’t until Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Jonathan Davis of Korn came into my dark early teenage years—they showed me there was an outlet for my aggression of being bullied and misguided. Something I still use to this day. They changed my life forever.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Rob Garza, drums: Dave Grohl because this dude, in my eyes, is a true musician/lyricist. Also on the drum side of my inspirations I have to include Mike Portnoy, Eric Moore, Tom Hunting and Gene Hoglan.
How do you describe your style?
Garza: Shattered Sun is a metalcore style band that has influences of multiple other styles of music. We can keep things heavy and thrashy, or we go for a more easier listening vibe. Either way, we just like to keep it all metal.
Leal: A mashup of all our favorite bands! Since we were growing up and trying to find our sound, we learned that it’s all about what you love that keeps the fire keep burning. I believe our will and drive have sculpted our sound.
How do you feel about the metal scene locally in Texas and nationally? Thoughts or memories on Colorado?
Leal: The metal scene is incredible here in Texas. From the bands starting out to the bands dominating radio and the charts, getting Grammy nominations etc. (not to mention one of the biggest and most revered metal bands in history, that’s right I’m talking about “The Cowboys from Hell” by Pantera!). It helps bands that are just starting up really see that it’s possible. I have many dear memories to me involving Colorado. Colorado Springs and their rock station KILO have always been solid and one of our favorite places to play in all the USA. But I’ll give you a story of my first time playing in Denver. 2008 was really our first year ever trying to get out of Texas. All our dates on our first real tour were canceled after the first show, so we called a bunch of clubs and venues to see if we could play or jump on a show to open. Denver was one of the only cities to have us. I remember we opened for a band called Sleeper, it was a great show, but what makes this such an awesome memory is what happened after our performance. So the bartender tells us “open bar, anything you want” so we started pounding drinks. No one ever mentioned to me about the “altitude” so I was there like a dumb Texan trying to show off how much I could drink, hollering “I’m from Texas, it’s all cool.” For last call I ordered up a double of Patron, bad idea. I have no recollection of what happened after that but I know it involved a lot of throwing up and getting dragged into the hotel, and waking up in the bathtub.
Garza: As for Colorado and the few times we have played there, I remember some locals just coming out and straight up kill the stage. There is just so much potential in the local metal scenes all over to be honest.
What are some of your major lyrical themes, and why do you feel they are especially relevant or powerful?
Garza: As a drummer I don’t have too much insight on the lyrical content, but I will say that when Marcos comes to me with some lyric ideas I can just sense the vibe and figure how to take his ideas and slap some music on it.
Leal: We’ve put out two albums and both have been night and day when it comes to the lyrics. Our first [album] Hope Within Hatred was such a positive vibe, finding light at the end of the tunnel, searching for good inside of the evil , coming to terms with who you are etc. After touring for a few years professionally and going through some ugly times in my life, burying some of my friends and family, I saw the ugly side of this world and it changed my whole perspective on how I viewed things. Our second record was about how I coped with that, how I closed myself off, how I gave up on hope, it crushed me and it made me very angry—hence the title, The Evolution Of Anger.
How has cannabis affected your life and/or your creative process?
Garza: I’m one of those dudes who feel [that] cannabis makes everything better. However, I will never play under the influence because I get distracted, but when it comes to writing and even just jamming, I am all about it.
“Cannabis has been a part of my life for quite some time and has helped me in so many ways during the recording process and touring. As for recording, before I even lay one word down, I get a cup of coffee and some herbal remedies and listen to the music at full blast, several times.”
Leal: Cannabis has been a part of my life for quite some time and has helped me in so many ways during the recording process and touring. As for recording, before I even lay one word down, I get a cup of coffee and some herbal remedies and listen to the music at full blast, several times. I let it carry my mood, I like music to take me places. On the road it definitely helps with my body. It doesn’t matter if you’re 19 or over 30, after a few shows and riding around in the van your body starts to feel it, especially when you’re playing six shows a week for over a month. It helps my muscle soreness and body fatigue, also my sleeping cycle. All important things for a vocalist.
How do you feel about legalization so far? Is there anything you think could be done better or differently?
Garza: I think the legalization is great! The States we have played in where it is legal are always a god send for us. Myself and Marcos would hunt down all the dispensaries and look around for the best deals on buds.
Leal: I come from a very small town in south Texas where it’s still viewed as a top tier drug. They raid people here for having a bag of low grade cannabis. It makes me appreciate any time I’m in Colorado. What this cash crop can do for our country and economy is incredible, not to mention the vast medical resource it holds. I think it could be more publicized for places like where I live, make people aware to the pros rather than the cons.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
Garza: Lyrically there are some cannabis filled themes, but one thing I can say for sure is that I’ve rolled a few rillos on my snare drum before so I feel I got some buds worked into my snare drum hoop.
Leal: I try not to shove that in people’s face when it comes to my music. But when it comes to the live shows I’m defiantly more lighthearted. We do a cover of Testament’s “Return To Serenity,” and it just always smells like herb in venues so I actually just started telling people “Hey, this is the song to light it up too, fire it up!”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Garza: Texas need to follow in Colorado’s footsteps and legalize it!
Band Name: Shattered Sun
Location: Alice, Texas
Most Recent/Upcoming Album: The Evolution of Anger