Joey Gonzalez is the affable drummer for metal behemoths Superjoint. He is also a founding member of thrash lords Warbeast, and pounds the skins for Phil Anselmo’s solo project The Illegals. Superjoint just wrapped up their 2nd leg of the Caught Up in the Gears of Application Tour with a 3rd leg coming soon. Mr. Gonzalez took some time from his busy schedule to sit down with Slickster magazine and talk about his various projects, his love of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and his hometown of Fort Worth, TX.
How did you get involved with Superjoint?
Joey Gonzalez – “I played with Phil (Anselmo) in The Illegals and we learned some Pantera songs and Superjoint songs to add into the set. We had already known some Superjoint songs, so when it came time to get together for the Housecore Horrorfest it was just more or less seeing if Jimmy (Bower) and Kevin (Bond) wanted to get back in the band. In Philip’s mind if we were going to do it those were the guys that I would want to jump in. So, it happened pretty natural and pretty fast and as soon as we got in the room we just started writing for what became the Caught Up in the Gears of Application album.”
So it went from a one-off show to this full-on band?
Joey Gonzalez – “It was a trip. I always thought it was surreal to begin with anyways, and having the opportunity to join, but when Superjoint came about it was a whole different can of worms. It was something different than the solo project with The Illegals. With Superjoint, up until the band was formed, I want to say that the prior year Phil had been firm on Superjoint saying ‘no way… it’ll never happen’.
“But, we did make it happen, we just made it happen in a very different way. We got rid of the ‘Ritual’ part of the name, now it’s just ‘Superjoint’, and we’re pushing a new record. We’re probably not going to be selling the old CD’s, and stuff like that. We’re in the future now and trying to go forward, and keep the traditions alive with as much of the vibe and grit as the old band. It’s still the same idea, we’ve just had to change little bits and pieces to keep it going. But… other than that it’s easy for us to get along and get in a room and jam.”
The new record Caught Up in the Gears of Application sounds effortless, like the whole band was just having a good time recording. What was the process like?
Joey Gonzalez – “It happened very fast, from the very first time we got in a room together, me and Steve (Taylor) already knew some of the Superjoint songs so we played them. The rest of the band was like ‘Goddamn!!’. And it was just a lot of fun for everybody. I think the very first time we all got in a room together we actually started kicking around riffs and ideas. The recording process at Housecore with Philip is awesome because we will spend anywhere from 4-8 hours in the studio, but we record every little bit of it. There is an engineer always there with us. It’s time consuming and expensive, but we definitely do not waste the effort.
“Anytime we have a chance to get together and jam, there is usually riffs galore. And even right now, out here on the road, we have several acoustic guitars and the guys have been going bananas with riffs left and right. Just coming up with all kinds of different stuff being creative and picking it apart later.”
“Steve (Taylor) and I are in the Illegals, and there are others that have several projects going on at a time. There is a new project coming out eventually that is a huge departure from what we normally do, but I think it is going to blow people’s minds and capture a whole different audience. It’s very incestuous as far as the same guys being in different bands.
“People ask us how hard it is to separate the material, we tell them ‘it’s really not’ because we know what each project is intended to sound like. You can make a 5 minute piece and say ‘you know what?’ If it’s a Superjoint riif it’s a Superjoint riff, if it’s an Illegals riff, it’s an Illegals riff, you can use it later, but just be creative and try to do as much as possible.”
How do you come to wear so many hats as a drummer with Warbeast, Superjoint, and The Illegals?
Joey Gonzalez – “They all make it so easy. People don’t give Philip enough credit as a guitar player, but he’s a writer, he writes a lot of the riffs. As far as execution there might be some debate here and there, especially from Philip, but a lot of the new Illegals stuff have three guitars on the record; Philip’s playing, he wrote a lot of it, we wrote a lot of it together.
“Philip is the boss, when he comes in and he’s in a mood, and has a particular idea in mind, that is what we are going to go for first. None of us have 100% of an idea to where we are like ‘shut the fuck up and listen to what we are doing’. When Philip has it, it just starts coming to him and it just goes and goes until something comes out of it.
“Right now we have a playlist of recorded songs and unreleased material and it’s 2 ½ to 3 hours long. I think Philip has always been a fan of music, and the underground, and he’s like ‘why am I gonna stop’.
“I’m always trying to write blast beats, and it’s nice to have these guys telling me to slow it down and stay in the pocket, it’s good to relax a little bit. But it’s always good because if Jimmy (Bower) comes up with a weird ass riff, I just start blasting over it, and it just happens to sound really noisy, and thrashy, and cool. And we start talking amongst ourselves asking if it is an Illegals riff or a Superjoint riff because we have a blast beat here and there. I can still bring back bits and pieces of my style. That’s just my style of drumming, I am a thrash/death metal style drummer and come from that aggressive and extreme background. I am definitely trying to put my stamp on it and still try to make it heavy as fuck and it’s still me. I wouldn’t want anybody to listen to it and say ‘Aw man, you’re doing the same thing on every record.’ What a bummer that would be.”
You’re from Fort Worth, TX, tell me a little about how your hometown influenced you and your love of music?
Joey Gonzalez – “Well, both Dallas and Fort Worth are two very different cities with two very different music scenes. Fort Worth is more of a country/western music scene, Dallas is a little more modern in the sense that pretty much all genre’s travel through Dallas. They both have competing markets. You could play a show in Fort Worth, and then the next night play in Dallas and still have a really good draw. What’s really cool about Texas is that you could just do a whole tour just through the state and not do too bad. That’s how a lot of classic Texas bands got started.
“That’s what we had to do, just go out there and eat shit for a while until something happened. I love Fort Worth, I love playing in Fort Worth, the scene there has always been good to us in Warbeast. We ended our tour there, fucking go out with a bang with a hometown show.
“Fort Worth has always been a pretty lax place. I was in high school, I had no driver’s license but at 16 years old I was already playing in bars. I had a mustache when I was really young so no one ID’ed me, it was pretty cool. I had good grades and stuff when I graduated high school. I followed all the rules so that I could go and break them. Fort Worth is where I was born and raised, and if I retire somewhere I might move to the mountains or something, but Fort Worth is where it’s at for me. It’s my home and it’s been nothing but good to me.
“I worked for tons of productions companies in and around the city, just made tons and tons of connections and been going to shows since I was 13 and 14. That was the biggest thing, that I was able to play bars when I was 15 or 16 years old and no one ever batted an eye. Pretty early on I understood what it was like to get paid. A lot of things that bands complain about doing these days I did . I used to go out and put flyers all around town, and I’m pretty sure that all my guys used to do that back in the day.
“But I think that my generation of musicians might have been one of the last to have to actually get up and do something, rather than have it done over the internet. And I love flyers man…it doesn’t happen anymore. If you look at old Superjoint flyers back in the day, almost every show had an individual poster that was limited to that spot. I’ll bet Philip and Hank (Williams III) put out more posters than any other band around, which is just cool.
“Philip’s idea is that the lights, dancers, and pyro… that’s what separates us from them, we’re not gonna give out on who we are and what we are here to do. I’m not saying that blowing fire out of my drumsticks wouldn’t be cool, but that isn’t gonna be part of my schtick. If Philip turned around and saw my sticks on fire, he would probably drop his jaw and tell me I was dumb.”
Can you point to a time where you decided that you wanted to be a full time musician?
Joey Gonzalez – “It was pretty early on. I’m short, but I was a pretty decent football player in high school. And, I had to choose between the football championship game, or a gig, and I was like ‘ bro, I want to go jam with my homies’. I didn’t get to take the championship picture but I was on the football team. I missed the last important game because of a gig. I didn’t even think I was going to start, I just had to be there, and I was playing a lot, but I wasn’t starting because I was short and they wanted tall people. So that was it… my championship football game. I didn’t go, got kicked out of everything because of a gig and never looked back. I love football, but I think I did alright. I don’t think 5’6” will get you anywhere in the NFL.”
I read somewhere that Warbeast has a record coming out soon?
Joey Gonzalez – “We just finished recording our third album called Enter the Arena and it’s got some cool stuff on it. We have two newer members of the band, they came in and did a pretty good job in the studio, it’s cool man, it’s sounds good.
“It definitely sounds like Warbeast. I think the overall tones are awesome. It’s a little better produced with some nice mastering, the songs have a lot more dynamics to them than the last record. My drums aren’t that bombastic this time around, they still haul ass, but as far as my hands and feet, and tech-wise everything is a little more rounded out and held together. It’s a long time comin’, but we had to find new members and postpone some things due to unforeseen events. But we’re here, we have a bunch of CD release shows coming’ and then we might try to do a longer tour later this year.”
Is there good energy when the Superjoint tours?
Joey Gonzalez – “It’s been great, lots of good vibes, packed houses, even on the weeknights, and people are taking to the new music well. Lots of old fans, new fans, lots of kids. I was at one show the other night and there must have been at least 10-12 kids in the crowd.”
What are your major musical influences?
Joey Gonzalez – “Stevie Ray Vaughan…where I’m at in Fort Worth, I’m just a couple of minutes from Oak Cliff where he was from. I’ve always loved Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar playing, if I ever played guitar that is who I would want to play guitar like. It would be a happy day if I could play in a Stevie Ray Vaughan cover band.
“Once I knew that I wanted to play music, my CD collection stopped growing. I stopped buying CDs and really didn’t buy anything that didn’t have to do with my drum shit. I think I had Black Sabbath’s Sabotage which helped me through my life, not so much musically, but more frame of mind. Pantera too because where I’m from, it’s a given. I was born in 1990 when Cowboys From Hell came out and I never got to meet Dimebag Darrell, I never got to see Pantera live. It’s all still very surreal and I feel very fortunate to be a part of Superjoint. The music that helped shape my career, I get to be a part of now.”
What do you think of the current state of metal? There is a big DIY ethos coming back…
Joey Gonzalez – “For us, there was really never a question whether or not you are going to tour. This is your business, and it’s what you have to do. But, there are other bands, that may have been bigger a while back and tasted that success that are now trying to come back and relive the glory days. The bands are coming back and…I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a money grab, but that is how much the industry has taken a toll, where one day those musicians were like ‘my music is going to stand the test of time’, and…well… maybe, but you better get back on the stage and shake that ass, you better put those leather pants back on grandpa and get back out there.
“It’s a labor of love… What else are we gonna do…Get a job at Steinmart, or a Country Club, both places I actually used to work at? And that’s just one aspect, no one takes into consideration the competitiveness between bands, and all the genres, and subgenres, and categories, and cliques. It’s a fucking business, and as a band we want to jam, but you would be surprised how many people it takes to book a tour, and set up the logistics, and then we pay every night to play, whether people believe it or not. Clubs take percentages of merchandise and shit like that.
“It’s been like that for years, but it costs to be the boss man when you’re trying to stay afloat. You are not at the mercy of your fanbase, but… your fans make you. As long as their coming to shows and are happy, that’s killer. I tell people, the fastest way to help a band is to buy their merchandise, that money goes directly to the band. You want to put gas in somebody’s tank for a local band, you buy a t-shirt.”
What is next for you, Warbeast, and Superjoint?
Joey Gonzalez – It’s the summertime, so I’ll take my daughter to the beach in between shows, but not too much time. We’re gearing up for part three of the Caught Up in the Gears of Application Tour and then we have Metal Maya in October where Superjoint is going to Cancun to do a show out there with Anthrax and a bunch of other dudes. We might have the holiday off, and then back at it.