Hello Eddie! It’s so good to have the opportunity to touch base with you and see how you’re doing and what you’re up to musically and otherwise. Where are you now and what are the vibes like?
I’m in a really, really good space. I’ve been doing path work, which is clearing your path in the material world and non-material world. Clearing the path to make room for new things to come in and presto, the 5th IT'S CASUAL studio record is upon us. Very excited about it! New material, new drummer, and new sound! Not to mention a new direction of lyrics and music, stylistically.
Your 5th album, titled The New Los Angeles III: Ascended Masters, was released at the end of October and it’s your 3rd album in a series about your homebase L.A. What topics do you tackle on this album and how does it differ from the previous two albums about the same subject of L.A.?
It is all an organic natural progression. On IT'S CASUAL’s The New Los Angeles I, I focus on being car-free and feeling expansive because I’m very intrigued with the city of angeles, LOS ANGELES. I am inspired by a city that has always been there, but I have connected to it because I was always trapped in a car. Once I started taking public transportation, I connected to it. I immediately was aware, awakened, and inspired. This is all how songs like "THE NEW LOS ANGELES", "THE REDLINE", "TOO MANY KIDS", and "THE PANTRY" came about.
Within IT'S CASUAL’s The New Los Angeles II, which is the 4th studio record, my lyrical content is targeted at what I see. Real life situations. For instance, "less violence, more violins" is a cry out for help because of the cutbacks of music in after-school programs. Or for instance, on "keep the children occupied" it's about children coming home to no adult supervision. Or on the song "LIVE FOOD", acknowledging the childhood obesity issue.
The 5th IT'S CASUAL studio record, THE NEW LOS ANGELES III: Ascended Masters, focuses on the inside. Meaning, the things they do not teach you in school. Love, compassion, and living in truth and authenticity. I still have a few public transportation anthems like "get out of my bus" which is a song that I wrote that presents the world of a bus driver. I decided to make it about someone else on the bus; not just me. Let’s make it about the person who is driving 40 + hours per week and all the day to day challenges he faces. People boarding with no money or a depleted tap card.
But the main subject of It's Casual's The New Los Angeles III: Ascended Masters is the fact that it's about being self aware; about living with consciousness and compassion which is perpetuated by The New Los Angeles I; being car-free, walking more, connecting to your city, and feeling expansive. Then on The New Los Angeles II, I am very, very awake and now I am noticing that there are liquor stores in lower income areas and most are choosing Chili Cheetos and soda for their children instead of live food, fruits, and water, etc… Then through all this, I wake up in The New Los Angeles III and learn that I have choices. I am a co-creator in my world. I can live in a form that is the best version of me. And it's a work in progress. It's called living.
Of all songs off your new album, which one stands out the most to you, either for lyrics or music?
I would say "I'M ALIVE" mainly because of the music. Stylistically because it's more melodic than usual. And lyrically, it's what I would tell someone in a conversation:
“Summons the strength to find the truth
So you can be the best version of you
Looking for truth with authenticity
I will not live in fear
Because I’m alive I’m alive I’m alive”
You’ve recently undergone a life-shaping transformation into a runner, hiker, and Vegan. Does that mean you were a carnivorous couch potato before these major changes? I’ve been trying to eat healthfully the past two years (low sugar, fat, and salt), but it’s hard to stick with it!
Carnivore, yes. Couch potato, no. It is hard. Only if you think of it as a diet. If you look at it as a lifestyle, you become it and it becomes you.
What spurred you to ‘get healthy’ and what has the effect been on your life?
What spurred me to get healthy was the fact that when I would do cardio, yoga, and eat vegan for like 2 to 3 days straight, I would feel great. I made better choices. I had more clarity so I would create visions of my goals, and then I would have the energy to see it through; then the immunity that comes along with it. So I never get sick or hindered. Then I said, I want this all the time!!
From what I understand, your outlook on life has changed too – to a more positive or open view of the possibilities, good or not-so-good. Is this your mentality these days and is it different than how you approached experiences in the past?
I’ve always been positive. Always looking at the glass half full and not half empty, however I did not have the best habits. You know, everything from what I am putting into my body to how I think. I wanted to reinforce my positive outlook with positive habits.
How has your physical, mental, and spiritual state shaped the music you create? Were your first two albums crafted with a different mindset than how you operate now?
My physical, spiritual, and mental state have 100% taken the lead on all my content: music, photography, and radio. My first record, Buicregl, and second, Stop Listening to Bad Music, were both very, very innocent records/albums. When I say "innocent”, I mean it's because I really didn’t know what I know now.
How did new drummer Jimmy Sotelo fit into the process of recording the album? What is his background and how has he influenced your output?
Jimmy is a type of drummer stylistically that I never worked with in IT'S CASUAL before. That being said, his musical roots are primarily from heavy metal/metal. His background is abundant. He has held the drummer position for respected L.A. metal/hardcore bands like BLOODCUM, RESISITANT MILITIA, HANZ KRYPT, and NECROPHAGIA. His influence is that he is an architect. That gives me an endless canvas to start paint on.
You release your material under the moniker It’s Casual, which comes from a character’s catchphrase from the 1980s film The Wild Life. What is its meaning in relation to your music? Hmmm, I’m wondering if there’s a band called Tension Breaker after the line “Tension breaker – Had to be done.” from the film Summer School…
Good one! Im a huge fan of the movie FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. THE WILD LIFE was like the unofficial sequel; released by Universal and written by Cameron Crowe with most of the same cast. The lead actor is Christopher Penn instead of Sean Penn. Chris Penn' character, Thomas Drake, always says “It's casual” whenever something goes down that’s good or bad. I wanted a band name that would not pin it to a certain genre.
You’re a respected and influential veteran of the L.A. hardcore scene, working at various record labels, booking bands for the Relax Bar, hosting your own radio show, releasing your own tunes, and so much more. Besides It’s Casual, what music-related ventures are you currently (and/or still) involved in – and how do you find/make the time to do it all?
I have a second band i started called NINOS DE LA TIERRA. It is a band with 4 members including me. In NINOS DE LA TIERRA I write all songs and handle lead vocals and rhythm guitars. It is more metal. I wanted to do a band that had double the amount of members and sounded different. Mission accomplished! We just played Grindcore Fest L.A. in early November with EXCEL and HIRAX. It was a success. Last weekend we tracked our first full-length record with Paul Miner at Buzzbomb Sound Labs in Orange County and we are mixing as I write this. It will be done by the end of day today and mastered Monday. It will be released digitally and on CD on Friday, January 8th, 2016 and on vinyl in late February.
I have an ongoing photography installation called THROUGH THE EYES OF A BUS RIDER. It's photos from the bus that travels all around Los Angeles and Orange County. It is going well. I just came off a successful run at FUTURE STUDIO GALLERY in Highland Park. In 2016, THROUGH THE EYES OF A BUS RIDER photography show will be facilitated at 6740 in uptown Whitttier January 17th to march 17th, then at Programme Skate and Sound in Fullerton on Thursday, April 7th for one evening. I will be DJing at both events. And I am currently pre-recording episodes for my radio show LOS ANGELES NISTA.
You were raised in East Los Angeles County and immersed yourself in the skateboarding culture as a kid. Is that still a part of you, where you go out and hit the skate parks? Do you use a skateboard as a means of transport?
Yes, skateboarding is a huge part of my life and that is how I discovered hardcore punk and metal. Well, I just bought a 2016 vehicle. I’m a green commuter and not car-free any longer. I park my car at the Goldline and Redline stations and commute. My favorite skatepark is Caruthers in Bellflower.
Speaking of which, a big theme of your series of albums on Los Angeles is about the city’s public transportation system. How has it improved and/or changed over time?
It is improving every year! More frequent schedules. Getting from downtown LA to Universal and everywhere in between is a breeze. I wrote the “The Redline” because that is the underground subway that put us on the map. That is the subway train that takes you from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to North Hollywood.
What aspects do you like about urban (and/or specifically L.A.) life? Have you spent any time in other metropolis areas like New York or Chicago? If so, do any other American cities appeal to you more than Los Angeles or vice versa?
I love the weather, first-off! It's springtime in fall and winter, then summer, and then back to spring. The aspect I like is the fact that you can take the Redline or Blueline right into L.A. for a professional sporting event or concert and feel like you’re in a major, major city, then take the Blueline to Redline to Goldline to Mariachi Square Plaza in Boyle Heights. I like the diversity.
You’ve performed with, worked for, and/or met a ton of hardcore legends over the years. Which person (like, say, Greg Ginn, or Keith Morris) was the most influential to you – music or otherwise?
Keith is a friend. I would have to say the most influential for me personally is Greg Ginn. I worked for SST and learned what hard work was. After I was finished working for SST, Ginn and I stood as friends, playing music together, etc… He is an architect/pioneer as a guitarist, songwriter, band leader, A&R, record label ear, and more. He has brought so much to the table. He's influenced me to work harder than everyone else. And play music as what you feel.
You’ve been going strong as It’s Casual since 2001!! What are some of the main changes that you’ve seen in the record industry from your perspective of recording, distributing, and performing?
CD sales in decline! Vinyl sales increasing. It's exciting because it’s much easier to send your music out and get it heard. It's kind of like the Wild West.
Lastly, can you please list your official site(s) where we can find out more about you and your music?