In my never ending search for the sickest “Great New Metal” bands, I spend a lot of time on social media, mostly Facebook, talking with and cultivating friendships with musicians in local and regional bands across America and around the world. John Matos of Miami, Florida’s Abiotic was one such artist until I fired up the Interwebs one day to read that John and his band had been signed to Metal Blade. Pretty fucking impressive.
In the nearly two years since Slagel’s label released the album Symbiosis, Abiotic (say it Ay-BYE-otic, not Ay-BEE-otic as I too often do) has gone through a lot of lineup changes, specifically involving drummers and vocalists. But as we discussed during their recent tour through Northern California as the band prepares to record with Jamie King (BTBAM, The Contortionist, Scale the Summit) its second Metal Blade release, John now appears to have the team in place he wants to take on the world.
“Some of the personnel changes may not have been our choice but we take everything as a learning experience and a growing experience,” John tells me as we chat on the sidewalk in front of new vocalist Travis Bartosek’s Concord, California residence. “We’re not stopping. It’s just forward, keep everything going, and make sure you surround yourself with as many good-hearted and talented people as you can find, people who have similar goals and are ready to achieve those goals with you.”
As we’re chatting, Travis walks up and I rope him into our discussion. I wondered how a guy I knew as a metalcore/hardcore vocalist in our California scene ended up fronting a tech death band from Miami.
“Rob (Maramonte) from The Zenith Passage actually hit me up one day and said hey, I have this opportunity for you.'” Travis recalls. “John actually messaged me on Facebook while at Wal-Mart with his wife and said ‘hey do you want to try out for my band?’ I said sure. I sent in two tryout tapes and after two and a half long, agonizing weeks of not hearing anything back, I get a message one day saying ‘the guys are sold.’ I shed a little tear, I was pretty excited. All my childhood dreams came true and now I’m stuck going to Miami every few months.”
Travis and new drummer Brent Phillips have been part of the planning for the new record along with John and long-time guitarist Matt Mendez and bassist Alex Vazquez. There’s no doubt everyone is stoked about recording with the legendary Jaime King in North Carolina starting in September.
“I’ve been hearing awesome things about Jamie since we sealed the deal working with him,” John tells me. “He’s putting out the new The Contortionist and I talked to those guys and they love him and our buddies in Wretched have worked with him a lot so I’m excited to see what he can do and what will end up as a product for this release.”
John says fans who love tech death will also love the new record.
“It’s a lot more refined. It’s more mature and definitely better composed. We’ve had some different tools to write songs and record on our own that we didn’t have before. So we’ve been able to compose the songs a little better and make everything a little more musical and catchy and at the same time us being techy and heavy.”
Travis chimes in with the lyrical theme for the new record, which he says is about “space and multiple universes and people realizing that they don’t really need religion in their lives.” He also has a clear vision for what Abiotic vocals should sound like.
“Evil, heavy, fast. Lots of enunciation. I’m really big on that. I don’t really like when bands have vocals where you can’t understand anything because when you can understand, it makes it that much more evil and it seems more ominous. And it’s something where the fans can actually sing along with you and I’m really big on that coming from a hardcore and metalcore background.”
After seeing them perform at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, California the night before our talk, there’s no doubt Bartosek also brings the energy of hardcore music to the Abiotic live set.
“Seeing bands like Stick to Your Guns and Terror and Stray from the Path and bringing that kind of energetic element to the band and seeing how people really enjoy it. That’s what I like. I don’t want people to stand in the back with their arms crossed going ‘Yeah, Death Metal’. It’s extreme music for extreme people so the shows should be just as extreme.”
“It’s crazy to see because you’re not expecting kids to be as into technical music as when they’re going to go watch bands like Emmure, if you know what I mean,” John adds with a smile. “So to see kids get that fucking stoked on us fucking wanking off on our guitars is fucking cool.”
There’s no question that I’m fucking stoked for new Abiotic which should be out in early 2015. Chances are these gentlemen will tour near you next year as well with John saying the plans are for 200+ dates in 2015.