This Is Hell’s Rick Jimenez Talks ‘Black Mass,’ Professional Wrestling + More
During our whirlwind of interviews at this year’s New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, we had the chance to speak with guitarist Rick Jimenez of Long Island, N.Y. hardcore outfit This Is Hell.
Amongst the sea of our buses and vans in the back parking lot of the Palladium, Jimenez went into detail about the meanings of the band’s latest record, ‘Black Mass,’ being invited back to play England’s Reading and Leeds festivals, his tremendous respect for Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, his gargantuan passion for professional wrestling and much more.
Check out our exclusive interview with This Is Hell’s Rick Jimenez from the 2012 New England Metal and Hardcore Festival.
Your last record was called ‘Black Mass.’ What’s the significance of that title?
When you say, “Black Mass,” everybody will associate that, especially in America which is overly Christian, with everything evil. It’s not necessarily a religious term, but if they want to take it that way, its fine. The thing is that a lot of that album is based on the impression, the image given off in America, especially as something being very pure and very positive and all that s–t, when in all actuality it’s the exact opposite.
I’m not one to be like, “America sucks!” by any means. America is great, especially on paper. The thing is, when it doesn’t live up to that, we should know better. We present ourselves to the world as if we’re America, we know everything. The thing is, the example we set… what we were going for in the very beginning of the country was freedom in every sense of the word. Religious freedom, racial freedom — even though we said that, it took us hundreds of years to get to that. It’s not just governmental. A lot of things in life are given off as being positive and pure, but really its like a facade for everything that’s evil, dishonest and kind of f—ed up. That’s kind of what we were going for.
A lot of people like to take it purely, especially with the song ‘Black Mass’ — they like to take it purely as a religion thing. If that’s the way they want to take it, that’s fine. I kind of like sometimes [when], “This song; everybody is going to think that it’s blatantly about this,” where to me its like, “That’s not what I was writing about at all.” A lot of times the imagery you use and the lyrics that you use are metaphorical.
When a fan comes up to you and gives you their interpretation of a song or an album, has that ever changed your own idea of its meaning?
Yeah, yeah. It’s funny, there is one song I wrote called ‘Shadows’ on the ‘Weight of the World’ album. It’s obviously about two things, but I wrote it with one specific thing in mind and then I re-read it and I was like, “Wow it’s really about “this.”" I didn’t say anything, and then one of my close friends was reading the lyrics and was like, “That’s about “this” isn’t it?” And I was like, “That’s f—ed up,” because I was thinking that after I wrote it, but not while I was writing it. It’s funny because whenever we play that song or whenever I listen to that song, that meaning which I didn’t know I was going for — that’s all I hear in that song.
This Is Hell were just confirmed for both the Reading and Leeds festivals…
Yeah, this is going to be our second time playing both Reading and Leeds.
What was it like the first time?
It was crazy. It’s one of those things growing up, especially in the ’90s, Reading and Leeds was such a big deal — not that it isn’t now, but it’s different for me because now I’m involved. I remember in the ’90s, Nirvana at Reading and Leeds was this huge thing. To me, once we started playing in This Is Hell, which is the most serious band any of us has ever done, that was never something that felt attainable to us, until all of a sudden it did feel attainable and then we played. We were like, “Dude, we’re playing f—ing Reading and Leeds.”
Not to mention, the year that we played, Guns N’ Roses headlined. I don’t give a s–t who the f— is playing in Guns N’ Roses — it’s Guns N’ Roses and they were f—ing awesome. We didn’t “play a show” with Guns N’ Roses, but we were on the same bill as Guns N’ Roses for two nights. I tell that to my family and they think by me saying that it was like me and Axl were hanging out, which is obviously the furthest thing from the truth, but it’s still cool that I got to go to a Guns N’ Roses show for free in the UK. Not to mention, our stage was awesome that year.
Getting asked to play again is so cool. Instead of it being a once-in-a-lifetime thing, it’s a f—ing twice in a lifetime thing. Being involved in any festival at all, let alone one on such a grand and legendary scale is always flattering. To be honest, I’m still flattered that we can go and play anywhere and people will come. I know that’s a thing that you’re “supposed to say,” but I’m dead honest about that.
The Cure and Foo Fighters are headlining this year. Like, “Are you f—ing kidding?!” Foo Fighters is like, the rock band of this immediate generation. I’ll debate that with anybody because what other rock band is bigger than the Foo Fighters? Obviously there are people who don’t like the Foo Fighters, but overall who doesn’t like the Foo Fighters? I love everything they’ve done, I’m such a mark for Dave Grohl.
I noticed you used the word “mark” in there. Does that mean you’re a wrestling fan?
Oh dude, I would go as far to say if there is a Top 50 wrestling fans in the world, I’m right in the Top 15.
What’s your preferred wrestling brand?
I’ve never been too good for anything. I appreciate the evolution even if it goes in a direction that I wouldn’t go. I understand, it’s suiting to the time. WWE is PG right now, I understand. The thing is people are like, “It sucks now!” and when Brock Lesnar hit Cena the other night, a bunch of people on the internet are like, “Oh! They’re going back to blood again!” Its like, you’re being suckered in, but that’s okay, get suckered in, its cool. Everyone glorifies the age that they like the most.
People that are a little younger than me glorify the late ’90s. All they want to see is the “Attitude” era and I understand because that era was amazing. Could they go back to that now and really take off? Absolutely. It’s risky because they were able to get away with it because of the competition [with WCW]. TNA is a f—ing joke, Ring of Honor is not legit competition. Could they be? Yes. Are they right now? No.
If WWE went that extreme, there’s going to be people who get down on them, sponsors included. It’s a traded corporation and if [the sponsors] get down on them, they’re f—ed. They don’t have, “Well, they’re doing it, why can’t we do it?” There’s none of that, so I understand why they play it safe right now. The little [things] like, “We’re gonna have Brock legit hit Cena so he bleeds,” which was rad. They’ll do that, but that’s not gonna be the way the whole feud goes, but who cares? People got psyched, I got psyched, which is funny because I didn’t even like Brock in the WWE, then he went to UFC and I had to like him. I’m psyched that he’s coming back and I think its gonna be fun.
This is Hell’s ‘Black Mass’ is now available on Rise Records. The band is set to kick off a North American tour on June 8 in Providence, R.I.