Gnarly Charlie's Exclusive Interview with Sworn Enemy Vocalist Sal Lococo

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Monday, February 6, 2006 @ 10:35 AM

Pre-performance at the Avalon

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Exclusive interview with Sworn Enemy’s vocalist, Sal Lococo Pre-performance, the Avalon, Hollywood, CA 1/21/06 By Charlie Steffens, aka Gnarly Charlie, Contributor New York’s Alright … Sworn Enemy is known and respected as being one of New York’s heaviest hardcore bands, along with the likes of Agnostic Front and Hatebreed. Formed in 1997, the band had quickly made a name for itself in the underground hardcore scene, and in 2001, when Sworn Enemy released its debut EP, Negative Outlook, it began extensive touring with veterans and other up and coming bands. In 2003 the band inked a deal with Elektra and released its full-length album, As Real as It Gets, and the young and restless band of gypsies hit the road, toured hard, and got a spot on Ozzfest 2003.

The Beginning of the End is the new release, which was produced by Tim Lambesis (frontman for As I Lay Dying) and mixed by Zeus (The Red Chord, Shadows Fall). It is evident (after I listened to this record) that Sworn Enemy has improved, in both its sound and songwriting. The long awaited, second full-length Sworn Enemy album is fresh in its brutality, and it is a testimony that heavy music is alive and well.

Singer/frontman Sal Lococo talks to Gnarly Charlie before the show.

KNAC.COM: Your new album, The Beginning of the End, drops on January 21st. I’ve heard it and it sounds more guitar-heavy. It’s good, man …it’s pummeling.

LOCOCO: Thank you (laughs).

KNAC.COM: I understand that the video for “Scared of the Unknown” was already shot, and that’s going to be the first single, right?


KNAC.COM: When I listened to “We Hate”, I figured I’d ask you who that song was pointed at …

LOCOCO: No particular individual, just the genre of music where boys dress like girls. There’s a lot of that going on nowadays, and glam ended a long time ago. Who wanted to bring it back? I don’t really feel it. These bands come around, they look like girls, and they get big. It kind of makes me a little bitter; you know what I’m sayin’? So, I just had to write that song … just to let people know how I feel. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there here for the Anthrax show that know how I feel, or any show that we play.

KNAC.COM: I’m in agreement, somewhat, but this isn’t my interview. I heard that song, and I thought that it was pointed at Nu-Metal or something.

LOCOCO: I can deal with Nu-Metal better than that. At least the dudes look like dudes.

KNAC.COM: Are you talking about The Killers or My Chemical Romance –bands like that?

LOCOCO: Ah! All that crap. Guys wearing make-up, you know? It’s just bad music.

KNAC.COM: And it’s getting continuous airplay.

LOCOCO: Constantly, and they force it down your throat. Subliminally they make you like it. It’s really a subliminal mind-fuck, basically. They just grab all these zombies up with MTV and then they’re like “Oh, wow. I’ve heard that before. That’s good. Oh, I like that song now!” And you hated it when it first came out, you know? It’s bullshit.

KNAC.COM: Your band started back in ’97, but it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium when Sworn Enemy started getting a bit of video and airplay. Then you were signed with Elektra.

LOCOCO: That happened in 2002 when we got signed. October …I remember signing my life on the line.

KNAC.COM: Now you’re with a new label, Abacus. What has it been like touring with the likes of Agnostic Front, Hatebreed and Madball?

LOCOCO: We toured heavy from 2001 …I remember on my birthday we had the whole band over at my house—it was July. Then I said goodbye, and I didn’t see nobody until 2004! (laughs) We toured with Hatebreed, Six Feet Under, Agnostic Front, Madball, As I Lay Dying, Unearth, Zao, Throwdown, Most Precious Blood…Sick of it All. We did shows with Slayer, Slipknot, Ozzfest 2003. We were road dogs and that’s what we wanted to do –just be on the road and play and get our music out there. I don’t think there was any tour that we’ve ever turned down. We’ve accepted every tour that had ever come our way because we just wanted to be on the road.

KNAC.COM: On the new stuff you got together with Tim Lambesis [As I Lay Dying]. Hearing the new album I thought that that it had much more guitar and had crossed over from the hardcore over to the metalcore. To be genre- specific –how would you classify your band?

LOCOCO: If I never knew my band and I listened to The Beginning of the End, I would call it thrashcore. I think there are a lot of thrashy riffs in there, almost reminiscent of the 80’s thrash, when it was vibrant …you know, like you could hear hints of Metallica, Anthrax, maybe Exodus, a little Testament …definitely Slayer. And still keeping the breakdowns and some of the two-stepping beats, which is very popular in hardcore. I would label us as a thrashcore band. But, I don’t like using labels, really, because once you label yourself then you get stuck in that label and I don’t want to be stuck in any labels or anything like that. I’d just say we’re a new category called Sworn Enemy.

KNAC.COM: The new material touches on a range of real, maybe controversial subjects, religion being one of them.

LOCOCO: The song “The Beginning of the End” does. If you’ve seen the movie The Passion of the Christ, that had something to do with that. I mean, I’m not a priest; I’m not a preacher or anything like that. I don’t want to put my values on anybody, but I come from a Roman Catholic family. I went to my religious instructions up until twelfth-grade, I was baptized, I had communion and all that shit, so I haven’t been a practicing Catholic over the last couple of years, plus being on tour doesn’t really help much …but I have my faith and I have my beliefs—just sharing them with the general public, that’s all.

KNAC.COM: It’s nothing that is blatant, either.

LOCOCO: I just tend to more or less write stories. I was always good in English class, so I could kinda turn something that I was thinking into more of a story. It’s more interesting to read—I don’t think I like to put personal standpoints down, I don’t know …I don’t know if people really want to know what the fuck I’m thinking or not. I think I just change it up a little bit and just make it more into a story. It’s sort of like reading a poem or reading poetry or something like that, you know?

KNAC.COM: And adding killer riffs a fuckin’ wailing bottom to it …

LOCOCO: That doesn’t hurt either!

KNAC.COM: So do you guys party much on the road?

LOCOCO: Everybody loves the beer, except for me. I don’t drink it. I’d prefer a Jack and Coke to a beer—I hate beer. I don’t think it tastes good unless you’re on the beach, it’s 97 degrees out and that beer is a cool 28 degrees.

KNAC.COM: Right, with the dewy condensation on the bottle and the parrot in the palm tree …

LOCOCO: You watch those Corona commercials! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: You seem really happy and well-adjusted, but the first time I heard you sing I thought that you were one angry motherfucker. As far as your childhood—was it a rough one?

LOCOCO: Well, I wasn’t raised with a silver spoon in my mouth, that’s for sure. I had it kind of rough. We weren’t rich …my Mom was on welfare. She did the best she could, and I think I helped along by being a good son. I wish I had money, but unfortunately I don’t …if I had money I would have helped my band be big already.

KNAC.COM: What music do you like to listen to nowadays?

LOCOCO: Everyone I listen to has probably been around longer than us –I don’t really know too much of the new stuff. I’m very … like, shallow when it comes to that. Being on the road and playing every night forces me not to like music anymore. If I’m going to listen to something it’s going to be something mellow or something that’s easy listening. Every once in a while I’ll listen to the Cro-Mags. I love the Cro-Mags. I love Leeway –two of my favorite bands. Occasionally Slayer –I love Slayer …old Biohazard stuff. Other than that, give me Deftones …give me easy listening stuff. Shit that’s just mellow, that I can relax to. I can’t really listen to the hard stuff …after hearing it every night and playing so many shows you kind of lose your ear for it, you know?

KNAC.COM: I’m assuming that you’re an Anthrax fan?

LOCOCO: I have been an Anthrax fan for many years.

KNAC.COM: Bush or Belladonna?

LOCOCO: Belladonna.

KNAC.COM: Hands down.

LOCOCO: Hands down. Once he was gone it wasn’t Anthrax anymore. It’s hard to change the frontman and still remain that same band. You can’t do it. The only band that has ever done it … no, two bands that have done it and become big are AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

KNAC.COM: Exactly. Paul Di’Anno to Bruce Dickinson, and Bon Scott to Brian Johnson.

LOCOCO: Right… no one else can do it. I mean, when Rob Halford left and Ripper Owens came in, and wasn’t in Priest that long, even though he sounded exactly like him –it wasn’t Priest. That didn’t work. Those are the only two bands: AC/DC and Iron Maiden. Other than that, you can’t do it.

KNAC.COM: What’s up after this tour with Anthrax?

LOCOCO: This is the last date with Anthrax. We’re going to do some dates with God Forbid, Manntis and Cannae. After that we go home, do a couple dates with Madball. Then a week after that we’re heading into the studio to do a special appearance on the Headbangers Ball –you know they have that guest appearance?

KNAC.COM: Yeah, with Jamey [Jasta]?

LOCOCO: Yeah, we’re gonna be doing that. Then on March 16th, we start up with Six Feet Under, and that tour will go around the U.S. After that I don’t really know, but there will definitely be more touring, that’s for sure, because the record’s coming out so we’re gonna be on the road for the next … ten years (laughs).

KNAC.COM: Excellent! You’re road dogs.

LOCOCO: Absolutely.

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