Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interview with Rob Villanueva of I Attack

Photo by Canderson
By Chris Carlton

Squid Pro Quo: Hey Rob, thanks for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo. Your band, I Attack, has been on the scene for a number of years now. Can you give us a little history on the band?

Rob Villanueva: "I Attack started back in 2001 with Dan (drummer) and Raul (rhythm guitar). They started jamming songs that they used to mess around with when they were teens in the late '80s. Dan and Raul grew up in the Pilsen neighborhood together and grew up listening to hardcore punk and metal. They started getting a bit more serious about rehearsing and soon recruited Jose Crudo of the famous Los Crudos to play lead guitar. At that time, Jose was band-less and was wandering around like a vagabond in search of beer, beer and more beer. Well, he stumbled passed Dan's building where they spent the day drinking brews and asked Crudo to jam with them. Jose was actually playing in a beat poetry jazz rock fusion band called Sonido Inkieto. He asked Juan Compean who played bass in Sonido Inkieto to jam with in this hardcore punk band which, at the time, had no name and no vocalist. They started off playing covers from bands like Battalion of Saints, Raegan Youth, Suicidal Tendencies and various other old school hardcore punk bands. Around that time, I was living with Benny Jodido, who was in the the group Los Jodidos that was active back then. Well, Benny was gettin fed up with his band and wanted to get something else started. He had known Crudo from goin Los Crudos shows back in the '90s at various DIY gigs around Pilsen and Lil' Village. Crudo had asked him to come by and try out. Benny was practicing with the fellas for a few weeks when one day, he had asked if I wanted to come along and hang out. During that practice, they asked if I wanted to sing a Minor Threat cover which I willingly obliged. I had never been in a band before and never sang live ever. Needless to say, they wanted me back the following week and the rest is history."

SPQ: Being a hardcore band, you must have had many major influences. What bands inspired you to start a band, and who still inspires you now?

RV: "For me personally, I take influence from urban decay, tragic beauty, color theory, graffiti, people with ideas, not agendas and skateboarding. I really get off on music that is from the gut and the heart. As a band, our musical influences are all over the place. On any given night drinking beers, you'll hear punk, house, metal, jazz, hip-hop and Vincente Fernandez just to name a few. We just like honest music it doesn't matter the genre."

SPQ: A lot of people feel the hardcore scene died off back in the late '80s, but there are still some great hardcore bands out there; some being of a political style. Is there any political influence in your band's music?

RV: "There are tinges of a political nature but it's more from an observational stance. Overall, we have no political agendas. We are interested in ideas. I cant stand soapbox vocalists with their fist in the air thriving on being "oppressed," especially when the lyricism is a dry as sand. I rather listen to a vacuum cleaner and read stereo instructions and that isn't saying much."

SPQ: Are there any newer bands out there that get you guys excited? Bands that still carry the torch into a new generation of hardcore?

RV: "As far as new bands go, I have been witness to a new generation of hardcore punk. A lot of bands had come and gone in the past 10 years. I can honestly say that they weren't just bearing the torch but rather exploded like a damn volcano burning everything in its path. Lots of basement, backyard, warehouse and other various DIY gigs that were just mind-blowing. One of my all-time favorites was a short-lived band called Non-Fiction Noise from the south side of Chicago. Oh, and ESKE; they rip it up!"

SPQ: How many albums and/or singles has the band recorded over the years?

RV: "We sadly had only released two recordings in our lifetime. A full-length self-titled LP on Wrench In the Gears Records and an EP called American Dream on Criminal IQ Records. We are overdue."

SPQ: Any new material in the works?

RV: "I Attack has an album's worth of material to record and we are currently getting ready to do such. We've had major ups and downs within the band. We are now on our third and hopefully final bassist, plus other self-destructive and reckless behaviors have set us back a bit as well."

SPQ: Have you guys ever toured outside of the Chicago area and are there any upcoming shows?

RV: "We've played around the Midwest but it's hard to tour when you have a career, kids to feed and/or the state of Illinios won't let you leave the state."

SPQ: Is there a website where people can check in for updates on shows, releases and merch?

RV: "Nope; just a Facebook and a MySpace page."

SPQ: I want to thank you again for taking the time to talk with us at Squid Pro Quo, Rob. It's really cool to see hardcore is still alive and kicking in Chicago. I'm looking forward to seeing you guys live! Thanks again man.

RV: "Chris, thanks for the interview and thanks to Squid Pro Quo for allowing us to share our story and thoughts! Salud."

I Attack will be playing with Verbal Abuse and Dayglo Abortions at the Cobra Lounge June 4th and with Silver Abuse and the Wanton Looks June 25th at Cobra Lounge.

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