Interview with House Of Broken Promises: Where The Riff Doth Dwell

Indio, CA, trio House Of Broken Promises made their debut late last year with Using The Useless on Small Stone Records. The album was and remains a smoldering collection of high-energy riff metal, bassist/vocalist Eddie Plasciencia, guitarist/vocalist Arthur Seay and drummer Mike Cancino offering balls-out rock and roll grooves like they were born to do it. They trace their lineage back to the dissolved and never-quite-fully-realized Unida, which boasted the same line-up plus ex-Kyuss frontman John Garcia on vocals, but if there’s anything missing from Using The Useless, it certainly isn’t apparent in listening to the songs. Seay, who also recorded the album at his newly-constructed BitterSand Recording studio, recently took some time out for the following Q&A.

It’s still new, obviously, but have you gotten a sense of the response to the album? Everything I’ve seen has been really positive.

Yeah, all the press has been really positive. So far I think three websites have put us in their Top 20 of 2009! Alongside Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb Of God, etc. We also received ‘Album Of The Month’ on All the responses from everyone have been great. Jason Ellis from Sirius/XM radio has added us to full rotation on Faction 28, that’s his show, and has been talking about us a lot on there so that definitely fucking doesn’t hurt! That definitely feels good. I worked myself to the bone writing, engineering, producing, blah, blah, blah on this record and it was well worth it. We just got confirmation that MTV’s Headbangers Ball is going to premiere the video for ‘The Hurt (Paid My Dues)’ shot by Rick Kosick (Jackass fame), so that fucking rocks!

We’re shooting another video right now for ‘Obey The Snake’ and that video is going to be sick! It’s pretty much a $250,000 video for about a grand. I do audio, lighting and video shit so one of the companies I work for, CYM Lighting, hooked us up with about $250 grand worth of lighting and production for this new video. And it looks sick! Shot in HD and full of hot babes shaking their money makers! We’re going to push and support this record as hard as we can in all aspects!

At what point did you decide to pick up House Of Broken Promises from Unida? I remember hearing the demo a few years back, but how has the sound developed from your perspective?

Well Unida wasn’t really doing shit. John was getting more and more a part-time singer, he got married and had a child which of course makes things a little harder but not impossible, but he focused more on his vet work than the music side. And I’m all music and art 24/7. That’s all I want to do is write, record, tour, record, tour, produce, tour, ha ha! So Mike and I set out to start something new and positive, musically and emotionally. That’s when Eddie moved back to the desert and we started jamming with him. We all knew each other from high school marching band! I played sax, Eddie clarinet and Mike, of course, drums. We had a shredder metal band back then, too.

So eventually we found a singer and wrote a whole record and recorded it. But that didn’t really work out with that singer—he was good but just not the right fit. I really dig those songs musically but lyrically and his style wasn’t vibing. Plus he didn’t have the drive to succeed. We had a whole European tour being booked, yadda yadda, and the dude didn’t want to leave his waiter job to tour in Europe for a month! Really? Are you fucking kidding me? We were definitely over the whole ‘Singer Syndrome’ from vocalists! Anyway, that’s pretty much when we said let’s just do it ourselves and Eddie stepped up, and myself and Mike, and we all started singing and doing our thing! Our sound definitely has come into itself. Using The Useless has a good variety of tunes on it, from more metal tracks like ‘Torn’ to the classic AC/DC rock of ‘Obey The Snake.’

I write all kinds of different shit! I’m even working on some pop tunes for a female singer. That’s one of the reasons why I built my studio so I can do what I want when I want!

Are there any differences in the approach of two bands, or is the songwriting pretty much the same, just with Eddie on vocals?

Writing is pretty similar to a point. I’ll have all the riffs for a song pretty much how it might be arranged and then we’ll jam it out together and arrange it. Or when we rehearse, I’ll strap on my guitar and the first riff that comes from the Riff God flows through me we’ll just start jamming that shit and have a whole song done in one rehearsal! It all depends. Each song is born a different way. Eddie will bring in a sick bass line and I’ll have a riff and they’ll work together and POW! Shitting out another hit!

When you were starting out, did you contemplate finding another singer to replace John, or did you know right away that Eddie would sing lead?

We just sought out to start a new band that was true to us and be a positive hard working band to get back and go beyond what we accomplished with Unida. We tried a couple of singers but like I said earlier it didn’t fit and we said, ‘Fuck it! Hey Eddie, you can sing, go for it!’ And I definitely made it a point to sing myself and that grew into a part of our sound. Like on ‘Physcho Plex’ or ‘The Hurt,’ we do a lot of call and answer shit on that chorus. So being it’s just the three of us we all do our part to fill it up and make it huge and it seems to be coming across well.

One of the things I like best about Using The Useless is there’s absolutely no bullshit about it. The songs are straightforward and kick ass without any frills or too many extras. What’s the writing process like? Do you think of the songs in terms of verses and choruses while you’re writing, or does the structure just come together?

It’s all about the riffs! Riff, riff, riff! That riff will be the verse, that riff will be the chorus, but the first thing is you have to have that badass riff! There’s not that many memorable riffs these days. It’s like when you hear Black Sabbath or AC/DC or Led Zeppelin, you hear that riff and you know who the fuck that is! Once we have the riffs we’ll start putting all the tasty flavors together and cook ‘em up in the 120-degree heat of the desert sun in summer.

What was the recording like? Did the album come out the way you wanted it to be?

Yeah, it was a whole process from building the studio to recording the record. I got sick of dealing with other studios and engineers and their problems and/or addictions and said, ‘Fuck it, I need my own studio!’ I love recording and want to produce other projects as well. I saved all my money from working with Slipknot (I bass teched for Paul Gray) and started building my studio. And that was a whole undertaking in itself. But the studio came out sick and Using The Useless was the big cherry popper! I engineered and produced the record and a good friend of mine, Mark Armentrout, and I mixed it. It was a blast to do but it was a shitload of work on my ass and it definitely drove me crazy too! I get real anal about shit but I do know when to say fuck it also. It was great ‘cause I could experiment and try different things and not have to worry about how much the studio was costing us, only thing we had to worry about was our own time frame.

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

We’re also going to be playing at SXSW at the Small Stone showcase which is sponsored by Converse and Thrasher magazine. Gonna have a skate ramp and all that shit going on. Gonna be a blast and we’re going to blow the fucking place away!

We are going to be touring and supporting this record and taking it to the people. We’ll be playing at Jason Ellis’ Ellismania in Vegas in April. He does MMA fights as well. Should be a blast! Rikki Rachtman (Headbangers Ball host back in the day) will be fighting someone too, and we’ll rip the place a couple new asses! Thank you for your support!

Using The Useless is available now on Small Stone.

JJ Koczan lives in a house of many broken things.