Sifting is a Southern Californian metal band with roots in Venezuela. The band was formed in 2010 in Caracus, Venezuela, and in 2014 the singer relocated to the States to start a bigger career. In 2013 the band performed at SXSW. The band spoke about the different kind of mentality fans have towards supporting musicians in America versus Venezuela. Last September, they released their debut album, Not From Here, on the New Jersey-based rock and metal label, Eclipse Records. The stories behind the songs “Not From Here,” “Things Change,”, “Blurry Paintings,” and “Gloom” were spoken about. Eduardo Gil, the singer/guitarist, and Richard Garcia, the lead guitarist, contributed to the dialogue of this interview. Sifting is opening up for Sons of Apollo on May 16 at The Theater of Living Arts in Philly, and on May 18 at the Playstation Theater.
Can you give me a brief history of your lives as musicians?
EO: I am from Venezuela. I just moved here and worked to try to find like-minded musicians. I found Richie last year.
RG: This is Richard Garcia, I am not from Venezuela, I am from Long Beach, Calif. I met Eduardo through Chris Eckland, the previous guitarist. That is how I came into the band. I have been playing guitar for the past 14 years.
How did you find the members of your band?
EO: I initially formed the band when I moved here and found these three guys. We recorded the album. Right afterwards, we had to go on a 30-day tour. They realized they weren’t ready for touring since they had jobs and stuff. I talked with Winston, the bassist, and he went to MI (Musicians Institute) with me back in 2014. I told him, “Hey dude, I am looking for new members, it is almost a new band.” Everyone was leaving.
Chris, the previous guitarist, he wanted to be in the band, but he had economical issues, which made it super difficult to go on tour. He talked to Richard to get him into the band. The drummer Joey was filling in with us for a show in Ecuador with Tarja. The drummer couldn’t leave the country right now, but in the end he stayed in the band. He was able to tour and get out of the country. We need someone active that can travel. We are planning on going to tour to Europe and Latin America.
What kind of message are you trying to convey with your title-track being “Not From Here”?
EO: I wrote that song thinking of when I moved here, I really wanted to blend in with the culture. I had in my mind I wanted to be an American. I tried to talk and behave like Americans. But then I realized as immigrants, we all go through that process. I realized that something inside me, I wanted to stay the “I” I am, as a Latino. Of course, I would respect the culture in America, but I wanted to remain myself. We all feel really bad when we can’t blend in. We don’t have to become someone else to be accepted and be cool. We can add everything from our countries, to this new culture.
You have played SXSW; Looking back, what are your most favorite memories of those days?
EO: 2013 was the first time we played there. It was our first time playing in America. Back in 2013, I was still living in Venezuela. That was an incredible experience for us. People here are so different than the crowds in Venezuela. The way people support bands is very different. In Venezuela you get support, but people don’t usually buy stuff from bands since you know the situation is really hard there. It’s hard for people to spend money on merch.
Here, in America, you have the possibility to do that. When we play here everyone loved the music. People were so happy and they just started buying stuff. Wow, it’s like this is actually paying off. It’s incredible. In Venezuela you don’t have that. That is one of the reasons why I moved to America was the reception at SXSW. I experienced first-hand. People can actually get support.
What are some cool Venezuelan festivals, and can you speak about them a bit?
EO: In Venezuela we used to have a lot of festivals in there. They just disappeared in time because of the political situation. We still have the Gillman Fest, which is put on by the Venezuelan Government in support of metal heads. A band called Rata Blanca (White Rat) from Argentina plays there a lot. I remember Megadeth played there. The situation won’t allow for many festivals in Venezuela.
Richard, can you tell me about some of the tech death stuff you have composing as of late?
RG: The other stuff hasn’t really been as far as tech death. We have about four songs written right now. They are all different. One thing that I think is really cool about this band is the variety of types of songs that you have. We are not only going to do an album that sounds like The Faceless, Dream Theater, or anything like that. We like to play what we want, like a rounded album. There is only one like that, but there have been some other things that Eduardo and I have been writing.
The new song has influences like The Faceless, and Animals as Leaders might be doing in some aspect — maybe drum wise. The other two guys — Winston and Joey — are really into the Contortionists, Animals as Leaders, and bands like that.
When you have those guys putting their input some of these songs, then it just really takes more of a modern feel to some of this stuff. Eduardo and I are more into the older Symphony X guys and stuff like that.
Can you tell me what the lyrics of “Blurry Paintings” are about and if it was about a true subject?
RG: “Blurry Paintings” was about a soldier who was in a coma and has lost all of his memory. One day, he wakes up totally alone in the hospital. Doctors couldn’t even tell him his name or anything. He didn’t know anyone. He remembers the face of a woman. He didn’t remember her name, address, or anything. He just knows this person exists and he loves her. He can’t remember where she is, her name, or why she isn’t here. He just spent his life looking for her in the metro. He goes everywhere, trying to find this woman, but never made it.
On “Things Change”, I feel like you wrote this about someone you knew, what’s it about?
EO: That song is my oldest song out of all my songs. I composed it in 2001 or 2002. It was about a friend of mine. He was in love with this girl and one day…I think it was her birthday. I think he was giving her a huge surprise or something. Then she tells him, “Hey I’m pregnant and it’s not yours.”
He knew it wasn’t his because they never did anything. We are like 15 years old. He was still a virgin, so he was like, “It’s not mine.” She was pregnant with another guy, and that devastated him, of course. Both of them were friends of mine. He was my best friend at that moment. I was really close to the story the whole time. I was helping him with the surprise party. I lived everything first hand. My friend and I wrote the lyrics together.
What was going on with your band when the inspiration for your song “Gloom” began to appear?
EO: I wrote that back in 2009. I wrote for my mom. She passed away in an accident, which was an airplane crash. When I was recording the album in 2016, I didn’t even plan on having that song. One day, I was like, “Dude, we need one more song on this album, like a solid ballad. That song ‘Gloom’ would be cool to record.
It’s really personal but in the end that is what fans want. They want to become part of you. I showed this to our producer Ryan Williams, and he totally loved it. He was like, “Wow, that’s a great song. I love it. Let’s do that one.” Many of the guys didn’t even know the song. I recorded all the guitars and everything and sent the song the night before to the drummer and bassist. They totally loved it and wrote their parts in a really cool way. The day I recorded vocals and guitars was my mom’s birthday. It was such a cool coincidence. I didn’t even realize it. We are releasing a video on this really soon.
You picked two different producers for your album: Ryan Williams and Steve Evetts. What do you feel your album gained from picking these two individuals?
EO: Those guys are amazing. They are way different. Steve Evetts is a producer for Symphony X, he is a super proggy guy. He has a tough hand. He is always like, “Hey you gotta do this.” He goes really hard on you, but the results are amazing all the time. He is such an amazing producer. He gives a raw feeling to the album. He didn’t want to add too many modern elements to the songs.
The other half of the songs, Ryan Williams produced. He has produced everything from Slayer to Pink. He has a way different vision of music. That helped give us have a more commercial sound for the album.
RG: I think this next album that we have been working on, over a month or two, is going to be pretty awesome. It’s going to be more technical and enhanced than Not From Here. We are looking forward to exposing it and showing everyone.