Hailing from Torreon and Ojo Encino in New Mexico, Burned in a Church are an all Native-American band that play heavy metal. The band consists of Zechariah Montoya (guitars and vocals), Corey Rico (drums), Peshlakai Vice (guitars and vocals), and Kenderick Martinez (vocals). Take Five secured an audience with guitarists Zeck and Pesh, both of whom gave me the low-down with all things Burned in a Church.
Tell me about your band and it’s musical approach. How would you describe your sound?
Zeck: “Ok—hmm—I would describe our band as a group of best friends who just wanted to play Lamb of God and Slayer covers. That soon turned into us making our own music that we wanted to play to please our own ears and not others.”
Pesh: “Well that’s the stripped down, basic, bare minimum answer describing us. See, Zack and Corey had known each other for years, and I had heard they started a band with a couple other dudes, but that’s all I knew. Then one of the previous members asked me to come to a ‘practice.’ He said they needed another guitar player, so I agreed, cuz I was tired of playing guitar in my room by myself, plus I had always wanted to be in a band but nobody I knew played metal but mostly half-assed-drunk country. REZZZZ!
“So I remember when I showed up to practice the first time I was nervous as hell cuz I thought I’d have to start learning all kinds of new songs, plus I didn’t really know the guys too well. I knew Zack from high school and thought he was a pretty cool dude, as he was into a lot of the same music that I was. I kind of knew the other guys from another school, then there was Corey—I’d seen him around but never talked to him or anything but figured he was cool cuz anytime I’d seen him he had a kick*ss band shirt on.
“So I walk into the Hogan (traditional Navajo home)—not even making that up, a f*#king Hogan! (laughs). Anyway. I walk in expecting to do good enough to impress these dudes. I set up my gear, tune up, and then . . . nothing, just a bunch of dudes in a Hogan—guitars, drums, silence. Well, not completely—there was random chitchat, some doodling around with the instruments, but no music, NO METAL! Half an hour goes by and still nothing—an hour, nothing; hour and a half—nothing. So finally I said, screw it, and I and spoke up. I had a song I was working on at the time and decided to show them. It was a kind of slow song, but heavy, so I show Zack the main riff and told him how many bars that it goes on for. He picks it up quick. Then all we need is the beat, so we play the riff over and over while Corey plays beats over it. Finally, we hear one that sticks, and next thing you know we’re playing a song!
“I was definitely excited, and from the looks on the other guys’ faces, I knew they were excited as well. And that’s basically how the band got rolling. From then on we started out playing a lot of Lamb of God covers, then we mixed it up and threw in a couple different songs in for flavor. The more we practiced and jammed, however, the more we started to write our own songs. The covers started to fade and the originals took over the set list. Our songs are like a stew with a little bit of everything thrown in, reflecting each of our musical tastes: death, thrash, heavy, stoner rock metal, just a lot of heavy sh•t! (laughs). ‘Wizard Cookies’ ended up becoming the name of that first song we ever played. Still play it to this day: ‘Wizard Cookies’ is Burned in a Church.”
Zeck: “Exactly! (laughs) I remember that day. I remember that I had some basic stuff to start off with, but since hearing “Wizard Cookies,’ I tossed everything away and wanted to start new with Pesh in it (laughs). Before we were Burned in a Church, we were called Sinera. The name hardly stuck in people’s heads, so I think it was a good decision to change the name. We actually got the name from my little brother—it was crazy!
“It all started with us talking outside my house. We were coming up with names for some songs we wrote, and we wanted names to stick in people’s brains because silly sticks, you know? While we were talking about those, Pesh and I were reminiscing about a show we played in Farmington, which was our actual first legit show. Well, we finished our set, we took our gear off, and had a little smoke break; while we were chilling and smoking, I was playing with some matches, tossing them around and such. I accidentally tossed one on Pesh’s arm (laughs). Searing the poor f#@ker! It just so happened that Corey and me were also trying to get some brutal names for songs, and one topic we were stuck on were church topics. My little brother—listening to both conversations—puts them together and asks us who burned in a church? The rest is history!”
Any plans to release a full-length studio CD or even an EP? Please tell the readers what they can expect from Burned in a Church.
Zeck: “We haven’t planned anything yet, but I can say that we’re hoping for a full-length album release this summer or early fall, depending on our cash (laughs)! We want to be independent with our music because we want all that freedom or big open space to mess around with. Sure, its more costly, but if we want to play music that we love, I’m sure it’s worth the cost. As for what the readers can expect from us, it is probably shear brutality with awesome crushing riffs (laughs). We play so many different genre types of music, it’s hard to tell what the listeners are going to expect. The best way I would tell the listeners is to just listen to our stuff and if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it (laughs). There’s plenty of other bands out there, but if you do like it—hey, join the crew! We’re more than happy to share the experience with you!”
Pesh: “Yeah, we have a lot of material we would love to record, but just like Zack said, MONEY. But when it comes to shows, expect to see us around very soon. What to expect from us musically, is in fact a little bit of everything. We just describe it as metal, straight up—heavy and brutal. We just play what we think sounds awesome. Lucky for us, other people think it sounds awesome, too. And we hope our sound appeals to more and more ears as we go, but we play cuz we love playing. We’re not trying to impress anybody. You like it? Awesome, come see us, support us. You don't like it? We could care less. So album-wise, we’re hoping to get something out as soon as we can. But until then, we’ll be playing shows, so check the Facebook page to see what places we’re gonna destroy next.”
Zeck: “Exactly, my dear friend (laughs). Oh and by the way, we gladly appreciate donations and such (laughs)!”
What goes through your head the last few seconds before you have to take the stage and perform? What about the first few seconds after you are up there and the first song gets going?
Zeck: “OH SH*T! and then F#%K YEAH!”
Pesh: “(Laughs) Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. The ‘oh sh*t’ for me is that I hope the sound doesn’t go out or I hope I don’t break a string or screw up the song. The ‘f#%k yeah’ is just that, enjoying playing the music I love and created with my friends. You know, until something f#%ks up I get pissed (laughs)! But we’re used to that, nothing’s perfect, but we power through and get it done, and we still have a blast doing it.”
How has living in New Mexico influenced your musical approach?
Zeck: “I don’t think living in New Mexico had any influence on me at all, but I think living around the people I grew up with did. I mean, my mother jammed to reggae, thrash, and hair metal. My uncle and aunties jammed to rap and hip-hop. My grandpa jammed to country and Stevie Ray Vaughn, while my grandma listened to classic rock like the Rolling Stones and Bad Company. There’s a lot more to list but it’ll take forever.”
Pesh: “Well, like I’ve said, we’re gonna play what we wanna play, no matter what. And being here in New Mexico to me (in MY opinion), not a lot of people here want to hear the kind of music that we play. It’s not for everybody. Luckily for us, enough people here in NM like metal and wanna see metal shows. I don’t think NM has influenced our musical approach at all or has anything to do with it.”
Tell me about the song “Strong Ass Bastard.” What inspired the words and how did you go about putting them to paper?
Pesh: “Well, that particular song came from our vocalist’s dog, ‘Shaggy.’ Our vocalist has a way of putting things together and he referred to his dog as a ‘strong ass bastard.’ I thought that would be a great song title, but as with a lot of our songs, the title has absolutely NOTHING to do with what the song is about. We’ll give a song a name just to remember it. And ‘Strong Ass Bastard’ is one of those. It’s really just about a bastard who is very, very strong (laughs). It destroys things with a gaze. We all contributed to writing lyrics, and we all write down whatever we think is cool. So, we have an endless supply of lyrics. We write about anything: death, love, murdering people, things, places, objects, actions, movies, shows, just anything.”
Zeck: “Pretty much just what Pesh said, but, yeah, we give some of these songs some silly names to remember them. Like I said, silly sticks.”