Interview with Rob Hahn – Guitar/Vocals of Overt Enemy and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (https://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
RH: Overt Enemy is like a lightning bolt ripping through a serene Texas night sky. If Overt Enemy were a bull at a rodeo, we’d be the wild, unbridled beast that terrifies rodeo clowns. We’re a band from the borderlands, steeped in the rich musical heritage of Texas and Mexico, forged by the grit and passion that embodies our culture. In the words of Max Cavalera, we are “Grade A Texas Thrash.” We are Overt Enemy, we’re here to bring the party and kick your ass!
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
RH: We’re from Texas, USA and we all grew up along the border. We were all born 80-82 so we grew up listening to the great metal bands that defined the genre in 80’s and 90’s. We’re from the generation at the intersection of analog and digital that lived through all the best of pop culture before everything was a reboot or sequel. But we were too young to catch the first thrash wave instead we came of age during the Nu Metal era simultaneously discovering the past, enjoying the present and digging into the depths of the future of extreme metal. We’ve been friends for half our lives and have had a deep love of metal from an early age. After years of personal and group metal worship at home and at concerts we felt the call of the metal gods, formed our war party and began a quest to write our own name in the pantheon of metal history. That may sound cheesy but it’s really true… some people start playing guitar, drums or singing for a multitude of reasons…getting chicks, fame, the party, whatever. For us it was just something we were all compelled to do for the love of metal.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
RH: Imagine Slayer and Pantera created a baby in an underground lab, and asked Fear Factory and Sepultura to be the godparents. Then they all left us alone with instruments, recording equipment and an endless supply of Coffee, Shiner Bock, BBQ, Sci-Fi/Horror Movies and 24/7 News. That’s us – a combustible mix of classic thrash, death & groove metal with a modern, Texan twist. Our sound is a high proof cocktail of Slayer’s raw aggression, Pantera’s swaggering groove, Sepultura’s tribal intensity, and Fear Factory’s futuristic edge – served with a slice of Texas heat and a dash of border-town chaos.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
RH: We are seeing how far we can go with a non-traditional model. Usually, band can grind it out on the road for years until they die or succeed. We did things backwards. We got our house in order. We all have families. That’s #1. We’re driven by our love for the genre, our dedication to our fans, and our deep-rooted desire to contribute to the metal resurgence on our own terms. We don’t just play thrash metal; we live it, breathe it, bleed it and we’re re-inventing it for a new generation that won’t be kept in a box coloring with crayons from the 80’s. It’s an extension of who we are – fiery, uncompromising, and steadfast in our pursuit of writing killer songs that we want to listen to ourselves on repeat during a DPS high speed chase. We’re relentless, resilient, and ready to shake the foundations of the music industry with our brand of Texas Metal.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
RH: Three things.
First would be watching our Lead Guitarist Leo Ortiz overcome immense pain to lay down the foundation for our upcoming album Insurrection. He recorded all his parts before going under the knife for a major and potentially life ending spinal surgery. Then this crazy dude rehabs himself in 3 months post op so we could do some tour dates with Soulfly. If that isn’t metal as fuck I don’t know what is.
Second would be how we grew during the pandemic and released our own vinyl. Having our own music on wax was always a lifelong goal and we did it ourselves on our own terms.
Third and most recent is how we came together as a team with our new Drummer Saul Castillo and opened a can of whoop-ass at the Thunder in the Hill Country Biker Rally in March 2023. Our original drummer had recently retired, and we had to gear up for a headline length set having never played a live gig together before. A million things could have gone wrong, but our hard work and comradery won the day. We recorded our set and now Saul’s first gig with OE is a full-on legit AF live album…. something that we never planned to do but it just worked out that way!
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
RH: Holy shit. Did you know 120k new songs a day are uploaded online? 120k A DAY! That is a supremely daunting stat but inspiring at the same time. It’s inspiring because when people discover Overt Enemy, they get hooked. We know that because they tell us. There are millions of people out there that are like us and into the stuff we are into…they are on the same wavelength. Usually, they are the people that yell “Fucking Slaaayyyer” and drink Blacktooths to celebrate both Dime & Vinnie’s birthdays and remember them on the days they left this earth. We just have to cut through the noise and find the other “ussses” as Bill & Ted would say. There has never been a better time to write and record music. The playing field truly is level for those willing to put the work in…not just in the song writing and performance department but on all the other stuff from video production to social media to making time to thoughtfully fill out interviews like this one. Overt Enemy is a band that is always striving to take it to the next level. We constantly are looking for ways we can improve and streamline to make the creative process more fluid so we can have more fun and spread the metal. The only thing that can stop us is us.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
RH: We’re a 100% DIY band. We don’t have a manager or a booking agent. Maybe we will someday but for now we’re focused on personally building strong relationships with venues and ensuring that every show Overt Enemy plays is successful for the venue. That means we promote better than most bands out there in our opinion because we operate like a mini advertising company inside of a band. Yes we are prolific self promotors but we’re also gigantic believers in building communities. We do our level best to be great networkers and share info with other likeminded bands so we can all be more successful. We are wrapping up our new album over the summer and hanging out with our kids. This fall it’s go time and we’ve got a bunch of tour dates being lined up so stay tuned to OvertEnemy.com or Bands In Town for details. Next on the schedule is the 1st Annual STX FearFest at the Historic Cine El Rey Theatre in Downtown McAllen, TX, followed by more dates around the Lone Star State in 2023 and around the country in 2024.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
RH: Interesting question. It’s fair to say digital music has both democratized and devalued music simultaneously. I remember carrying around a binder full of CDs in the car and making mixtapes. I remember NAPSTER, Torrents etc. I don’t think that people are “stealing” music anymore like in the LimeWire days…shit we all did that but we all bought a ton of physical music too. Now it’s all about convenience and mood. Hell, most vehicles don’t have CD players anymore. Do I love having access to all the music on the planet anywhere I have an internet connection? As a music fan absolutely. As an artist I do wish the economics weren’t so…exploitative. BUT we have an opportunity and a platform that underground bands back in the day would have killed to have so it’s a complicated topic. It gives us great joy to see fans want to buy physical music like CD & Vinyl. We sell a ton of records and I’ve become a bit of a collector myself. So, I subscribe to a few streaming services, have a massive digital purchased library on Amazon and buy records to listen to at home when I really wanna sit and absorb some music. The best thing you can do for artists you like is stream em’ in the car and buy physical music. We can’t all make it on streaming alone unless the economics change substantially. At the end of the day though….if you are jamming Overt Enemy we’re just glad you are. Crank that shit up until the neighbours call the cops and then tell the cops you love Texas Thrash!
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
RH: That is a really tough question I’ll give you three. I’m obsessed with song mechanics and formats so First I’d have to go with “One” from Metallica. I’ve always admired the way that song is written particularly the lead guitar…just peak KH. I’d also say Wasted Years from Iron Maiden. My favourite Maiden song, super catchy and you can just feel Adrian Smith staring out a plane or bus window in the lyrics….very similar to the vibe of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” which was masterfully covered by Metallica. Last song pick is “Reunited” from Wu-Tang Clan. I’m a gigantic fan of Wu-Tang and that’s always been a favourite. I recently finished watching Wu-Tang An American Saga on Hulu and getting to see a glimpse into how RZA composes was really fascinating. That particular song was a huge stylistic departure for the group and they were not all entirely enthused with it at first…turned out to be one of the best Hip Hop songs of all time.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
RH: There is A LOT of financial exploitation in the entertainment industry. It has always been that way and it’s nothing new. There have always been sharks out there that want to take advantage of the creative people in our society that just want to get their art out there, trust people and don’t know better because that’s who they are. In music in particular there is a ton of “Pay to Play” and “Buy on” nonsense that many fans might not know about and we absolutely refuse to participate in…from “battle of the bands entry fees” to “submission lottery fees” at festivals to outright scams charging thousands of dollars to play a side stage at an festival or an opening slot on a tour because of “exposure”. To each their own I suppose but I don’t think the talent should finance the event that’s what sponsors and ticket sales are for. We’d prefer to succeed on our own merits vs try to take shortcuts and buy our way into something for the price of a small car. We are the people’s band. If you check us out and like what we do then you become part of our metal family. If enough fans want us to be somewhere we’ll be there so if you wanna see us live tell your venues, promotors and festivals. Be loud in the comments. They’ll listen eventually.
The other thing I really don’t like about the entertainment industry is the exploitation and abuse of people. There is a special place in hell reserved for the abusers & violators. We stand with those who have been abused and extend a vehement middle finger to anyone who takes advantage of another human being. So yeah…If I could change two things I’d get rid of the sharks, pervs and psychos. Life would be a lot better for a ton of people both fans and artists.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
RH: Writing answers to these interview questions, watching my son play Xbox, thinking about what I’m gonna throw on the BBQ for dinner, promoting our new live album, working on new song ideas and finishing up our full length album “Inception”….you know… the usual. 😊
…and looking for typos
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
RH: OvertEnemy.com we really appreciate your support! Thank you Pete for the opportunity and the coverage we truly appreciate it.
Overt Enemy links:
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