Rich and James Mendez
March 10th, 1996
By Virtual Night Angel
Virtual - In the dictionary it says Jihad is a Moslem holy war against infidels. Does this definition reflect on any of Jihad's songs? What's your holy war about?
James - We don't mean that particular definition. There is a second definition: a crusade for a principal or belief, and we view it as strength in a group. We're really open minded and we don't have a definite crusade or belief. I originally took it from "Jyhad" the card game which is now known as "Vampire" now, I'm sure you've heard of it. It has nothing to do with a Moslem holy war at all.
Virtual - Have the two of you worked together on music previously to Jihad?
Rich - Yes we have. Prior to this we've done a few experimental tracks that never saw the light of day.
James - We did a Benestrophe track and a remix as well, but it never came out.
Virtual - When did Jihad begin?
James - We got serious in January of 1995 when we submitted our first three tracks to RAS DVA for the quadruple compilation. Shortly after, Ric Laciak extended an offer asking us if we wanted to release more material under his label. We got much more serious then.
Rich - As a matter of fact, I'm working on a web page for you to put on Hallucinet. It's going to encompass our Biography.
Virtual - That sounds cool
James - Basically, how he got started with Benestophe. How it branched out to the much aclaimed Mentallo & The Fixer. How the Benestrophe vocalist ends up vocalizing for Jihad. He'll be able to go into more detail about that.
Virtual - I love the song, "Hands That Hide" on the RAS DVA quadruple compilation. When can we expect to hear some new material?
James - Ric has informed us he's planned the full length release in mid May. Also, there's the "Interview" CD I've been telling you about which will include an exclusive remix of "Hands That Hide", in addition to two other tracks. One of which has already been completed with my vocals.
Virtual - What is it called?
James - It's called, "Shades of Gray".
Rich - I think you'll really like the remix of "Hands That Hide".
James - The new "Hands That Hide" is about eight minutes. I completely reprogrammed and restructured everything. It will be extremely appealing especially for those who liked the original version. It's very intense and somewhat contrasting in comparison to the original version. The third track has yet to be completed. Rich and I are still trying to decide who will vocal on it.
Rich - We're approaching it from different angels, trying to gain a perspective on it.
James - It too, is a lengthy song. About seven minutes. Generally, I like to keep them four or five minutes long. The "Interview" CD will be the newest material released until probably mid May which is when the full length will be out.
Virtual - Have you come up with a title or idea for your first Jihad release?
Rich - Yes, "A Prayer In The Night". Is this conversation being recorded?
Virtual - Of course, dude. You will be able to edit the interview so everything is precise. Do you mind?
James - No
Virtual - This isn't going up on the internet as we speak or anything like that.
James - We're also going to interview with Ric soon. He's going to digitally edit our conversation to include on the "Interview" CD.
Virtual - Will there be any fast dance tracks on your debut release?
James - We have four more tracks that need to be completed. We're going to have ten or eleven tracks total. It's mainly going to consist of a lot of dark mood music but we've been experimenting so you may see a dance track, but not too many.
Virtual - Well, I'm hoping for one at least.
Rich - Maybe the next CD we'll devote entirely to dance music, I don't know.
James - This first release is not going to be your typical 120 BPM club music. It's music that people will have to really appreciate for it's face value.
Virtual - Which we certainly will!
James - Oh, I hope so. I hope that everyone has the same attitude as you and will appreciate it for what it is.
Virtual - Do either of you like to dance?
James - Oh, definitely.
Rich - On occasion.
Virtual - I know that Jihad has been signed to RAS DVA and you have a contract to do two full lengths, plus one more after if possible. What kind of benefits is RAS DVA providing you both with?
James - So far exposure and distribution big time which we value the most. He's a great guy, actually he got me a good deal on a DAT player and he sent me a whole Atari set up, which you had said was cheesy.
Virtual - Man, any piece of equipment is awesome. By hanging out with Mentallo & The Fixer obviously you know they don't have the best computer equipment, but they have the most advanced music.
James - Oh yeah.
Rich - I think they're extremely advanced.
James - For awhile their stuff was released on a Commodore 64. I don't know if you could tell, but it doesn't matter what kind of equipment that you have. It's how you use it.
Virtual - Yes indeed.
James - I'm using a Comodore 64 right now. That is what the first full length and "Hands That Hide" were composed on. Moving to the ATARI 1040ST from the Comodore 64 is quite an advancement. It's a hell of a lot better now. There are a lot more editing capabilities. Yes, Ric has really helped us out and whatever monetary gain we receive will be reinvested to improve our sound.
Virtual - Was the song, "Hands That Hide" taken from your demo recordings?
Rich - The original version was mastered to DAT. Of the three tracks submitted, "Hands That Hide" left the biggest impression on Ric.
Virtual - Was your demo tape submitted before RAS DVA decided to have you on the quadruple compilation?
James- Yes. He asked us to submit a tape. We were treated like any other band.
Virtual - I was fortunate to hear a track called, "Open Sores" (Remix) that James composed and Gary Dassing remixed in early 1988. Would you like the Dassing brothers to be involved in a remix for Jihad?
(Left to Right) Dwayne Dassing, Rich Mendez and Gary Dassing
James - Oh, definitely. We just have to find time to get together since we all hold full-time jobs. I've had Gary do remixing for some ancient experimental stuff I did years ago when he use to live here in San Antonio. I would love to have them remix some Jihad material. That would be great.
Virtual - Yeah, I asked Mentallo & The Fixer what their favorite tracks were on the RAS DVA Quad. and they said Jihad and Vatican, right away.
Rich - Yes, I like Vatican too in addition to Mentallo, Necrofix, Informätik/DIN_FIV and Violent Arcana. They're all very talented.
Virtual - I haven't heard any clips in the demo ruff cuts I received on the new material, do you think you may incorporate movie clips eventually?
James - I don't see any anytime soon. Maybe in the future. I don't feel we need any clips right now. It's just not an important role in our music at this time.
Virtual - I love your vocals on the new track titled, "Killobyte" also "The Prophecy" and "Love in Lust" done in 1988. James, will you be doing vocals on some of the tracks for Jihad?
James - The only one so far is, "Shades of Gray" which I've mentioned would be on the "Interview" CD and maybe the third track that's untitled right now. I may concentrate on vocals on our next CD but I prefer to leave that up to Rich. He's the wizard of words. That's why we work well together.
Virtual- Recently you bought the BOSS DR-660 drum machine, what other equipment do you use?
James - A lot of analog synthesizers and some newer ones but a lot of them are older keyboards. I use a couple of drum machines and Master Trax Pro which is a sequencing program.
Virtual - Rich, do you play any instruments, have you in the past? Do you plan to in the future?
Rich - In the past, no nor currently either. In the future, I've always wanted to play some guitar but I'm not sure if it's going to fit in my agenda.
Virtual - Do either of you have any side projects, except Rich in Benestrophe?
James - I have a project that's been going on for a long time now but we haven't gotten together in awhile. It's called, "Trial By Fire" with Jaime Chavez who did the lyrics for Benestrophe's "Flesh Decay". It's very melodic. I even play acoustic guitar on two of the songs and the vocals are very different experimental stuff. We made a bunch of dubs and gave them to our friends.
Virtual - James, what was the most recent mixing you've done for another band?
James - A local, live band called, "Red Velvet Venus". They consist of two guitarists, a bass player, a drummer and a vocalist. Usually, I don't record a lot of live bands but I do a lot of electronic music where everything is direct. It's much harder recording a live band.
Virtual - Did you have something to do with the Oneroid Psychosis remix titled, "Prurience" (LSD 25 mix) by Gary on the "Complications" CD on Decibel?
James - Yes. I spoke to some people and they said my name wasn't on it. Gary and I did the remix. I programmed some string and bass parts in the song and Gary said he submitted my name with it. I know Gary wouldn't exclude my name intentionally. I don't know what happened.
Virtual - Rich, will the song, "Resurrection Mary" be on the new Benestrophe?
Rich - We're really not sure at this point.
Virtual - My vote is, "Yes"!
Rich - We had planned to last summer, we haven't gotten around to recording it yet. "Resurrection Mary" is a song we've planned to work on for a long time now.
Virtual - James, why were you thanked on Mainesthai's "Out To Lunch" CD?
James - Gary and I have been good friends for some time, that's why. I did not play any instruments on the "Out To Lunch" CD. I just provide them with moral support.
Virtual - Will you include lyrics in your first release?
Rich - Yes. Music is one of the most powerful forms of expression especially when there are deliberate messages to deliver.
Virtual - Is it correct that both of you are or have worked for the military? Here's the chance to redeem yourself. What secrets can you expose? What do you do for the military for a living?
James - I mainly do clerical work. I've been moved around a few times, but currently I am scanning documents onto a computer. It all has something to do with military records.
Rich - Currently, I am a Client/Server aplication developer. Computer programming believe it or not. Speaking of which, I have been published in a magazine called, "FoxPro Advisor" this month for the third time since January.
Virtual - Do you support the local scene in San Antonio, Texas?
James - What scene? It's sad to say that there really isn't much support for electronic music in San Antonio. Mainly rock/grundge kids, rap, techno, etc.
Virtual - What bands have you recently seen, or plan to see?
James - We plan to see Front Line Assembly and Numb next month.
Rich - We'll travel up north to Austin to see them.
James - Legendary Pink Dots was the last band I saw.
Virtual - Are you two on the World Wide Web often?
Rich - Ironically, we just got off the Web. I brought my notebook computer over here. We spend a lot of time on your page. I like the pictures!
Virtual - Are you interested in a live performance?
Rich - I haven't been on a stage for six years, but it's possible. We'd like to thank you for this opportunity to express our views and perspectives. We feel that our music will speak for itself and we are just as eager and look forward to it's release in the very near future. Until next time.
Interview edit by Rich and James Mendez.
Contact James Mendez or Rich Mendez of Jihad.
Return to VNA navigation page