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A Dirty Dozen with AVAT – September 2020

| 18 September 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “AVAT — comprised of Roland Velazquez (vocals), Jonathan Rivera (bass), and Dimitri Anchipolovsky (guitar) — formed in 2015 and have continued to dole out charging riffs, bewilderingly catchy leads, and soaring vocals. The band was described by Revolver as “hard-hitting,” and fans of Killswitch Engage, Trivium, and Protest the Hero will find themselves magnetically drawn to the band’s hooks, their incorporation of their Miami roots into their music, and their blend of progressive and metalcore styles.” We get the band to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Roly: Our latest release is Dead or Alive, I think it’s important to understand how it fits within most relationships. I would say there are undertones of betrayal and definitely a focal point of mistrust. I’m more of a metaphorical writer I feel, so to write this and have it fit well with my subconscious ended up being a somber moment.

Dimitri: This last release Dead or Alive has probably one of my favorite riffs we’ve written thus far in the first verse! Probably something that might go over people’s heads is that this song was always about someone feeling so overwhelmed with loss and regret, they felt like they were drowning in it. So the backing vocals towards the end of the song (about the last 15 seconds) have a chorus effect on it to make it sound like both John and I are underwater.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Roly: I’ve always been into music, my family has always been very musical. My father would always listen to his collection of records and I wouldn’t be too far behind. I took chorus and band in middle and high school as well as Drama. Those were great times but my first real endeavor into music was with a band called Handgun Romance in 2004. I realized after playing our first handful of shows this would be the road I would take and music was now a part of me forever.

Roms: Listening to rush in my youth I was mesmerized by Neil’s drumming, so that got me into music however it wasn’t until I heard nirvana that I decided I wanted to be a musician and dedicate myself to creating music.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Roly: There have been several over the years such as incubus, Metallica, and even Thrice to name a few.

Dimitri: I can’t really say because taste and inspiration is a constantly changing and evolving thing. What I will say though is that the thing that gravitated me towards rock and heavy metal over any genre of music, is the general atmosphere it creates. The soundscape that it provides as the setting to say something that’s going to mean something. That’s always the vibe I always got from watching old videos from all my favorite bands at the time of my earliest influence.

Roms: Definitely I’d have to say it was Dave Grohl that really made me want to be in a band.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Roly: This is always a tough decision, but currently I show a lot of appreciation for Brandon Saller, M. Shadows, Matt Heafy, Howard Jones, and Oliver Sykes.

Dimitri: that’s really tough to say, but if I had to dig back and really think about my early days of inspiration and now, it would probably be the following bands that have done the most for me. Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park, Nothing More, Bring me the horizon, and Rammstein.

Roms: I really like to dive into Genre’s more than bands themselves so Salsa, Funk, Bossanova, Flamenco and Pop are all things I look to and shaped me as a musician.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Roly: Rick Rubin, I feel if there has been anyone in music that has continually pushed the boundaries of what the next “sound” should be, it would be him.

Dimitri: If I could call in any one person to collaborate a song within the studio it’d probably be 7 year old me when I was first hit with all these crazy song ideas that I’ve long since forgotten about. That would be a really interesting studio session.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Roly: Great hooks and a flair for the melodies. We’re metal, but you can understand the lyrics. I haven’t come across any yet that we’re distasteful, but one I felt didn’t make much sense was Three Days Grace although I do enjoy their music.

Dimitri: I would describe the songs we’ve put out thus far as a old school/new school hybrid. People we have frequently been compared to are bands like A7X, Memphis May Fire, Killswitch Engage, Pantera, to name a few. To be completely honest, we have yet to get a comparison that has given me that kind of reaction yet, thank god.

Roms: Our music is definitely aggressive but with melodic vocals, I have yet to hear a comparison that has made me cringe.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Dimitri: the best thing about being a musician, especially being a guitarist, is having the opportunity to express yourself but it is very easy to feel self conscious about so many things. The way your voice is sounding that day, the lyrics you wrote, a lot of it. With guitar, I can write as sad as I want, as happy as I want, as angry as I want, and the general listener really won’t know what I was thinking or trying to express when I was writing that riff, chorus, etc. There is a kind of expressive anonymity the guitar provides where I can say certain things through my guitar, that only other guitarists really can translate. And I think that’s pretty rad.

Roms: Being able to perform in front of a live audience, there is nothing like it in this world and its what makes this lifestyle so great.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Roly: I’d say Dimitri would grab the guitar and Jon would truck in the drinks, Rom and I would likely fire up some vegetarian options and tomahawks for the latter.

Dimitri: If anyone is cooking it’s probably either myself or Roly, we’re both seasoned grill masters (pun intended) and the first one pulling out the guitar is most probably Johnathan after the drinks. He’s the bands heaviest noodler.

Roms: Usually I’m that one that reaches for an acoustic guitar regardless of the setting… its almost inappropriate how often I reach for a guitar.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Roly: That had to have been meeting Dwayne Wade and Gabriellle Union in Miami while eating brunch. I just feel bad because I didn’t want to interrupt their meal or anything. So I asked if when they were finished I could grab a snap shot. Very cool people, and Gabrielle was really sweet in encouraging to meet.

Dimitri: Not relating to music at all whatsoever but the last time I was totally star struck was when I met Tony Sentmanat one time at work. For those who don’t know who Tony is, he’s the guy who they modeled the Lerch operator skin from in Call of Duty Modern Warfare. He’s a super chill, down to earth guy who likes sharing stories and talking. He’s also literally the size of a brick wall.

Roms: The last time I was star struck was when I got to hang out with Davy Jones from The Monkees.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Roly: Working in advertising. I feel I can be very creative with branding and design.

Roms: Probably what I do now outside of music which is directing and performing as a voice actor.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Dimitri: Nope, not a single one. The path that I’ve taken has lead me right here, and it’s exactly where I want to be. By this point I’ve already made my mistakes, learned my lessons, and have been a part of more failed projects than you can count. I will continue learning and making mistakes, but the lessons I have learned thus far will keep AVAT together, and moving forward for as long as it lives.

Roms: The first time I auditioned for a salsa band, I was so nervous that I didn’t play comfortably and felt I did a horrible job, later to find out that they loved the way I played but. I was to embarrassed to ever go back.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Roly: I would have to say Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park, It was a different time then, and there was a lot of uncertainty with that album. From what I can pull from the pieces in different interviews and documentaries I would’ve loved to see that firsthand. The struggles they went through with their vision and the labels betting against them, the possibilities they saw in front of them not only pioneered a genre but set a bar that can only be set once in a generation. The only other act I hold in such high regard is Audioslave.

Dimitri: I would probably say The Stories We Tell Ourselves by Nothing More. That album effected me on such an emotional level, because it felt as if the songs were speaking directly to me at that time in my life. By the time I finished listening to that album I had a new perspective on life, and it helped me come to terms with things I previously didn’t. So being able to sit in on the album that would eventually change my life would have been pretty rad.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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