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Black Market Blood Bank," one of the most brutal yet accomplished tracks of Identity Pusher's debut CD, It Was Already on Fire When I Got There, kicks off with a second-long South Park sample. It's indicative of the band's aesthetic: Intricate, melodic, progressive death metal that takes the music seriously, but also knows that being a smartass is sometimes the best way to make a point. To that end, the quintet — singer Wes Moralez, bassist Matt Rinehart, drummer Ryan Oakes and guitarists Andy Scott and Taylor Steele — have used On Fire as its scathing mission statement. We recently spoke with Moralez about the band and how its sound has evolved.
Westword: What drew you guys together?
Wes Moralez: Identity Pusher kind of formed out of the breakup of two bands. I was in AinMatter — our bass player, Nick Schendzielos, hooked up with Cephalic Carnage — and me and Ryan from Gematria, which had also broken up, were good friends and decided to make a new project. We thought that the local metal scene had gotten a little soft from where it was about five years ago. Back then it seemed like everything was really strong, and the metal community in Denver was super tight.
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In the process of getting the new band together, Andy from Gematria joined. While we were going through that stage, another local band, Assisted Suicide Assembly, had broken up as well. A couple of those guys, Matt and Taylor, wanted to come down and jam with us, so we added that element to me, Ryan and Andy. Everything came together and tightened up from there.
How has your sound evolved since the band formed?
The music that we started out writing, we had to dump some of it. It was too experimental. The stuff we're writing now is definitely solid and where we want it.
In what way was the old material experimental?
What we're going for is this kind of beautiful, bruised quality. We don't want to be so heavy that people are turned away from the music. But we do want it heavy enough so that people who understand and are passionate about heavy metal — or death metal, or whatever you want to call it — appreciate it. But we also want to appeal to the masses, so if someone who isn't tuned in to metal hears it, they can still musically appreciate it. The old stuff was experimental in the sense that we were just trying to find our sound. It takes a little while to get in that groove and find out exactly what you want to say.
Speaking of that, what are some themes or ideas that pop up a lot in your lyrics?
Identity Pusher, the name, is basically a motto to be yourself. Don't follow trends. Everyone should have their own mindset. I don't get into really dark content matter. I don't really delve into the killing thing or the satanic thing that a lot of death-metal bands sing about. Granted, that's not taken too seriously, but we're trying to steer away from that, because metal is kind of oversaturated with that. What we're trying to do is have a sarcastic outlook on the way society is today, and poke fun at how society is and how people act in this day and age. It's sarcastic, but at the same time, we're not just joking about it.