Into The Depths Of Michael Alvarez
Michael Alvarez: a man you’ve probably seen at many shows before. From supporting friends, taking photos or, doing vocals for Flub. (This front man has done session work for bands like Equipoise and Depths of Hatred as well.) Michael has continued to be a credit to the scene and is rapidly moving up in the ranks. Everyone’s taking notes on his part of the metal community.
Alvarez granted me the opportunity to get into his head and deep dive into his life. As a long time fan of his craft, I’m personally very excited to get right into this.
Let me introduce you to the vocalist of Flub!
You’ve personally been traveling more and getting the recognition as a metal vocalist that you deserve lately.
From your personal projects to session work. When did that begin to work itself out?
“Well for starters I’ve kinda always been running around. Growing up I never really enjoyed being at home for too long. Once I started really diving into playing music, I became obsessed with being involved in the music scene/industry.
I found myself not only performing tons of shows as a local artist, but traveling all over and seeing/meeting tons of awesome people in other music scenes. At a point in my earlier years I was legitimately going to shows or friends band practices like day after day for weeks straight.
I guess you can say, the more involved I made myself, the more I made new friends and found new bands to obsess over. Eventually I kinda became known all over California’s music scenes. I think people started taking notice of my work ethic and how I was literally always doing something.
Whether it was helping bands with loading gear/playing roadie, doing merch for friends bands, taking photos of all the artists while performing or even just running around getting the pits started from time to time. To me it feels like just always being around kinda made others want to work with me.
I myself have lived a very nomadic lifestyle since I was young, My first taste of tour made me never want to come home ever again. It then became my goal to tour as much as possible.
I remember people telling me that I shouldn’t “Tour just to Tour” and that I would get sick of it. In reality, I tried to find any reason possible to hit a tour even if it seemed like it wasn’t a good idea.
As a performer, I did all I could to get my projects to hit the road and on my own I booked a handful of small tours for my first project and through those travels met and befriended tons of awesome new bands and people all over.
Over time and tours and consistency, People kinda seemed to want to work with me more or at least knew that if they needed something last minute like a fill in or roadie that I was literally down 98% of the time (other 2% was me being stuck at work)
And yeah it’s kinda snowballed into where I am at today. Overall nowadays I feel people want to work with me because they see that I am fairly consistent and reliable in more ways than just performing.”
On the topic of travel. Your camera seems to always be attached to your hip, so at any given moment you’re ready to strike. You’ve taken many wonderful photographs of live musicians.
What measures do you take to capture the vibe of music through your lens?
“Thank you, I appreciate the kind words. As far as measures go, my first camera was a fairly affordable choice so I was fairly reckless with it to a degree. I remember one time stage diving during Cannibal Corpse years back and getting a sick photo of George Fisher while in the middle of back stroking through the crowd surf waves.
As of the last few years, I invested a decent dollar into my latest equipment so I tend to be a bit more cautious when shooting. I like to shoot right up in the action and in the pit areas so normally I need to stay vigilant in order to not get my camera knocked to the floor.”
Flub has some very wizardly moments that make you feel that you’re running through a RPG on NES. Was this always the sound the group wanted to capture?
“Sort of yeah. In the beginning discussions that lead to Flub, we had discussed how we wanted to sort of be a Video Game Metal band. We then came across the thought that if we became a full on video game metal band we would have to restrict a lot of what we do to fit that sort of Video Game Metal vibe a lot of other acts have done over the years.
We both didn’t want the project to end up being some Legend of Zelda cover song project, instead found the idea to incorporate some video game esque elements to our overall sound. Our guitarist Eloy Montes is not only a musical genius but has had a dream to write video game music for a living and has a heavy influence in video game OSTs all across the board.
So with that said, we threw some small Zelda cameos in a few songs but created full original pieces that were like a deathish metal video game soundtrack.”
Quarantine (due to COVID-19) has been making life difficult for everyone currently.
How are you overcoming these bitter days?
“Well ironically I had been playing with the idea of self isolating for several months at a time like literally the last 3 years.
The world semi granted my wish, in return released COVID-19 and fucked up everything.
I lost out on some tour opportunities and months of client work thanks to the virus, which in result fucked my wallet pretty good.
I was already in the plans of relocating so thankfully I was able to relocate with my bandmates to save money. Since then I’ve been handling small jobs online and just working on leveling up my entire life in every aspect possible.”
Times are getting more hectic every day so far in 2020. What’s something you think needs to be brought up more in these times? What needs to be our focus in your opinion?
“Overall I feel self awareness is truly key in periods like this. A lot of people at this point seem fed up, angered, frightened, and unsure of many things.
When an individual is put in a state of distress, their reactions can be heavily influenced by whichever overwhelming sensation they are currently dealing with.
In our current world, Social Media is flooded with disagreements, debates, thick skulls and hard headed people who all want and need for their voices to be heard.
Like in any social situation, once too many people start talking in a room, eventually it will become white noise.
Being self aware at this point is key as in seeing the bigger picture and finding your place in it. What we have to offer as individuals, be it an opinion, a service, or anything else of the matter; should be thought out.
People tend to also forget that it’s okay to be wrong and it’s okay to fail at something time to time. Life is an experience filled with more downs than ups usually.
Learning to be aware of how you specifically function and how you truly affect the world/others around you will help you determine the events that will follow.”
If you had to pick a song you personally wrote, what song would best describe these times? Why?
“I guess the only song that comes to mind at the moment is “Umbra Mortis”
The song is a chapter in a story where the main character is faced with death but upon their last breath they are approached by a dark entity and given a second chance.
The character accepts the offer and then goes through a transformation process that is much like the process of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, but in a more painful and twisted sense.
The ending of the song announces the transformation completion and the creature that comes of it is a horror like no other.
To me I guess it kinda relates to what’s going on today because I see this shelter in place stuff in reference like a cocoon. And we as individuals should be using this opportunity to get ourselves to the next stages of our personal evolution.
As well as some people during this time have evolved in other ways that can seem troublesome to most.”
You’ve posted playing guitar videos up on social media in the past, and talk about being more than a voice in music is crucial. How does playing guitar help you with your vocal style?
“In general I feel having knowledge of guitar helps me think of new ideas for vocal noises and sounds. Like how with guitar not only are you hitting notes but there are key techniques you can use to add more feeling or expression to what you’re playing (pinch harmonics, pick scrapes, dive bombs, etc.). As a vocalist it helped me gain stronger ideas of how to play with my ranges and make them have sections that truly stand out from more standard forms of vocal patterns.
Knowledge is power and music is very interchangeable in so many ways, so knowing more than one avenue means you can incorporate ideas from one platform to another and find new approaches based off a fundamental you may have learned from a different instrument or technique you’ve picked up.”
One thing I truly admire about your voice is that it’s extremely recognizable.
Also you can audibly hear every word, enunciated perfectly. Do you feel in most cases that’s important in the metal genre, or just in your projects?
“Well personally I enjoy when I can hear what a vocalist is saying considering they’re supposed to be saying something. So I’ve always aimed to have clarity with my techniques.
Majority my lyrics are written from the heart and touch base on either tons of personal subjects I hold close to me.
Many of them reflect on having depression, anxiety or dealing with traumatic situations.
For all i know most people don’t give a shit and just want to hear good sounding vocals. And that’s cool too. Whatever Floats your boat.
Some of my techniques are messy sounding in comparison to others, but mainly I aim to have my words be heard for whoever cares to listen.”
What’s something you’ll like to shout out? What’s on your mind?
“Shout out to the homies out there keeping it real and doing their best to make the best out of a shitty situation. The world is a wild ass place right now, keep on pushing!”
Make sure you like and follow everything to keep up with Michael.
Here’s the links to all his platforms: