It was James Hetfield who said, "There's always a new generation of angry young men who latch onto Kill 'Em All," and this was certainly true of the members of Albuquerque’s Anesthesia. The band got its beginnings in the ’90s when guitar player Jake Pacheco and drummer Steve Abeyta met in a middle school science class. Now full-grown adults, the group has been together for 14 years and working with its current lineup, which includes Aaron Bustamante on bass and Nathan Tramontina on guitar, since 2001. Playing in the technically challenging and headbanging-friendly style of traditional thrash metal—see Metallica—the band also sites Pantera and Alice in Chains as among its paramount influences.
“We used to sit at my mom’s house and air-headbang to Metallica as hard as we could before we actually had instruments,” says Pacheco over drinks at the Anodyne. Meanwhile, Abeyta explains: “More than anything, it’s just an influence that was a part of out lives at such a younger age. Nowadays I guess that’s just what we’re compared to, but I like everything from like Taylor Swift to Slipknot. Go figure.”
“Everything from Wu Tang to George Strait,” adds Pacheco.
Leanings toward contemporary country aside, Anesthesia remains bellicose and long-haired. When asked if the guys get along the answer is yes and no—that they've all seen each other at their best and worst. "It sounds so cliché, but it's like brothers—totally fighting all the time and talking shit—but it's never serious shit," explains Pacheco. "It's funny when I hear about other bands that break up and fight, and they can't believe that our band has been in fist fights and we're still together. But that's what brothers do—beat the fuck out of your brother, and the next morning you eat cereal and watch cartoons. I almost feel sorry for anyone who has to see how we treat each other because it's pretty disgusting."
That brashness is reflected in Anesthesia's live shows. The guys throw liquids and gear around the stage, literally butt heads, and antagonize each another and the audience with irreverent banter. "We like a good laugh more than anything to keep this band rolling," says Pacheco. "Because metal is hilarious, and if you come to our show and you don't laugh at least once, you're not getting it."
The band recently signed with Suburban Noize, a label based out of Southern California that boasts groups like Kottonmouth Kings, Hed PE, D.I. and X-Clan. Unclear so far on what signing with the label actually implies, Abeyta calls the situation “Hollyweird.” In any case, the milestone doesn’t seem to have inflated egos or prompted any grandiose notions. "We're trying to get to that point where we can do this to just have a living,” says Abeyta, “but at the same time get it out to as many people as possible."
For now, Anesthesia’s self-titled follow-up to 2006's Unfuckwithable sees the band exploring different frontiers of head-banging. “There’s a few different hooks in there—two songs that are quite different for us especially," Abeyta explains. "[They're a] little more punk/funkish, a little country.”
Once bored Westside kids who just wanted to rock, Anesthesia may be on the brink of a career in shredding. But for now, the band's album release is another invitation to conquer boredom and have a good time—just think about bringing an umbrella.