Thursday, May 17, 2012

Brujeria's Fantasma -- Pat Hoed -- sheds his bandanna, shares his musical wisdom

Pat Hoed as Fantasma, left, gets a Brujeria crowd going. (All courtesy photos)
By Andy

He's the man behind the ninja and wrestling masks while plucking the bass. The laid-back dude off stage who sports a bandanna over part of his face and takes on the name Fantasma while barking out lyrics in Spanish for touted extreme-metalists Brujeria.

He's hung out extensively with Danzig and interviewed the Beastie Boys, Slayer and countless others as Adam Bomb on his "Final Countdown" radio show in the 1980s on KXLU 88.9 FM at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

He's manned the four-string in heaps of bands, from the Nip Drivers to Down By Law to Santa Sabbath, a heavy-riffage Christmas present featuring Yuletide lyrics and costumes -- no Ozzy required.

Hoed with Santa Sabbath, above, and Nip Drivers, below.

It would be tough to find something that Pat Hoed, 48, hasn't done in his lifetime.

On Danzig: "I got to know Glenn pretty well, went to a couple wrestling shows with him. (Laughs) he's a very interesting guy, cool dude once you get to know him." Hoed befriended the former Misfits man while working at Def American Records in the publicity and tour-promotion department when the "Danzig" album dropped in 1988. He also worked a similar job at SST Records back in the day.

Hoed jumped into the wild world of punk at his first gig in 1978 with the Avengers, Go-Go's and the Flyboys at Baces Hall.

"The Avengers just totally blew my mind, how tight they were," recalled the lifelong Los Feliz, Calif., resident.

However … it was a singer in tight trousers that first "freaked" Hoed out when he attended a Tom Jones concert at the Greek Theater at age 6. 

"I remember crying as a little kid 'cos women were screaming so loud. And at that age, you don't associate women screaming with certain feelings for a man," he laughed at the experience that evoked feelings of "fear" and "terror" in the youngster.

My brother, Ed, met Hoed at LMU in 1982 and they bonded over Battalion of Saints' "Fighting Boys" EP. Before long, we all were attending punk gigs, like the infamous Misfits, Necros, Social Distortion show at Bob's Place. A year later, Hoed took a stage diver's boot to the head at a Minor Threat gig and developed amnesia as we walked him to the car and back home.

We spent many nights with Hoed at the radio station, and my friend John and I sat in on the Slayer interview with Tom Araya and Jeff Hanneman. (Slayer wanted to use portions of that interview for its "Soundtrack to the Apocalypse" box set, but LMU officials toted the firm hand of denial -- "It bummed me out, but oh, well," Hoed laments.) My own band, Sorex, took the interview hot seat with Hoed on one occasion -- it was a blast.

So, on a recent Sunday evening, I phoned Hoed -- who now works for Amoeba Music in the Web department -- and we chatted about his bands, radio career and the journey he's taken in this maniacal music world.

• Brujeria (means "witchcraft" in Spanish):

Hoed and his high-school buddy John Lepe (Juan Brujo in Brujeria) conceived the idea for the band while checking out metal groups like Terrorizer, Death Cult and Demolition at East LA backyard keggers in '89 or so. 

When they chatted with the singer from Death Cult about their music, Hoed said the guy spoke "in this real thick accent, and I said, 'Man, this guy is talking to his own people, but in English, why doesn't he do it in Spanish?'"

"That's where the (Brujeria) ball started rolling. (In Spanish) The attack of the words is different than English, it really suits metal and punk well."

According to the Brujeria Wikipedia article, "They perform under pseudonyms and portray themselves as a Latino band consisting of drug lords, concealing their identities due to being wanted by the FBI.
"(Their lyrics) sung in Spanish, are focused on Satanism, anti-Christianity, sex, immigration, narcotics smuggling and politics."

So, are we giving away Fantasma's identity with this article?

"We tried to keep it secret. Once the Internet age hit, it was like forget it, everybody fucking knows," Hoed said.

As for the bandannas the band members sport, Hoed said someone from Roadrunner Records came up with the idea to incorporate the border drug-dealer look.

"That was just a natural image to use -- with the bandannas -- and it's worked. Just something to set us apart."

Over the years, Brujeria has featured 18 members and released seven singles/EPs and three albums. The band presently consists of Hoed and Lepe as co-vocalists (Pinche Peach appears on vocals at times), Jeffrey Walker (El Cynico) of Carcass on bass, Shane Embury (Hongo) of Napalm Death on guitar, Adrian Erlandsson (Podrido) of Paradise Lost on drums and Gaby Dominguez (Pititis) on vocals and guitar.

The band once included Jello Biafra, Billy Gould (Faith No More) and Raymond Herrera (Fear Factory).

"So it's been like a big family kind of thing. It's a been a merry-go-round of characters," Hoed said.

Hoed and Lepe have remained tight over the years -- they're in Brujeria for the long haul.

"Even in those (early) days, we were pretty much grooving on the same records. I remember he was a big FEAR fan," Fantasma said of Juan Brujo. They met at age 13 at Loyola High and ran into each other at a Clash gig at the Hollywood Palladium on their "Take the Fifth" tour in '79.

Brujeria, which has gigged all over the world and at major festivals, recently returned from playing a string of shows in South America, including some "crazed" gigs in Brazil, Hoed said.

"It was great, but it was grinding, it was grueling: eight shows in nine days. All the cities weren't close enough to drive to, so we basically had to fly to every show," he added.

A new album is slated to be released this year, Hoed assured.

• On whipping up a crowd with Brujeria:

"I can almost make a direct correlation to that from just being a lifelong fan of pro wrestling. That's the thing I always noticed (as) a little kid, I'd say, 'Man, these guys, that's the thing, they can talk and they get a crowd riled up, they get 'em going, they sell tickets and people show up for the shows.' So that whole concept of show business and marketing was exposed to me through the crazy world of pro wrestling -- and it's gone on to the whole music thing."

• Band beginnings:

Played backyard parties with cover bands. It was his "training."

Hoed, right, with the Nip Drivers.
• Nip Drivers, first real band:

Joined the Mike Webber (RIP)-led pop-punk group in late '83.

"The one thing I learned early from him was that I wasn't a songwriter. I learned it's like a natural thing, those songs just come to you, you can't force them out of yourself. He had a great, great sense of melody and humor, as everybody knows from his lyrics. Great pop sensibility, kind of a blend of the best Sweet records like 'Desolation Boulevard' with the best Beach Boys songs."

• Left Insane:

Instrumental band, a mash-up of King Crimson, Descendents and Black Flag proportions. Also featuring Tony Cicero from Saccharine Trust and Paul Radabaugh.

When Bob Fitzer quit, Hoed stepped in to fill the talented bassist's shoes:

"It was intimidating at first, but eventually I just sort of fell into my own style of playing with those guys. I really learned a lot about playing with other guys, especially when there's not a singer. You really got to keep things interesting for an audience."

Down By Law, Hoed second from left, in Berlin.
• Down By Law:

Played with singer/guitarist Dave Smalley and his pop-punk coterie on two 7-inches, three or four tours in the '90s.

"Every band was a learning experience, and that was great because we got to tour with ALL. That was an education right there, seeing how Bill Stevenson and crew run things -- they're like a well-oiled machine, man, it's like the military the way they get things done."

On Smalley: "I respected him for his abilities. He's a great vocalist, and to this day, I play Dag Nasty's 'Can I Say' record very loudly, I might add, 'cos it's so good."

• God's Gift to God: A Killing Joke vibe.

• Black Widows: Instrumental, garage, hot-rod, science-fiction, spy, surf stuff. They dress in black ninja outfits.

• Slowrider: Hoed describes them as Santana Jr. At times, it was a nine-piece band playing soul, funk, rock -- late '60s, early '70s East LA sound as filtered through the 1990s.

• Foreign Object: Four guys, all pro-wrestling-related costumes and tunes. Enough said.

Top: Foreign Object, Hoed bottom left. And middle with the Black Widows, below.

• "Final Countdown" and interviewing the Beastie Boys in 1985:

"They didn't really wanna do the standard interview; it started off as an interview, and just sort of devolved into just clowning around. It was a good day. It was just really young, fresh-faced kids, and then we know a year-and-a-half later, they'd be on top of the Billboard charts, ruling the world with that ('Licensed to Ill') record."

During the Beasties' appearance, Hoed spun the instrumental version on the 12-inch "Beastie Groove" and the trio rapped the lyrics live. "That came off really cool," he said.

On MCA, Adam Yauch's recent death: "It's shocking, especially a band that is so influential to punk rockers and hip-hoppers alike."

Beasties' interview link:

So, looking back on more than 30 years of rocking out with a variety of bands, Hoed says playing bass is a "beautiful thing."

He's gone from backyard parties to revving up thousands of fans at European festivals with Brujeria.

"There's no thrill like that," he said of those major affairs, which usually feature headliners like KISS, Judas Priest and the like. "(The fans are) also gonna see your show, and you get that big roar from the crowd after you finish a song. I'll tell you, man, there's nothing like it."