If you like Thrash Metal celebrated in lightning Speed you'll like HIRAX! A true to the bone outfit, formed in february/march 1984 from Katon W. DePena (vocals), Gary Monardo (bass), Bob Savage (guitars) and Brian Keith (drums). A biography and complete discography can both be found on HIRAXs great homepage, so after reading the little interview below you should visit their website for more info.
But now let's pay attention to Katon:

1) Which year you got infected with the METAL-virus and what was the release?
2) With what age did you start singing/playing an instrument and what was the reason to do so?
Katon (Hirax): I started at age 13... but I got serious about singing at age 15. A childhood friend of mine bought a drum kit and I bought a microphone and we started a band. The drummer's name was John Tabares. We played together for years. The first studio record we ever recorded was HIRAX, "Raging Violence" in 1985. Naturally I fell in love with music and have been doing it ever since.

3) What are your five alltime-favorite records?
Katon:
1 - Black Sabbath, S/T
2- Ramones, S/T
3- Judas Priest, everything up until 'British Steel'
4- Iron Maiden, first two records
5-Motorhead, Ace of Spades


Logo from HIRAX homepage

4) Tell us the three last records/CDs you bought, that really thrilled you!
Not much of the new stuff has thrilled me at all. I'm just being honest. I don't listen to crap like Slipknot, Korn or Limp Bisqkit, but there is so much great stuff from the past that I've been listening to a lot of old records.
- 1-Saxon, Strong Arm of the Law, 'Wheels of Steel'
2-I've been collecting a lot of recordings by the band Trust. Their stuff is really to find here in the US because they are a French band and they never had good American distribution. Almost all of their songs are sung in French. To me they were the greatest French heavy metal band of all time. I love them.
3-A lot of early Mercyful Fate and Venom... the first Exodus record always brings back good memories. I try not to go a day without at least hearing one Motorhead song. And of course I listen to a lot of punk as well. Neos, Seige, Discharge, the Ramones and the Dead Boys.

5) Please give us a discography of all bands you played with and all releases and about how many copies each title were sold!
That's an incredibly hard question to answer...in our history, especially in the early days we always sold in between 30,000-40,000 records... but that's even hard to gage when you factor in that we never really kept track of our record sales because we never really cared. We were very young and weren't really interested in the business part of music. All we wanted to do was play for our fans. We played with so many bands, whether it be metal bands or punk bands... some of the bands that I remember were Metallica, Exodus, Venom, Slayer, Dark Angel, Death Angel, Possessed, Dayglo Abortions, COC, DRI, Megadeath, Laaz Rocket, the list goes on and on...also...with the amount of tape trading and bootlegs... there really is no possible way to track all the sales on HIRAX records. the thing that matters the most is that we have the greatest fans in the world.
HIRAX 4-song demo cassette
HIRAX Raging Violence 12" vinyl
HIRAX Hate, Fear and Power 12"vinyl + CD
HIRAX Blasted in Bangkok 7"(original)
HIRAX - Blasted in Bangkok (reissued) 10" white vinyl/CD
PHANTASM (a band I sang for with Ron McGoveney original Metallica bassist, Gene Hoglan - Dark Angel, Testament, Death drummer) Wreckage 12" clear vinyl/CD
HIRAX - El Diablo Negro 7"picturedisc/CD
HIRAX "Barrage of Noise" 10" + CD (2001) stints with Bad Brains/House of Suffering /La Kaos


HIRAX 1987.
Katon: "Our first trip to San Francisco, we were young
kids and the city brought out the best in us
and the worst..."
6) Looking back: Which of your releases do you like the most and why?
That's' a really easy question to ask. In every recording I've ever done... there is always something special about it. I don't really dislike any of the things I've ever done.. I look at it more as a learning process. You grow and become a better musician each record you do. I feel that I've only begun to write really really good music. HIRAX "Raging Violence" 1985 and "Hate, Fear and power" 1986 are both very special records to me. They put us on the map. Metal Blade Records and Roadrunner Records have very good distribution so both those records got all over the world. I do know that when people hear the new record, "Barrage of Noise" they will be completely blown away. We've come up with a very special record. Extremely brutal! Over the top thrash! NO commercial shit, no alternative shit, no rap metal. We never follow the trends and never will. We put out music for people who like the real stuff. No compromise. Always heavy and fast. The new record will be out officially by the end of August 2001.

7) And which the least/why?
There are no records that HIRAX has done that I really don't like. The only thing that ever bothered me about our records is that we never had the time or the money to record like most bands do. We ran such tight budgets that we usually recorded in one day. Most of the song were done in one takes. Bands such as Fear Factory, Sepultura, or those funny fuckers who wear the masks... Slipknot...spend thousands upon thousands of dollars recording their records... and stay in the studio for months at a time. Those bands are completely gay. If HIRAX would have had that kind of time and money... I can't even imagine how heavy our records would have sounded. I think now its our turn to get revenge! We would never waste so much money recording and we don't have to . We're heavy as hell and know how to record. If record companies knew how much money we spent recording our new record they would shit themselves. We do records the old fashion way. We do everything ourselves...if you have to go into high tech studios to make yourself sound good then there is something wrong with your band. IF you can't pull it off live... you're ripping off your fans. HIRAX has always been about the fans and we will always give them 100%. Without our fans we would be nothing.

8) Did your band (any of your bans) record songs that have never been released? Please give us the song-titles and a short description!
Please give us the song-titles and a short description! Well, the first two HIRAX albums are still out of print at this time. There is a lot of interest to reissue them and they will be released again, but we want to make sure that they are released properly by a label who understands what we're all about. WE are still talking with record labels and we will make a decision very soon. Because of the fans writing letters asking about these records we feel obligated to reissue them. We have just reissued three releases HIRAX - El Diablo Negro 7"picturedisc/CD > HIRAX - Blasted in Bangkok 10" white vinyl/CD > PHANTASM-Wreckage 12" clear vinyl/CD > They are available worldwide through our American label www.DeepSixRecords.com Also Century Media Records has picked up all these titles and is distributing our records now. If you look around through tape traders you could probably find the first HIRAX 4-song demo which is very rare. There are a lot of bootleg live tapes and videos as well. There are even three live, unreleased HIRAX songs floating around out there... the songs are so old I'd have to hear them to remember the song titles. Right around 1987, there is a show that we played in San Diego which has those three tracks.

9) What was the highlight of your carreer?
I still haven't had it yet. There are some good memories. We always played a lot of shows with Exodus and Possessed... those were always fun. Corrosion of Conformity and HIRAX played an insane show in 1987 at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach, CA. I'll never forget the kid who cracked his head open on the stage... he was hurt pretty bad, so we stopped the show to get him some help. Amazingly enough after the show he came back just to show us his stitches. Like I said we have die hard fans. The Santa Monica Civic show, HIRAX, Exodus, Venom... I'm sure you can imagine how wild that show was. But that was then... and this is now! I'm sure the shows will be crazier now because the band is crazier than it's ever been.

10) Tell us a funny story around your band from the past!
We were on tour in Arizona, the van ride through the desert was very hot and frustrating. WE stopped to get some beverages/drinks... when we got back in the van, Scott Owen and Gary Monardo fought over who was going to sit in the front passenger seat... me and Johnny Tabares, the drummer, thought it was so funny that we just let them fight till they were tired. We told them to shake hands and get back in the van. Needless to say we made it to our show in Arizona and played two sets in one night. It was fuckin incredible.

11) Are you a metal-collector? If yes:
I used to be... but now I pretty much listen to MP3s. I guess it shows that the internet has corrupted me. but at the same time... it reminds me of tape trading in the early 80s except you can do it through your computer. I was really saddened when Napster was taken off the internet. Because of Napster I was able to find recordings and songs of bands that I love...most of them were out of print. Bands like Savage, Let it Loose, A lot of Trust songs that are really hard to find, Angel Witch, Jaguar, even really rare punk stuff... like Middle Class, Out of Void, Neos, Seige, Larm,... it was like an open dictionary on music. I was a very big fan of Napster. They> would probably still be on the internet if it wasn't for Metallica crying about people downloading their songs for free. Pretty hypocritical for a band who once wanted everybody to trade their "No Life till Leather" demo around to anybody and everybody. Napster was great if you wanted to find out of print and rare songs.

11.1) How big is your collection (LPs, CDs, Demos)?
The record collection I used to have was VERY BIG. But once I got a computer... I was never the same. I thought it was cool because of the computer you could go to a band's website and play their music and look at pictures of the band... and read about the history of the band without having to get up and flip the record over. I still love records, we HIRAX are one of the bands that will continue to put out vinyl versions of our records as well as CDs but I also really love the internet. If somebody were to have told me 15 years ago that our fans all over the world could go to our website www.HIRAX.org and download songs for free... read information on the band as well as tour dates, photos and email the band directly... I would have said you're fuckin lying to me. But with today's technology the fans can do that. You don't want to stand in the way of technology. Even those who say they hate computers... sooner or later they will have to buy one because it's the future.

11.2) What are your ten most valuable records from a collectors view?
1 - Motorhead, 'No Remorse' with the leather cover.
2 - Iron Maiden, 'Maiden Plus One' live EP
3 - Trust, first five records
4 - Neos, any
5 - Ramones, 'Leave Home' original pressing with 'Carbona not Glue'
6 - Scorpions, 'Taken by Force'
7 - Judas Priest, 'Rocka Rolla'
8 - Deep Purple, 'Machine Head'
9 - Black Sabbath, 'Volume 4'
10 - Diamond Head, 'Lightening to the Nations'

11.3) Vinyl or CD: what do you prefer and why?
Vinyl. CDs are modern technology, its going to take a little bit of time for me to still get used to them. My favorites would have to be 10" vinyl and 12" vinyl. It's always good to hear the needle hit the record and the listener should always be able to look at pictures and lyrics sheets. With a 10" and a 12" there is something very special. Its almost like having a concert program to where you can look at the pictures really big and feel like your having your own private concert in the privacy of your own home. There is something very special about vinyl.


HIRAX 2001 (left to right)
James Joseph Hubler - guitars
Katon W. DePena - vocals
Justin Lent - guitars

12) What indescribable great question have you never been asked yet? And what would your answer have been?
Why do bands follow trends?... and why hasn't' HIRAX?

-The reason HIRAX doesn't follow trends is because we know that they come and go. We would rather put out records with integrity and hopefully our records will stand the test of time.

13) What is the current status of the band and what is planned next?
We will be releasing our new record, "Barrage of Noise" at the end of August 2001. 8 brand new songs of over the top extreme thrash fuckin metal. Century Media has picked up all of our releases to distribute worldwide and we will be touring through the end of 2001 to the end of 2002. We are rehearsing for the next record and also getting ready for the 'Barrage of Noise' tour. If people would like to contact the band they can by either writing to us snail mail:
HIRAX PO Box 1474 Cypress, CA 9063 / USA
or email : eldiablo@blackdevilrecords.com
visit our website: www.HIRAX.org

Any last words?:
We would like to thank everybody for showing so much incredible support. To all the new and old fans we will see you on tour. WE will be touring America, South America, Japan, and all of Europe. We are looking forward to seeing everybody!
UP THE METAL HAMMERS! THROW THE HORNS!
HIRAX IS COMING!!

BANDCONTACT:
Email: eldiablo@blackdevilrecords.com
Homepage: www.Hirax.org