Last year, Mexico-based djent / instrumental metal guitarist Leo Romero unveiled Epigenesis, his second official EP. We spoke with Romero about the latest release, his guitar role models, sci-fi movie recommendations, the Mexican metal scene, and next steps.
Check out the interview with Leo Romero below.
You recently released the EP titled Epigenesis, a term referring towards growth, usually from a cellular level. Can you talk about your personal growth as a guitarist and how it relates to this EP?
My personal growth as a guitarist has been through tons of hard work and countless hours practicing [laughs]. The way that reflects in my music is by trying to find a way to mix the technical parts along with the melodic side of my playing into something interesting, but flashy as well. I’ve tried to incorporate the dark sounds that I’m mostly drawn to into the instrumental music I make. What I’ve found about some of the instrumental music I enjoy is that in my opinion it sometimes lacks a bit of dark sounds or harmonies that are for example in some other types of genres like black metal, death metal, or gypsy jazz, and I try to reflect it in my compositions. It’s something that I’ve been trying to turn into my personal style. When I first started, I tried to emulate the players that I loved, but I needed to find a sound of my own and that has been a huge part of my personal growth as a guitar player and as a musician as well.
While instrumental, your material reflects themes of astronomy, dystopia, and cinema. Can you further discuss these themes or other factors that aesthetically inspire you?
I try to find inspiration from as many forms of art (and life in general, as well) as much as I can. From a very young age, I’ve been drawn to astronomy and space themes. I find it extremely fascinating and I’ve even sought out and read books about physics, even though most of the time I end up being more confused than anything [laughs]. Aesthetically, it’s something that has been used by other progressive and djent bands though. I think when you make instrumental music, it takes you on some sort of trip, and aesthetically, space themes and compliment the music in a way that sometimes cannot be achieved any other way. Some films that I would recommend are Interstellar, Melancholia, Prometheus, any from the Alien franchise, and Blade Runner.
Some of my all-time favorite guitarists are Tosin Abasi, Ben Weinman, Scott Carstairs, and Trent Hafdahl. Who do you consider guitar role-models for you?
Well, I love all of those guys [laughs]. The Dillinger Escape Plan is one of my all-time favorite bands. My first guitar role models will always be Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker and John Petrucci; they are my favorites. Regarding more modern guitarists, the ones that I try to emulate most are Sergey Golovin, Emil Werstler, Wes Hauch, Francesco Artusato, and Angelo Debarre. I think those guys have some of the most unique sounds that I’ve heard and to my ears I find some sort of “dark” melodic element in their playing; and well, I’m all up for that.
Is your intent to always be a solo project or do you have ambitions to expand into a full band?
For any live performances, I do have a full band with me, but this will always be a solo project at it’s core, only with different musicians whenever it may be needed.
Additionally, is there ever a desire to include vocals or arrange lyrics for your compositions or do you prefer the music to speak for itself?
Currently I don’t have any desire to include vocals, but that might change if it fits into a song. I think sometimes I’m not very good with words in order to express myself, and that’s when actions speak for themselves. In this case, I think music takes that place. Some of the newer songs that I’ve been writing may include some spoken words. It sounds good in my head, so I hope it sounds good on tape [laughs].
When I think of the Mexican metal scene, the bands Brujeria, Cemican, Cerberus, and Anima Tempo come to mind. Have you ever had any encounters with these groups or have an opinion on them?
I’ve never had any personal encounters with any of these bands, but I’ve seen them live quite a few times. Cemican and Anima Tempo have been responsible for the exposure that the Mexican metal scene has seen in recent years. They have done a fantastic job. I’d definitely love to share the stage or tour with all of them [laughs]. In Mexico, we have a lot of talented bands just waiting to be heard.
What other bands are worth knowing in the Mexican metal scene?
Asesino, Unidad Trauma, Zayuz, Obesity, Glass Mind, Iden Gakusha, Sense of Noise, and Forbidden Rites have been doing great work and I particularly enjoy their music quite a lot.
What’s next for you as an artist (touring, music videos, etc.)?
Live shows! My goal is to be out there and play as many shows as I can. I’m also in the process of writing my next album; it’s planned to be finished before mid-2023. I’m preparing to have a new single in the first few months of 2023; these will all be launched with a music video and potentially new merch.