INFIDEL is: Santo (Drums), Sasha (Bass), Mike (Guitar), & Beef (Vox).

All photos by @visual.decline unless otherwise noted.

SN: I was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, & Kabul, Afghanistan during my time in the Marine Corps. I saw no decent morals out of anybody while I was in, only people that joined for the wrong intentions. My entire platoon was in it to kill. And I had that mindset as well because it was what I was brought around. You get brainwashed into ‘doing a job,’ then you’re deployed. But when you see actual humans down the range… It’s different. Then you’re forced to defend yourself because you’re put in these environments.

I’ve seen friends take their own lives inside the military. One specifically was on the autism spectrum, which I actually saw a lot of. You’re not allowed to have those things when you join, but recruiters wave issues and tell you to hide them to meet their quotas. Mine told me to lie about my cutting scars, so I did. It’s all a numbers thing.

He was at a shooting range and, who knows what was going through his head at the time, but I have to assume it was the same pressure all of us were feeling… Whatever it was, it possessed him to take his own life. Really wasn’t far into our enlistment either; we had just graduated infantry school and were around a year into our service. They called us boots and gave us the worst jobs just because they could; at the time I was on night watch and literally wasn’t sleeping. Then to hear that my friend just passed, like, what the fuck? I still wonder, does that recruiter feel bad for putting him in that position with a firearm? Knowing, interviewing, visually observing from his body language that he wasn’t fit for service?

LA Crust Mini-fest, photo credits anonymous.

When I came out of the military, I was bitter. I very much disliked humans, society… It’s hard not to look at people as scum of the earth after being deployed. I feel like I’ve seen it all. But the more we go out to play and to see all the love we’ve received, the more I feel connected to the earth and humanity. I’ve become able to produce a lot more love for people.

B: The love we’ve been getting is really crazy. And the thing that I’ve been hearing from people a lot is that they really like what our songs are about. It’s funny, you know; coming from goregrind, there weren’t many lyrics. And if there were any, it was just mindless violent bullshit. Low-key it was getting on my conscience. In the beginning, it was to help me deal with the shit I was seeing in X-ray school; I was in a hospital ICU, specifically one for newborns. I mean, I was seeing babies dying in front of me, their eyes bulging out of their heads… It was fucked up. The gore stuff kind of made it less serious, you know?

For this project, I started sitting down and writing lyrics that actually meant something to myself and the rest of the band, like our song Suicide: these guys found me at probably the worst, gnarliest part of my life, dude. I was the most depressed I had ever been. I remember our first jams and being super happy about this project, but I was still struggling. The first half of the track is my thought process from that time.

I remember as I was getting out of that, I had this realization – and I say this shit every time we play this song, so it’s possible someone reading this has heard it a hundred times – but nobody can tell us that if we kill ourselves, we won’t wake up on the other side feeling the exact same way. Nobody knows if we do, because nobody comes back. Is there even escaping this on the other side? There’s a turning point halfway through about the idea of feeling the same after death, and the rest of the song is about saying ‘fuck it’ and pushing through anyways. I scream ‘I’m not done’ at the top of my lungs for like a minute straight at the end. Performing that song has helped me out a ton, and others have told me it’s helped them. All to say that life is a fight. But if you know that and can be at peace with that, it can be fucking fun.

Most of our other songs, I just want to show people injustice; get them mad enough to wanna do something, to not take themselves out, so we can change our world. Our generation can make shit happen – I mean, look at how far the LGBT community has come in these past, what, 10 years dude? There’s this theme we’ve been using as our motto: fight back. Not necessarily with violence, but staying true to yourself and what you deserve and feel is right for you. Going at that as hard as you can and living the life you want to live. Push back against what you have to for a life that gives you peace.

M: Kind of similar to Beef, I was in a grindcore band with a homie and thought it would be cool to have more of a punk act, expand my horizons maybe. I feel like my job in this band is to write riffs that carry our message. Santo & Beef set the lyrics and I provide music that encapsulates the emotions; that’s what makes the team, the band.

SN: Our guitarist is a veteran, like me; that bonded us, and I’ve been able to comfortably share my experiences with him since he can picture things how I can. Our friendship, this band, is therapeutic.

M: But our actual style, I think we got from our bassist. When we first got together she said she wanted to do more of a crust thing.

SH: I moved to the USA from Russia; there were a lot of reasons why, but the main one is because I lived in a factory-based city. The air quality was bad and so was the school system, the mental health system, the government… But bigger than all that – this was hidden from the news and everything – there was a radiation outbreak and I got really sick. I got anemia, had to do blood checks every week for like a year or more, I started losing hair… There was a huge bald spot on the back of my head. I spent a lot of money trying to get my health back, and I still have issues because of it. I’m lucky to be alive.

But I was not exposed to heavy music at all in Russia, not even Metallica. I was listening to whatever my grandfather was listening to, which was mostly old songs in English that no one I’ve met outside of Russia knows. My auntie and uncle are gabbers, so I knew about raving. But when I first moved here, I got invited to a couple of indie shows that led to me finding my first punk show flyer… I liked the energy way better. Ended up joining a black metal band. Later I was in a sludge-doom band with Santo, but we left because our bandmates weren’t good people.

LA Crust Mini-fest, photo credits anonymous.

SN: I will forever stand by the words I speak because I’ve shared enough disagreements with people throughout my life. From conservatives in my neighborhood as a kid to being a part of the system… My interactions have disconnected me from people, because what stops you from being a decent person and learning to love someone regardless of who they are? I was a victim of racism in the Marine Corps. My entire platoon was all proud Texas boys who couldn’t see the problems we have in this country. I was singled out and picked on for no good reason beyond my skin color, with no one to back me up except for the few others from LA who joined only because we didn’t have an option after high school. If you look at Fort Hood, Fort Benning… People get murdered there by Army troops for minding their own business. It’s sad and it’ll probably never change.

I used to be super harsh on grindcore, death metal, genres like that… Why would anyone want to listen to something that heinous? Or at least, where’s the balance? Not to connect it to anger, because when I listen to that stuff it doesn’t make me angry, but I think after everything I’d been through this music has helped me make peace with it all.

B: The numbers aspect doesn’t really appeal to me. But connecting to people, hearing them tell us what these lyrics mean to them, seeing reactions to our set… You can tell this music means something bigger than just the four of us. It’s kind of a trip since, now that I think about it, they don’t even know what our faces look like. Takes the ego away from it all. But yeah, it’s about spreading something powerful and positive and having a good time doing it. And that’s something I’ve never had in a band.

Support Infidel this Friday at our October/November Issue Release. Tickets here.


By Hector Zaldivar

Professional magician. @hexzald