Metal music undeniably has reached the farthest parts of the globe and arguably in some unsuspecting locations as a result. From Greenland to Zimbabwe, it's caught the imaginative eye of many and as a result have given birth to numerous metal scenes. But what about the more isolated islands on planet earth? One band Surrender The Thief, hope to finally place Guam on the map in the metal music universe. For sure the likes of Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia are perhaps considered the metal music leaders on this continent, but with new scenes in the likes of French Polynesia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea emerging, where does this leave the island of Guam? GMA spoke to vocalist Charles Megino about the scene's history, the band's plans (including a crowdfund to tour Japan) and the struggles of geographical isolation.
"Most musicians here either commit to weekly bar gigs, monthly showcases, or stick to DIY recordings and focus on digital exposure."
For those who do not know of Surrender The Thief, could you please give us a history of the band?
"All members of Surrender The Thief were / are members of other local bands. We all pretty much knew each other and came together to try and do something different with the local scene. In the early stages of writing and tracking, only myself (Charles), Joaquin, Julius, and Jonah were involved. As we got closer to finishing the album, we started recruiting members to fill the remaining slots and start preparing for live performances."
Hailing from Guam must come with difficulties, could you tell us what challenges metal bands and fans face on the island of Guam? How long has the Guam Metal scene been going?
"Being a metal band from Guam definitely has it's ups and downs. So far, the response has been great. Definitely exceeded my expectations. Guam used to have a very diverse underground scene, holding strong onto punk, hardcore, and metal. As the years went by, the scene died down. High school bands were hard to find (when about 10 years ago, teenage bands were sprouting left and right). When we threw our CD release show for Wasteland last November 2017, it was basically a shot in the dark.
We had no clue how well / bad the show would do, but we gave it our all. We dressed up the venue, hired a sound team and brought in some serious equipment. Our initial goal was to bring change to the scene, raising the flat standard to an entirely different level. That show ended up exceeding my expectations, as hundreds came to that show and had a great time. From what I've heard, many of the show-goers have been aching for a metal / hardcore show, so they had an opportunity to enjoy that as well."
Do you know of metal bands from neighbouring islands like the Marianas, Palau, Micronesia, etc? Is it expensive to leave the island? How would you go about touring? Gigging, etc.
"As of now, not aware of any metal bands from our sister islands. Leaving the island is definitely the biggest challenge for bands here. It gets costly. Most bands here rely on weekly bar gigs, and if lucky enough, get an opening slot for concerts that come by. Metal bands don't come around here, so we're definitely not getting on one of those for a while (LOL). With that said, most musicians here either commit to weekly bar gigs, monthly showcases, or stick to DIY recordings and focus on digital exposure. A couple of reggae bands have toured the West Coast (US), but for metal, not recently."
Your planning on going to tour Japan in January, how well is the crowdfunding going? Who will you be playing with in Japan?
"The crowdfunding for this tour has been going okay. It's a bit difficult to convince people to support your dreams (LOL), but so far, the response and support we've received have been great. We're only 2 months away so we've been pushing hard to make sure we meet the requirements. Not quite sure who we'll be sharing the stage with (as the local promoters in Japan are the ones to coordinate that), but we're stoked no matter what! We're very thankful that they were open to having us share our passion with their country."
You released your album 'Wasteland' earlier this year, what has the reception been like? Any attention from overseas?
"The reception has been good. The challenging part would definitely be marketing. It's very tricky trying to catch peoples' attention with how many metalcore bands are out there now. For those who have heard the album, we've received nothing but praise. We've received emails and messages from Germany, the UK, Australia, the Philippines, and mainland US. All positive so far!"
Will the album be released physically?
"Wasteland" is available on most major digital platforms: Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, CD Baby, Amazon, etc. If interested in physical copies, we have a bunch that we'd love to mail out to interested buyers. CD Baby also has a limited amount of physical copies of "Wasteland" for sale."
For those metalheads visiting Hagatna, what sights / attractions could you recommend in seeing?
"That's a tough one. Guam's economy is heavily reliant on tourism, so there's a lot to see. It's always nice to submerge yourself in other cultures to learn further about a place and it's people, so I'd probably stay within those lines."
With 2018 closing up, what plans aside from the impending Japanese tour do you have?
"For now, we're focusing primarily on the tour. I'm trying to get in contact with more booking agents and promoters to land us some slots / shows in the Asian countries, so hopefully we get in on more of the action next year. We've also started writing some new material, so we may have another release by late 2019."
Are there any greetings you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
"To all of our loyal supporters, family and friends who have helped us get where we are today, WE APPRECIATE YOU! Our fan-base / support system is very important to us, and we couldn't be happier with what we have. Just know that everything we do, we don't only do it for ourselves, but for Guam's music community as a whole. Si Yu'us Ma'ase, Guahan!"