For the better part of two decades, Jorge Rosado has put his blood and tears into Merauder, the influential Brooklyn-based metallic hardcore band formed in 1990. Over the course of four studio albums, the vocalist has recorded and toured with the group, holding it down despite numerous membership shifts. While Merauder isn't as active as they once were, that doesn't mean Rosado isn't keeping busy on the musical front.
In 2016, Rosado's vocal work was featured on Through My Darkest Infernal, the debut album from his current band, Akani. Outside of the Merauder mainman, Akani also features musicians who have been members of such metal groups as Dark Tranquility and Soilwork.
In this new interview, Rosado discusses his Brooklyn upbringing, as well as his future endeavors, musical and otherwise.
Tell me about your upbringing. I know you’re from Brooklyn. What neighborhood did you grow up in?
I grew up in Greenpoint, mostly in the Williamsburg area "gangland" [laughs]. My dad was a blue-collar worker as well as my mom. They worked in factories, hospitals, you know, just hard-working latinos.
What was your neighborhood like back then? I’m sure it’s way different these days, like most of the five boroughs.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint had a lot of clicks, aka gangs. Social and motorcycle clubs, Latin Kings, Neta, you name it, we had it [laughs].
What kind of music did you first get into?
I was always into all kind of music as a kid. I listened to a lot of hip-hop, R&B, and salsa, but it wasn’t till I went to Puerto Rico that I found meta bands like Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Dio, Celtic Frost, and Veno. When I got back to New York, I was introduced to different stuff by the only gang member I knew that listened to metal [laughs]. Well, he started me off with a lot of cool stuff like Mercyful Fate, Blood Feast, and Helstar.
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So he acted as a kind of musical mentor to you.
Well, my boy Pete from the gang HellBurners was one of them, but along the years I have always met people who turned me onto something new, so I’ve had a few mentors besides Pete, but I can’t remember names right now.
If I were to have met you back when you were a teenager, who would you have told me was your favorite band back then?
Fuck man, I didn’t really have one favorite band [laughs]. Man, but I love Bad Brains, Pagan Babies, Absolution, and the Cro-Mags, of course! Oh, I can’t forget Krakdown, Breakdown, Youth of Today, Supertouch, Trip 6, and Agnostic Front. There always was something new in my life happening where I could relate to the lyrics of those bands, as well as loving the music.
Growing up where you did, I’m assuming you went to a ton of L’Amour’s shows back in the day.
[Laughs] L’Amours, the battle grounds! We went CBGB’s to slam and we went to L'amours to fuck people up! Man, I saw Bad Brains and Slayer there…insane shows! But shows were violent without people trying to be, not like it is today.
At what point did you start playing in bands? I remember Bill Braunstein (Ill Bill) mentioning something to me about you being in an early version of his former band, Injustice.
I think around 85-86 is when I started doing bands stuff, but yes, I played in Injustice with rapper Ill Bill. It was fun for a bit.
SEE ALSO: 2016 interview with Goretex (Non Phixion).
How did you come to join Merauder?
I ran into [late Merauder guitarist] SOB one day in the city and he told me [original Merauder vocalist] Minus wasn’t with them anymore and if I wanted to try out. I wasn’t looking to join anything, but I felt I should try anyway and I did.
Were you old friends with SOB and the guys before becoming a member? I’m not even sure why Minus left in the first place.
Yeah, I was friends with SOB and the drummer, Vinny [Vitale]. That’s how they started Merauder, from my introduction. They were both looking for band members and I said to them that they should jam together n so on. The reason for Minus leaving would have to be told by him.
If I remember correctly, Merauder did some touring with Biohazard before you even released an album. We’re talking the mid-‘90s here, so that’s when that band was in full party mode. What was the experience like for yogu and the Merauder guys, being that it was your first tour?
We did maybe a show or two, but no real touring. Well, not when I was in the band. But Merauder was better and is the real Brooklyn band just to real for the masses. But the ‘90s were a great time for us. We were doing lots of big fests and doing a lot of touring and gaining a larger fan base, and a mixed one at that. We had metal and hardcore kids, and other kinds of music fans. But we did party a lot with many great and famous people in bands. Plus, we got to see other countries and all of that other amazing stuff!
Was Merauder already signed to Century Media by the time you entered the picture, or did that come after?
After our demo, and the split between us and Stigmata, is when the offer with Century Media came. Which was more of a curse instead! It didn’t help having a manager (Drew Stone) who helped fuck this band and got us a shitty contract. Fuck him anyways! But we did what we needed to do. We stuck it out and everyone else is gone but me, RIP SOB! We’re still here and better than ever and still killing these sucker ass bands!
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That brings us to Master Killer, Merauder’s first album. You guys recorded that in 1995 with Paris Mayhew of the Cro-Mags producing the sessions.
It was not as bad as you might think. Paris didn’t really get under my skin that much. At times he shows he’s a hater, but he’s to small for me in life to even see him as a threat. I don’t give a fuck whom he played guitar for. That doesn’t get you respect in my book. Plus, I have issue with my vocals on that album. It’s not my full potential and I was told to be more stiff, as you can see from all my other stuff. I’m always going to go harder and do more, but it is what it is. The album’s still a classic.
I try my best to keep up with the newer hardcore scene and one of the things I’ve noticed throughout the last few years is how much younger folks love the Master Killer album. I would love to get your thoughts on that. Why do you think that album still connects with so many young hardcore and metal fans?
[Laughs] Bro, I don’t know if were popular. I still have trouble getting on tours with others, so we do it ourselves. It’s weird, maybe it’s because hardcore is more metal now. Well, not all of it, but a lot. The scene is the same somewhat, but the music has changed a lot.
Did you guys get out on the road as much as you should have, and do you think Century Media did a good job of working the record?
Yeah, like I said before, it was good to get out there, but the business could have been handled way better.
Sometime in 1998, you joined drummer Dave Chavarri’s then new band, Ill Niño, but then you went back to Merauder in 1999. What happened with that project?
It’s simple, bro: I belong in Merauder, that’s all [laughs].
Also during that time, Eddie Sutton of Leeway recorded a demo with Merauder. What’s the story behind that, and what do you think of the recording?
Eddie would have to explain his situation, but the demo was awesome! I fucking loved it and even went to a show at Coney Island High and slammed everyone to the ground for them [laughs].
Speaking of Leeway, Merauder’s next album, Five Deadly Venoms, was produced by that band's former guitarist, A.J. Novello, and the drums were done by their former drummer, Pokey. Tell me about those recording sessions.
Nothing special besides getting to play with a friend and legend like Pokey! But it was your basic recording session. Nothing crazy happened, just a lot of bullshitting and blunt smoking [laughs].
How was the album received once it hit stores?
The response for the album was great. I couldn’t believe it! It was amazing.
There was a perception that Merauder was always much bigger overseas, especially during this period.
Everyone is bigger overseas [laughs]. They just have more love and involvement in music over there. They also have better hospitality towards smaller bands, great venues, and a lot more festivals.
Bluetality was Merauder’s third studio album, and it featured a new lineup for the recording. What brought on that membership shift?
Honesty, bro, it was bad choices that brought a lot of other problems, and separation, and so on. But we managed to make it work for the album even though we went to the sessions with only four songs. It took a week between me and [guitarist] Anthony [Muccini], but we wrote another six songs in a rush. The songs on the album are OK, but we could have done better.
Were you able to tour in support of Bluetality?
Not really, bro, no. Shit was getting up fucked up by then. We were just maintaining by then with whatever we could make happen.
SEE ALSO: 2016 interview with Chiqui Rodriguez (Dmize).
Founding Merauder guitarist Javier "SOB" Carpio passed away in 2006. Do you remember where you were when you got the news?
I was home, which was probably the best thing. But I was there when I got the two calls; when he was taken to the hospital, and when he passed. It was a very rough time for me. I lost my good friends Boston Mike, Jason, aka 2Hip, SOB, Darrell the manic, and my grandfather, who before he passed was asking to see me but no one in Puerto Rico could reach me in time. All that happened, one after the other, all within a short time, which didn’t help me either.
In 2007 you decided to keep Merauder going and brought in new musicians to make a new album. Was this a hard decision for you to make?
Not at all because I love playing with them guys and the chemistry was great, so we produced one of my favorite Merauder albums. It had its own Merauder style, but in it own way. It’s still very Merauder-y [laughs].
2009 is when that album, God Is I, saw its release. I think the album features some of the band’s strongest material, but it flew under the radar a bit. The album was released by Regain Records, a Swedish metal label. Looking back, do you think the label handled the promotion and distribution side of things well?
[Yelling] Fuck Regain! Fuck them guy. They fucked up a good thing.
OK, moving on! In early 2016 you announced that you were breaking up Merauder. What was the final straw for you? What was your proudest achievement during your time fronting the band?
Too much history and problems to work for me on my own. I don’t wanna lose love for the band, even though I now have a very good lineup. Even with that, I’m still dealing with shit. I have other things on my plate like my new band, Akani. Plus I also have my social club and brotherhood, Los Babas, and my wife, two kids, and two dogs. I’m trying to maintain my workout and now start up a tattoo shop with my partners in Coney Island. We’re calling it Master Killer Ink! It’s opening really really soon. So, yeah, I’m busy.
Let’s talk Akani, your current band. The lineup features former members of such Swedish bands as Dark Tranquility, Path of No Return, and Soilwork.
Well, I was friends with Anders and we spoke about maybe doing something, but when he started this project, he reached out to me and I was obviously down for it. So I met the rest of the band afterwards, a couple of days before we started our tour. That’s more or less how we linked up.
How did you guys work on material?
Technology, brother [laughs]. Yeah, they send me a bunch of great stuff via email and I write to it here at home. Anders came over from Sweden to record my vocals at my home. He then brought it back to my guitarist, Daniel [Antonsson], and he did the rest.
Akani released its first album, Through My Darkest Infernal, in 2016. What’s the plan for the band looking forward?
Well, to do as much as we can, basically. I just wanna play and do things right for us and our families, get our second wind.
Tell me about Los Babas, I understand you’re the President.
Yes, I am. We’re just like every other brotherhood and we’re growing fast. But we’re good guys. It’s always about values and respect and the number one thing with us is loyalty.
Of all the songs you’ve recorded in your career, which one is your favorite and why?
Damn, that a hard one! Let me think on this one…I don’t know, that’s tough. I did enjoy all the Akani stuff. Songs like “New World,” “Love,” “Ghetto,” and “Warrior.” Those songs truly reflect on what I’m seeing and what I’ve been telling people all along. Everything in those songs comes straight from the heart and has to do with almost everything going on in the world today.
Head to Akani and Merauder's official Facebook pages for more info on the bands.