Interview with JM Dopico (Bodybag, Deadmask)

Dopi has been active in the underground scenes of extreme Metal and Punk for over twenty five years, playing in numerous bands of many styles. His groups like Machetazo really need no introduction to people into underground Death Metal and Grindcore, but I personally really started to follow the man’s musical career after the appearance of the magnificent band Dishammer. Currently he is active in (for example) younger bands such as Deadmask and Bodybag, and I wanted to ask a bit about his current feelings in the local and global underground music world of his preferred styles.

Hola Dopi! How has the autumn begun for you down there in the north-western shores of Spain?

Hola Antti, thanks a lot for this interview. Autumn is my fave season and it’s begun in the best way possible cos’ Bodybag just played our debut show here, it was fuckin’ awesome, and a very intense night.

How is life in A Coruña in general, regarding matters like employment? The last few times I’ve visited cities like Barcelona, I found it extremely cool they had anarchist squats downtown and in tourist areas, as neighbours next to a five-star hotel, etc.

Employment here is crap as in the rest of the country, most of the people I know works at some cheap job or survive thanks to “illegal” activities. This a tourism oriented town, all the support and effort from the government go for that, the rest of activities are mostly low quality and dumb as fuck, like a retarded place, a village that pretends to be a big town. Anyway I like to live here cos’ I prefer small towns to big ones of course, I made my own path without caring for this town long time ago, my family and best friends live here, and the ocean is pretty close, a very important thing cos’ when I am far away from it I feel like dying of claustrophobia.

There were some good squats but sadly they’re all dead now, a real pity cos’ they were the places where the best underground shows took place. Now most of the people just go to big festivals to do the nerd, only the die-hard maniacs keep on going to the very few small shows that take place here, I think it’s just the same everywhere as far as I know.

How are the music-scenes in your area? Are people working together, with for example gigs of different styles of bands, or are the borders of genres keeping people in their own camps? You seem to have always been active in many scenes of different kinds of people?

The scenes here usually follow the trend and the tendency of the time, like anywhere else. There’s a few people that have been around forever but their number is just going lower and lower cos’ they’re going old and frustrated, or just get married and stuck to jobs and then disappear, you know how it is. The internet and specially the social webs fucked up the underground scene a lot, I think a lot of people live in a cyber-reality really stupid and false, they’re virtual beings that exist only inside of their computers. People that don’t buy records and don’t attend to shows don’t belong to any scene, as simple as that, they’re parasites.

I’ve been active always at Metal and Punk scenes, but always looking at it internationally, not only locally, if I only was into the local scene I would be wasted and done since long time ago. I always liked to meet people from different scenes cos’ I like a few diverse musical styles, these last years I got into stuff I never thought I would enjoy, but I am in a point where I see connections and inspiration in very diverse musical styles, I find them opposite in feeling and form but with the same attitude and message. To be open minded about music is important to never stop learning, and of course to don’t get bored.

You have been active in numerous bands of many styles, from Crust and Grindcore to Doom and even classic 80’ies Heavy Metal. You seem to like keeping yourself active (giving the finger to scenesters I assume). How do you find time for all the bands and projects?

Of course man, scenesters can and will fuck off and die, I’ve seen many of them before and they never stay for so long, they banished as soon as the wind of trend changes, you know. I have plenty of time to carry on with two bands, no problem at all, both are pure underground bands.  The studio projects and collaborations just come from time to time when it’s the right moment and place, but right now I am only focusing in Bodybag and Deadmask, I was recording with a lot of different people for some time and now I need to relax and just focus in my bands here.

The origins of Death Metal and of course Grindcore (just like Thrash or even Black Metal) are strongly rooted in Hardcore / Punk. Which one came to your life first, Punk or Metal, or have they always been there simultaneously?

I think they came almost simultaneously, when I was a kid I started with Metal bands like Barón Rojo or Iron Maiden but at the same time I got into Punk stuff like Eskorbuto or Dead Kennedys, also I have been a fan of Motörhead since a very young age, and I always saw them as the absolute Punk Metal band.

As you have been active in the extreme music scenes since the early nineties (at least), when people (like us) were still recording stuff at rehearsal places with a four-tracker, doing zines and tape-trading across the world. As you are still apparently very active in the UG-side of the scenes, what things have fundamentally changed in your opinion during the years (for better or for worse), with the coming of the digital age and so on?

I’m starting to think everything, absolutely everything changed for worse. Sometimes I try to be optimistic but I feel like I’m trying to lie to myself, and what the hell, I don’t need to do so. Anyway this doesn’t mean I’m a grumpy bitter bastard, I am just realistic, not pessimistic, and in fact I consider myself a clown that laughs about everything including myself, always enjoying a good sarcastic rant, you know? Of course I use (but not abuse) internet and the easy communication we enjoy now, but I come from a different time and way of doing things, I really liked that way and I felt a great connection with it all. Now it’s very different, I won’t enter in details cos’ I’m bored of doing so, but my conclusion is that I don’t like the times we’re living at all, too much too soon for so many people that don’t have the proper time or attitude to digest it. Anyway, I will continue playing and recording cos’ I love music and it’s all I’ve done in my life, I still enjoy going on stage and the experiences in the studio are always awesome, those are the things that really matter, the rest can go to hell, I don’t give a fuck, less and less everyday.

There are always clear trends going on in the Death and Black Metal world, such as the current return of Death Metal to it’s brutal roots (which has been going on for quite some time now), and the apparent pseudo-occult chaotic vibes of Black Metal, with hundreds of bands with identical album-covers and song-titles. Is this something that annoys you, amuses you, or do you just ignore it and concentrate in what you love to do?

Mostly it makes me laugh out loud. It’s really funny to see all those rich kids playing to be occultists and dark philosophers with their motherfuckin’ right winged ideologies of shit, or all those “obscure” teens claiming to reinvent Death Metal while the only thing they’re doing is to rip-off Incantation in every way possible. I think everything became very “arty” now, it’s all about pose, I miss some danger and true feeling. Of course there are a few exceptions and some new bands I really like, but to be honest, If I want to listen some real Satanic music I play Led Zeppelin’s “Presence” or “In Through The Out Door”, and if I need to listen some real dangerous evil band I’d rather play the first Cro-Mags album than any of the current Death / Black young bands.

Unfortunately your older bands like Dishammer and Machetazo have now disbanded (still enjoying a cult-reputation), but you are currently active mostly with Deadmask (playing old-school Doom & Stoner Rock) and Bodybag (playing Death Metal with elements of Grindcore). How have these bands caught fire, as they are clearly both unique and professional-sounding in their own styles?

For me it’s very fortunate Machetazo is dead and buried now, believe me, I lost a heavy load of pressure in my life, at the end I was just wasting my energy and losing my time with the wrong people and I was going insane, so one day it was the last straw and radically I decided to send it to hell. Now I do what I like with the people I like, feeling a good connection you have a lot of fun, cooperation and collective work, and that’s something I really missed the last years. The fuckin’ Dishammer disbanded long time ago, I think it’s been 5 years already, it was a great and crazy experience, I always say it was Punk as fuck cos’ it was short but intense, but we were a bunch of rancid bastards and it all went to hell fast cos’ we could barely stand each other at the end. Anyway gotta admit I miss the Dishammer shows, cos’ on stage we unleashed so strong and pure energy like I never felt before, that’s the fuckin’ truth.

Bodybag started around August 2014, I wanted to keep on blast-beating my drumkit as if there was no tomorrow, and I was lucky to find two guys into making something primitive and old styled. We released a MLP titled “Predominance of Insanity” this summer, and some weeks ago just recorded another bunch of songs for a couple of splits to be released early next year. As I said earlier, recently we played our first show and it was really good, now we’re booking more shows for 2015 and some for 2016 too.

Deadmask exists since 2007, but it was on hold sometimes, now since we got a steady guitarist months ago, the band finally got an established line-up and things are going fuckin’ awesome, practising very often and composing a lot of new stuff pretty fast. By the way Deadmask only released a MCD and a split 7”, but we have in mind to release some stuff next year, I think some recording sessions will be done in December.

OK, thanks for this chat! What are your plans for the rest of the year?

You’re welcome dude! My plans are to enjoy life and have as much fun as possible living on my doomed way, nothing else and nothing less. Cheers!

Bodybag (Facebook)

Bodybag (Bandcamp)

Deadmask (Facebook)

Deadmask (Bandcamp)

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