An interview with Les Hernandez of The Quintessentials
Justin (Apathy) Stankus
The Quintessentials was founded in 1998 in Honolulu, Hawaii, by Les Hernandez, formerly of The Catalogs and Crawling Chaos. The Quintessentials have appeared on numerous compilations from Hawaiian Express Records, “The Horror of it All, Volumes 2 & 3” (World Horror Network), “The Black House: a Tribute to Anton S. LaVey” (Black House Tribute Records),etc. In 2006 The Quintessentials relocated from Hawaii to Portland, Oregon, where they continue to melt faces off with their atomic sonic horror-pop punk fire from Hell! The band has released three albums over their hellish career, releasing “The Horror Never Ends…”, in 2001, followed by their second, “Pentagonal Revisionism”, in 2004, and in 2005 their third full-length album, “Legends from the Grave”. The band has two more albums slated for release in the near future, the 13 track mini album “Sarah Alice is DEAD!” set for April 30th and “Realm of the Great Old Ones” to be released some time soon (I hope)!
Hey Les! So let us get started! P.S. this is officially my first interview, so if any of my questions seem retarded I do apologize! This is a first for me!
The Quintessentials have one weird ass name, especially for a punk band. So before we go any further I have to ask, how did the name come about?
When I first started this band back in 1998 I was calling it The Products. As fate would have it, there was already a band with that name putting out records, so I needed to change it. Being that The Queers were one of my favorite bands, I wanted something similar that fans of theirs might stumble on in record stores. The word “Quintessential” means the essence of something, or its quintessence–the most important part of it. In alchemy there are five elements: earth, air, fire and water. There is also a fifth element, which is that which holds the other four together and is a part of each of them. This is what we call the Black Flame or Satan. Hence, The Quintessentials was the right name.
How did everyone come together and what inspired you guys to form The Quintessentials?
I was in a band called The Catalogs back in Hawaii and we got some notoriety. We even recorded a 7″ for Mutant Pop Records. That ended and a good friend and I started an overtly Satanic punk band called Crawling Chaos. When that died I wanted to keep both bands alive in a new project, so I started The Quintessentials, which was a mixture of both The Catalogs and Crawling Chaos, being that most of the music from both bands was mine anyhow. From that point forward we’ve had many members come and go, but the core remains myself and my songs.
In the way of inspiration, whatever is obsessing me at the time. The Ramones have been a huge inspiration, as has Screeching Weasel. Horror stories like those by H.P. Lovecraft also had a huge role in inspiring this band, as well as old horror films.
Horror-punk seems to be surviving in the US, were as it seems to be THRIVING in Europe. Why do you think that is? And do you agree with that statement?
I do agree!
I think that’s because in America we see more real horror on a daily basis. There’s no need for fantasy on that point. Hell, you never know when you might get beat to death with a crowbar outside of 7-11. Europe has more atmosphere. More room for fantasy.
Why not start some Satanic death metal band? Of all the genres out there, why punk rock? What about punk lured you in?
Death Metal is too cliché. It’s been done and all the bands sound alike these days. Rarely do any of those guys ever really know what real Satanism is. They rely too much on the ideas Christianity put in their heads.
From the beginning, Punk Rock was always about thinking for yourself and not following the herd. Not being a blind consumer and standing up for yourself in the face of adversity. It falls completely in line with genuine Satanic ideas–ideas not from monotheistic deity worshipping white-light religions, but from something much more deep and carnal.
With most horror-punk bands in the genre at this moment most go for a more melodic sound, examples being Blitzkid/Calabrese/The Other/The Rosedales/Koffin Kats/Mister Monster/etc. where as your band seems to a have a more aggressive snotty pop punk sound, why did you guys chose this route? I love the horror pop punk by the way!
Basically because every Horror Punk band and their mothers want to sound like the old Misfits. I love the Misfits, but I don’t want to be them. Bands like the Ramones have songs about horror as well, but they’re not well known for that stuff. I wanted to get my ideas and music across in a fun way without trying to re-do a certain sound from the genre, but even that’s hard to do nowadays.
Being a huge fan of Anton LaVey and his novels, and even those of Magus Peter H. Gilmore. Did LaVey have a influence on you or the band as whole, and has The Church of Satan ever shown you support of any kind or personally contacted you?
Anton LaVey had a HUGE influence on me. A friend even played him my old band’s demo once and said he liked what we were doing. I’ve been in contact with Peter Gilmore since I was about 18 years old, when he was early in doing The Black Flame magazine. We’re still in contact. In fact, two song intros on our next release feature the voice of his wife, Magistra Peggy Nadramia. They’re wonderful people.
I’ve been a member of the Church of Satan since 1997 and currently hold the position of Warlock (2º). This band has contained more than a couple members over the years and other members have shown their support. Magister Matt G. Paradise mentioned us in his book Bearing the Devil’s Mark, Magus Gilmore hooked us up with a History Channel documentary that featured two of our album covers, Warlock Corvis Nocturnum is releasing a book which we played a small part in. There have been more examples of this than I have room for here. The Church of Satan has been extremely supportive and I’m extremely grateful!
Something I enjoy very much about your band and wonder at the same time is the band’s view on religion. With most bands all I hear about the majority of the time is murder, necrophilia, ghouls and ghosts, and horror movies. Yet none ever really seem to put much focus on religion were as you guys seem to take it another level and attack religion head on. “Jesus Christ can suck my dick!” off Puppets For Christ was something that stuck with me, especially after my mother passed away when I was 16 and I shortly lost any faith I had in the first place after she passed, at least when it came to god. What are your personal views on religion not only within the horror punk scene but in general? And what effect does it have on your music?
My personal view is that everyone has a religion–even Atheists. Whatever your obsession is–that thing you can’t live without that you always come back to in troubled times–that is your religion, whether its an idol, a comic book, a cartoon.
Mainstream religions are always concerned with making everyone conform to a mold. That’s what the Nazis tried to do. There’s no room for individuality or natural instinct. Mainstream religion hampers and attempts to stamp out all of our natural desires and calls us evil for being who we really are. That causes brain damage. It splits the psyche and creates unnecessary guilt and other, deep problems. This is why today’s society is so fucked up and warped. In this sense, I hate religion.
That’s a tough one! I really like playing The Black Pope live, but with so many songs it’s tough to choose. My favorite album of ours is probably our first, “The Horror Never Ends…” I re-recorded the entire thing due to the original’s lower quality, but who knows when that will be released. “Legends from the Grave” has my favorite production quality and overall sound. “Pentagonal Revisionism” has the best ideas laid out.
What can fans expect from your upcoming albums Sarah Alice Is Dead and Realm of the Great Old Ones?
With the “Sarah Alice is DEAD!” release, it’s more of getting back in touch with our fans since I moved from Hawaii to Oregon. This contains tracks recorded both before I moved (and before we released “Legends from the Grave”), as well as tracks written and recorded since then. Some were originally only meant as demos, but sounded like they should be released.
With “Realm of the Great Old Ones” I wanted to go back to “The Horror Never Ends…” in a way. All new songs, but a similar vibe. Very dark, yet poppy and Satanic.
Is there any big scale tours in the works for the future? East Coast perhaps?
I would love that! We don’t have any big tours in the works yet due to all of this new music I need to get out and the writing I need to do. I’m sure if enough people demanded it, we’d find a way to make it work.
What is a day in the life of a Satanic Quintessential like?
Promotion, time with my dog (a rescue who was severely abused), time with my wife, good horror movies and laughs. Sometimes a Guinness will magically appear as well.
The band has been around for about a good 13 years now, over all this time what have you learned?
That the old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself!” is true. I’ve learned not to waste time waiting for someone else to do something for me, because it’ll never get done and there would be no more music. Hell, that’s why instead of waiting for a drummer to show up I hired another CoS member in Canada to record the drums for “Realm of the Great Old Ones.”
Rule number one: humans will always let you down if you give them the chance to.
You are headlining the GREATEST halloween party in history, you have 6 choices of supporting horror punk bands (past and present) who are they?
Diemonsterdie, Samhain, Calabrese, Other, Church for Sinners and the Misfits (old line-up with Glenn Danzig).
Inevitably now that I’ve asked the last question. Now I have to know, what are some of the bands that have influenced you and why?
The Ramones because they started it all by bringing what was essentials 1960s girl-pop into the realm of the electric guitar. Misfits for obvious reasons. Screeching Weasel for keeping that “Fuck You!” vibe alive while still being fun and catchy. Early 1980s Black Metal like Venom and Bathory, as well as early ’90s Black Metal like Emperor, for their raw, dark sound. Bands from the 1960s with that Phil Spector sound. I like a lot of different types of music.
I want to sincerely thank you again Les for taking the time to do this interview and in closing, is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes, for those wondering just what the Hell genuine Satanism is and to clear up any misconceptions folks might have, they can go towww.churchofsatan.com – the source on the real thing.
Thank you so much Les, your band means a great deal to me and you taking the time to do this interview means a lot! Can’t wait to hear the band’s new stuff! Reges Satanas!