Abilene’s Soothsayer Sets the Bar for Texas Metal With Aftermath
The music scene in Abilene has had its fair share of great bands, including the latest heavyweights, Soothsayer.
The metalcore outfit just released a blazing new video for their song Aftermath. The song, itself, is from their 2020 EP "Lost".
You can watch the video above, but I should caution you to remember to breathe while watching it. It's intense and will have you on the edge of your seat. If you're like me, you may forget to breathe while watching it.
To say I'm impressed with this song, and video, is an understatement. Honestly, I feel they just set the bar for all of Texas metal with this epic offering.
Soothsayer is made up of Justin Puente (vocals), Timothy Hinojosa (bass), Hunter Haralson (guitar), Kali Puente (drums), and Joshua Westerman (guitar).
I recently had the opportunity to ask the band a few questions and by their answers, you can tell they have as much personality (and overall bad-assery) as their music.
Give us a brief history of Soothsayer.
Justin: "We formed Soothsayer in 2019. Kali and I just wanted to play music again after a few years of not playing. So we asked a few musicians around Abilene including Hunter and it went from there. It was supposed to just be jamming here and there but quickly progressed into playing live shows and recording music. We’ve had a few member changes since then. Timothy was a friend of hunters who always just liked to hang out at our practices there came a time when we really needed a bassist so we asked Tim to join. He normally plays guitar but agreed to play bass for us. We added Josh on guitar in October of 2020. Since these two additions, the chemistry is stronger than ever between us all."
"Lost" EP came out in June 2020, how long did it take you to write and produce it?
Justin: "The LOST EP took about a year for us to write. “ROULETTE” was our very first song we wrote as a band and sort of became a template for the sound of the songs to come. We ended up hammering 5 songs out in two days at Blackroom Studios with Luke Garrigus."
Describe the writing process for the band.
Hunter: "Josh, Tim, and myself usually lay down some rough demos and ideas on bass and guitar with on recording software i use. After we get things structured, Kali comes in with drum ideas and Justin will start writing lyrics to the song."
"Lost" and "Hourglass" are my favorites (can't pick just one), do each of you have a favorite song off of the Lost EP?
Tim: Deceiver is my favorite because of the way we all vibe to it, it will always be one of my favorite songs by us
Kali: Hourglass is my most favorite to play live. It’s a pretty simple song but brings a lot of energy on live shows. People really get into that one.
Justin: My favorite is definitely Aftermath. The words of that song mean so much to me and I feel like I am able to perform more passionately because of the emotional connection I have with it.
Josh: mine is probably Deceiver it’s really fun for me to play and have the crowd to sing with us
Hunter: Hourglass for me because of the flow of Justin‘s lyrics. His lyrics fit so well in that song. It’s super relatable because he’s talking about losing time and wishing he can go back in time to change certain things and I think we all feel like that at some point.
Tell us us about Aftermath, is it personal to anyone in the band?
Kali: Aftermath was our second song that we ended up writing following “Roulette”. We went back and forth on ideas for a few weeks or so on it. It has hardcore roots and punchy breakdowns which complimented each other well.
Justin: I wrote the lyrics to Aftermath after feeling like I had failed at some aspirations in life. As I’ve gone through life, I’ve realized I’m going to fail at things and I am going to make mistakes that can’t be taken back. But these failures and mistakes shape us as humans and it is our choice to learn from them so that we can continue growing.
Hunter: it’s personal to us because it’s one of the first songs we’ve written as a group and the very first single we put out as well. I think it’s pretty special to everybody because it was our first music video we’ve done together as a band.
Lyrically, it's totally relatable, does Soothsayer write songs to be relatable or does it or is it just the natural outcome?
Justin: Lyrically I aim to write every song to be relatable to things that myself and pretty much everyone else endure. My main goal as a lyricist is to establish an emotional connection with our listeners.
Hunter: We always try to put our emotions we feel at the time into the music we write. Every song we write has a story structurally and lyrically.
How did you guys meet Chris Honesto, director of the "Aftermath" video?
Josh: Chris is the guitarist for a well known band called Neon Graves, who I have been a huge fan of. It turns out he’s a fan of our as well so we got to talking and he showed me an amazing portfolio of music videos he’s done and I knew we had to use him!
Did you go into the shoot with a mental sketch of how you wanted it to turn out or was it all Chris?
Kali: It all had transpired pretty quick you know? We initially planned to shoot a video for Hourglass that we had a cool story line for. We ended up changing it to aftermath at the very last minute. I’m talking like a day or two ahead of the scheduled shoot. So we didn’t really have a plan going in. Chris had great ideas to get really cool shots of us so he really just did his own thing. And it turned out pretty sick! We are all very happy with it. His only advice to us was “GO HAM!”
What was more exciting, recording in studio or video shoot?
Kali: Both were equally as exciting. I’ve always loved working with Luke Garrigus as a recording engineer in the studio. I’ve been recording at Blackroom studios with him in various bands since I was 18.
The music video was something I never had experienced prior to this so it was really cool watching everything come together. Chris Honesto is an excellent videographer and we had a blast on set with him.
Justin: I think I was more excited about recording the song in the studio because I love hearing our music come together with the studio quality. I was just plain nervous for the music video because I’m a little self conscious about being on camera.
Tim: Unfortunately I wasn't in the band at the time when they recorded Aftermath, but it was amazing when I did the music video. I was nervous but I think I did okay in it!
Josh: The music video! But I will say our recent trip to the studio was something else! We can’t wait to share it with everyone
Hunter: shooting the video I would say because of where we got to shoot and how great it came out.
Kali: it was an abandoned meat factory, that’s pretty metal if you ask me!
Since it requires multiple takes to shoot a video, do you plan on releasing a “making of the video” or even a blooper reel of some of the outtakes from the whole process?
Justin: Chris may have some stuff as far as bloopers go because there were definitely a lot. I’m not sure we have any plans to make a blooper video for it.
Since you guys have had a few shows, during the pandemic, did it change the way you approach your set?
Kali: We’ve tried wearing masks on stage (besides Justin). I personally end up eating mine when I’m behind my kit and it pretty much sucks but we’ve managed to make it work. It is difficult for me but It also conceals the double chin so it has its positives
Josh: We go 100 percent no matter what. What can you expect? You get a crazy amount of crowd participation and energy. But we definitely try to be as safe as possible following whatever guidelines are put in place.
Speaking of, how would you describe a Soothsayer show?
Justin: Our live shows are energetic, inspirational, and brutal all in one set. So far the crowds have not let us down. They throw down! And we love it
Hunter: Very intense and fun all at the same time, we love to throw down!
You guys are older now, so how do your family lives impact the band and vice versa?
Kali: We definitely have to make time for this band outside of our family. I mean we all have full time jobs and still grind when we aren’t working for the majority of our free time. We put a lot of time into Soothsayer. But we also have a great support system and get help whenever we need it. Justin and I have taken our son to shows on the road and he has a blast interacting with people and listening to all of the bands play. We’re lucky to have a little metal head.
Hunter: It’s definitely hard to be away from my girlfriend so much bc we all work jobs and then put a lot of time into this. She understands this is my dream and supports me no matter what. We do this because we love to do it and love performing for people.
Josh: We all have families. I have three kids so time away is hard but they also keep me motivated to pursue this dream and make them proud!
With more downtime, than normal, during the pandemic…did that allow you to write more material? If so, do you have plans for another EP or a full-length?
Kali: We went through a lot of changes last year so while we did have more time to write we were also still trying to build a solid foundation as far as our lineup went. Hunter, Josh, and Tim really stepped up and wrote A LOT of material. We plan to get an EP done sometime this year!
Hunter: It definitely has allowed us to write more. The new stuff really has more of an intense ambient vibe to it. It will definitely be an improved Soothsayer with our new material we plan on releasing.
Obviously, you all are a tight-knit group, especially considering 2 of y’all are married. Being so close, do you get into many “family-style” arguments?
Kali: I think since Justin and I are married people would automatically assume we fight like crazy being in a band together too! But it’s not the case we are great about not stepping on each others toes. I think I would say hunter and I definitely butt heads the most. I’m a pretty blunt person and so is he, so with both of our stubbornness definitely comes a little arguing, it’s all out of love though.
Justin: Nobody messes with me really I’m pretty easy going.
Josh: Not a whole lot, every now and then we definitely can irritate each other.
Hunter: We do things to piss each other off but at he end of the day we still
love each other and are a family
Who’s the biggest prankster in the band and why?
Kali: Josh is always talking shit trying to get a rise out of everyone. It’s pretty funny especially when I’m not at the end of the joke.
DO NOT LET TIM CATCH YOU SLIPPING. He has a knack for taking the worst photograph that he can get of you and plastering it all over social media! He’s also the youngest in the band so that comes with the territory.
Josh: I feel like I’m the funny guy that keeps the band laughing and having a good time, these guys are my family and I love them.
TIM: I make memes out of them for some reason
What advice would you give the younger bands in the scene now days?
Justin: Invest your time into something that actually makes money.
Nahh but foreal though, stay true to your sound and don’t let anyone else tell you what you should sound like. Just play the music you love.
Josh: Keep grinding and stay motivated. If you really want it then go get it!
Hunter: Always put in the hours of hard work and push yourself to get better and better. Most importantly have fun with it because it meant to be fun. If you work hard at it you will achieve it!
Who are/were some of the artists/musicians that influenced each of you?
Justin: Sirens and Sailors, Fit For A King, and We Came As Romans were the most influential bands for me growing up.
Kali: Flyleaf was actually the band that got me into heavier music. Paramore is the band the got me interested in picking up drum sticks for the first time and August Burns Red was the turning point for me in knowing that I wanted to start playing metal.
TIM: Jason Richardson of Invent, Animate. Darko, Chelsea Grin, Logic, Joyner Lucas, and Mike Shinoda were very influential to me
Hunter: Invent, Animate, Silent Planet, Fit for a King, Sirens & Sailors, Thornhill, and ERRA.
Josh: Metallica is who inspired me to even play guitar as well as my dad. Now days like they mentioned above Invent, Animate. Kingdom of Giants and August Burns Red really inspire me.
If you could tour with 1 band, what band would that be?
Kali: Definitely SAVIOUR out of Australia. They are insane with so much talent. It would be a dream come true for me.
Justin: Sirens & Sailors! I’ve looked up to them for so long. we’ve met them a couple times and they are all such great dudes. It would be fun to get to tour with them.
Josh: Kingdom of Giants most definitely
TIM: It would have to be Invent, Animate
Hunter: ERRA for me
Since the word “soothsayer” means someone that can foresee the future, what do you foresee for 2021 for Soothsayer?
Justin: 2021 is really about us hitting Texas cities really hard and trying to get our name out there more and more. And without saying too much, we just got out of the studio with Luke and plan on releasing a couple of new songs and some other things as well in the VERY near future.
Check out Soothsayers video in the player above and be on the lookout for their music and upcoming tour dates. I absolutely love this band and I'm sure you will too.