The Ozzfest Meets Knotfest Interviews – Jeff Becerra of Possessed
Ozzfest Meets Knotfest is a celebration of all things heavy metal, and this year’s edition would feature an appearance by the legendary Possessed! Presenting their own diabolical brand of death/thrash metal since the 80’s, in 1990, Possessed’s founding member Jeff Becerra would find his music aspirations sidelined by a gun shot that would leave him paralyzed. Displaying a sense of perseverance and a desire to perform onstage once again, Becerra reformed Possessed in 2007. It has been a long journey back, and Possessed are now primed and ready to record their third full length metal manifesto for Nuclear Blast Records!
Following their triumphant show at Ozzfest Meets Knotfest, Highwire Daze Online caught up with Jeff Becerra of Possessed backstage at the Glen Helen Amphitheater to find out more about the upcoming endeavors of this intensive landmark collective! Read on…
We’re here with Jeff Becerra from the legendary Possessed. How does that sound, Jeff? The legendary Possessed!
Sounds amazing. Sounds good, sounds real. I hear it all the time.
What was it like playing Ozzfest meets Knotfest?
It’s amazing. Just so great to be here. Amazing. I never thought in a million years that an underground band, a band like Possessed would be here. I feel a little out of place but they make me feel very at home. Especially guys like John Fenton, Sharon Osbourne and of course Ozzy and everyone that made it possible for a little band like Possessed to be here.
Possessed is now signed to Nuclear Blast Records and you played a few new songs today. Let’s talk about these songs and what inspired the lyrics? One of them is called “Shadow Cult”?
It’s basically about Christianity or any other religion where they fucking brainwash you. I think in a certain way when the reality is, that shit is off in space and reality is right here with us.
What inspired the lyrics to Abandoned?
Probably Dante Alighieri and going into the recesses of hell. I know that it’s Divine Comedy, but I kind of kicked off that, mutated like it was like you were going down into Hell and seeing what’s going on.
It’s been 30 years since a new Possessed recording. When you look back at the two full lengths that you did, Seven Churches and Beyond The Gates – what do you think of them now?
Seven Churches was recorded when I was 16, so I think it sounds like a teenager. So, now it’s just nice to have all that experience under my belt. I love Seven Churches, I’m very proud of it. But I just want to do what I do now and I don’t know if it’ll fly or not, but I want to play what I want to play like I’ve always done. I’m always going to do whatever the fuck I want to do. If people like it, I will love that.
You did the Eyes Of Horror EP, which was produced by Joe Satriani. How did that come about, and do you keep in touch with Joe?
Joe’s a friend, just like Les Claypool or Gary Holt. We all grew up in the same area, so we’re tight. Joe used to give guitar lessons in the downtown where I live. It’s like, normal people. It was great that Joe wanted to produce the album. I think Joe did it for like $4k or something. It was like a friend of ours doing it. I said, Joe, just don’t pick up a guitar. We were kids! It was fun. Really good experience, educational.
When you look at that EP, what do you think of it today?
Well I love it, I still play it today. I think it’s long been time for Possessed to make a new album. That’s where my gears are in motion. In many ways, I just want to put the old shit behind us and move on. But I know it’s the foundation.
When do you think we can expect new material?
Definitely by summer 2018. I signed in blood, so. I literally signed it in blood. Not figuratively, literally.
Emilio Marquez has been with Possessed for the last 10 years. What do you think has kept you and Emilio together for ten years? He’s like the second longest Possessed member now.
Yeah since 2002. Emilio is my blood, he’s my hermano, you know? We all Satanic Hispanics. Emilio is invaluable to me. So, when it comes to business and everything, we’re both the businessmen of the band. Also, he’s a great guy and a great drummer. You know how sometimes you just meet people that you just click with? Me an Emilio clicked right away. I wouldn’t do this without Emilio.
Is touring something you want to do more of in 2018?
I’ve been touring hard since 2007, so of course. I love touring. Without playing live, what is there?
What can fans expect from a live Possessed 2017/2018 show?
Well, hopefully mostly all new shit. Of course we’ll play a few for the old-school fans but we’re trying to move Possessed into the future. That’s our intention, keep the foundation, and progress with the new material. The new material is what we’re all about right now.
What do you think has kept you so passionate about Possessed after all this time?
It’s weird because I quit Possessed for 17 and a half years to go to college, well first I got shot, and then because of the fear of being disabled I went to college and then I eventually I got married, had a few ids and worked for an HMO. I rallied my way up because I majored in Labor Studies. Made straight A’s all through college, president of my class. I made it up to VP of United Healthcare Workers Union and I did that for a decade. Then, to be honest, I just missed playing. I would hate to be – not saying this for everybody – but I would hate to just wake up pushing 50 and to only have played Satanic Death Metal. For me, I had to live my life and do what I wanted to do and now I have the freedom to do what I want, which is to play really true death metal. I missed it.
Any messages for longtime Possessed fans who are reading this right now?
Yeah, fucking hail Satan! Do whatever the fuck you want, whenever the fuck you want, and however you fucking want – be proud, be strong. Don’t let the world get you down. Like Nietzsche says, life is suffering but defining meaning in the suffering is living.
Jeff Becerra (vocals)
Daniel Gonzalez (guitars)
Emilio Marquez (drums)
Robert Cardenas (bass)
Claudeous Creamer (guitars)
(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)