In 2002, Retaliate started, put out a demo and played some shows. Then we broke up. Then we got back together and put out Coup D’état in 2006. We played some awesome shows. We Are One came out in 2009. We played some more awesome shows. In August of 2011, Thorns Without A Rose, our 3rd LP, will be released. We dig it and hope you will too. Come see us play. Sing along. Buy a shirt on your way out.
I started Retaliate in 2002 because I wanted to do a side project from In Control that was down tuned and that I could sing for. One night at Pat’s Warehouse in Ventura I saw a band with a bunch of 15 year old kids whose songs sucked but their band sounded great. It was a time where it seemed like every young band with a hint of talent was trying to emulate Poison the Well, but this band you could tell just practiced and practiced, worked on their sound and got tight at what they did.
They were called Too Close to Call and featured Andy Bready on guitar, Andrew Verity on Bass, and Matt Anderson on drums. Andrew came up to me one night to have a conversation. I’d be lying if I said I remembered details, but basically I told him I wanted to do a side project and sing and I was interested in doing it with their band. Everyone was on board and we started practicing soon after.
(Retaliate 2002 demo – front & back)
When brainstorming names, it came down to Rain Dogs, Cyclops, and Retaliate, and obviously we went with Retaliate. We wrote four songs and recorded a demo soon afterward with my long time friend, Roger Camero, who would later become our 2nd guitarist. The demo was fun and at the time I thought it was good and people in the area seemed pretty stoked on it.
My idea was always to put out a demo, play one show, and call it quits, but the other guys wanted to do the band on a more serious level. The first time we ever played live, we did two shows in one night: one at Skate Street in Ventura and one at the Living Room in Goleta. Both were awesome, but it’s hard to have a bad show with four songs.
We played a couple more shows around the 805 and ended up going inactive in 2003 because In Control had two tours planned and were really active, playing 70 shows that year. Andrew, Matt, and Andy went on to form Vendetta who put out two great EPs over the years, and did a southwestern tour.
In late 2004, In Control broke up and I took a year off from creating and playing music. I became really bummed out and knew that I had to get something going again. I’d write about this later in the first verse of “My Love is Real.” In 2005, we’d get Retaliate back together and added Charlie Alvarez on 2nd guitar. We played a handful of shows with the four demo songs plus a cover and then started working on writing our first album.
For “Coup D’état,” we recorded once again with Roger Camero and it came out in October of 2006 on Indecision Records. It featured the four demo songs re-recorded and six new songs. I was super proud of the record both musically and lyrically. Both aspects were really simple but had our own Oxnard twist on them. It was also our first album where we featured the artwork of Aaron Belchere, who created our logo and did the album cover. None of us were that stoked on the album cover, and it was thrown together last minute, but the logo is sick and dedicated to one of the best Mexican cervezas.
We played a bunch of shows in support of the album all over Southern California. At some point, Charlie and Matt left to join the Warriors so Roger came on board playing drums, and Milo formerly of Vendetta took over on guitar duty after returning from Iraq. With this lineup, our friend Rene set us up to play Mexico in fall of 2007 playing shows in Tijuana, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. It was a blast and one of my favorite moments in the band.
I started working on writing the next album with Milo, and he wrote songs that would later become “We Are One” and “My Hate is Real.” Shortly after, he left the band to start a family and moved out of state. Matt had decided to leave the Warriors and wanted back in, so we moved Roger to guitar, and Matt was back on drums.
With this lineup, we recorded “We Are One” once again with Roger, but this time with him in the band. The album branched out a bit more than Coup D’état, but was still aggressive and punk as fuck. It was just less monotone. Andy put together one of my favorite solos ever on “My Love is Real,” we experimented with adding some more singy parts on “Forever,” and Roger really upped the riffage on “Born Alone, Die Alone.” Plus Matt had gotten so much better on drums, it was ill. Also on this record we’d have Andrew sing more, which would become an important aspect of Retaliate.
One again, Aaron Belchere did the cover art and he really outdid himself. It’s one of my favorite album covers ever of any genre. I wanted to have a child soldier on the cover and chose a perfect pic. We looked into licensing the photo but it would’ve been over $1000 just to press 500 records. Aaron did a great job of setting up a photo shoot with a neighbor’s friend and an AK. The original cover will always be my favorite, but the final version is tight too.
“We Are One” came out in 2009 on Indecision Records, and I think it would’ve been well received if anyone heard it. I shoulder most of the blame because Retaliate was not that active at this point when we should have been. By this point, we lived all over Southern California in four different counties, plus with work and school, it is hard to do the band full time. We did two record release shows, one in Ventura, and one in San Diego. I’ve made my home in San Diego since 2006 and it’s a second home for the band. We will always be an Oxnard band and the support in Oxnard and the 805 made us what we are, but we also wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the love we got from SD & Chula Vista as well.
(Retaliate in Chula Vista, CA)
In 2010, Fredrik, Staffan, and the Law & Order guys brought us over to Gothenburg, Sweden to play a festival they were putting on. This would be a good time to mention our sixth member, Juan Zaragoza, who always has Retaliate’s back and has filled in numerous times to save our ass. Roger carries a full load as a recording engineer and traveling sound man, so when he’s away, Juan fills in. He is the shit, and he came with us to Sweden. The show was great and a real crowning achievement for Retaliate and we thank the L&O guys immensely for the opportunity.
When we returned home, we were fired up and began writing our third record, which would become “Thorns Without a Rose.” Andy really stepped it up for this record and wrote a ton of riffs which we’d forge into songs. The record continued the trend of moving further and further away from being a 100% straight forward drop tuned hardcore band which we started as. Roger & Andy both came through big time on the axe work and we experimented with soloing more and more. Matt’s drumming went through the roof and he’s a machine. Andrew sings on almost every song now and his vocals are a key part of the band.
We recorded off and on from late 2010 to early 2011. Mixing took a long time because we finally had an album that we were all 100% happy with musically, lyrically, and recording-wise. We wanted to have something that we were all proud of. Aaron Belchere did the cover art again. We stayed with the grim aspect of “We Are One” but with a full color twist. It’s a great piece of art which really brings me out of my comfort zone and stirs me, which is what art is supposed to do, or so I’m told. Don’t ask me, I’m just the asshole who wrote a song about spiders.
Finally, in August of 2011, “Thorns Without a Rose” will be released. The LP will be on Mind Disease Records out of Chula Vista, CA and the CD will be self released by us. In this current musical climate where sales are down across the board, we decided to release the MP3’s for free, so anyone can have the album. We hope you like it. We love it.
- Zack Nelson, Retaliate, 2011
Thorns Without a Rose record release show flyers: