It’s Friday night in New York City and Dominion NY is tightly packed. The sound system is set at a tinnitus inducing level, people are crowd surfing, and an emcee by the name of Adam Cruz is hitting listeners with dose of lyricism over a thrashing heavy metal sound. This is a typical evening with Xombie.

This is not your father’s nu-metal.

OK, so maybe your father didn’t have nu-metal, but the point remains the genre has grown since its birth well over a decade ago. The main difference for Xombie is that the band is led by a real emcee, who was involved in hip-hop before ever thinking about rock. This gives them a quality we haven’t heard that often in the genre. Xombie is made up of (pictured Left to Right) guitarist Rob “Fish” Fishkin, guitarist Roy Galvan, bassist “Cadillac” Mike Martabano, drummer Rob “Bangers” Patierno, and emcee Adam Cruz, and RapReviews caught up with all of them before their show at Dominion NY to find out more about the group, how tequila and Jay-Z helped bring them together, and how a trip to Kentucky led to scarring from a soda can. The band also discussed their just released album, Swaggaholix: Deluxe Edition, and where a pirate ship fits into their plans.

Adam Bernard: Start me off by telling me about how tequila shots and a drunken conversation helped lead to the birth of Xombie.

Adam Cruz: That was between me and Roy. Basically it was kind of a work event at South Street Seaport. Music came up, I had met him earlier and found out he played guitar, and said we should get together. I wanted to get into something different. I’ve always rapped. I wanted to do something with a band. We started hanging out the next week and started pumping out our own little songs and from there we developed.

AB: So this was a work event?

Roy Galvan: Yeah, we were shit faced at a work event.

AC: He ended up being a temp at our job.

RG: I was temporarily fucked up. That’s for sure. {*laughs*}

AB: Did either of you immediately hit on a girl afterward using the line “I’m in a band?”

RG: Not really. We were just hanging out and jamming. Then I tried to sing, but I fucking can’t sing. (Rob “Bangers” Patierno) and I used to be in a band in college and I was like yo, let me call this guy up. He came down and started jamming. We tried Mike out, but he was too busy. Later on he came in and we found Rob on CraigsList.

AB: Erotic encounters?

Rob “Fish” Fishkin: A funny thing happened, we were looking for other furries and… No, it was really random how I met these guys because I used to work at a sales job and I had won a sales contest to go down to Atlantic City in a limo and see Jay-Z. I never really had any interest in hip-hop, all my favorite bands were hard rock or punk, or stuff like Rage Against the Machine. I saw Jay-Z and he had this band behind him and when they played “Encore” they got really heavy at the end and I was just sitting there blown away. I was not expecting that. It was great. I immediately went home, posted on CraigsList that I was looking for rappers to collaborate with, and I found these guys.

AB: When you started telling people you were starting a nu-metal, or rap metal, band what was the typical reaction? Were people like “didn’t that die years ago?”

Rob “Bangers” Patierno: If we explain our band it’s kind of like Limp Bikit and Linkin Park, but you have to add “but not that gay” at the end. It’s better than that. We’re a real mix of the best parts of hip-hop and metal. We have a good combination of both. We have the low bass-y, funky, stuff with the rapping vocals, but then we also have these high, metallic-y, thrash-y guitar solos and stuff. It meshes really well.

AC: It’s a different level. When you hear Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, automatically you’re set for a distinct sound, and even with certain songs of ours people will say it right off the bat, but then you keep listening and it’s not. Me, personally, I’ve been rapping all my life and I’m better than the Mike Shinodas and Fred Dursts. I am. Zack de la Rocha is the one person I can say who’s done the rock and rap that can kill it and hold his own in the hip-hop world. Mike Shinoda’s another one, he actually can do it, too, it’s just different. I can put myself up there with the best and I know I can hold my own. I feel like that, in general, with the band’s style of music, it’s different, it’s not the same Linkin Park, it’s not the same Limp Bizkit, it’s heavier and it’s still more hip-hop at the same time. We always say that, and that’s the best way to describe it.

AB: What do you feel the nu-metal genre allows you to do, or voice, that another genre wouldn’t?

AC: I think we can appeal to everybody. We have songs that if you love hip-hop you’ll appreciate the hip-hop elements, if you love metal you’re gonna be headbanging at certain parts, if you’re a girl there are songs you’re gonna be dancing to and grinding to. We have something for everybody and not everyone can pull that off.

AB: You’re deeming what you’re doing “Hood Metal.” What makes it more hood than previous nu-metal bands?

AC: I don’t feel people like Fred Durst can hold it down in the hip-hop world. I’m from New York. I’ve been living and breathing hip-hop all my life. Rock is new for me. These guys, I’ve learned so much from them. It’s different. To me it’s more hood. It’s more lyrics. I can hold it down.

AB: Why the X in the band’s name? And as a follow up, are you worried about being sued by James Farr, creator of the animated series, graphic novel and comic book series Xombie?

RF: I hope not, because that graphic novel’s very cool. We didn’t know about it until we named the band and it’s a really cool series and I think he seems like a pretty cool guy and we’re happy to promote his shit. Anyway, it’s funny how we came up with this name. We do this thing in our band where we text each other like 13 year old girls, and we’re alway on band chat (sending texts to everyone in the group). We were coming up with ridiculous shit. I wanted to name the band The Black Guy From Reading Rainbow. We came up with some really fun stuff, but everything we ended up coming up with was zombie stuff and Banger was like “we have one rule, we can’t have zombie in the name of the band, ANYWHERE, anywhere at all.” Then Adam has a typo and writes Xombie with an X and everyone liked it.

RP: I was like “you know what, I can deal with that.”

AC: I’m a zombie freak. I love zombies, love horror and shit like that, and he would always get so mad, “no zombie, nothing with zombies, it’s the stupidest thing,” and one day I texted “Xombie” and everyone’s response was like “alright cool” and Rob responds like “that IS pretty cool.” It was like whoa, where did that come from!?!

AB: So if you’re into zombies a cameo on The Walking Dead would be pretty badass, right?

AC: I love that show.

RF: I’d want to do some zombie killing.

AC: Maybe a cameo where I can be a hero and then turn in the end.

AB: Moving back to your music, after releasing two EPs, 2010’s Xombie and 2011’s Swaggaholix, you just released your first full-length LP, Swaggaholix: Deluxe Edition, this past week. Break down a couple of the songs you’re hitting listeners with on this album.

RF: The first one’s “Excuse Me Miss.” That’s going to be our first single off the album. It’s a really poppy, fun, song I feel like everybody can get into. We just shot a great video with Red Lipstick Mafia. Johanna Botta, who’s been in a lot of different MTV shows, is the main girl in the video. It’s the story of Johanna going on a date with Adam and Adam turning into this monster. You start seeing us in this club with all these freaks and fire eaters and burlesque dancers. The song comes from a riff Roy came up with, and he and Adam were working on that song before they even met us.

AC: That’s our top ten Billboard song. That’s the one that the girls love. It’s very catchy, the riff is there.

RF: The next one, to get people right into what Xombie is, is my favorite, “TerrorDactyl,” which is a real fun, heavy, song, but still a song you can nod your head to. I remember me and Roy sitting around playing with a lot of different riffs that we had and just kind of combining them. Actually, that song was something I was jamming on with one of my friends in Maryland, Dan Tyler, who had put some of those guitar parts together. He’s a co-writer on the album.

RP: That song is the quintessential Xombie song that really mixes the heavy with the hip-hop. That is Xombie.

AC: Exactly, and that’s one song EVERYBODY enjoys. You have your metal people that are just like “whoa, that’s heavy.” Girls love that song because they can dance to it. All my friends who love hip-hop, that’s (their favorite song). We hit every single element in that song to really get a feel of what we’re all about.

AB: Moving from the studio to the stage, since I know you’ve been playing quite a few shows, hit me with one or two of your most memorable tour stories.

RG: Kentucky.

Entire Group: NASCAR!

RG: It’s the most American experience I’ve ever had in my life. I’m Dominican. We saw this guy pull up in an RV and he put his band out and started jamming in front of thousands of RVs, so we said let’s do the same thing. The next year we said let’s go to Kentucky, which is not really a good idea because it’s like 20 hours driving back and forth. We had to fill the RV five times going there and five times coming back. Once we got there it was awesome. We made a bunch of redneck friends and we started jamming at four in the afternoon, and then after the race we jammed again and everyone was rowdy. When people started throwing bottles and fireworks we were like OK guys, let’s pack it up.

RP: I got hit by a soda can. It was a FULL soda can, and it just happened to sail right over my drumstick and my cymbal and hit me right in the chest and I’m like uhhh, guys, we gotta stop.

RF: Then there was the time we played in Mount Kisco (New York), and our fans were pulling us off the stage and crowd surfing each us while we were playing, and no one missed a note. Every single one of us got pulled off the stage at some point during that show. It was a lot of fun.

AB: Since this interview will be running on February 7th, one week before Valentine’s Day, could you give our readers some Valentine’s Day advice?

RG: Fuck bitches, get money.

Entire Group: {*laughs*}

AC: If you’re trying to hook up with a girl listen to “Excuse Me Miss,” or “St. Beautiful.” “St. Beautiful” is actually about Roy’s cousin. But I would say for Valentine’s Day, you can make some sweet beautiful love to either of those, or bang it out to hood metal.

AB: Finally, aside from the usual goals every band has for themselves and their albums, what are some of the stranger goals you hope Xombie will achieve?

RF: I got a goal for us. I think we should get a goddamn pirate ship.

Entire Group: {*laughs*}

RF: Wait, hear me out, this isn’t crazy!

RP: I like it already.

RF: We take the pirate ship and we just load it up with speakers on one side and go up the East coast and hit all the beaches and just have concerts in the ocean. If some big band steals that idea I will kick their ass.