Marino Vázquez is one of those musicians that truly believe in what he does and he’s not afraid of putting his heart on the line to achieve his goals. His career speaks for himself: he has been with Venezuelan Metal band Guerra Santa for almost three decades since their inception and has been the voice of one of his country’s biggest and most important bands. Now living in Argentina due to Venezuela’s crisis, Marino is still working and dedicating his efforts to succeed with Guerra on an international scale.
We invited Marino to have a talk here in MusikHolics and we discussed multiple topics such as his influences, his passion for his band, the situation in Venezuela and many other things. I hope you enjoy it.
It’s a pleasure to have you here, Marino. Thank you for the opportunity. I want to start from the beginning. What made you interested in music and become a vocalist?
Thanks to you. I always had inclinations to music and especially to sing; it started by seeing my uncles who played serenatas of boleros and my father, who was a Tang singer. My paternal grandfather was multinstrumentist and eventually belonged to the orchestra of the city in San Cristobal, Tachira, back when everything was in black and white (hehehehe). So, in a certain way, I lived a childhood with musicians until I heard my first Rock album at the age of nine years old, Dirty Deeds Don’t Dirt Cheap, from AC/DC, and I had an epiphany and everything changed.
What were the albums and vocalists that influenced you the most?
When I was nine years old I was very attracted and found Rock vocalists very interesting after hearing Bon Scott, Robert Plan (Led Zeppelin), Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Ronnie James Dio and a lot more. There I understood where I wanted to go, musically speaking.
For those readers who are not very informed, what is Guerra Santa and what is the group about? How were they formed?
Guerra Santa, far from fundamentalism and the struggle between religions for an absolute truth, is the fight of every man for his dreams; it is a way of life for many, an ideal of fighting, of persistence and believing in what is done. We formed almost 28 years ago in San Cristóbal, our roots being classical Heavy Metal. I knew it would be something very special in my life and it is and it has been for many who grew up with the band that has left its mark in several generations.
Venezuela is not a country well known for its rock scene. Did that have a major influence on the band to have stability?
In fact, the musical influences in Venezuela are Caribbean, Latin and rhythms typical of our culture where Rock did not have and has not had a great place at least not for most Venezuelans, and it was not easy to keep a Heavy Metal band for so long and even less in so the province, but in spite of it we never stopped and we always look for more. While many band members have come and go, we never lower our arms and we are still standing.
Leaving the music aside for a moment, the situation in your country has been quite negative in recent years. What can you tell us about it, from your point of view?
Many thought of a change, but the reality is that we are mired in a crisis of unimaginable magnitude. Just those of us who have lived in Venezuela can understand; those of us who have had to leave the country in an almost biblical exodus, we also attest to that, and even more so those who continue on our country living the unspeakable. We left in the hands of megalomaniacs and populists the problems that only a society without hatred or resentments could have solved; is the result of a chain of errors, you have to find solutions and reach a balance where everyone can go back to create those opportunities for the future and meet again a as brothers to move forward that great country that hurts us and that we long for.
You even had to immigrate to Argentina a while ago.
Well, yes. It was allowing me be consumed by a system with no opportunities or move forward and grow. Fall in this senseless struggle in an intolerant society and crack powerless or standing tall without kneeling to the submission of the harsh realities of these times. Each person has a different situation. In my case, if I would have stayed, I would found myself in a short time as a man who was not me, for sure: homeless, without family and away from music. I had no choice but to emigrate.
What was the impact of your move to Argentina with the future of Guerra Santa?
Since 2009, when we came to Buenos Aires to play, I understood that if I wanted to go further with the band we should live here. We came back twice, adding in those three visits more than fifteen dates. The fourth time was to stay and move the pieces to make a musical future here and from here to project the band as it deserves by contacting labels like Icarus Music Argentina and recording the two most recent albums in one of the most important Latin American places, La Nave de Oseberg.
Have you been able to have more opportunities in Argentina? What has been the reception of the general public with the band?
Yes, Argentina is a great country with a public that is very fond of Metal music, and in two years here we have played with bands like Avalanch from Spain, with musicians like Sven Feanor D’anna from the Germans Wizzard and David Shankle, former Manowar member. We’ve been moving a lot in the Argentinian Metalscene. The added value of having a 25-year career has certainly been helpful and thanks to the media that have spread our music, each concert and public that we have since the 2009 to date we know that we should not lower our arms and keep fighting. Much remains to be done and the future is in our hands.
Already Guerra Santa has been on stage for more than two decades. What are you most proud of in this band?
Proud to know that wherever we go we will leave the name of our country well up, proud of having overcome many times the adversity and that despite the most difficult circumstances we are alive, proud that many people sing our songs and are identified in our messages of union, strength and hope…
Being a group with so many years of activity, is there any anecdote that stands out and worth telling?
Hahaha it would be a long list of anecdotes, but I could talk about the second time we came here to Argentina in 2011. We had problems with the return tickets because we bought them in Venezuela with an open return date–it turned out there were not, and to come back before we had to cancel an unpayable dollar fine or expect the return date, in two and a half months!!! While the problem was solved, we had to spend three weeks here and the last four days and three nights at the airport. We sold instruments to survive, but thanks to close friends and albums that we sold here we managed to overcome that. It was all a test in difficult moments; and before the exodus in 2015 when I came to look for the album La Guerra Apenas Empieza I also lost the flight (here it was all my fault) and thanks to the fate and that angel that never leaves me, the flight I arrived late to and technically lost had been postponed to the next day due technical issues. So I just spent another night in the airport of Ezeiza, which I already know too well and know the places where to sleep in hehehe.
Something told me this was my destiny and I’m here.
Certainly being a vocalist is different from being a guitarist or a drummer because you demand more of yourself physically. What are the measures you usually take to keep your voice in good shape?
You always have to do breathing exercises and vocalization, in addition to routine exercises to keep you in shape. Also not many excesses: I take care of what I eat, I do not smoke, I do not use drugs, I hydrate a lot and I drink very little alcohol (I used to drink a lot of lol) and I try to sleep well. It’s vital to keep you as healthy as possible.
What are your plans in the near future with Guerra Santa?
Keep recording the band’s sixth album, Exodo: Un Nuevo Comienzo, which we hope to release by the middle of this year, distributing it in all of Argentina and in countries such as Mexico, Spain and Japan (and certainly Venezuela). With this album we can tour through Latin America, continue to consolidate the band in the Argentinian scene and continue working with much humility and without pause. The future is now!
What does a vocalist do, according to you?
Many would say that a vocalist does his big voice and yes, in part, but coupled with that there are essential factors, it is not only being a great performer, you have to keep yourself physically and mentally positive, and also with a great stage delivery, with warmth and simplicity with the audience that is for whom you make each note in each song. Believe what is sung and what is said. Between each song know what and how to say things, because a vocalist is a communicator and it is very delicate the way to handle issues that could leave you in bad position at the moment of speaking, it is not only singing and the history of music says a lot.
Thank you very much for this opportunity, Marino. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you and Guerra Santa on social networks?
Thanks to you, the opportunity is for me to express many things and leave clear positions that some that do not know me assume. Also thanks to those whom always believed in our work: for them we continue and will continue writing this history of life called Guerra Santa…
I wait for the time to get together in Guerra Santa’s concerts anywhere on the planet and especially in our land, surely good news will come from the band. You can contact us, follow and subscribe to our social networks on Facebook: GuerraSantaFanPage on Instagram, our Twitter is @guerrasantavzla and on YouTube: Guerra Santa Vzla.