Symetria is a diamond in the rough of metal bands. Humble, giving, and balanced, the band offers a unique take on the rock band lifestyle. Hailing from New Jersey, Symetria is comprised of Vince Santonastaso (vocals), Kevin Cust (guitar), Blair Smith (drums), Fernando Carrera (bass), and James Soto (guitar) and blends a unique mix of thrash, power metal, and classic rock n’ roll.
Frontman Vince Santonastaso took a few minutes out of his crazy schedule to talk with me about how he got started, the band’s humanitarian exploits, and his own tattoos.
First of all, let’s get started with a simple question. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and Symetria?
Sure, my name is Vince, and I front the band Symetria. I've been in a sick twisted love affair with music my entire life. I knew I was born to perform in grade school and began actually singing in high school, for a girl ironically. Don't get me wrong, I was the kid who spent 45 mins in the shower playing Paul Stanley word for word with Kiss Alive 3 at 9 years old, but started really learning how to sing in High School. Cover bands after High School, and into my 20's, doing all kinds of stuff kinda helped me to dial in on my range and where I could get really powerful, but It wasn't until I started writing lyrics that I found my own voice and style. Symetria is everything I ever dreamed of with a band. 5 guys who share the same vision of a world full of love, peace, patience, and understanding. Our influences individually are all over the place, but our vision is the same, and that gives us a touch of uniqueness in the sense that all those influences ring through and yet the lyrics and message stays where we want it to be, even though the music itself lends itself to an angrier, and more aggressive sound vocally. We want to create a sound that truly has something for everyone and bring hard rock - metal music back to its roots in a way. Transcend all the sub-genres and play music that brings everyone together under the big warm blanket of Heavy Metal Rock & Roll.
You and your guitar player, Kevin Cust, met while playing in a cover band inspired by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metallica. Would you say those bands still have an influence on the music you write today?
Absolutely, without a doubt, as well as all the other greats. That's part of our sound, to have enough of an old-school vibe and feel to get the ears of people my generation, I'm 37, who have been listening to the same music for the last 15 years because everything newer just didn't resonate. And to also be relevant in the new generation. It's all good music, you can't bash other artists work and to be honest I hate when I see people say "everything for the last 20 years sucked". I get that you may not have liked it, and I agree that something has been missing in metal for a while now to certain fans, to a huge group of fans I'm hoping to find and excite again. So it's critical for us to keep that homage to the originators and innovators of the entire rock/metal genre in our sound. It’s a part of us.
Your first live show as Symetria was at a Toys for Tots benefit concert (really cool, by the way!). Can you tell us a little bit about how that experience was for you?
The show was through an old friend from a band that I used to play within a prior project. They host it every year, we're doing it again this year in fact. It'll be posted on our page as is all our upcoming shows and events. I wanted to get us out in front of people that I knew would be 100% honest with me and see what they thought. I really thought we were on to something special already at that point and just wanted some honest feedback. Which we got, from not just people I knew, but total strangers gave us a few nice compliments. It was very exciting to bring a new sound and project to old friends and fans of an old band of mine and have them receive it as well as they did. For me, it just confirmed that I was finally doing what I was meant to do. This band, these members, this sound, this time.
Toys for Tots wasn’t the only benefit concert Symetria has performed at. You guys really seem to focus on the Humanitarian side of the music industry—something not many rock bands (or any genre, for that matter) seem to do often these days. Is giving back to the community something really important to you guys?
It is the greatest reason for doing what we do. There are no dreams of rock stardom here, I'm not looking to up my lifestyle, take whatever is needed to survive and give back with the rest. We all see the pain and suffering in the world, we all feel the sorrow in the world. Being as empathic as I am naturally I always am thinking about helping people, in any capacity, the only way to get the world to love one another is to spread it yourself. Never being an Elvis fan I didn't realize how much he did for people, that really isn't common knowledge, but when I went to Graceland last year and saw what he did for everyone who he could, I was moved. I realized that giving back was the greatest thing I could do with my life. That's part of my inspiration and dream for Symetria, to be significant enough in music to make a difference with what we do. I wish we were in a position to do something right now to aid the victims of Harvey and Irma. We’re just not yet, so I've done my part individually and I know the guys have to. I cannot ask the universe to allow me the privilege of success as a musician without doing good things with that success. It would be against my morals to do so.
September 29th looks to be shaping up as a big weekend for Symetria! Can you give our audience a little heads up as to what is happening that weekend?
September 29th our album releases. That is huge for us, it's a culmination of everything we have all ever envisioned ourselves being and doing. We are all fortunate enough to have found each other and this creation of ours goes worldwide that day. It is a dream come true to release music at this level and have it easily and readily available to all who like it is incredible. As if that wasn't enough, the very next day we are playing the Metal Alliance Tour with Overkill, Crowbar, Havok, and Invidia. That is, in theory, our album release show. The excitement level goes off the chart when I start running it through my mind, I grew up with Overkill, saw them countless times all over Jersey, I dreamed of being part of the Old Bridge Metal Militia. Bobby Blitz was the guy that put me over the top. I knew I loved music, but the first time I heard him sing I was hooked on being a singer. Now to take my band and put it on a bill with them the day after our debut album releases, it's almost overwhelming. I'm gonna have a hell of a time not going "fanboy" when I get to meet them guys.
Can you tell our readers a little about the ink you have? Do any of your pieces hold special meaning or do you just get pieces for the fun of it?
Ink, I love it, almost as much as music!!! I like them all, I got one dragon on my right bicep that was my first which I do plan on having covered up with an H.R. Geiger inspired piece surrounding our Symetria yin-yang logo. It just doesn't fit anymore, they all have meaning to a point. My parrot on my right calf is a tribute to Jimmy Buffet. My left arm is sleeved, eventually, the right will be finished. My left calf piece is one of my personal favorites, its 3 stacked skulls doing the "Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil" both of my calfs were done in Key West. The parrot was on my wedding day in the window of the shop still in my wedding clothes. My wife got one too that day, and 4 years later when we went back for our anniversary we got more. I also have my wedding ring done permanently. Designed that one myself, it's a living hand and a skeleton hand wrapping up both sides of my finger and interlocking at the top to symbolize life and death together. I should probably say that's the most important one...
When it comes to your ink, do you find you stick with a specific style of tattoo or do you have a mix of styles?
No style really, I like different stuff, I like busy and detailed, I love big colorful pieces, and I love greyscale too. I do like things to tie together in my sleeves. My left one I did what I could around the pieces I had, my right arm I plan on having reworked into a full theme based around music and life.
Musicians generally find inspiration for their music in a range of places. Over the years, I’ve talked to some that find their tattoos (and the accompanying experience) inspire their music, while others find their music inspires their tattoos. Do either of these statements fit your outlook?
Not in the past so much, but looking forward for sure. Symetria is more than just a band, it's a way of thinking, it's a state of mind, it's learning to find peace within yourself and then projecting that peacefulness and love outward into the world. My right arm sleeve I want to summarize that. It will most certainly be inspired by some of the imagery that is found in our music when I get it done.
When you’re not out touring, gigging, or recording… what do you like to do in your spare time?
Family, music, life, it all comes together. I like to get out and see other bands shows as much as I can. I make it to as much of my kids' events and activities as I can. I don't really get to relax and have spare time, but that's not so bad when you enjoy your life. I do love just being home with my wife and kids. Then there's my Trans-am, that's the answer you're really looking for!!!! I have a 95' T/A convertible that runs 12's in the 1/4 mile, and it's not uncommon to see me doing my running around in her. I love driving that car. Grocery store, kids to practice, whatever, if it's sunny, the top's down and the stereo is cranked!!
What can fans expect to see from Symetria this year? Where can new or interested fans find you?
We're going to be everywhere we can get to. We worked our asses off to put this album out and now comes the real hard work...getting it to the world. We're gonna be playing out, a lot, as much as we can, everywhere we can. We have some new t-shirt designs in the works, and some small merch items to add to your collection coming soon. Were not 100% sure where this is going to lead us, but we're ready for whatever comes next. As far as finding us, www.facebook.com/symetriaband is the best way to keep up with what's going on right now. We have a website in progress, www.symetriamusic.com is coming along nicely, and will be launched soon.