Chatting with Julz Ramos of Hatchet about Touring, Music, and the Magic of BB King


Hatchet are one of those bands who have given it all up to grind it out on the road. Frontman Julz Ramos was kind enough to sit down with me backstage at BB Kings, one of the most legendary venues in the world. Excited to be opening for Metal Church and devout in his dedication to his band, their sound, and their path forward through life, he had a lot to share. It’s rare that you find a band with this level of passion and dedication to their craft, and it makes me realize that Hatchet just might be the ones to save us all.

How the hell are you?

I’m doing good man, how about yourself?

I’m wonderful… not drunk enough!

I’ll hook you up.

There’s a lot of things I want to attack with you guys. We were talking earlier about how stressful it is to set up a show at BB Kings… what’s your favorite New York metal memory?

It was 2013 when we played with Soilwork at the Gramercy Theater. We were lucky enough to be on the bus with Soilwork so we didn’t have to worry about parking or loading. We kind of lucked out being on the same bill. The Gramercy Theater is a really cool place. I know it’s in Manhattan, but despite that it was one of the easier places we’ve loaded into to play. A lot of people don’t think of that as a problem, but trust me it is. Every place has its own set of rules and its own thing. In New York it’s pretty stressful.

What does it feel like to play in a venue this legendary?

Well BB King man! You can’t get much more metal than that! When it comes down to rock and roll going back to the blues, he was as big as they get. It’s great. We love playing here. Just everything about it is great, it’s a legendary place, what can I say?

What got me in your set is the bitchin’ guitar solos; what’s your musical background?

I learned everything by ear and always gone by what sounds good to me. My influences over the years have definitely helped to shape where I’ve gotten. We’re not a shred type band, but even if we do a technical solo we try to have bends and runs so that it accentuates the music.

What goes into crafting a Hatchet guitar solo?

It’s a song within a song. The way I look at writing songs is they have to be catchy and somewhat technical; it’s not just party thrash. There’s a place for everything but for a Hatchet solo it has to be memorable and go up or down. It can’t go straight out in full retard mode. We like to kind of gives ups and downs and give it a general direction. Like I said, it’s almost a song within a song. WE want it to go to some notable places.

You mentioned party thrash and I feel like you’ve been tied into that scene… How do you feel about that?

It has its place and some of those bands are doing great, and that’s awesome, but it’s not really for us. I personally like to think of Hatchet as a bit more of a mathy thrash band. Some of our biggest influences writing wise are Testament, Xentrix and stuff like that that’s a little deeper in the genre, a little more involved. It’s not just straight up power chords and pentatonics. We definitely try and bring a different character to the sound if that makes sense. We definitely like to get to the next level. Everybody currently in the band has different influences, and that helps shape the band.

What draws you to those kinds of bands?

When I started doing Hatchet, me and the drummer at the time, we were playing in a melodic death metal band with a friend of ours who led us for about a year. Me and the drummer wanted to branch out and really play some shows. We were really influenced by melodeath though with melodic passages and catchy riffs. After playing that kind of stuff it clicked that we should be playing more intelligent thrash. I like all of it, Slayer, Metallica, all that stuff, but I’m a very melody driven guy and I love the Iron Maiden harmonies. I love the simpler but heavier riffs. Bands like Slayer pick at a million miles an hour and you can’t pick it out. I’d rather do it slower and have the drums set the speed of the song. There’s a catchier side of thrash that I think so few bands explore and I like that.

One thing that got me that didn’t hit me until I saw you live… You have a very distinct sonic aesthetic… I can’t help but admire that. Where will that sound go?

I’m really excited because I don’t know where it’s going to go. I’ve been the sole writer for all three albums. Being a touring band living in a van when we’re not playing venues or driving we’re parked at Wal-Mart and look like the scum of the earth. It’s hard to make people want to do that. When I get those people in the band it’s very refreshing. We just make it happen.

We haven’t explored writing with the new people yet, since it’s been me for so long, but I’m looking forward to what the other guys bring to the band. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next writing process will be like. Some of our newer guys are very death metal driven, they know we are a thrash band but I think everyone has come full circle, and the next album is going to be a great next step for us.


That’s exciting to hear just because there is so much that COULD be Hatchet…

That’s what I think too. I feel like we have hit a ceiling. I have been writing the material for so long and been doing everything else too, like being the tour manager and getting the art together. It would be really nice to get something together with people who can stick with me. I think with our new members we can do something really exciting. Our drummer is the youngest member of the band right now and he is very gung ho about wanting to tour. That’s always great. He’s very open to receiving input and keeping in the vein of material that Hatchet wants to do. We want to mold it in a certain way. Not that “This is what it has to be,” but every band has their certain sound, and he is very good about understanding that. He’s doing great in terms of performance style.

Given how much you tour how do you maintain that real life/tour balance?

It’s very difficult. Hatchet unfortunately has had many lineups and a lot of that has had to  o with the fact that touring is not a glamorous thing. A lot of people think that this is going to be a glamorous thing, and I try to explain this up front about how we are often going out of pocket and it doesn’t always work out. It really separates the men from the boys. I’ve been wrong before, but I think the line up that we have will stay together. Our new guitarist Clayton has been in another band who have been touring a lot but on a smaller scale. Still – he has a good understanding of what it takes. So does our bass player – he knows what it is. So when it comes to a stressful show they can deal with it. That means a lot to people who have been in that situation. It keeps people in a positive direction, even when we do all this work to play to thirty people.

What do you love so much about music?

That this is what it involves! Touring, playing, booking agents… It’s a huge part of my life. It’s a huge part of who I am and I never set out for it to be that way but that is what it’s become. There’s a whole energy and work ethic behind it and it’s what makes me who I am.

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  • Man, I don’t think I could ever tour for weeks and even months on end. Massive respect to the bands that can do it. For fucks sake, I go to bed before 10:00 each night which is about when these bands start to play.

    • Dubs

      Not a life I’d want, honestly. More power to the folks that do, though.

      • Same, I’m a man of strict routine.

        • im with you two. i like my bed and my couch and my tv and . . . creature comforts too much

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I seriously would love to tour at least once, even just a week or so. I could make it work as long as I had my coffee & tea.

      • I’ve done it once and it was really fun, but at the same time I was pretty much an alcoholic piece of shit that just drank constantly the whole week of touring. My mind set touring would be a total 180 if I did it again. Would be interesting.

        • I honestly don’t know how sober musicians can do the touring lifestyle.

          • I hear you man, it would be really difficult. Ultimate will power I guess.

          • Before I forget, I wanted to recommend this band to you. You may have already heard of them.


          • SIQQQQQQQ

          • Th’load&th’road

            Ima lieking ‘at der rite der yessir. P.S. I mostly live in a truck. Probs better than a van o’farts but similar. Love/hate.

          • Guppusmaximus

            I guess if I was in a band with some real talented guys that would make it all the worthwhile especially if we created some exciting stuff.

          • (i understand the risk of sounding like a fuckin’ loser for saying this. and if we’re all just being frivolous, please feel free to ignore)
            what if being sober made touring EASIER? think about the increase in focus, perseverance, attention to detail, all the goofy attributes associated with sobriety. [Musician A] has time to plan, clean, practice, prepare, do a few extra things instead of losing that time to booze every night. perhaps touring could become an efficient, well-oiled machine with enough care invested.
            …just a thought. sorry there’s no dong expanding in this comment

          • It’s the beer pressure that would be the struggle. Hanging around a bunch of friends that are drinking and having a good time while you stand there drinking iced tea while being the responsible band-mate. No doubt that no drugs and alcohol would make for a better quality outfit, but they call it sexs, drugs, and rock n roll for a reason. Its been the lifestyle for bands for decades now.

          • beer pressure>>>>>>

          • ah, i see the conundrum here. my scenario may work, IF it works; but chances are it won’t get to that point.

          • Unless every band is Dream Theater, then no…

          • at least we can all agree that’s the goal 😉

          • Final solution:

            Go all Straight-Edge and play motivational poster lyrics hardcore music.



          • See, I may be sober, but I still love songs about drinking, violence, and drugs.

          • I think that the safest route to enjoy merol is to detach reality from fiction. I’m not a violent or overly dark person, but I enjoy what I enjoy without being changed by it in a literal sense.

          • Exactly Link, same goes for movies.

          • Link >>>>>>>>>>>>

          • Link and Life both start with “L”


          • Dubs

            I think you’d need everyone to be sober.

      • I wanted to do it very badly when I was younger, but the bands I was in were all just weekend warriors.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    Saw these guys with Metal Church. They were very good

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Thought for sure this was a Simon Phoenix article. Great interview Matt!

    • Simon PhoenixKing Rising


      I do like Hatchet though.

  • Eliza

    Ramos seems to be a cool guy, really passionate about his work. Great interview!

  • Dubs

    Hatchet is pretty cool. Thanks for the interview.

  • This interview really makes you step back and realize that any band that is touring is doing it solely out of love. The travel, loading in, breaking down and everything else involved is mostly suffering. Every band lives for that half hour or so that they get to go up on stage and play their music in front of a crowd.

    • Guppusmaximus

      I would hope that’s why bands do what they do. The creation should be more special than a fame that isn’t guaranteed and is fleeting at best. Maybe, that’s why too many Metal bands nowadays are boring af.

      • and as much as we hate to admit it, a slice of that fame pie sounds pretty tempting, when all a person has to do is dumb down the music and/or aim for a specific brand that sells well (yes, i’m talking about 5FDP, no reason to beat around the bush here)

        • i cant rightly sell records showing off my t&a tho jeemy

        • Dave Vincent’s Perm

          Evil is easy.

        • Guppusmaximus

          Honestly, I think if I was going to do that, I would get involved in children’s entertainment. There’s a shit ton more money to be made there. The Wiggles >>>5FDP.

          • TL;DR: 5FDP is wise, but not THAT wise. or, shall we agree that 5FDP could be made up of tough uncles who A) liek moneys and B) enjoy tryharding?

          • I wish I would just take the 3 seconds to finally look up what “TL;DR” means. I WILL NEVER KNOW.

          • srs?


          • subversive or not, this comment wins.

          • Too Long, Didn’t Read

          • thank u bbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

          • -bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb-

            oooOOH SHIET

          • bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

            I fucking love saying “bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb”

          • Dubs


          • Would you like to hear a story about a lawn mower? *Tells story anyways*



          • Guppusmaximus

            I love these videos but I really think they fucked around with too much LSD.

          • Guppusmaximus
          • Peeped you in that Dying Fetus video last night. Thinking about seeing them on the 28th!

          • Guppusmaximus

            That’s very analytical on your part. I don’t have the mental fortitude to read deeper into that audio diarrhea of a band. I’m serious, I’d rather listen to The Wiggles.

      • The live experience is the fruit of your recorded labors. If what you recorded is average or below, you probably won’t be sticking around for too long.

        • Guppusmaximus

          Yea, if you rely on studio magic then your live performance is never going to add up. Or if you’re one of these bands that just records straight to a PC using VSTs & shit then it is always going to sound like some dude playing to a back track.

          I just assumed that most musicians are passionate enough about their craft to hone their skills…

          • Simon PhoenixKing Rising

            What up Rings of Saturn…

  • “We were really influenced by melodeath though with melodic passages and
    catchy riffs. After playing that kind of stuff it clicked that we should
    be playing more intelligent thrash. I like all of it, Slayer, Metallica, all that stuff, but I’m a very melody driven guy and I love the Iron Maiden harmonies”.

    Awww, yeah! This is one of my boys over here!

    Thanks for bringing this to the table, Don Tocino. I’m eager to check out this guys.

  • Dave Vincent’s Perm

    Jackson guitars >>>>>>>

  • Waynecro

    Thanks for another cool interview!