Editor’s note: Special thanks to David DerMinasian of Retched for having the patience of a saint and for allowing us to share his story. After having more delays than Frito Lay’s, this profile is finally free! This interview was conducted on Dec. 2017 and has been spruced up with updated information. Thanks and enjoy 😉
Life gives us lemons because what’s life without a little zest? One can either lick that wedge, and whine about it or one can roll with the punches and make the most refreshing lemonade you have ever tasted especially if you have been waiting for a very long time to take a sip. David DerMinasian, the original founder of Southern California thrash band Retched, did the latter and that swig couldn’t have been much sweeter.
How evil were these plotting lemons? Enough to bury Retched’s debut for a little over 30 years! That’s right, their Thrashy treasure was frozen in time presumably deep within one of those Minute Maid frozen lemonade cups. Or presumably in of those ice cream pints for my dairy lovers…? You get the point.
Crystalized in time, the collective’s debut titled The Overlord Messiah patiently waited to bask in the sun and entice us with its thrashtastic hymns. We would know, we had the opportunity to see this booty glimmer which you can read about here! How did this record get discovered? Well you see…oh okay, I’m sorry. That was a lot to take in. Let us go back to the very beginning so that you can get the whole tea. Get in losers, we’re going back to the 80’s. *Shuts the DeLorean’s door.*
Once upon a time in Fresno, a 20-something year old DerMinasian joined forces with other like minded 20-something year olds who had the same drive, and hunger every young band possesses. They banded together and mixed their collective ambitions and their love of thrash metal to create their first band called AVATAR. This name didn’t sit well with the guys, so they quickly renamed their new project. The frontman/ founder instead chose Retched (pronounced Recht’).
“The reason why I named it this, is because when I look around the world and see what the human race is doing to each other on a continual basis I get sick to my stomach.” Said DerMinasian via email when asked why he chose the name.
”With all this random acts of violence in our own lands and the constant threat of global terrorism not to mention the world leaders corrupt dealings past and present…. There is still much beauty in the world too though. Not to mention I think it’s a great name for a Thrash Metal band.”
The main influences behind Retched at the time of its conception were titans such as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Now in days, however, DerMinasian has new bands that will influence Retched moving forward such as Warbringer, Power Trip, and Municipal Waste. Whether you have laid down your arms for The Overlord Messiah or not, knowing how this blend of bands will influence the upcoming album will have us fastening our bibs, and ready to guzzle down this highly anticipated metal party mix!
Soon after recording The Overlord Messiah, the collective played their butts off in the music circuit just like every budding band, and quickly became local favorites. Their devoted legion followed the path of The Overlord Messiah around SoCal even though the cassette had not been released for public consumption. Retched was riding high and were gaining momentum in every stop throughout California, but all good things came to an abrupt end in ‘88. Retched imploded and broke away due to several factors that ultimately swelled the hairlines on the band.
One of the key components that led to the unraveling of Retched was that they had a supportive but inexperienced manager whom they felt obligated to keep. Why not kick ‘em to the curb?! You may ask. Well, things aren’t so easy especially when the manager happened to be your band mate’s father, who not only promoted your band but also financed the studio sessions. Umm yeah… Naturally, the guys felt indebted to this man. Who wouldn’t in a similar situation? Now mixing that along with risky decisions and life’s demands, it was not in their cards to move forward.
“It was hard back then because none of us were working we all made a decision to quit our jobs and practice full time with the band for performance and precision, that was a luxury that only the big metal bands have after they become successful and make enough money to support themselves and families.” DerMinasian addressed one of the many factors that caused the band to dissolve.
“We were young kids then in our early 20’s and most of us lived at our parents houses but one had a wife that was working so in the name of metal we did this to boost our performances.” DerMinasian continued to reflect. “Other than that, it was a very bad decision because that made the band be very dependent rather than independent!“
Retched had crumbled under the weight, and beneath the rubble lied their debut The Overlord Messiah where it would lie in a frozen slumber for 30 years. After reluctantly walking away from the band, DerMinasian moved forward and attempted to turn a new leaf in his creative journey.
“Life was real empty I tried to form a few other bands after that but never got off the ground.” The founder said regarding his life after Retched. “A few more years later I gave up and left the scene believing it’s game over for me and having to reckon with that but I still played occasionally, just for my own enjoyment and not seriously.”
Not everything is bleak and gray and bleh! On 2012, the year the world ended *checks pulse, looks at calendar,* Okay, never mind. 2012 may not have brought our impending doom, but it was certainly a brand new beginning to DerMinasian. That year cast a bright light on a fast approaching silver lining on the founder’s path that changed everything.
Inspiration struck DerMinasian in a jam session in which he created a sweet riff, which according to him, led him to compose a new song titled “Horrific.” This song was anything but “Horrific” because not only did it give way to fresh material for the sleeping giant known as Retched but also reignited that desire to awaken this project once again. The founder promises that this song will be featured on his next record which is being anticipated for a 2020 release.
After re-discovering that drive, he was introduced to the wonderful world of Bandcamp and all the other free streaming platforms which have become very instrumental for artists. DerMinasian knew that it was time to thaw out The Overlord Messiah, and once it was unearthed, and fine tuned it a bit, this sovereign would need a home to have over its dominion.
“I have been sitting on this record for over 30 years it was a cassette and I roughly remastered it digitally and released it in October 2016 on Bandcamp and less than 45 days later I got three offers from record labels around the world I chose to go with Alone Records in Greece.”
Soon after this win, the label remastered and released The Overlord Messiah and to DerMinasian’s surprise, the release was a hit in Europe, Japan, and of course, the U.S. Not all musicians have the luxury to live off of their craft, so much like everyone else, DerMinasian balances out his creative ambitions along with his job as a millwright.
The founder has accomplished other goals along the way such as buying a large home where he now comfortably lives with his family, and plans to build his very own studio on that property. He plans to have a very DIY approach to Retched’s forthcoming album and will do so as a solo artist.
“I have a clear vision of what I want to do and because I usually work 60 or more hours a week and can’t find many serious Thrash Metal players out here where I live it’s in the middle of nowhere. I’m going for it.” DerMinasian said. “All I can say for now is that I expect to do this next release as a solo artist and once it’s finished I will start getting ready to do the show live as a solo artist with back up tracks and see where that takes me.”
Checking back in with DerMinasian in early 2019, he recognized the hurdles that awaited him due to his looming carpal tunnel surgeries at the time, which he has successfully recovered since, and all the other circumstances, and duties that would entail taking on a record alone. Rest assured, DerManasian was not gonna let anything get in the way and vowed to stay real if things don’t work out the way he hopes for.
“This time I’m coming back stronger and wiser and much older Ha Ha. I think I have a better marketing strategy than with my last release ‘The Overlord Messiah’ I’m not going to rely on anyone.” DerMinasian said as he discussed his game plan for the next round. “No matter what happens from here on I can only count on this, I’m going to produce promote and release my own music come what may and not get too disappointed when things don’t turn out how I hope.”
The one man band is currently locked and loaded with plenty of recording equipment in his in-home studio, and is producing the follow up to The Overlord Messiah. DerMinasian promises more old school thrash on the next record, and also expressed interest in dabbling in the Blues for a separate endeavor, he plans to showcase the best of both worlds.
As the music machine continues to grind, and demand fresh blood, seasoned musicians such as DerMinasian who have explored the nooks and crannies of this industry, had a few words of wisdom to budding young bands.
“Take your time shop around if you are looking for a label deal don’t just jump on the first thing you see because the label you sign with should be willing to develop you and mentor you and certainly pay you,” He continued. “If you choose to stay independent research everything about where you are going to release with even digital.”
“Of course I don’t know everything and am still learning as I go as well, everyone’s journey is different what works for one may not work for another and yes I’ve gotten burned plenty of times like AC/DC said ‘It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.’ “
Retched went to hell and high water, and has risen once again with one overlord who decided to roll with the punches and move forward with an unwavering wisdom and a desire to keep on thrashin’ on! No, heavy metal was not just a phase for DerMinasian and many others like him, including yours truly. This genre is an element that can become so integrated into your being, you’ll feel it flowing deep in your veins till the end of your days.
When life demands our attention, it gets in the way of our passions, flinging us in to an unrequited love and entraps us in a cage of perpetual despair and longing. However, one thing we can learn from DerMinasian and many other persistent and dedicated individuals like him, is that it is never too late! Because nothing is worse than giving up what you love without a good long fight. So chin up, put on your gloves like DerMinasian did, and give those obstacles hell!
Listen to this album in major streaming platforms and snag this album on Retched’s bandcamp and stay in the and follow like them on Facebook and Instagram!