Distilling hip-hop, heavy metal, punk, and rock into a potent sonic strain, POWERFLO lives up to its name. The vision of Grammy Award-nominated multiplatinum Cypress Hill spitter Sen Dog, downset. guitarist Rogelio “Roy” Lozano, Biohazard vocalist and guitarist Billy Graziadei, ex-Fear Factory bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, and Worst drummer Fernando Schaefer, the band draws on this powerhouse pedigree to collectively smash boundaries with the 2017 full-length debut, Powerflo [New Damage Records].
That moniker couldn’t be more appropriate.
“When Roy and I started jamming, he would call my rap style to heavy music POWERFLO,” exclaims Sen. “We were trying to incorporate everything that inspired us. In the process, we came across a sound we love.”
“POWERFLO is a word that describes the style,” Roy continues. “It’s when you’re spitting verses over something super heavy. It’s the only way to say it.”
Sen can actually trace the band’s genesis back 25 years ago. In 1992, Cypress Hill were on the second Lollapalooza festival, sharing a legendary bill with numerous rock luminaries and gaining inspiration along the way.
“I was watching Soundgarden on the side of the stage one day, and I thought, ‘I can do this shit!’,” he recalls. “I just had this feeling. Heavy metal touched me as a kid, but it wasn’t easily accessible. Our parents couldn’t afford to get us guitars and drums, so we rapped. All we needed was a pen, a pad of paper, and a cheap microphone. Getting older, traveling the world, and hearing a lot of music, I realized I’m much more of a metal head than anything else. Knowing this, the guys wrote music that would fuel me.”
“Sen’s musical history has been in my record collection since Cypress Hill started,” exclaims Billy. “I had no idea how much of a metal fan he was until we started working on POWERFLO, which rocks!!”
Over the years, the members of POWERFLO would collaborate on numerous occasions. In addition to both Cypress Hill and Biohazard appearing on the landmark platinum-selling Judgment Night Soundtrack, Sen delivered a classic cameo on Biohazard’s seminal State of the World Address during 1993, while Christian both guested on Cypress Hill’s chart-topping 2000 double-album Skull & Bones, which Roy also guested on, and 2001’s Stone Raiders in addition to performing with the group countless times. In 2015, longtime friend Roy played demos for Sen on a ride to the airport, and the music immediately spoke to the rapper.
“When I got home, I went in the studio with the intention of just doing a song, but it came out so good that we kept writing,” Sen goes on.
Sen and Roy began reaching out to friends, and the band took shape with the addition of Christian, Billy, and Brazilian drum virtuoso Fernando. Throughout 2016, they recorded what would become their first offering in Los Angeles.
“We have a really great vibe due to the nature of our friendships and how far they go back,” Sen says. “Instantly, it just clicked. We have a mutual respect as far as what we do. Everyone was eager and believed in the idea. We’re all about the team and want to see each other succeed.”
“It’s an honor to play with all of these guys,” agrees Fernando. “It’s a dream team.”
“There’s no fear, expectations or any strings holding us back as a band,” adds Billy. “Everyone is down for doing something different. The energy and passion is top level!”
“The first single ’"Where I Stay" is about the area of Los Angeles that I grew up in.” Sen explains, “It speaks of the mentality that it takes to survive and persistence it takes to be your own person in a city of so many people. The music bed for this song is a mix of metal, punk and thrash riffs with a pounding drum attack perfect for dropping some aggressive vocals. The tempo changes right at the perfect moments. I expect this song to get a way cool re action when played live it encompasses my love of heavy music from beginning to end.”
Meanwhile, “Finish The Game” builds off a line from the '80s classic Young Guns before delivering a “Mike Tyson punch,” as Sen likes to call it. The heavy and hypnotic “Victim of Circumstance” weaves together a cinematic narrative of life on the streets, and “Up and Out of Me,” the first song the boys recorded, unleashes a focused fire. “Resistance” begins as a slow burn before snapping into a militant chant, and “Less than a Human” trudges ahead on a potent and punishing groove as Sen screams, “Shut that shit down!” Airy siren-style guitars resound on “The Grind,” which serves as something of a call-to-arms.
“We dropped a lyric video for "Resistance" first since it basically sums up how we all roll. Living life on our terms, our lives, our way! Rising up against any force that stands against us,” says Billy.
“We all like to write riffs,” grins Christian. “We didn’t treat Sen like he was an MC; we treated him like a metal singer. I always knew he liked heavy shit. It came naturally for him to write over heavier music.”
“These guys brought something different out of me,” Sen smiles. “It was only a matter of time for that to happen.”
Now, POWERFLO represents a pronounced evolution for not only its members but heavy music at large.
“At the end of the day, we’re all family and friends,” concludes Christian. “When you put all us together, it’s a killer recipe. We all have history, and it’s a new thing. It was just fun to do.”
“We’re here to make honest music,” Sen leaves off. “It’s not about pleasing anybody or conforming to anything. We’re creating from a pure place. We worked our asses off. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s just the first POWERFLO album. There’s much more to come.”