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 guitarist Billy Graziadei, 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 didn’t even know how much of a metal fan he was until we started working on POWERFLO. I love that!”
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 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, 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 strings holding us back as a band,” adds Billy. “Everyone is down for doing something different. The passion, angst, and energy are there.” The first single “Made It This Way” gallops from a thrashed-out riff and arena-ready percussion into a furious rhyme barrage before colliding on the unshakable refrain.
“It’s a bit of a personal story about what I was going through in my life at the time,” Sen admits. “Sometimes, relationships in your personal and professional life just don’t go right. It’s one of those situations you think will be good, but it isn’t. It’s not what you wanted, but the other side made it this way. The song came out of me naturally. You really have to think about what your actions can do to other people.” Elsewhere on the album, they link up with legendary Pantera, Down, and Superjoint frontman Philip Anselmo for the punishing and pulverizing “My M.O.” “It’s very dynamic,” states Roy. “Christian and I started the idea, and it’s futuristic, but it has that old school meat-and-potatoes. It’s got bits of metal, bits of punk, bits of beatdown hardcore, and bits of rock all rolled into one.”
Meanwhile, “Finish The Game” builds off a line from the eighties 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. “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 us all 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.”