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Metal band Urizen takes national stage
Senior Staff Writer
When the band Urizen takes the stage, they don much more than their respective instruments. The Texas metal band brushes off norms of regular clothing and instead chooses to perform in costumes they describe as “space-warrior like.”
Complete with helmets, goggles, variations of pads and a plastic doll jumping from the chest of a member towards the crowd, UNT alum Daniel Drinnen, Thomas Drinnen, Rustin Luther and Julio Escamilla are known for their tendency to dress up similar to costumed super heroes, only their goal is not fighting crime – it’s giving crowds around the country great metal music to listen to while watching an amusing show.
“Their unique sound and stage show always intrigued me,” Urizen friend and fan Gus Ruby said. “You hardly see their unique flavor, especially among the Texas metal scene.”
While the band is currently based out of Fort Worth, the Drinnen brothers are not from Texas. Thomas, lead vocals and lead guitar, and Daniel, keyboard, spent their formative years in Conifer, Colorado. Here, the duo’s musical aspirations came from a tape with a music video countdown.
“It had Guns’N Roses’ ‘Live and Let Die,’ Motley Crue’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ and Metallica’s ‘Unforgiven,’ Thomas said. “Though Metallica is the band that made me want to be a musician, the ‘Live and Let Die’ video made me think ‘That would be a good job to have.’”
Luther, bass guitar, grew up in Dallas. Throughout his upbringing, music played an important role as he listened to genres ranging from country to 1980s hair bands. During the 90s, metal caught his attention and inspired him to become more than just a listener.
“What got me into wanting to play music and guitar was Limp Bizkit and (guitarist) Wes Borland,” Luther said. “Basically Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and Korn really made me want to be in a band.”
Escamilla, drums, was born in Mexico City and grew up in Fort Worth. The bands Metallica, Pantera and Sepultura are responsible for kick-starting his interest in percussion.
In 2001, the Drinnen brothers met Escamilla at a Dimmu Borgir concert in Arlington. This prompted them to transition from their high school band into Urizen with the addition of Escamilla. Three years later, the group played its first show in 2004 at Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth, where the exposure led to a streak of shows.
“We played real regularly at first,” Thomas said. “There was a time when we were playing almost every weekend, sometimes twice. Eventually we started playing with national bands.”
Urizen released its first album “autocratopolis,” in 2005 with the hopes of being signed by a major record label, Thomas said. When a deal was not imminent the band lost momentum while taking a backseat to their day jobs.
“I feel like we lost a little steam,” Thomas said. “For about three years the band became more of a hobby because we only played every two or three months.”
Thomas freelances as a sound man, and Daniel uses his UNT technical writing degree for a software company in Plano. Luther runs the Forth Worth club Tomcats West and Escamilla is a customer service representative for a gourmet grocery store. Their next tour begins in Dallas on February 1.
These day jobs will continue to hinder the band Urizen, until they receive the deal promoter Brian “Torch” Ellis feels they deserve.
“They go on stage and actually perform,” Ellis said. “I hope they get signed to a major independent label so they can get financed properly. They don’t just play music. They actually try to put on a show.”
Robots, monsters, and conventions
In 2007, Urizen switched things up and created their “space-warrior” outfits, and eventually added a giant robot and an oversized goo monster. During their shows, the robot and goo monster battle with friends of the band.
“The suits started with the ‘Road Warrior’ in mind,” Daniel said. “The initial idea was space suits with white jump suits. Then we just started strapping things on to make it look cool, and now we look like warriors.”
With the giant creatures and their unusual attire accompanying the group on stage, Urizen began to carve out a niche and was invited to a 2010 multimedia convention named Dragon Con located in Atlanta, Georgia. There the band made a name for itself on the national scene as they played in front of a large audience for the first time.
“That convention was the turning point, because we now realized how big that opportunity was,” Daniel said. “Average attendance is like 40,000, so that was our first big concert, and because of all the people in Atlanta, we decided to do a tour in that region. It all snowballed from there.”
Band members are still holding out for that elusive record deal, confident that their unusual metal music coupled with their outlandish costumes will lead to a successful career.
“We just want to be able to financially sustain ourselves without the day jobs,” Daniel said. “On a small scale, we just want to make enough money to drive around in our van, with a decent living.”
For tour dates, photos and videos, visit http://urizenonline.com/.