It says that Ultimatum started in 1992 but that you didn't come along until 1993 was ultimatum a Christian band from the beginning or did it become a more Christian band when you came along as a singer?
Ultimatum formed in 1992 from the ashes of power metal band Angelic Force. Guitarists Robert Gutierrez and Steve Trujillo had been playing in bands together for years. Robert and I were friends and he kept asking me to come sing for his new band Ultimatum. The band performed two or three local shows before I joined with Robert singing and playing guitar. I officially joined in January 1993 and we started performing live in May of that same year. Soon after we started recording demos. Much like Angelic Force and every other band Robert had been in at the time, Ultimatum was a Christian band. However, on all the Ultimatum albums I wrote the lyrics for every song, except for the track Puppet of Destruction which was co-written by myself and Robert.
1992 - 1995 you performed regularly but then from what I understand there was a pause why did they become?
We never paused in 1995. We were constantly practicing, performing shows, recording demos, etc. In 1993 we recorded our Fatal Delay demo. In 1994 we recorded a second demo that we sent out to magazines and record companies, which was called Symphonic Extremities by Ultimatum. In 1995 we recorded five more songs and put them together with the 1994 demo and released our first "album" on cassette tape. The tape sold well for us. We went through thousands of them. Eventually we were picked up by a small independent label and the album was released on CD.
After this we recorded songs that were released on several compilations. We were looking for a record label and signed with Morphine Records. We started recording our second album to be titled Puppet of Destruction. Unfortunately Morphine Records was struggling financially and we asked to be let go from the label and we were on the search again for a label. God obviously had other plans for us.
As well we were playing shows with other bands like Crashdog, Jesus Freaks, Precious Death and Mortification. Steve Rowe became a big fan of Ultimatum when we shared the stage with him and has been a friend ever since. He offered us a spot on his U.S. Metal Compilation and eventually we signed a record contract with Rowe Productions. The album was delayed due to the changing of record labels but was finally released in 1998.
Drummer Sean Griego joined the band in 1995, whose more aggressive style helped the band transform from traditional heavy metal to a more aggressive speed and thrash metal style, did you feel comfortable with that change?
We very much wanted a double bass drummer from the very beginning of the band. Mike Lynch was a great drummer but he did not play double bass at all. When he exited the band we set out to find someone who could play steady double bass and help push us into a more thrashy direction.
As far as I know, you've jumped around to different record labels, so why did you do that?
In 1997 we signed with Rowe Productions for three albums. However in 1999 when recording our third album we were offered a deal by German label Massacre Records on their new thrash sub-label Gutter Records. We called Steve in Australia and told him about the offer from Massacre. He was over-joyed. He said he was a fan of the band and wanted nothing more than for us to sign with a bigger, secular label, so he let us out of our contract. Unfortunately Gutter Records folded as well and we were again without a label. Steve Rowe was dealing with health issues and wasn't really releasing much music anymore, so once again we were on the search for another label. We ended up signing with Retroactive Records for our fourth album Into the Pit. However, it took a long time to find a label, so in the meantime we released the Til The End EP which featured four new tracks and a cover of a Testament song. All four songs were later re-recorded for Into the Pit. We stayed with Retroactive for two albums. Our last album Heart of Metal was originally scheduled to be a four song EP, but Retroactive wasn't interested in releasing a 4-song EP, so we got an offer from Roxx Records in California to release it. They came up with the idea of releasing it as a compilation with remixed older tracks, a couple rare tracks from compilations and the four new songs. They also released a box set with three CDs and a DVD.
A number of times when I talked to fans about your albums, almost everyone says that there are usually only a couple of songs that are good on your albums why has it become so do you think?
I've never once heard that from anyone. We have some great fans and all our albums sold relatively well. For me, Into the Pit is my favorite album although I am quite proud of Heart of Metal as it encompassed 20 years of music and ministry. I think anyone who says that just hasn't really given the albums a chance.
What about experience from secular concerts how has now been received as a Christian band?
We played many, many shows at clubs and theaters with non-Christian bands. We played with Exciter, Fueled by Fire, Vindicator, Vektor, SeventhSign, among many, many others. We held our own and had a great time. We never really had any issues with any other bands we shared a stage with. We did have the occasional club that did not want us to play because we are Christians. For me it was all about making my Father proud. We always walked off stage completely soaked in sweat. We always gave it our all.
How did you get out of alcohol and drugs?
I was never really a big drug user or alcohol drinker. Our bass player Rob was. He has an awesome testimony about how God brought him out of drug addiction, but I will leave that for him to share.
What do you have to say to Christian bands who get drunk and act like shit to others?
It makes no sense to me. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ on the earth. If you are a "Christian band" you are representing the King of King and Lord of Lords. You should treat that with the utmost respect. Ultimatum always had a policy that we would help the other bands we performed with loading and unloading their amps and drums. It opened up so many doors for us and I am still friends with many of those bands today. If you treat people like crap, you are not representing Jesus Christ.
As far as I know, you're no longer playing Or do you have something new going on?
Ultimatum went on hiatus in 2012. We are all still good friends and we have gotten together to jam on occasion. We've had offers from record companies to record new music, but so far we have not officially gotten back together. It could happen in the future. Robert has songs written. Robert, Rob, Alan and I all still live in New Mexico, so it's not out of the range of possibilities for a reunion to happen in the future.