Stop second-guessing yourself. So much time gets wasted with timidity and feeling like what you’re doing isn’t right or good enough. It’s hard enough with society the way it is with its perspective on musicians. As professionals, we have had to go against the grain a bit just to find out, ‘hey people like what we do!’
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Blood Sells, formed by Shannon Callahan, Frank Lima, Jaime Morales and Damien Lima, is a progressive metal band that has a mystifying story told through their music. Currently working on their album, with their EP, Inis Nex, released as of 10/30/20, they have provided a taste of what they have to offer and invite you into their world where they delve deeper into concepts of isolation, magical realism, multi-dimensions and alternate timelines through their music.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Shannon — I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I grew up taking piano lessons, singing and dancing competitively. I started songwriting in my late teens/early twenties and picked up guitar, and have been writing, singing and playing ever since.
Frank — Born and raised in Los Angeles, I starting learning music at around 11 years old. My mom got me guitar lessons at around 12 or 13, and with the exception of a few lessons, I’ve been mainly self-taught.
Jaime — I was born in El Salvador but grew up in Los Angeles. I started music at 11, learning trumpet and drums and have been mainly self-taught.
Damien — Following in my dad’s footsteps, I began playing music around 12 or 13, first on drums and then I switched to bass.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Jaime — When working with Fernando (Chris Leon) in the band MDJs, I brought in Frank Lima and Steve Kornblum to play with us and not wanting to hire more musicians, I made loops to accompany the band. That also became the starting point of what is now Planet Mischief.
Shannon — I had taken a few years off and I was just getting back into writing and playing music in 2016 when I reconnected with Jaime, right around the time he and Frank started to play together again and were looking for a vocalist. I joined up with them playing covers at first and it wasn’t before long that we conceptualized Blood Sells together and wrote our first EP, Inis Nex. During that time in 2016–2017, Jaime and I co-founded Planet Mischief and we’ve been continuing to take its purpose to a new level.
Frank — I didn’t write creatively for a long time — maybe 15 years — and when Jaime asked me to play music with him, I picked it back up. Then when Shannon jumped on board and we all started Cut Elements, the creative juices flowed again and after a couple years it inevitably led us to writing Blood Sells together.
Damien — Needing a hobby, I evolved into playing bass with Blood Sells, continuing the creativity that I also have with directing and filmmaking.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Frank — The most interesting story is that Jaime and I started a band called Ascension, when we were in high school. We wrote a few songs in the same progressive metal genre and, fast forward to 20 years later, we revisit a couple songs in the Blood Sells EP such as Death of Three and A Brave Lament. When Shannon added vocals to those songs, it was almost like it perfectly fit our vision of what we had over 20 years ago. Then, Damien’s style of playing also fit perfectly with it, and it was clearly all meant to happen.
Jaime — Just how it’s come back full circle with Frank and with Shannon and now with Damien. From having Blood Sells to our production company Planet Mischief, it’s just all complete.
Shannon — Definitely what I find interesting is also the timing of it all. First meeting Jaime many years ago and then a chance reconnection in 2016 that got everything going, right at a time they needed to also fill a missing link. Coupled by the fact that my creative ideas and writing go so well with theirs, and there is just such a unique and creative world we have all formed together, it’s something really special. And it really came at a time in my life that was perfect for such an evolution to take place.
Damien — Being introduced to the groove! Seeing my dad and everyone else work on music feels like a renaissance or revival of my dad’s youth, and I get to be part of that now.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Damien — I am just still trying to learn to get out of the pentatonic scale and branch out!
Shannon — My funny mistake was a pretty severe one. Once I tried to break up a cat fight and I got attacked and ended up in the ER getting a cocktail of shots in my butt, freaking out that I was going to lose my arm. We had a show 2 days later and right before the show, my arm blew up and was full of puss. Jaime drove me to the hospital, and we put the band and our friends on notice of what was going on. The doctors were concerned but cool, they cleaned and bandaged me up, told me to perform in my show and they would admit me the next day! We actually made it on time to the show with enough time set up our gear, tune my guitar, do a couple vocal warmups and we went on stage! So I guess the moral is, leave the damn cats alone to work their stuff out LOL!
Frank — I’ve never been good with equipment and I didn’t know how to deal with pedals, amps, strings, cables or anything like that for a long time, even though I’m a guitar player LOL. I’ve tripped on cables and I’ve even been choked out by my in-ears! I’ve learned how important one’s sound is and that I have to know my gear since it’s my craft, and now I am constantly working on my sound.
Jaime — Similar to Frank, I didn’t know how to tune my drums but I always liked the sound I got so I just didn’t bother. But something I got out of that is even though I didn’t know how to tune correctly, I was always able to get a sound that I liked. I was never told my drums sounded bad, but that they sounded different. I’ve learned through mistakes, trial and error, both in live performance as well as in the recording process.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Jaime & Shannon — We are currently working on several Planet Mischief projects, some are due to come out next year: Pipelines, an electronic/dance album on 2.12.21, and an indie/electronica album called Melodisea on 5.21.21. Others are in the works as well in genres like rock as well as holiday music.
Frank — Blood Sells and everything revolving around it. Damien and I have an acoustic duo as a side project, Damien writing most of it. If things open up again we’ll play a few restaurants!
Damien — In addition to music, I am directing the documentary Voyages of the Storm with Steve Harris of Hungry and Fearless, which is using Blood Sells to tell the story of the pandemic and how it’s affected musicians.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
We all agree on this one that diversity is important to influence different types of people. You have unlimited sources of talent and potential and you get different perspectives that add depth to what is being portrayed. Different cultures and genders are paramount to creativity and it’s breaking out of one mold that makes things more interesting.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Don’t get cheap equipment. You will most likely be buying new stuff again and again until you ultimately get good gear and design your sound properly.
2. Warm up and stretch before playing. We must take care of our bodies if we want the endurance, especially as we get older.
3. Power metal was gonna make a comeback!
4. Stop second-guessing yourself. So much time gets wasted with timidity and feeling like what you’re doing isn’t right or good enough. It’s hard enough with society the way it is with its perspective on musicians. As professionals, we have had to go against the grain a bit just to find out, ‘hey people like what we do!’
5. Do it 110%. Put the energy you put into getting a “real job” as they say, into your music and making it your livelihood.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Shannon — It’s important for everything in your life to have its place, even rest periods. If you keep a pretty consistent schedule i.e. sleep, practice, writing, healthy eating, fitness, then you are allowing everything to have a time and a place and you are not creating a situation where you’re overwhelmed or working against yourself. When I have not done this in the past — rest being my main problem — I fall sick and then I can’t do anything at all. So, make time to take care of yourself, and always be working on your technique as well.
Frank — Embrace social media, embrace collaboration with different musicians and different people!
Jaime — Same. And don’t half ass anything. Give whatever you are doing 100%.
Damien — Utilize every resource.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Frank — Influence young Latino musicians to be more known throughout American media.
Jaime — You have to treat this as if it’s a full time job; if you’re a performer you have to consider all that comes into play: practice, health, fitness, the right mindset, etc., not only so you can do this well while you’re young, but while you’re older as well. If you have a passion for it, then you’ll want to do it for as long as possible.
Shannon — Put your blood, sweat and tears into making your passion a reality. There is no such thing as a sellout when you’re pursuing your dream and trying to make a living doing it. Cut out all the stuff that isn’t serving you and your goals, whether that be bad habits, or negative people.
Damien — I would like to inspire a new spiritual enlightenment in today’s society that would speak to the heart of the young generation and I would want it to inspire more creativity.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Shannon — I learned discipline at a young age when I was growing up dancing competitively. Not only did I have dance instructors who drilled us into young professionals, but at home my mom also made me continue to practice, even constructing a dance room in my house so I could constantly work on excelling! That mindset has certainly manifested into this career path.
Frank — My wife Lorraine’s support. She knows I need music in my life and her support has allowed me to really invest myself completely into all the projects that we’re doing.
Damien — My parents. I was always told to try and keep my mind occupied.
Jaime — My parents. They never told me not to go for it. They never said go get a real job; they always encouraged me to keep focusing on music.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Jaime — Keep your circle small — wisdom from Al Davis. That inner circle of people you trust keep you from concern because they’re the people you know you could go to war with and do their job. Others who are looking in don’t provide that piece of mind. Also, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” — James Mattis.
Frank — Good fortune happens when preparation meets opportunity, to paraphrase John Wooden. It’s relevant because I don’t think there’s such a thing as good luck. You create your luck and must always work toward an opportunity; you must always be prepared. And that applies to music — staying sharp. Opportunities will present themselves and staying prepared helps.
Damien — “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” — Sun Tzu.
Shannon — My father always said, “Do Not Wait To Strike Till the Iron Is Hot; But Make It Hot By Striking.” — it’s a quote by Irish poet William Butler Yeats, but it was also one of my dad’s philosophies that I think about every single day. Any time I am faced with indecision, I remember those words and I make a move!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Jaime — Lars Ulrich. I am a drummer because of him, and I’ve also wanted to know more about production due to his influence over Metallica’s music. I want to be more influential as well so picking his brain would be awesome.
Shannon — Buckethead. Buckethead was really the first guitarist I became obsessed with as a musician and as a talented icon. I know he maintains his mystique when he has held his “Dinner with Buckethead” parties, but I would really like to talk about creating music with horror, sci fi and martial arts as inspiration because they are my interests as well. I’ve also been Buckethead every year for Halloween for the past few years!
Frank — Dave Mustaine. He is just incredibly interesting and one of my musical heroes.
Damien — Golf player John Daly. I always wanted to know what it was like to go into an industry, embracing that industry on your own terms.
How can our readers follow you online?
We are on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as @bloodsellsmusic
You can also find our music videos on YouTube: https://youtube.com/channel/UC_ew4NXQy3Ogt-pnb5Y68pA
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you as well! This has been an honor.