Growing up with dyslexia, being bullied throughout his entire educational career, battling isolationism and low self esteem, Pasadena City College student Jacob Yanez turned to music for solace. Yanez found not only music, but also a community in one of music’s most underground genres- grindcore.
Grindcore is a sub-genre of metal that combines the speed of punk and riffing styles of death metal and thrash to create a blend of ear-splittingly fast guitars and bass paired with blast beats and accompanied with either piercing shrieks or cookie monster-esque growls.
During the day Yanez attends PCC as a second year in the music production certificate program. Like most college students, Yanez has to provide for himself so he has two jobs. In the morning he’s a caregiver at a daycare for children but at night he laces up his Doc Martens and performs at local backyard shows.
Yanez began his musical journey at a very young age when he picked up the guitar at the age of three. He then remembers being introduced to a myriad of genres of music ranging from hip-hop to soul to mexican rancheras, but was captivated when his parents showed him bands such as Metallica, System of a Down and the Misfits.
“My mom took me to the record store when I was like eight and I had some money that I had saved up and I remember going in and buying a copy of ‘Nightmare’ by Avenged Sevenfold,” Yanez said. “I played that shit to death and it made me realise I wanted to make music.”
Yanez is the lead guitarist and backing vocalist of his two-piece emo/grindcore band Riviera. He never intended the band to go into the musical direction it did initially but later found out the relationship between the two genres melted perfectly.
“When people hear the genre emo, they think of sad soft music,” Yanes said. “To me, I always thought anything could be emo because to me it was just emotional music lyrically so when I started diving more and more into the metal universe I realized most lyricists wrote in a tortured way so me and my bandmate decided to not sacrifice the heaviness of the music for the lyrical content.”
Yanez has been a part of Riviera for a year now and has already toured up and down California playing with a blend of different artists from hardcore to pop punk bands. Having very minimal funding, he and his bandmate usually sleep in their car between dates.
Despite knowing the very very limited opportunities in his genre of music, it doesn’t stop him from trying to do something different and he has already seen some of his work payoff with the band’s new EP ‘White Widow’.
“I’ve been involved with the scene by going to shows and going to events so most of the bands I’ve seen perform end up becoming my friends,” Yanez said. “It’s interesting that heavy music can get people together in a crowded place and essentially produce controlled violence and in the end there’s peace. It’s a safe haven for many people who escape their crappy home lives or stresses of day to day shit and we try to express those themes with our music.”