From Hip Hop to Heavy Metal to Hardcore: Drain's Cody Chavez Details His Heavy Music Progression

From Hip Hop to Heavy Metal to Hardcore: Drain's Cody Chavez Details His Heavy Music Progression

- By Ramon Gonzales

The guitarist for hardcore breakout DRAIN details how he went from DMX to Iron Maiden to Cro Mags all the while deadset on playing music in a band for the rest of his life.

Photo by Sherburt Photo

Guesting on the most recent episode of the series Defender of the Riff with host and resident shredder Daniel DeKay, Cody Chavez of hardcore juggernaut Drain picked up his guitar for an in-studio session that quickly got down to brass tacks. 

Opening with a bit of a tandem take on a Drain classic, the guys jumped into what first intrigued Chavez musically. He discussed how hip-hop was core to his musical foundation - citing the legends like Biggie, DMX, Beastie Boys and Eminem as part of his primary pedigree. Chavez explained that while he is the resident metalhead in Drain, that core foundation in hip hop is something that still resonates with him today and is very much a part of musical identity even now. 

Chavez would go on to detail his foundation in rock, explaining how his stepdad's affinity for Ozzy and Scorpions would pique his interest. Picking up his guitar, Chavez played the iconic riff of the 1982 Scorpions album, Blackout, reiterating how that specific riff was pivotal in him waiting to pick up a guitar.

From there, Chavez began exploring more on his own, taking to a pillar of rock music in KISS. Admittedly, Chavez shared that he found KISS on his own, coming across the "I Was Made for Lovin' You" video from the pivotal 1979 KISS record Dynasty. Despite the album's departure from the KISS of old, Chavez said the lore of KISS loomed so large that the track opened the floodgates for him and compelled him to dive deeper into the discography - making the band a big part of his makeup musically. 



Chavez would actually take up drums just a couple of years after that, going from rock music spectator to to participant. In a twist of fate, his cousin would gift him a used Ibanez which lead to Chavez noodling around with the guitar and learning the Iron Man riff from Black Sabbath. It was a moment of discovery that proved pivotal for budding musician. 

Enter Metallica. 

The spark ignited for Chavez musically on guitar and it was further flamed by his deep dive into all things Metallica. Wanting to better learn his instrument, he gravitated towards towards Metallica as a means of building his skill and sought out the band's legendary riffs as a means of getting better versed with his newly discovered passion. 

Jamming vital Metallica like "Master of Puppets" and "...And Justice for All" Chavez detailed how the band built his knowledge and his skill, even going to far as to pick up the paperback guitar tab books to really learn his craft. He even jammed a little Damage Inc. era Metallica for good measure. 

Referencing his earliest attempts to get active with a band, Chavez talked about connecting with teenage friends to start their first project, Immoral Demise. Though the band never played a show and only recorded one track, it affirmed that Chavez was steering towards the creative direction he wanted to pursue - he knew he wanted to play in a band and anything that worked towards that was a positive. 

Finishing high school, He was presented with the opportunity to play drums for the band Gardens. Unsure about whether he wanted to press on as a guitarist or a drummer, he took the opportunity to play with a band and began what would become an important step. He explained that from 2012 to 2015/16, he played drums consistently with Gardens, all the while still jamming on the guitar and keeping a trove a riffs in his secret stash with the idea that they would come in handy - one day. 



The multi-instrumentalist professed his love for 70's era Judas Priest and talked about how he was on a massive NWOBH kick, explaining how the 1980 self-titled album from Iron Maiden really made things click for him - bridging technicality with speed - which segued into an appreciation for more of the punk end of the spectrum. 

Sharing his progression, Chavez discussed how finding bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat and Cro Mags with The Age of Quarrel record were among the first bands in the category of hardcore punk that he found something special in. Resonating with the heft and confrontation of 80's hardcore, Chavez said that eventually led to him discovering other generations of the sound - tapping into bands like Hatebreed and No Warning which were among those that bridged the gap between metal and hardcore in a very apparent, influential way. 

Chavez also revisited his first days with Drain, recounting how he went from the guy with long hair that was regularly going to see the band locally, to the guy that was filling in unexpectedly on his 22nd birthday. That would eventually lead to him taking on bass duties and eventually moving to guitar permanently as the band went from their demo-era to something more substantial. 

The complete conversation sheds light on the musical evolution of Chavez and underscores how his vision of playing in a band from very early on manifested itself in a very meant-to-be sort fo way. 

The full episode of Defender of the Riff with host Daniel DeKay and special guest Cody Chavez of DRAIN can be found - HERE


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