Jesse “The Claw” Muscato is a Buffalo-based musician who has spent time writing, recording, and touring music with BURIED ALIVE, Despair, Kid Gorgeous, PURE HEEL, and Wreckage for the better part of the last 24 years. While Muscato is likely best known as a drummer for the better part of the aforementioned bands, he’s one of two ferociously shreddin’ guitarists for Buffalo Wrestle-core band PURE HEEL, as well. To be completely honest, we had discovered PURE HEEL first and only very recently realized Jesse Muscato was, also, the drummer for newly reinvigorated Metallic Hardcore pioneers Buried Alive. PURE HEEL recently released a self-titled 7-inch EP on Irish Voodoo Records, which came complete with a band-made RECOMMENDED RIDICULOUSNESS ‘zine. Right around the same time, Buried Alive returned to form after a number of years apart with a new 7-inch EP, as well, Death Will Find You, featuring two new songs and two newly re-mastered tracks, for Bridge Nine Records.
We decided to reach out directly to mutual friend and collaborator Eric “Doughy Ramone” Borawski from PURE HEEL in an effort to get in direct contact with Jesse Muscato. So, with that said, below, you’ll find our interview with Jesse “The Claw” Muscato. Shout-out to Doughy Ramone for helping make all of this happen!
Can you tell us a little bit about the circumstances that led to Buried Alive reuniting for Death Will Find You, their first proper release since 2001’s Last Rites?
Well, basically, to sum it up WORLD BE FREE was in town with Judge and Wreckage was opening. Matt [Roberts] & Joe [Orlando] decided to come out to the show. Some weirdness ensued, some drinking was done, [and] some laughs were had. I think, a lot of questions got answered and, I think, a lot of hatchets got buried and a lot of ideas got thrown around. The offer had been there to play This Is Hardcore [Fest] for a while and with [Scott] Sprigg moving back to Buffalo, the timing just kind of worked itself out and after almost 20 years, we just thought it would be cool to get back on stage and start ripping it up again.
How did you get to become involved with Buffalo-based Wrestle-core pioneers, PURE HEEL?
Myself and The Mangler had previously been in a band called Wreckage and The Mangler decided he wanted to go and play [bass] for PURE HEEL and with myself kind of coming to my wits end with Wreckage, I, basically, dissolved the band in, like, a slow process. I have been friends with Jay [Galvin] AKA Captain Annoying since 1992 and I kept bugging The Mangler about playing guitar and when he proved to me that he wasn’t going to, actually, get the job done (lol) I just called Jay and said, “I think, you should have a second guitar player” and he was like, “oh, do you know anybody?” and I was like, “yeah, me. I’m talking about me” and he was like, “I forgot you play guitar” and he was kind of like, “okay, you’re in the band.” I think, that just comes from us having a really good history with each other and knowing that it could work from a personality point-of-view; whether or not he knew I could, actually, play guitar is to be debated, but, I think, it has worked out [fantastically].
What would you personally deem some of your favorite wrestling walk-out music and why?
Well, I came into the band after the fact. I do like some of the old school wrestling, [but] I am not a fanatic. I like “Rowdy” [Roddy] Piper a lot. If I had to pick walk-out music, I would go something with just complete insane aggression that would, basically, give you the impression that you were about to get murdered. Something like, Cannibal Corpse or Behemoth, ““Angel of Death” [by] Slayer, along those lines.
What’s the current status of your additional non-HEEL/Buried Alive bands, Despair, Kid Gorgeous, and Wreckage?
Despair, I think, has been put to bed a couple years ago. We did have that really awesome discography [that came] out a few years ago a couple years ago and that was really amazing that that came together. Scott [Vogel] really had a lot to do with that, as he does with a lot of things, and, I think, we are all pretty proud of the history that that band created; really relevant, at the time, like all bands, that was good times and bad times. As far as a Despair reunion, that is nothing that I have ever talked about with Scott or any of the other members. I suppose, one day, [it] could happen, but as far as having offers to do it, none that I know of personally. I am currently in the process of harvesting some new Kid Gorgeous material. I will, hopefully, be getting in the studio to lay it down in the next month or two and my best friend, Erik [Boccio], who lives in Los Angeles, [well,] Santa Clarita now, will lay down the smack on the vocals. I think, it will be more of a personal thing that we are just creating music together again because that is a big deal to me. Wreckage is dead. I don’t care. It was cool, at the time. I got to finally get a lot of my own material out there. It was fun while it lasted, even though, it was mostly a pain in the a** hahaha. I suppose, one day, I could resurrect it under a different name because my writing is always going to be my writing.
What can you tell us about your role in the creation, assembly, and distribution of PURE HEEL’s RECOMMENDED RIDICULOUSNESS ‘zine packaged along with copies of their recent self-titled 7-inch/digital single?
As much as I would like to take any credit on any of that awesomeness, I cannot do so in any good consciousness. I just show up and shred guitar. Eric [Borawski] & Jay [Galvin] are the masterminds behind most of that, or all of it, as far as I know.
So, following Death Will Find You EP and S/T EP, what’s planned next for both Buried Alive & PURE HEEL?
As far as Buried Alive goes, I mean, there have definitely been some talks of continuing to write more material. Going into this little 7-inch, we, actually, had quite a bit of material, but not all of it was quite finished. But, I think, there’s some good things brewing there under the surface, but only time will tell. HEEL, right now, we are practicing. I think, we are going to start shredding out some new songs with the release on Irish Voodoo [Records] that is all we have planned out, as far as I know. We always have something up our sleeves, but with the current state of bands, basically, being screwed out of their minds, the only thing we can do is practice and stay creative and, hopefully, get back to playing shows sometime next year.
What might you cite as some of your greatest source of personal inspiration and influence while recording both Buried Alive & PURE HEEL’s latest efforts?
Honestly, as far as Buried Alive goes, I think, just playing with Matt [Roberts] & Joe [Orlando] is always the biggest inspiration. They are phenomenal players. They always drove me to be a better player and, I think, we all create on a level with each other that is kind of special in its own way. We just have a vibe, you know, and so that’s what inspires me is, honestly, just playing with those guys. With HEEL, it’s different because I never really play guitar in a band, so it took some definite adjusting to being in that role as opposed to being able to hide behind a drum set. I think, what inspires me with them is the fact that Jay [Galvin] allows me to write some of the material and we definitely have a different way of going about it. We kind of pre-record our new songs and, then, present it to the band. Whereas, Buried Alive was always super-organic and we always created together while we were practicing. Each of them have their pluses and minuses, but, I think, the biggest thing that inspires me with HEEL is the camaraderie and, really, truly enjoying the company of the guys in the band. Jay has always been one of my favorite people on Planet Earth and somebody I looked up to growing up. I mean, he was in Slugfest, Come On. and a bunch of other awesome bands. So, that just inspires me, getting to play with him, and The Mangler is, also, one of my best friends. Eric [Borawski] & Rob [Ohlenschlager] are great dudes and I’m lucky to have met them. I love hanging out with them and I have so much fun playing on stage with these guys. I haven’t had this much fun in years.
So, what’s the story behind your PURE HEEL alter-ego, The Claw? Also, do you have any idea about the origin stories behind your fellow HEEL bandmates’ alter-egos as well?
If you want to know where “The Claw” came from, you’ll have to ask The Mangler. I think, it refers to some technique that I have when I’m always taking his a** down when we’re brawling haha. Everybody kind of picked their own name. I don’t have much insight as to where they came from… I mean, Rob is The Kid because, you know, he’s the rookie. Jay is Captain Annoying, I mean, because, you know, the boss HAS to be the annoying guy, come on. The Mangler is an elusive dude that shows up to practice and just gets his mangle on. You’ll have to refer to Eric, as far as the contents of his alter-egoism [Doughy Ramone] haha. It could get weird.
How would you say the overall sound, style, aesthetic, etc. of Buried Alive have changed and evolved since 2001’s Last Rites?
That’s kind of a strange question because I didn’t play drums on Last Rites. I mean, I think, they were getting a little bit more “corky” with the songs, if that’s a weird, probably, not the right word. I think, that things were getting a little bit more intricate. They were slower, but there was still a lot of aggression there. Whether or not people liked it more or less, I don’t know. I had bowed out by that time. I like a lot of the songs on that album. I think, that, like I said, Matt [Roberts] is a very eccentric writer in his own weird/crazy mind type of way. So, he’s always trying to think outside the box. But so many years happened in-between that and where we got together a couple years ago and I will, honestly, tell you that the first round of things we had written definitely really didn’t sound like [Buried Alive,] but the more we got into our groove with each other, the more it started to morph back into what we were always known for. So, I guess, if anything else comes out down the line, you’ll get to hear how we have really evolved. Just be patient, I suppose. As far as the aesthetic of the band, I mean we’re going to be Buried Alive we’re going to be raw, in-your-face, we’re not going to f****** b******t around the bush about anything. We do what we do.
Buried Alive’s latest Death Will Find You EP consists of two new songs, “Death Will Find You” & “I Killing I,” and two newly re-mastered songs, “Another Day Closer to Death” & “Our Time Is At Hand,” originally from a 2000 split with Reach The Sky, correct? What made you guys decide to go with this particular selection for your first release in some 12 years?
Well, I definitely think it’s been more than 12 years. I think, that, basically, what happened was that we had those two newer pieces done and like I said, we had a bunch of other stuff that had a lot of potential, but just never panned out fully. To do a proper 7-inch, you have to have more than a song and a half, so it was brought up to put those two songs on there from the Reach The Sky split, even though, I didn’t play drums on them, that’s okay. They’re good songs and everybody was cool with it, so that’s how it went down.
What can you tell us about the current status of PURE HEEL’s upcoming full-length debut for Irish Voodoo Records?
I didn’t know we had any “full-length debut” plans. Maybe, you heard something I didn’t… that would be super-rad. But I can’t, honestly, tell you, if we, actually, have those plans.
Now, this one’s a bit of a hypothetical, but what the Hell… if you could partake in a split 7-inch with any artist/band(s) dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
This is a very tough question to answer because I like music from all walks of life and all different time eras. Plus, depending on what band you are currently playing in could infinitely alter the answer to this question. So, I’ll give it to you like this [as] if I was playing drums in a band. I think, it would be cool to do a split 7-inch with a band like The Who because, for the time, they were total maniacs, loud as f*** smashing everything in sight. Keith Moon just beating the crap out of those drums, destroying everything, I think, it’s amazing and I love Keith Moon. As far as HEEL goes, I mean, I don’t know, that could go so many ways. All of us like so many different styles of music. I think, it would have to be a toss-up between Dead Kennedys or Black Flag. Just the political aspect of things: the raw aggression, the total outspokenness, getting that much crushing musicality out of pretty poor recordings, just shows what you can do when you just have the right elements of people making music. So, to see a HEEL split with either of those two would be quite incredible.