“The Beast of Bergen”
Written by Boris Lee
Life at seventeen. I was working my first job as a dishwasher and catering assistant for a local Italian deli so I had money for collecting Batman books and metal music cassettes. On the streets and in school, I was involved with football. After school I was at Frontera Park playing basketball or at Jumpin’ Jack’s Newsstand playing Street Fighter 2. If I was not there you could find me in my garage drawing comic book characters, learning to paint (which I never got good at and want to pick up again), or running RPG campaigns for my friends Joe, Anthony and Brian, all the while driving them nuts playing those metal music cassettes on my boom box, and with my playing the same Black Sabbath songs over and over on my white Pro Sessions Strat copy.
The reality of all that is I was a lost kid, searching for inner definition and purpose. So today when I come across youth that has direction, drive and destination design, I take notice.
Jesse Bergen is a seventeen-year-old guitar prodigy who moshes right into the pit of direction, drive and destiny as the frontman for Diabology, a teenage thrash metal band based out of Los Angeles, CA. With songs like Judgement Day, Deicide, and Seas of Eternity in their repertoire, Diabology is a talented group of teens tearing it up with ‘Thrashtastic Riffology.’ Recently I had the chance to speak with Diabology frontman, the kid with the killer chops, Jesse Bergen.
Boris Lee: Salutations Jesse, thank you for joining me here at Symptom of the Metalverse. Your guitar work is bad-ass. When did you begin playing?
Jesse Bergen: Thanks! I started playing when I was seven, and I started out on a 3/4 scale Fender. I took lessons at a music school that opened on my block and later moved on to the School of Rock program.
BL: When I was seventeen, about two weeks before I would turn eighteen and only a year after I had been playing guitar, I had my right index finger nearly cut completely off. I had to relearn how to hold a guitar pick, write left-handed, etcetera. Funny thing was I became a better quarterback and basketball player after my injury. Shit, I ended up being a better artist and guitarist too. My motivation for staying with the axe was Tony Iommi, the riff master behind all that is Black Sabbath. I was already learning to play from listening to Sabbath, and when I learned of Iommi losing his fingertips, it drove me more to keep playing the instrument.
Who or what was your first inspiration for playing guitar?
JB: My parents both come from a musical background. At the time, I loved the Guitar Hero games, and all I thought about was being a guy in the game.
BL: Funny, there were no video games to motivate playing instruments in my youth. My generation had the icons creating music to get us out to the music stores and spend our money on second hand instruments to follow in our hero’s footsteps. It’s cool that something like Guitar Hero came along using the classics I grew up on reaching a new generation and inspiring them to pick up the actual instruments.
What challenges do you face as a kid playing among the SOCAL music scene where you are contending with hundreds of other bands looking to do the same thing you are with Diabology?
JB: A lot of people look down on us or try to take advantage of us just because we’re young. Then they’re shocked to find out that we can actually play!
BL: Ha ha ha! I would expect most of the older folks in the crowds and veteran musicians to be a bit surprised at the talent Diabology has versus the band members ages!
Listening to Diabology, I hear heavy Megadeth, early Metallica, Motörhead and Venom as influences. How difficult is it to find your own sound while keeping true to the old-school metal ways and not sound like every other band out there?
JB: In recent years, I think a lot of bands have taken up a less structured, melodic approach to metal. We try to preserve that melody and accessibility in our music while also incorporating a healthy dose of that modern metal sludge.
BL: What is your song writing process for Diabology? What’s the intricacies for you to create the frantic yet melodic flow of songs, such as “Seas9 of Eternity”?
JB: We make offerings at our rehearsals every week, and in return the ‘Dark Lord’ grants us our compositions.
BL: That’s funny, because here to confirm or deny receipt of
said “Offerings” is the one and only, Dark Lord.
Thanks for joining us all-mighty master of metal music compositions and soul stealing! Have you received tribute from the band members of Diabology?
Dark Lord: I took a break from granting metal music masterpieces to the musicianship masses! Thus, I grant Jesse and his bandmates have creative collaborations showcasing their talents that treat us to these thrash tales. My will has nothing to do with such killer compositions.
BL: Thank you for sharing that with us Dark Lord (All hail and
That said, the Diabology song “Judgement Day”, is a pulse pounding mid-paced headbanger tune that has a strong Megadeth feeling. You sound similar to a young Dave Mustaine on vocals for this song. What’s the story to the spawning of the song?
JB: That’s actually the earliest Diabology song that wasn’t put down. It’s evolved a lot since we started playing it. As for inspiration, I noticed there were a lot of songs about the Four-Horsemen, but not the rest of the biblical Judgment Day. So I made one.
BL: Looking to our predecessors in creativity, we find lessons learned and perhaps a formula for success or inspiration in our own creative ventures. That occurs subconsciously and in our awoken creative mind. At times, I wonder what I would learn from a conversation with my icons. Give me a chance to sit at a dinner table with Richard Matheson or Tony Iommi, and I would absorb anything they have for knowledge to share.
If you had the chance to interact with one of your creative icons, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
JB: I would do speed with Lemmy Kilmister. I think that’s self-explanatory.
BL: Ha ha ha! Lemmy is a legend at partying and playing. He never advocated for his choice in lifestyle and in fact said it was not the best thing to offer as a way to live. It was his way, and he did not do much to push that concept on anyone. I think Lemmy would rather grant you sometime playing along with him rather than ‘Racing’ along with him.
What’s the biggest gig you have played so far with Diabology? What was that experience like and how far removed was the gig from the first gig you played with Diabology?
JB: We actually got a cool opportunity when we first got together. We got into the House of Blues Music Forward program, and we got to play The Wiltern at the end. Believe it or not, that was our third gig, but we’ve done a lot of cool stuff since.
BL: The SOCAL music community has an age span from teens to retirees. Being as young as you are, what kind of reception to do you receive when exposing some of us elders to Diabology music? Do you find it more difficult to make your mark in the SOCAL music scene being only teenagers?
JB: Many people don’t realize how young we are when we’re on stage. There’s a lot of shock when they find out, and then there’s usually a “When I was your age…” story.
It can definitely be a handicap. We can’t play any twenty-one and over venues. There are people who look down on us because of our age. It’s just something we have to work around though. There are still tons of awesome all age venues, you just have to look for them.
BL: Most of us in the metal music community have a personal connection to the music based on life experience being described through melody and lyrics. What is your connection to metal music from a mental and emotional standpoint versus a creative point of view? What does metal music mean to you and how does it affect your life?
JB: For me, metal is a social affair. It’s a way of connecting with other people and it’s a reminder that other people are going through the same things that you are. Creatively, it’s a way of expressing that same stuff in a way that other people can (hopefully) relate to.
BL: My first band was called, Milk the Cow. I remember sitting in my bass player’s basement coming up with heavy-slow paced riffs that built up to faster sense-slaughtering cacophonies.
When writing music for Diabology, is it full steam ahead for riff creation? How do you decide on tempo changes for a song, such as in “Lost Viking”?
JB: We have our drummer Matt enter a portal and commune with eldritch forces. He won’t tell us who they are or what they tell him, but he always reemerges with the perfect tempos.
BL: Nice! Another sacrificial style scripting from entering a worldly Temple of Tempos! If you could jam with a musical icon who would you have a dream jam with and what song would you want to perform?
JB: I’d love to jam with the guys from Trivium. If I could play any songs off of Shogun with them, it would be a dream come true.
BL: What’s in the future for Diabology?
JB: We have an album coming soon! It’s called “Nobody Believes Me,” and it will be out before the end of the year. We also play a ton of shows, so if you’re in LA you definitely should come out sometime!
BL: Sweet! Jesse, thank you for chatting with me here at Symptom of the Metalverse. I and the rest of the metal masses look forward to Diabology making believers out of us all with the release of your album!
To learn more about Jesse and Diabology, you can find them on the following social media links.