Why Are There so Few African-Americans in Metal?
Apparently the metal scenes internationally tend to be more diverse. "The bulk of our shows are overseas," he says, "In South America you notice a lot more black people. Even I was surprised."
And things have changed since the days when Hirax was formed, albeit slowly. "It used to be me and two other black guys. Now it's a couple dozen," he says.
"I'm very proud to lay groundwork for guys who will follow me in the future," he adds. But it's not clear that he's talking about race anymore; De Pena is, over and above other identities, a metalhead. "The thing that attracted me to metal is that I felt more at home there than anywhere else. [It's] important for people to know they'll be welcomed in."
Hirax plays the Key Club tomorrow, Dec. 22.