Interview with Music Artist/Producer Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez
Q: Please introduce yourself to the readers and how you first got into this field of work –and who were some of your influences growing up?
I am Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez — The person behind Apex Zenith. I’ve been in the entertainment/music industry my entire life. Throughout my childhood, I participated in the family business, which was musical theater and traditional Spanish operettas. By the age of 12, I began stage-managing the performances in professional theaters and by the age of 21, I went on my first world tour as a technician.
I have many musical influences, but I spread them out through all my musical projects and works. For Apex Zenith, I called upon my British synthpop/new wave favorites like Duran Duran, Human League, and Billy Idol. I also called upon my favorite synth legends like Ian Hammer, Ulpio Minucci, Vince DiCola, and Georgio Morroder. For this project, it was all about the late 70s and 80s synth machine that help dismantle the stagnated post-disco rock scene.
Q: What kind of training have you had, if any?
I have no real formal training. Everything I have learned was “on the job.” I had a need/want, and I learned how to do it. Being a live audio engineer for bands like Morbid Angel, Nile, Symphony X, Overkill, Christian Death, Mayhem, and others drove me into a studio environment to continue doing the same for the records that I produced for Diabolic, Morbid Angel, and others.
Playing musical instruments was also something that was born of necessity and want. I love playing music, so I want to learn how to play everything…at least good enough to edit. I’ve been singing my whole life.
Q: What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
I have no favorites. They are all awesome and they all suck at the same time.
Q: How did you get the gig?
I invented the gig. I created the project, so nobody hired me. I have no band members, so there is no committee to run ideas by. This gives me autonomy of the sound and direction of the music I create.
As far as the origin of Apex Zenith is concerned, it was born of my previous synth project, “The Synth Lord.” After “The Synth Lord” record came out in 2019, I realized that there were a few groups out there with a similar name like “Lord of Synth” and “Synth Lordz.” Even though they were not as active as I was, I did not like the confusion in the musicsphere, so I immediately began work on Apex Zenith while also softening the sound a bit. The Synth Lord is a little more “industrial” in approach whereas Apex Zenith is more of a “heavy synthpop.”
Q: What sports do you enjoy watching?
I am not much of a sports person, but I am married to an Italian woman, so Football (soccer) is what gets played at my house when there is a championship game on. (Go Italia and Espana!)
Q: What has been one of the biggest highlights/achievements of your career?
I have yet to have that moment, I feel. Everything that I have done has led me to something else. As soon as someone looks at their high point, then it means that everything that comes next can never feel as important. Certainly, I have been at the right place at the right time several times in my career and probably will again. My current full-time employment is as the head technician at The Bilheimer Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, FL. That means that I get to engineer live shows from everything to simple acoustic guitar acts to full-fledged productions from Grammy-winners of years passed.
Q: If you had a chance to work alongside anybody who would that be?
My dream would be to work with one of my biggest synth influences, Vince DiCola. His work on the Rocky IV and Transformers (86) soundtracks are just the stuff of legend. Also, having a chance to write for some modern pop divas would also be a great honor. I have no musical “integrity” when it comes to work. If someone told me tomorrow that someone wanted to use one of my songs, but they want someone else to sing it, I would give them my BMI number and my blessing.
Q: What projects do you have coming up?
Now that the Apex Zenith record is complete, I will be working on my nerd-rock project, Cosmic Punch’s new record. This is a fun project that is totally different from Apex Zenith. It’s kind of like a heavy Monkees/Beatles thing, but the subject matter is all pop culture and nerd stuff. That means a whole record and music video for release some time next year. I also will be doing some remixes for a few Death Metal bands in my studio as well. My studio business keeps me rather active with my “mail order” business. Most of my clients I don’t even see. They dropbox me files. I mix/master them, send them back to dropbox, and the paypal me money.
Q: Who is your inspiration?
Right now, the main inspiration I have for making music is my two boys. I had kids late in life, so I want a legacy of my creations for my future grandchildren and their children to listen to. I always joke that someday in the future, after I’m dead, there will be hundreds of songs that I have created out there for my great grandkids to listen to and say, “WOW…this is terrible…THIS SUCKS!”
Q: What are your favorite venues to perform in?
Right now, I would just be happy to perform this music anywhere. I have a live show already produced and ready to perform, there is just no SCENE for this kind of music here in Tampa. At some point, I will take up some of those invitations I have received from other acts like mine in LA and London and go do it there. With Covid being the guiding light of the planet right now, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Q: Social Profiles:
LATEST MUSIC VIDEO FOR APEX ZENITH –
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your Music video?
I love working with CGI/3D Animation software. When making this video, I thought to myself to make what would have been the most expensive music video of the 80s had there been real sets. 80s videos had 3 things: Cars, Girls, and fireworks! For example, when I was coming up with the look, I purposely picked the “worst” cars as opposed to the “coolest” cars for a giggle. For my Paris set, I have the Citroen 2CV, my Rome set has the FIAT 500, and my “Cold War” set has the Lada. I also wanted to incorporate some fun 80s pop culture in there so there is the Tron, Battlestar, Robotech (Marcross), and Star Wars bits as well. If you pay attention to everything in the scenery, there are tons of Easter eggs.
Everything bigger than everything else when it came to the video! It took 3 months of planning/creation to make this video. I did all of it myself while working on the record, working my full-time job, working on studio projects for clients, and being a dad/husband.
Q: Do you have any advice for young music makers like yourself?
I am hardly young, but if I had any advice, it would be to just keep doing it! Learn as much as you can and never be under the thumb of a band member, producer, or manager. This is the music business and “business” is a bigger word than “music.” (Dolly Parton) Cover your butt as much as possible and never let anyone get one over on you!
Q: Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?
Queen…nothing is better.