Katon W. De Pena
(pictured below) of long-running Long Beach, California-based metallers HIRAX
is one of only a handful of black singers fronting metal and hard rock bands. Although there have been other African-Americans playing this genre of music — Jimi Hendrix
, Phil Lynott
), Byron Davis
) and Howard Jones
) spring to mind — they are not nearly as common as Latino metalheads are. Asked why he thinks that is, the 49-year-old De Pena
tells Nicholas Pell
of LA Weekly
, “These are questions that need to be asked.” He adds that although he’s never felt excluded, he’s felt “misunderstood by other black folks. You get looked at differently if you’re black and into metal. I still get that today.
“There are tons of black kids who love metal, but they think that there won’t be any other black kids there and they won’t be accepted,” he explains.
De Pena, who says that “in South America you notice a lot more black people” attending metal concerts, believes that “if black people went to shows, they’d be stoked. It’s not like what people hear about on talk shows. People come from all religious backgrounds, skin tones and hair lengths. I was more accepted [when I first started going to metal shows] because we’re all outcasts and misfits.”
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