Sal LoCoco

Sworn Enemy

Back in September 2022, I went to the Anthrax 40th anniversary show at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Shockingly, it wasn't the dulcet tones of Joey Belladonna that had me transfixed, nor was it the rambunctious charm of Municipal Waste's Tony Foresta that grabbed me; it was the glorious ferocity of Sworn Enemy and the infectious savagery of the band's vocalist Sal LoCoco that mesmerised me and left me gobsmacked. The sheer brutality that emanated from Sal's lungs could've rivalled the force of a fleet of jet engines, so being naturally drawn to the more aggressive, violent side of life, I jumped at the opportunity to interview him on behalf of Metal Temple.

With a set of pipes on him that could melt your face off quicker than acid, Sal is a gentle giant - coming in at an impressive 6ft 4" - in real life and comes across as a man of pensive thought and few words, and someone worth listening to when he's got something to say. His hardcore prowess speaks volumes without him having to say too much, and his passionate music speaks for itself. So, how does a band that cut its teeth in hardcore over twenty-five years ago continue to grow? What gets a hardcore vocalist riled up enough to metaphorically break stuff in his music? And is life always on the loud side of things?  Read on to find out how the band has evolved, the influences behind the music, and to dig in to find out more about the man behind twenty-five year of Sworn Enemy's uncompromising audial violence.

Leanne "Metal Maiden" Evans, Editor
By Leanne Evans
February 17, 2023
SWORN ENEMY's Sal LoCoco: "Scenes are always gonna change when you been involved in something as long as I have. A lot of the music that is being played today has a tone of the same sounds from its predecessors. Everything comes in cycles..." interview
Hey Sal, it's so great to see you again and talk all things Sworn Enemy with you today! How have you been?

I'm doing pretty good! No complaints, but even if I had any, no one wants to hear them anyway!

Glad to hear it! I'm excited to chat to you today and pick at your brain, so let's get started! Sworn Enemy has been amongst the hXc and crossover scene for over twenty-five years! When you first set about creating the band, did you imagine that it would be as enduring as it has been, and did you envisage some of the tours you've done and rubbing shoulders with the bands you have?

When this band first started, I never anticipated that it would ever get to the level that it reached; I always thought we would just be a local band playing local shows. To get on some of the tours that we have been part of over the last 25 years is truly incredible, and I have to say I've been blessed to get where I've gotten over this time.

It's certainly great that you've gone from being the tight-knit local band to reaching dizzying heights! So, how do you feel you've developed as a band since your inception? Do you feel there's been a natural maturation and organic development in what your music has become as you've got older?

I have to say that I honestly never thought about it. We just started playing and whatever sounded good to our ears we worked with it, so if that sounded like hardcore, metal, or whatever, it didn't matter to us so long as it sounded awesome. I can say this: I think we have grown from album to album and we still have plenty of great music left to write.

I can well believe that there's still plenty of ammo in the pot for your work! And has the scene changed over the years since you first started out, and if so, how has it evolved?

I mean scenes are always gonna change when you been involved in something as long as I have. I'm not sure how it has evolved, but I can say that a lot of the music that is being played today has a tone of the same sounds from its predecessors. Everything comes in cycles and hardcore music is no different.

Yes, that's very true. I know you've all been through some especially hard times in Sworn Enemy, and the shape of the band has sadly changed since you tragically lost your friend Pauly Antignani (Sworn Enemy's drummer) in 2018; how does such a loss shape you as an individual and the band, and has it changed your perspective on life?

Everyone deals with loss in their own way. Me personally? I don't really know how to deal with it, and I've never been one to deal well with loss, so I try to avoid the topic and keep a lot of the pain locked up inside. I know this isn't necessarily the best way, but that's my way of handling it, y'know? Life is very short, and you all need to make sure you live your life to the fullest, because you never know, one day it may all be gone.

I appreciate that was a tough one to tackle, so thank you so much for your openness. How do you think Pauly would feel about Sworn Enemy and its achievements?

I'm pretty sure he would think that the band is going in the right direction, and the things we have done have been nothing short of amazing.

No doubt about it. And given how precious we've come to realise how life is, if you could speak to your younger self – taking into account everything you've experienced along the way – what advice would you give to him?

If I could go back and speak to my younger self, I would definitely hand him a sports almanac and tell him to enjoy!!

Ha ha! I'm sure most of us would probably do EXACTLY that! So focusing more on you and your craft, who have your personal influences been over the years, and have they changed?

People that influenced me when I first started in music were guys like John Joseph from Cro-Mags. I loved his style and stage persona, but most of all, the lyrics that he spit were amazing! Another influential individual for me was Eddie Sutton from Leeway; that dude knew how to run a stage and command a crowd - not many could do it like him! I mean, those are just two of many influences, there's so many more, the list is endless!

They're some quality influences! And given your hardcore roots, what topics really rile you and what would you personally change in the world as we know it if you could?

One thing that always gets me going is politics: we can talk politics for hours and still not get anywhere, and that's the main thing that I feel that should be changed in this world, but unfortunately, we know that will never happen. Another topic that gets me going is religion. We all know that religion is a big problem in this world and the root of most evil that we face every day, and I can write lyrics about it till the day I die. Politics and religion are two things that need to be changed!

I couldn't agree more! So, your latest release, "Gamechanger", was an absolute cracker and we loved reviewing it at Metal Temple. Tell me more about the creative process for that record and how the collaboration with Robb Flynn came about

Well, Robb got involved through our bass player Mike's business partner and best friend Dominic Deluca. Dom and Robb have been friends for a very long time, so that's how that came about. The creative process was basically five of us crammed in a hotel room in Oakland writing on the fly. I think it came out aces; this record is my favourite this band has written!

And can you tell me if you have another album in the pipeline at all? If so, what can fans expect?

Well, I'd like to say that we do… but we don't. We have a few songs that we're working on and probably gonna finish writing (I hope sometime this spring) but we shall how that goes!

We can't begrudge you not having something lined up, especially given what you've been up to recently! You guys have also recently tucked some serious shows under your belts, what with the Anthrax 40th anniversary tour with Municipal Waste, playing with Madball and Life of Agony at the back end of 2022. What are your highlights from those shows?

Every night with Anthrax was a highlight when you get to play huge arenas in front of thousands of amazing people, who are genuine music lovers, and treated us like we were on our 40th anniversary tour! The LOA/Madball show was super fun and getting to play with two of the bands that I grew up to loving and getting to do it close to home makes it even more fun.

I can't help but envy you! And the burning question on our lips…Did Municipal Waste stay true to its name and fuck you up?

100 percent they did!!

And what did you reckon to being in the UK? What were your best moments being here? Any saucy tour anecdotes you want to throw our way?

Being on tour for as long as I have been, I think I've been to or pretty much seen everything that I wanted to, but we did get to visit this pub ("Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" in Nottingham) while we were there that claimed to have been established in 1196AD, which is pretty damn old. Sorry I'm a boring guy… what can I say?! Ha ha!

And the big question…Who pits hardest: us Brits, or you Americans?

It's not even close: the Americans pit harder by far! Ha ha!

Wow! What a way to win over a Brit! Ha ha! Now you're back in Blighty this April, with a couple of shows in store. What can us metallic reprobates expect?

You can expect a great performance from us! We always give 150 percent when we are on stage, and you won't get anything less.

If it's anything like the show I witnessed in Birmingham, everyone is in for an absolute treat! What other shows do you have in the pipeline?

As of right now, we only have the Euro tour lined up but when we get more, I'll be sure to let you know.

Given you guys have worked with some incredible names in the industry, is there anyone you have a burning desire to work with but haven't yet had chance?

Me personally? I'd work with anyone - cos I'm easy like that - so it don't matter who wants to work with us or not.

We're going to move to the 'unapologetically Leanne' section, where it's a little wild and a lot more personal! Let's break you in gently…What's the funniest or weirdest moment of your career to date?

Like I said earlier, I'm the boring guy in the band… I don't really have any funny stories; I just sit in the hotel rooms or sell merch and I don't really do too much on tour. I try to relax as much as I can so I can play at my best.

Spoken like the ever consummate professional! If you could cover any song, from any genre, and give it the Sworn Enemy treatment, what would it be?

Well, I'll be honest, I'd like to cover "Your love" by this band called The Outfield definitely one of my faves!

That's a belter! Great choice! Right, now we're going to play a new game…it's based on the concept of "Snog, Marry, Avoid", except there's a 'Leanne' twist, so it's "Ear Fuck, Mate for Life, Get in the Fucking Sea".  So, give me three albums, one for each option, mainstream or underground, old or new, any genre, that you'd choose and why

OK, I have no idea what snog means (for those not familiar with snog, it means "French Kiss") so I'll give you three albums I'd marry: 1) Cro-Mags "The Age of Quarrel" 2) would be Biohazard self-titled and 3) would be Slayer's "Reign in Blood". Three albums I would avoid? Gimme any three of Korn's albums and there you have it.

Remind me to send you a "Brit Slang" book before you come back to see us in April…I'd also rather self-eviscerate than listen to Korn. Your life depends on this one… you're being held at gun-point, your captor wants to know the most interesting fact about you and they'll spare your life if it's solid enough. Tell me, what would this be…or would you die?

Guess I'm dying! Ha ha!

Fuck sake, Sal, ha ha! And finally, the all-important "Metal Maiden Metal Tea Party" question… Who would you invite to your own fantasy celebrity metal tea party? You need to choose someone to cook, someone to chat with, someone to entertain you, and someone to party with…

OK, so my cook would be Dimebag, my chatting buddy would be Tom Araya, someone to entertain me would be James Hetfield, and my party buddy would be Justin Timberlake.

Thanks for your time, Sal, I really appreciate and hope to see you at the show in London!

Thank you, Leanne, hope to see you soon!!

Sworn Enemy's European tour kicks off in Belgium on 24th March with THESE STREETS, WORST DOUBT, ADVERSARY, and MOURNING joining them to wreck your necks and pulverise you along the way! Tour details can be found on Sworn Enemy's Facebook page and Instagram on:

crossmenucross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram