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Eventually, he found himself living in a friend's abandoned car and playing bass in a SoCal speed-metal band called Demolition. The band forged a sizable following, did some touring -- even opening shows for speedy mainstays like Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, among others.
After patching things up with mom, Gonzales moved home. By the early Nineties, drugs, violence and booze had Demolition by the throat, squeezing out its last gasp of hope. But, at age 22, after seven years, Gonzales did receive his high school diploma. He spent a year in college and decided to start doing documentaries.
"Our singer was a great singer and guitar player and he had this great fucking sound. He kind of lost it. He got real suicidal. He wanted to blow people's brains away and his chick and his kids. So he saw no other solution but to turn on to the Lord, so he is a full-on Christian now. He is a pastor of a church now. When he was singing in Demolition, he says he believes a demon was speaking through him. The Lord was his only way out, bro."
He resisted as long as he could. But on the boot-into-the-ass advice of his mother, Gonzales got a 9-to-5 job.
"She said, 'Look, the band is done, you're getting older, get your head out of your ass. . . .'"
Then on Christmas Day '98, he packed up and moved to Mesa, where his sister and mother had been living. Scottsdale Community College has a decent film school for half of what it would soak him in L.A., so Gonzales starts there later this month.
"I jumped on the Greyhound, my friends gave me a couple hundred bucks, helped me out, and I came to Arizona. I came here [to Mesa] from L.A. to try to get away from anything and everything and the last thing I wanted to do was be social."
To finance his first camera, he sold $700 worth of Black Sabbath posters.
He says he returned to the "bad roots" and unloaded some hashish. He is borrowing editing gear until he gets into school.
Gonzales took his mother along to Ozzfest, and, like any loving mother, she snuck in her son's two digi-cams in her purse. Gonzales' footage itself includes gritty vérité-ish conversations and interviews with a bevy of street urchins, metal heads and Satan-worshiping types. He queries his subjects about God, Satan, sex and money. And there is no deficit of grim looks into hollow faces of meth freaks, acid heads and basic human casualties.
Gonzales shows insight into a milieu where few can go, because these people speak his language. Most of the faces show an eerie trust. And, according to those around him, HBO just rang, looking for Gonzales and his documentary as well.
I ask him how it came to be that HBO would call.
"You roll around, you meet people, you connect," he replies. "I need to know how to manipulate the machine that makes this all visible. Movies and stories you feed through the eyes and heart of all humanity. And that is how you get a good one.
"I just wanna tell some stories. And tuition for school is expensive, bro. I'm fucking broke, that is why I am working all these jobs and hours, man. My sole motivation for wanting to be a filmmaker is that there is a million fucking stories left untold. There is so many stories that I know about living on the streets. Real-life shit, ya know? Strippers, pimps, whores, drug dealers, killers, grave robbers, whatever. I know all these fucking people and I would like to tell at least one or two of these stories the way they should be told, bro. They are gonna be left untold if I don't fucking tell these stories. That is what it is all about, bro."