I first met Rob "Beto" Rosario back in the late '80s when we were both running around the same circle of friends in our neighborhood in Queens, New York. Rosario went on to play guitar in Dmize, an influential hardcore band in our area that released three demos in the early '90s. The controversial European label, Lost & Found Records, released Dmize's demos as Backlash, a bootleg album that sold well in the '90s.
After Dmize broke up, Rosario joined 25 ta Life, the hardcore group fronted by the polarizing frontman, Rick Healey. Rosario would go on to join Madball, which reunited him with his former Dmize bandmate, Hoya Roc. Since parting ways with Madball in the early '00s, the guitarist has kept a relatively low profile, moving to New Jersey and starting a family.
I recently caught up with Rosario to see what he's been up to recently, and also to take a walk down (hardcore) memory lane.
Hey, Rob, thanks for doing this. First off, I wasn't sure, but were you born in New York?
Yeah, I was born in Elmhurst, Queens, and raised in Corona, Queens. My father worked in the kitchen for Mama Leone's in Manhattan and my mother stayed home raising us.
What was your first musical obsession?
I would definitely say that it was hip-hop, and artists like Run-D.M.C., UTFO, Whodini, LL Cool J, and Grandmaster Flash.
Yeah, I find that a lot of people that grew up in our area in that era also loved hip-hop as kids. How did you discover hardcore?
I got into hardcore through [Dmize, Madball bassist] Hoya's older brother, Dave. This guy had a massive music collection! I could remember hearing the heavy metal, punk, and hardcore blasting out of his room way back in like '84. Some of my early favorites were GBH, Discharge, Exploited, then later on, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Breakdown, Judge, Sick of it All, and Gorilla Biscuits.
Did you catch any flack for being into heavy music from other Latino kids in the neighborhood?
Most of the flack came from my parents. They weren't into the Satanic record covers. Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion cover really threw my mom over the edge! My mom has always been very Catholic, so in her eyes, she had a problem on her hands. At one point she even spoke with a priest on a Latino radio station about my musical taste [laughs].
When did you meet the guys that would end up forming Dmize with you?
I met Hoya in 1984, he was in my 6th grade class at I.S. 61. We met Richie, Jere, and Chiqui through [graffiti artist] MQ around late 1987 or 1988. Those guys had been jamming together for a bit and Hoya and I really wanted to start a real band. We got Richie and Jere on board in 1988 - 89, but Jere left the band soon after the first demo. Chiqui stepped right in after Jere left.
What do you remember about your first shows together?
Oh, man, I'll never forget our first show! It was at a biker club called the Iron Knights in Brooklyn. All the other bands cancelled and we decided, fuck it! Let's do this! No one had heard of us yet, so the crowd consisted of our close friends and these crazy bikers! Surprisingly, things went well.
A lot has been written about the DMS connection to the scene in our neighborhood in Queens. Can you clarify that aspect of Dmize's involvement or non-involvement?
Dmize was a Corona/Jackson Heights band, with that being said, there's no denying the connection. I'll leave it at that.
Dmize went on to record three demos during your time together. Where did you record them and how do you feel about them now when you listen to them?
The first two demos were recorded at Don Fury's and the third was recorded at Wildfire Studios in Jackson, New Jersey. I'm really proud of those demos. You can actually hear the band progress as musicians from recording to recording. I think we really found our style on the third demo, and can't even begin to imagine how much better we would've sounded if we continued.
Did the band have any label interest? A lot of people wondered why you never made an album.
We did have some label interest, but half of the members seemed to be losing interest in the band and we eventually broke up before we could get signed.
Why did the band break up?
Our drummer's heart was really into doing punk, and he eventually left Dmize to start his own band. We tried to keep it going with other drummers, but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Hoya was already in Madball and I was playing in [death metal band] Asphyxiation, so we decided to just move on with our other bands.
After Dmize, you went on to play in 25 ta Life. For my freshman and sophomore years, I went to Aviation High School. The other guitarist in 25 ta Life, Fred Mesk, also went to Aviation at the time. He was a madman!
Frankie played bass for 25 ta Life at the time and lived on my block in Corona. I would see him pretty much every day. He asked me to take over for Steve Petit who was playing second guitar for them before me. It was a hard decision since most of my attention was focused on Asphyxiation. That decision eventually led to me having to leave Asphyxiation since 25 ta Life was so busy playing shows.
25 ta Life did quite a bit of touring and you even went overseas. That must have been really eye-opening for you.
I had a lot of great times touring with 25! I hit Europe, Japan, and many places here in the U.S. with them. Japan was probably the most eye-opening. I couldn't believe how awesome their hardcore scene was at the time. There were lots of bands, sick shows, and great people over there. 25 was definitely very fortunate to have such great fans.
One of the most controversial figures in the hardcore scene is Rick Healy of 25 ta Life. What's your take on him and the perception people have about him?
Rick is a good guy that makes bad decisions. We haven't spoken for quite some time, and while I do understand why people are so pissed at him, I still wish him the best. I try not to hold any grudges. Life is too short and I'm only getting older [laughs].
Why did you part ways with 25 ta Life?
Musically, I was just in a different place than those guys, and It was basically Rick and Fred's band. All the music was basically written by them. The rest of us contributed ideas on arrangements which made it to the Strength Through Unity EP, but that was about it. I joined Merauder right after leaving 25 and really enjoyed playing with those guys, but they were going through their own issues at the time and the band soon broke up.
You also had a stint playing in Madball. What was that like?
Madball was a great experience! I had lots of fun times in that band, met a lot of new friends, and got to play on a killer record with them [2000's Hold it Down].
Why did you stop playing with Madball?
Whatever could go wrong just seemed to go wrong right after we finished recording Hold it Down. I just had to stop playing music and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
Have you played in any bands since Madball?
I've jammed with friends and still continue to do so every now and then, but nothing solid since everyone is very busy these days.
Tell us about your life now. I know you're involved in the fitness world.
My wife Casey and I are heavily into fitness and just being healthy. We wake up at 5:00AM every morning to workout together. We're both in the best shape we've ever been! We run challenge groups to help others reach their fitness goals. It's honestly one of the most rewarding experiences for all involved. I'll be that old guy working out at 80 while blasting Age of Quarrel in my yard [laughs].
Do you still keep up with the hardcore scene?
I still listen to hardcore and metal on a daily! I usually stick to the older stuff like Killing Time, Cro-Mags, and Rest in Pieces, but I've also been listening a lot to the new Trivium, Eulogy, and Whitechapel lately.
Is there anything else you'd like to mention here?
Thanks for having me, brother!
Tagged: 25 ta life, ayanyss, dmize, madball