He believes their anxieties are misplaced, however. "I think if black people went to shows,they'd be stoked. It's not like what people hear about on talk shows." De Pena believesmetalheads to be an open-minded and accepting bunch. "People come from all religiousbackgrounds, skin tones and hair lengths. I was more accepted because we're all outcastsand misfits."For what it's worth, De Pena himself was taken aback by the metal scene while cutting histeeth. "I saw Motörhead on their first U.S. tour and it blew my fucking head off," he says,"but it was kind of unnerving. When you see something that intense for the first time, it's aweird feeling." Nonetheless, he was quickly drawn to both the music and subculture of metal.Apparently the metal scenes internationally tend to be more diverse. "The bulk of ourshows are overseas," he says, "In South America you notice a lot more black people. Even Iwas surprised."And things have changed since the days when Hirax was formed, albeit slowly. "It used tobe me and two other black guys. Now it's a couple dozen," he says."I'm very proud to lay groundwork for guys who will follow me in the future," he adds.But it's not clear that he's talking about race anymore; De Pena is, over and above otheridentities, a metalhead. "The thing that attracted me to metal is that I felt more at homethere than anywhere else. [It's] important for people to know they'll be welcomed in."
Hirax plays the Key Club tomorrow, Dec. 22.
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