Ben Orum got his first guitar at the age of 15 – just 16 years later and the Walnut Creek resident is now playing in front of thousands of fans every night.
Orum has been the rhythm guitarist for the Bay Area metal band All Shall Perish since its formation in 2002.
The California native was born in Chico, but also spent time in Orinda, Oakland and Lafayette before moving to Walnut Creek as a teenager with his mom.
"Most of my life I've been in the Bay Area," said Orum in an interview at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in Worcester, Mass. "... I moved to Walnut Creek in my teens, so it was probably 17 years ago, with my mom. I love it there – it's very nice."
All Shall Perish, which combines elements of death metal and hardcore to form what the band refers to as "deathcore," has toured five continents over the last several years and has headlined multiple tours, including its most recent U.S. tour.
Of the band's current five members, just two – Orum and bassist Mike Tyner – are original members. The duo, along with former drummer Matt Kuykendall, were in other local Bay Area bands in 2002 when they first decided to form All Shall Perish.
"We were just a local garage band – a bunch of death metal kids that were into hardcore," Orum said. "[In] 2002 we started writing and recording our first record."
After putting out its first album "Hate.Malice.Revenge." in 2003, the band quickly drew the attention of several major record labels and signed with Nuclear Blast Records, which rereleased "Hate.Malice.Revenge." in early 2005.
In 2006, All Shall Perish released its sophomore album, "The Price of Existence," which quickly shot the band into notoriety on the metal scene. The band followed with 2008's "Awaken the Dreamers."
The five-piece outfit's studio efforts have garnered it hundreds of thousands of fans around the world and turned it one of the biggest names in modern metal.
"It's been pretty ridiculous," Orum said. "Every year I kind of question, 'How much farther can this go? Should I get a real job? What should I be doing with my life? But it just keeps getting better and better and I thank my higher power everyday for that."
All Shall Perish put out its most recent album, "This is Where it Ends," in July of 2011.
Orum and his band mates are currently wrapping a one-month U.S. tour supporting their latest album and, despite the fun on tour, returning home is something the guitarist always looks forward to.
"I have a family. I have two kids," Orum said. "Leaving is the hard part, but having them to come home to is an amazing thing."
As for the band's future, Orum said they'll be tapping into a new market and rerecording their last album in Spanish due to the fact that the band's singer is a native of Venezuela.
"We're hoping to reach some other territories with that," Orum said. "... We're just always trying to figure out something new to do, something to keep the band moving forward."
All Shall Perish heads to Europe in June and will be opening for Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue for Hellfest 2012 in France.