NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
AINT IT FUN with CHEETAH CHROM E
his month’s column is going to look in depth at a volatile situation that threatens the future of our country, and thus, the world: rightwing and liberal knucklehead musicians who talk politics on Facebook. I know, it seems trivial, but truly it is a microcosm of our country, and its evolution and progress. A lot of you follow my political posts on Facebook and other social media, and are aware that I am slightly to the left of Bill Ayers and Abby Hoffman, am one of the last holdouts on the ideals of the ‘60s and ‘70s counterculture, would still like to see the White Panthers on the ballot, and I see the GOP as the enemy of not only our country, but of life itself. I hope I’ve made that clear. The only reason I included liberals in the subject of this column was to throw them a crumb. There are no liberal knuckleheads. Some of my oldest and dearest friends have, for some unfathomable reason, chosen the other road, and preach jingoistic RIGHTWING – not necessarily Republican – rhetoric like trained parakeets, feeling every bit as justified in doing so as I do in spouting mine, which – this being America – is as it should be. A lot of you read and comment on our posts,
either taking a side or choosing the old “both parties suck and are beholden to the corporations and the elite, so why try?” option. And I guess “why try” seems like a logical way to look at it… Except for the fact that that is exactly what these assholes are aiming for: the lumpenproles to give up, take their government football and go home; to only see the corruption and failure, the shitty end of the stick; to settle for not just less, but for nothing at all. Make no mistake about it, our government sucks, is corrupt, and is run by corporations and the CIA, among other shadowy entities that only those at the very top know the names of. My guess is that after a president is elected, he gets a personal visit from some very scary people who explain to him just how much power he actually has, maybe with visual aids like photos of the view the second gunman had of JFK’s head from the grassy knoll, and maybe the six other bullets from RFK’s assassination in a baggie, or recent photos of his family in crosshairs, stuff like that. During a campaign, the other party digs for dirt, plays dirty, and uses it to its advantage in order to win. These guys REALLY
go through your underwear drawer, and go after you personally, where you live, no trick too dirty, and no blow too low. They aim to OWN you once you’ve won, not just make you lose a silly election. And so guys like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have their ideals and dreams for this country shattered before they’ve even had a chance to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, and guys like George Bush and Dick Cheney and Mitt Romney are assured that their parent’s money is doing its job and greasing the machine toward totalitarianism. You play the game or you die; just ask Bill Clinton. Back to me and my rightwing/leftwing knucklehead musician friends. We tear each other new assholes daily on Facebook, no holds barred political debate. Granted, I shoot them down nine times out of 10, and I can say that because this is my column. They are welcome to rebut in their columns. That felt good! Damned good. Hehehe. The funny thing is, when I see these same knucklehead musicians in person – where we have time to hang out and debate and tear each other new ones in person – guess what never comes up? Politics. Never; maybe a
quick aside or joke, but not seriously. What becomes immediately apparent is how much we like each other despite our politics. How our long friendships stand the test and strain of time and differences of opinion. How much alike we are, not how different. How we are both concerned about our country – about our kids’ futures – in different ways, but with common ground and real love between us, not defined by ideology and politics, but by people who share common concerns and goals. The guitars come out and the bullshit gets put in its case for a while. We hang out as just plain Americans, because that’s what we are. Deep down, we know that the enemy isn’t each other. If anyone had the balls to invade the homeland, I have no doubt we’d all fight side by side for our country, no uniform necessary. The 24- hour news cycle has made avoiding dead air more important than our unity as a nation. Social media give us a place to hang out and talk shit for as long as we can stand, and it never affects our real lives. But it’s still away from the computers and Internet, face to face, that we meet and feel our shared humanity and like each other, face to face. And it makes me understand and love America even more. Even those rightwing knuckleheads.
Photography by Dawn Laureen
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
10 YEARS OF ROCKIN’ THE BOAT I N T E R V I E W W I T H E R I C “ S K I P P Y ” M U E L L E R B Y B R Y N E YA N C Y
he resurgence of vinyl as a viable, desirable format is pretty well worn territory at this point. Its success has been twofold, capitalizing on the gotta-collect-‘em-all mentality, while also providing a much needed alternative to streaming services, which – while convenient – can cause the listening experience to ring hollow. The wax renaissance has put the 20 or so functioning pressing plants in the U.S. in high, seemingly continually growing demand. While some business owners might become stressed due to such a workload, Pirates Press boss Eric “Skippy” Mueller appears to have no such issues. In fact, he appears to be an eternal optimist. In an era in which music is largely seen as a disposable commodity, his business – celebrating its 10th anniversary this year – is booming. “Buying music and merch is how people show their loyalty,” Mueller says. “I would argue that – unlike most genres – to punks and metalheads, vinyl never left the collective consciousness. Those genres and vinyl grew up together, and have never really strayed too far [apart].” Mueller thinks one of the biggest reasons for this resurgence is vinyl’s tangible qualities in a world where most things
are ephemeral. You can’t download a vinyl record, but you can’t touch an mp3 file. He’s also keenly aware of the environmental impact of his business, especially being based in San Francisco, on the doorstep of a global technology hub that, let’s face it, mostly specializes in disposable machines. “If all music only existed in a digital format, it would be the best for the environment. That’s clear,” he explains. “But it also discounts the visual, artistic component of any band or artist, not to mention the art and craft involved in making vinyl, and the accompanying printwork.” Mueller continues, arguing that “the aesthetic of any artist is a major component to who they are, and how they are trying to represent themselves to the world. If that only existed online, and in digital formats, it would save a hell of a lot of trees and oil, but it would exclude a huge portion of the world’s population from being exposed to a majority of music, and collectively, it would form a much less creative and beautiful world for fans.” Although the technology behind pressing vinyl has more or less stayed the same for the past half-century, Mueller and Pirates Press got in on the ground
floor of direct metal mastering (DMM) and continue to invest in it. The technology became prevalent in the mid 1980s when CDs were being introduced, and yields a much better-sounding copy of a recording with less surface noise. “Many factories stayed away, thinking CDs were the way of the future,” Mueller says. “Here we are 20 years later, and because we invested in DMM, and because we have continued to develop it – and proprietary software for it – ever since, we have absolutely the most cutting edge technology and software of any plant. As a result, we are cutting the best sounding records in the industry, hands down.”
An inherently antiquated format like vinyl comes with its own set of manufacturing challenges, no matter the investment in new technology. “Vinyl pressing equipment is not made anymore, and cannot be purchased new,” Mueller explains. “Almost everyone in the industry is trying to acquire ‘new’ presses, but they are really just taking presses from other factories as they close to ‘increase’ their capacity. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it’s consolidating the overall capacity of the industry, not increasing it.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT KADI
to repress their back catalogs for waxthirsty customers. “One thing behind the scenes in the industry that a lot of people don’t know about is the problem with capacity,” Mueller says. “Because the demand for vinyl is so high, and especially because all the bigger labels have huge back catalogs that they are trying to make available on vinyl, the overall demand for making vinyl outweighs the total capacity that the industry has for actually making vinyl.” Living in vinyl’s new golden age, Mueller isn’t fazed by the idea that the bubble may one day burst. “If it does happen, it will be a result of bigger labels pumping the market with records that don’t sell, and the burst won’t be too painful for a large core of the vinyl industry,” he posits. “It would hurt the physical record stores, and some online outlets if they are heavily invested in those types of releases, but the fact that kids are buying vinyl, and getting record players for their birthdays means it will 100 percent exist in a prominent way 20, 40 years from now.”
This can be problematic for those behind the scenes, as demand is at an all-time high from an influx of labels aiming
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S O L I T U D E
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST CHUCK BROWN BY HUTCH “Hand of Doom.”
Apostle of Solitude plays thick, heavy, slow doom metal. The vocals are not as operatic as Candlemass, but akin to Trouble, Hour of 13, Reverend Bizarre, Cathedral, or Solitude Aeturnis. They are strong, deep vocals, but they are sung, not growled. As one would assume from the name, the music advocates a life of isolation, as this planet and its human inhabitants relentlessly proffer pain and loss. The beginning of their “Lamentations of a Broken Man” – from their newest release Of Woe and Wounds on Cruz del Sur Records – is as daunting as Sabbath’s greats: “War Pigs” or Describing their sound as “an existential crisis you can sing along to,” Cleveland, Ohio’s Meridian aren’t your typical polyester and bolo tie wearing Americana or roots rock act. Sure there are banjos, but there are also those meandering, earworm guitar lines that pave a clear path from the bedroom to the proper rock venue. Brothers Max and Jacob Stern handle vocals, guitar, banjo, and piano on the band’s latest, The Cathedral, which dropped earlier this year via Youth Conspiracy Records. How does Meridian’s approach to rootsy, folky alt-rock differ from what folks are used to? MS: We still play basement shows and house shows, and I think what we do is still very much rooted in the spirit of DIY and punk rock. Has it been unnerving to see folk music go mainstream? MS: Honestly, I don’t mind it as much as I mind EDM artists who get paid the equivalent of someone’s college tuition to press the space bar on their laptops for an hour. If a young person who is new to [folk] music hears an Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons song on the radio, I think there’s a much bigger chance of them picking up a guitar and starting to
Apostle of Solitude has been around since 2004, releasing their first album in 2008. Recently, they beefed up their arsenal with a revamped line-up. “Adding [guitarist and vocalist] Steve [Janiak] and [bassist] Dan [Davidson] has been great,” says vocalist and guitarist Chuck Brown. “Having new blood and new ideas is inspiring. Having another person who can sing really opens up possibilities.” Brown continues, “The record was recorded by Mike Bridavsky. He has a fantastic ear. He spent a total of six days recording and mixing the record over two long weekends down in Bloomington, Ind., at Bridavsky’s studio, Russian Recording.” Mastered by doom icon Tony Reed, the churning, plodding riffs stammer through struggling speakers. Brown explains, “We came about having Tony Reed master the record because he’d mastered the last St. Vitus record, and had also mastered Steve’s other band, Devil to Pay’s last record.”
Those choices paid off. The sinister sound captures the listener immediately. Their prior LP from 2010, Last Sunrise, is a strong record, but leans more toward rock: the mix is more subdued, the vocals are laid back, and the overall tone is not as dark. With this new foreboding presence, Apostles of Solitude pound out heavy tunes like “Siren” and the rerecorded “Whore’s Wings.” Like many bands in the genre, they push the boundaries of song length, with an opening track clocking in at just under seven minutes, and the rest of the album matching suit. “I think ‘Sincerest Misery’ is the longest song we have,” elaborates Brown, “especially considering it’s even longer if we play it slower than the album version. I personally haven’t written a song that long. As an artist, if you feel like the song should keep going, then go for it. I wouldn’t recommend editing it just because you feel like you should for someone else. I think most people just kind of know when their song feels like it should finish, [or] when its story isn’t done yet. I try not to fight
So where does their inspiration come from? “World events cultivated from watching and reading the news is a daily thing that plays a role in our music. [Drummer] Corey [Webb] and I both have families,” Brown continues. “Our kids are still relatively young, but I’m sure – like every parent – you try to have real conversations concerning how the world works without going over their heads. Which, in and of itself, is difficult because the world, although interesting, is a dangerous place full of predators.”
M E R I D I A N explore that world. Maybe that’ll lead them to discover other music or start bands of their own. Honestly, I kind of view it as a strangely good thing.
for the record. It encompasses everything that we do as a band. There’re a million instruments everywhere, but it’s catchy and you can dance to it.
Has Meridian graduated from bedroom project to a full band? MS: Before we even called it Meridian, Steve [Gibson], who plays bass, and I just played acoustic shows and made laptop demos. That dates back to 2008 or so. Jake [Stern: guitar, vocals, banjo, piano] and I started playing together around that time as well. We had all these songs floating around, but they never really coalesced into anything solid, so making full band records and filling out our sound has definitely made Meridian feel more “real,” as opposed to some downtime bedroom project. It can still function as that though, and that’s kind of why I like it. We can play anywhere and be pretty comfortable.
How has Meridian’s versatility been an advantage to growing your fanbase? JS: Definitely one of my favorite things about this band is how versatile we can be. We’ve played full band shows opening for bands like Bomb the Music Industry, and then we’ve also played shows like we did on this past tour, all acoustic and mostly in people’s living rooms. I see the merit in playing both types of [shows]. The acoustic ones are always really personal and intimate, and that makes it easy for us to connect with the audience. On the other hand, the full band shows allow us to play a lot of the new songs in the way that they were recorded, as well as let us play full band adaptations of older songs, which are generally louder and more attention grabbing than the acoustic sets.
Which of these songs is your personal favorite and why? MS: I’m really happy with the title track “The Cathedral,” as a kind of a mission statement
Apostle of Solitude sets themselves apart from other doom bands with an absence of Satanic and occult lyrics. “We don’t attempt to necessarily avoid any topic, [but] the lyrical subject matter does come from a real world point of view. We’re not the type of band who writes about fantasy themes.” Perhaps the supernatural is not necessary when life provides enough horror? “The most frightening thing is realizing you can’t control everything you want to and that you can only protect those you love so much as a result.”
INTERVIEW WITH MULTI-INSTRUMENTALISTS MAX AND JACOB STERN BY TIM ANDERL
On “If You Let Me,” you reference hauntings as a metaphor, but have you ever experienced the supernatural firsthand?
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST RYAN DAVIS BY D-JAY BIDWELL
Vocalist and guitarist Ryan Davis of Lost Years is stoked about their upcoming EP titled Candlelight Society, due out by press time of this issue, on CD and cassette tape. Davis likes to think their sound is simply rock ‘n’ roll, but with so many available subgenres, he describes it as a “nice blend of alternative punk rock music.”
the natural instinct to let the song go where it goes and last as long as it needs to.”
When Lost Years was deciding what they wanted to do next – after their early 2014 fulllength Traditions – they opted for a two song EP. One track is brand new, but fans will also finally be privy to a song the band wrote back in 2010, when they were first getting started. Davis explains, “We approached heading into the studio very differently this time around. I started demoing the songs at home, and then we all recorded the songs at [guitarist Mike Anderson]’s house. It was great to work out any kinks in advance as opposed to previous efforts where songs had been scratched – entire vocals for songs – and reworked [with]
various structures while in the studio. This translated into a really smooth and relaxed environment while recording.” Lost Years headed back to see their good friend Seth Henderson at ABG studios in Crown Point, Ind., to record. Davis says, “This is our fourth release with Seth, and definitely will not be the last. He has always strived for excellence at what he does, and his track record speaks for itself.” But will Candlelight Society maintain the sound and style of previous Lost Years releases? Davis isn’t sure. “I don’t think I have a good
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
PHOTO: SHANNON O’TOOLE
MS: I wrote that song while living in my parents’ attic and going through some serious post-college and post-breakup confusion. I won’t get into details, but it’s very dark and possibly haunted up there. Is it hard to be brothers and bandmates? MS: Nah, we get along really well. I just get annoyed at how Jake drives and he probably gets annoyed with me getting annoyed with his driving. answer for you,” he admits, “so I will just go with, ‘Yes.’ It has those Lost Years fingerprints on ‘em at times, that is for certain.” Lost Years plans to stay busy promoting Candlelight Society for the rest 2014. They’re working on a music video for one of the tracks, and are planning to send the release in to some college radio stations. Tons of shows are also in the works and, as Davis puts it, “yelling at people’s faces to get the word out.” And they’re already planning a busy 2015, with new music, tours, and hopefully a festival or two. Davis says, “We’ve been planning for 2015, and we have some cool things in the works that we can’t wait to get out there!”
Hance Alligood is someone who knows what he wants. After his run as the clean vocalist of Woe, Is Me, no one was quite sure where he would end up after the group’s 2013 disbandment. On July 1, 2014, Alligood – along with Velocity/ Rise Records – silenced the speculation. In real Beyoncé fashion, he announced his latest band, Favorite Weapon, via Facebook, as well as an upcoming record titled Sixty Saragosa and an American tour. “Favorite Weapon is something that I’ve been working on for the better part of a year,” says Alligood, who released no prior promotion of his studio workings. “It started as kind of like an experiment between Tom Denney – who ended up producing the album – and myself. At first, it was just one song, and over its course, the idea was presented that maybe we should turn this into a band.” And thus, Favorite Weapon was born. The majority of the record came together thanks to the great collaborative skills of Alligood, Denney, and eventually guitarist Alex Heroes. “Tom and I work really well together,” says Alligood, “and once Alex came into the picture, everything just kind of fell into place.” After deciding to continue his musical pursuits, Alligood lined up an entire tour before he even had a full band together.
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INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST HANCE ALLIGOOD BY NATASHA VAN DUSER “Accepting that tour offer was a pretty big part of the beginning of this band’s history,” he says, elaborating on agreeing to open for The Amity Affliction’s 2014 fall tour. “It was like, ‘Well, we’re already so far into working on this album, so really all we have to do now is find [other] musicians to play with us.’” Eventually Alligood would bring in drummer Kortney Grinwis, guitarist Andi Encinas, and bassist Robbie Buisson. “I’d say probably a good 75 percent, maybe 80 percent, was done before we had a full band,” notes Alligood. “After we found Kortney, and everything was written, she tracked drums on the album when all the guitars were ready, but other than that, most of the album was completed.” All the group needed was a good name. Alligood cites bands like Underoath, The Goo Goo Dolls, and Blink-182 as influences for Favorite Weapon’s sound, but it was Brand New that ended up inspiring his new band’s name. “‘Favorite Weapon’ is actually a reference to Brand New’s album Your Favorite Weapon,” he explains. “For months and months, we went through a list of like 20
different names before deciding on Favorite Weapon. That’s the one that just made sense to us; that’s the one that stuck out.” Alligood’s desire for an alternative to his previous band’s heavy sound would ultimately drive Favorite Weapon. “Musically, the things that we were writing for Woe, Is Me were just not something that I could really connect with and be happy with anymore,” he says. “I didn’t want to create another band that was mimicking Woe, Is Me at all. I wanted to do something a little bit different than the angry, heavy tendencies.” Once Favorite Weapon finally broke onto the scene, it was clear that Alligood was taking his new sound into a more hard-pop, melodic direction. The first single to give listeners a taste of the upcoming album was the soulful rock track “Hollow.” “It’s a very introspective and selfreflective song,” explains Alligood, who feels very personally connected to the track. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the best song on the album, and that’s another reason that we
INTERVIEW WITH DRUMMER BRANDON GALLAGHAR BY THOMAS PIZZOLA Came is Where We’ll Rest. Some may say they have an inordinate amount of EPs to LPs – it’s an eight to one ratio – but according to drummer Brandon Gallagher, there were some mitigating factors for these releases.
Old Wounds are a furious hardcore band from New Jersey that play in the more metallic end of this revered genre’s pool. Since forming about four years ago, the band has released numerous splits and EPs, including this year’s Death Projection EP on Good Fight Music, along with one full-length record, 2013’s From Where We
“It’s definitely not intentional, but during the first two years of our band’s existence, we underwent a couple lineup changes and were really feeling out our overall vibe as a band,” he explains. “[Guitarist] Zak [Kessler] and myself are the only two original members, and as we were feeling things out, we felt like writing a full-length wasn’t in the cards. 7”s and EPs are great for younger developing bands, because it’s just enough to get people interested, but not so long people start to snooze on it. I feel like an LP is only necessary when people care about
your band and want to listen to you, not when you’re trying to catch people’s attention.” But don’t worry LP aficionados, the band – which also includes vocalist Kevin Iavaroni and bassist Michael Weintraub – are in the early stages of writing a follow up to their first full-length. So far, they have two full songs and some riffs and concepts for a few others. Their plan is to get 15 to 16 songs written by February, and then to hit the studio soon after that. They hope to have it out in the summer of 2015. Not only does Gallagher hold down the drum kit, he also creates their artwork. It fits their DIY approach that their artwork is handled in house. “I’m always extremely hands-on about our aesthetic and the artwork that corresponds with our band,” he says. “Most of the time, I create artwork specifically for Old Wounds as
F O R E S E E N Foreseen HKI is a ripping band from Helsinki, Finland. Already boasting two EPs and two splits, they have now released a vicious self-produced full-length of crossover thrash/ hardcore called Helsinki Savagery, available through 20 Buck Spin. The production is fierce and tight. The musicianship is killer. Mirko Nummelin and Martenforcer take a break from kicking out the jams for fans of Blistered, Bracewar, Manipulate, Downpresser, Toxic Holocaust, and Iron Reagan to answer a few questions. Was it a conscious choice to model the production after late ‘80s crossover sound? Of course. Our influences are from an era before digital sound processing existed, and cheating by using Pro Tools or such was no option or even possible. You had to know how to play your songs. This is the starting point of our records: to record music using the same methods and equipment that were available at that time. When we did the Structural Oppression EP this way, there was obviously no turning back. There’s “for fans of Slayer” in 99.9 percent of metal record reviews, but that’s just bullshit. Many modern bands can talk about how influenced they are by this and that, but you can’t certainly hear any Slayer-influences through triggered drums and digital pre-set guitars. We do not believe in modern technical death metal guys jumping on the bandwagon of a musical style that was hugely inspired by hardcore punk.
chose it [as the single]. We felt like it was a powerful song and a really strong part of the record, but we didn’t want to release our best song first.” With more great tracks on the way and their debut record, Sixty Saragosa, Favorite Weapon is finally preparing for their first live tour as a full band. “We definitely want our live show to be as close to the album as possible,” says Alligood, already sounding pumped and excited. “I promise you,” he concludes, “if you’ve heard ‘Hollow,’ the best is yet to come.”
we write songs, and Kevin finishes up the lyrics. That dynamic helps me understand what the songs are about, allowing me to create artwork that fits their emotion and mood. I think being able to relate to a visual while listening to something is crucial and only enhances the overall experience.” This approach also extends to the way they handle band business. “It’s extremely important,” Gallagher says of the DIY approach. “I see so many newer bands and, right off the bat, they have managers, booking agents, etc. It’s ridiculous. We’ve been a band for a little over four years and, just this year, we got a booking agent, and are in early talks of possibly working with a manager. Even with our booking agent, I’m still just as involved as when I was booking these tours completely by myself. We want to know who’s doing the show, where we’re playing, and whom we’re playing with. We treat this band as an art and want to grow it, and perform under our own terms.”
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INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST MIRKO NUMMELIN AND MARTENFORCER BY HUTCH Did you all know each other before the band formed? Foreseen has been a band for five years now and the changing of our rhythm section really brought us to the next level a couple of years ago. We didn’t know our guitar player Lauri before the band. I just had seen his older d-beat band Diskelmä live and I knew he had talent. So, I dug up his number, called him, and he was in. You have one or two skinheads in the band and the track “Bonded by United Blood” is clearly a clever play on Exodus meets Agnostic Front. What is the subcultural make up of your members? [“Bonded by United Blood”] is about the Helsinki hardcore/ metal/ punk scene that we have. We do shows under the name United Forces, which brings mixed crowds. Those shows have been easily the best ones we have ever played in Helsinki. Members of Foreseen listen to various genres such as neo-folk, Kraut-rock, Oi!, blues, prog, and free jazz. I don’t know how much that affects our songwriting or sound though. What are some subjects of your songs? Drug use, and death because of it. Unemployment, and getting fucked over by the bureaucracy because of it. Extreme politics and people believing in that shit, and of course, moral deg-
radation of the youth of today. That last subject is so inspiriting that I could write a concept album about it after a quick walk in the city on a Friday night. Why is playing this style of music ideal for releasing your frustrations? It has enough speed and dangerous heaviness! There’s no easy way out in this band. After the show, you feel something like between the cover art of Hell Awaits [by Slayer] and Severed Survival [by Autopsy]. This can be really refreshing after 40-hour work week. How was growing up in the Helsinki/ Finnish scene with bands like Bolt and Down My Throat? Down My Throat was the first hardcore band that a few of us ever saw live and really got into, so they are a huge inspiration to us. Also the same with Bolt. We really have a good scene here in Helsinki, where people really appreciate local bands. We don’t get a lot of foreign bands playing here because of geographical reasons, so people really appreciate when good bands do come here. How is 20 Buck Spin? 20 Buck Spin is great and they have treated us so well. In this day and age, there aren’t a lot of labels that would want to release a full-length
from a band they barely know and without hearing almost any songs from the record. But they did. We could not ask for anything more. We need to also give credit to Take It Back Records. They are doing the LP as a co-release with 20BS. Take It Back was the first label that we worked with and they have been amazing to us. We are really fortunate to work with such hardworking labels. Do you tour outside of Finland? We are about to embark on our third European tour next week. We will rage on stages in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the U.K., Switzerland, and Norway this time, and we are planning on an American tour for August 2015 with a great American band. Festival organizers, get in touch!
In March of 2014, Yellowcard founding drummer Longineu “LP” Parsons announced that he was leaving to join former Yellowcard guitarist Ben Harper on a new project called This Legend. Bassist Steven Neufeld (HeyMike!) and frontman Chris Castillo (Stanley and the Search) filled out the lineup, and the quartet has been touring ever since. This Legend is a tour and a half deep. What has the response been to your shows, especially with only a few songs out? The response has been incredible. To be a band that has yet to release a full-length and to have the opportunity to tour like this is great. The people who have been catching our set have had overwhelmingly positive things to say, more than we could have ever expected. Obviously, people are mind blown by LP’s drumming, but we’ve heard so many compliments on our intense energy and our ability to write powerful songs. We seem to be catching the attention of everyone in the room, whether it is 10 people or 100. Do you feel pressure to disassociate from the Yellowcard name, or is it a positive way to get the word out? It has been a positive transition and it really helps jumpstart this new adventure. When LP and I decided to form This Legend, we knew there
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INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST BEN HARPER BY ANTHONY CHANG would be some associations and prepared for it accordingly. […] At the end of the day, we are just excited to be working together again. How does the group dynamic impact the creative and business sides of the band? The dynamic is great. Chris is our writer and he brings the songs and themes in, and we add our elements to them. We are looking forward to expanding our sound, ideas, and elements on future records, but for the most part, the core creativity will always come from Chris. We have a great independent team consisting of our label, booking agent, and publicity team, which covers all bases outside of the inner workings of the band. I’d like to think that in just a few months, we have evolved into a well-oiled music making, touring machine! It’s in the Streets is out November 11 on Cyber Tracks. What was the process for putting these new songs together? Chris had a group of songs written. He quit his job and we went up to the mountains for a few weeks to learn them and add our own elements to each song. We then brought the songs to the studio to
find the right sound and our own identity. How did you choose Sam Pura as producer, and what was it like working with such a key name in the genre today? Sam was one of the guys on our list who happened to be available at the time we wanted to record. We were familiar with his work and decided to give it a shot, knowing he has been such an influence on many up-and-coming bands in the scene. He was great at helping us put together the album, and we are extremely happy with how it turned out. What are the benefits and challenges of working with a slightly smaller label? The challenges of being on a smaller label mean that, unfortunately, there isn’t an overwhelming budget for everything. [It] is the best challenge of all, meaning we have to work harder and bust our asses to get to where we want to go. However, the benefits are great. We have more ownership of our product and, hopefully, make more profit in the long run. Being with the smaller label also provides more of a family environment. There is nothing more inspiring than having a full team of support around you at the start.
INTERVIEW WITH DUO ELLA KASPAR AND LARRY MILLER BY JOHN HILL
Sometimes it takes going back to the past to rejuvenate the present. Cancers’ debut LP Fatten the Leeches combines fuzzybuzzy ‘90s influences – with help from producer extraordinaire Jack Endino – with modern garage sensibilities, and is sure to make you Baltimore, Md.’s Turnstile was first exposed to the world with a captivating 7” on Reaper Records. That initial release and the following one, Step 2 Rhythm, exhibited an obvious love of Madball and Terror. Vocalist Brendan Yates is also the drummer of Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile is stylistically similar, but still unique. Bands like Burn, Orange 9MM, 411, and Verbal Assault – and even Fahrenheit 451 and Dog Eat Dog – are filtered through their songwriting process to produce dynamic hardcore. And though they are a hardcore band, writing tough, hard riffs, they also embed a hip-hop groove in their verses and breakdowns. “Can’t Deny It” boasts an alternative-style sung chorus with a rap verse structure – another example of the Orange 9mm approach – and the song “Blue by You” does too. “Those songs are definitely some standout tunes!” says Yates. “In the writing process for this record, there wasn’t a mindset to really have certain songs that sounded a certain way. It was more just whatever felt cool and natural. We made it work. While those songs may sound a little different, I think they’re still very Turnstile. ‘Blue by You’ was some words I had in a notepad, and we just wrote a melody around it. “Can’t Deny It” came out to be one of my favorites. I’m not a fan of holding anything back musically if it feels right.” Yates unabashedly admits his adoration for many styles of harder music: “I love late ‘80s to ‘90s alternative and grunge. I love the Bad Brains and Leeway, and also love The Lemonheads and Fugazi. There are definitely different bands that
wish you were still sniffing Magic Markers. Where does the title Fatten the Leeches come from? LM: It’s in Ella’s song, that song “Sick” that we have. She says it in the song, and I was just like, “Let’s name the record that.” It kind of sums up our feelings on the record; people we feel kind of latched onto some of our old bands that weren’t really successful, but our friends got super successful and just left us in the dust. And I know a couple bands have said about Ella’s last band, “Oh, I want our guitar to sound exactly like that record,” but if you call them for a show, you can’t even get them for a fucking show. So we just called the record Fatten the Leeches, like, “Take this one, you fucking parasites.”
How would you describe the lyrics overall? EK: They’re like bummer lyrics. Writing songs about happy stuff is just not my forte. But I can write a happy riff and some real bummer lyrics on top of it. […] I guess I sing a lot about sex too. Kind of like super personal, depressed songs about heartbreak and disappointment and all that stuff. And trying to write it in a super cryptic way that other people can identify with, and make their own meanings with it. What song took the most out of you emotionally? EK: “Dig,” for sure. That was probably one of the first songs I wrote on that album, [out of] that batch of songs. I was living with my mom,
PHOTO: ALAN SNODGRASS
How excited are you to head out on the Lagwagon Hang Tour? We are so excited, and can hardly sleep because we are so ready to get on the road. Most of us grew up listening to Lagwagon, so [touring] with them this early in our career is amazing. LP and I got the chance to tour with them over 10 years ago in Yellowcard, so it is going to be great to be back on the road with them. We are ready to get our new band in front of a lot of people and can’t thank Lagwagon enough for this opportunity of a lifetime.
and Lenny was on tour in Europe, and I was just really sad. Just sitting in my brother’s old bedroom with a guitar, fighting with my mom at the age of 29, and feeling like the biggest loser and not knowing what to do. And that song set me off in a new direction of things I wanted to write about. The album goes against the grain of what punk is supposed to sound like… LM: Yup. It does. A lot of our friends will be like, “That record sounds good,” but just because the album sounds so clean, a lot of our [other] friends will be like, “Oh yeah, it’s okay.” Like, I love Jawbreaker and Green Day, and I love Dear You. Anyone who says that it’s not the best Jawbreaker album isn’t listening to the songs. Same with Green Day: Kerplunk is a good album, but it sounds like shit, [and] Dookie just sounds better.
T U R N S T I L E I N T E R V I E W W I T H F R O N T M A N B R E N D A N YAT E S B Y H U T C H have an influence on us musically.”
The new album, Non-Stop Feelings, continues their solid foundation of riffs and beats, while experimenting with new harmonies and catchy choruses. While they never approach emo, they surely have no problem exploring their emotions. “The record is about the way that life can be mentally overwhelming,” Yates explains. “Good and bad times, positive and negative. There are always intense sensations that come and go, whether it is discomfort, insecurity, love, happiness, regret, or whatever. Every song sings of different ways of feeling. It is about being emotional and surviving.”
Owner of hardcore mecca Salad Days Studio, D.C. musician, and legendary producer Brian McTernan – now located in Fells Point, Baltimore, Md. – attacked the boards for this record. Search the dude’s resume and you will find many classic hardcore and punk albums, especially from ‘90s Boston! Yates cannot contain his excitement regarding McTernan – “Hot Water Music is one of my favorites!” – but the relationship is more friend than fan. “He really just became a friend,” he confirms. “Later, he expressed interest, wanting to do a Turnstile record. We recorded it very relaxed in Baltimore, eating Indian buffets every day and just hanging out. He is very open to trying different things and never seemed afraid of trying weird things on the record. Brian rocks, and so does Will Beasley who helped out.”
Despite their forays into emotional complexity, Turnstile’s record covers have always been the typical “live band shot.” Yates sees this as logical rather than lazy. “Hardcore is all about the live show,” he says frankly. “I think the way live pictures can capture energy or expression in its rawest form is always cool. I think the pictures on each record worked well to capture the vibe of each record and the band.” Their color schemes exhibit an ‘80s NYC vibe reminiscent of Living Colour or Keith Haring. Yates elaborates, “I think the artwork reflects the whole theme of the record. We really just wanted the vibe to match the idea of unbridled expression and feeling. We had our friend Jill hand paint everything. I think that is a big part of what gets me excited about hardcore: being yourself and
Keeping it local! Yates says this makes sense. “Baltimore’s scene is strong. Charm City Art Space has been holding it down for most hardcore shows, which is a very cool DIY spot. Our good friend and pro photographer Kate Frese is selling cool live prints of bands to help benefit the CC Art Space and keep it going.” To top it all off, this winter sees Turnstile touring with legends and new hardcore bands alike. First they’ll join Madball – with Matt Henderson – on their 20th anniversary Set It Off tour. “This tour is gonna be so awesome,” Yates exclaims. “I love Madball. They’re the first hardcore band I ever
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PHOTO: JOE CALIXTO
heard.” Turnstile will also be playing with Death Before Dishonor, Downpresser, and Take Offense on this tour. “It’s a crazy thing to be opening for them on the celebration of such a legendary record. It’s an untouchable package for sure,” says Yates. After that, Turnstile joins the 2015 Persistence Tour with Sick of It All, Walls of Jericho, Rykers, and Ignite. Yates is still processing the gravity of the situation. “That’ll be the first tour off of our new record,” he explains. “I couldn’t think of a cooler way to kick it off. Touring with Sick of It All in Europe? Sick.”
Chris Fogal must not like his haircut, because he is a man of many hats. He’s the lead guitarist and vocalist for the vastly underrated poppunk band The Gamits, and the lead guitarist for TaunTaun, now a Denver metal institution. Fogal also owns and operates one of Denver’s premier recording studios, Black and Bluhm. It’s there that Fogal discusses Dwayne, his newest project with guitarist, vocalist, and keyboardist Andy Tanner (Laymen Terms), drummer Andy Thomas (Tin Horn Prayer), and bassist Michael Marti (Goodbye Fairbanks). You already have The Gamits and TaunTaun. What do you get out of starting another band? Well, TaunTaun doesn’t do much anymore, and The Gamits had just finished a bunch of touring overseas, so it seemed like the perfect time to do the Dwayne thing. I really needed to write some stuff that had nothing to do with either of the other bands. I also have a new band from Switzerland called Midrake in which I play the drums, so I’m up to four! In January, it looks like I might be in five bands!
D W A Y N E INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST CHRIS FOGAL BY DAMIAN BURFORD You’ve known both Andys for years, but how did Michael Marti come into the mix? Michael is our Swiss friend who I have been touring with for about 13 years, on and off. We are super tight and even go on vacations together and stuff. We always talked about doing a band together, so it was him and I who started Dwayne. Originally, it was gonna be the two of us with acoustics so we could just have an excuse to get in a car and drive all over Europe, eating food and partying. It became a whole band later when the songs started coming together. That’s when I called on the Andys to join the party. With advanced recording technology, you can musically telecommute. Since you own your own studio, will you start more Frankenstein projects? Right now, I’m beginning collaboration with a couple buddies. I shouldn’t spill the beans
until it actually happens, but one of them is in the Middle East, and one is in California. So yeah, there are no limits these days! Your other bands have such memorable names. Why did you drop the ball with Dwayne? I never thought The Gamits was a very good name, but at the time we came up with Dwayne, I was pretty drunk and I wanted a name that raised no expectations and was not serious in any way. I asked my friend Dan something like, “What’s a stupid name from the ‘70s or ‘80s?” and the first thing he said was Dwayne! I don’t know why, but I thought it was super funny, and out of the whole list of potential names it just stuck. What are your future plans for Dwayne? How are you going to pull off double duty on a Gamits/Dwayne tour?
BY JOHN B MOORE U.S. for a proper solo tour. Lynch, who has bootstrapped his music career in typical DIY fashion – first going by the moniker Lost on Campus, now simply using his name – has put out a number of EPs, but thanks to Xtra Mile Recordings, he has finally issued a proper debut. PHOTO: ANDREAS HORNOFF
Aside from a brief visit to Philly to record his last record, British singer-songwriter Rob Lynch has seen little of the U.S. Sure, he was a constant on the Warped Tour here last summer, but he saw little more than the various parking lots of outdoor music venues from one suburb to the next. With the release of his latest record, All These Nights in Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul, he may finally get the opportunity to bring his songs back to the
Spiders is a Swedish rock band that shed their gritty biker-esque riff rock and morphed into an amalgam of David Bowie meets Led Zeppelin. Grandiose rock is still the objective, but Shake Electric infuses harmonies and pop hooks that glam perfected in the ‘70s. Reminiscent of Slade and T. Rex, the catchy riffs mingle with a dark tone that metal fans will love. Now that all of their band members are contributing to the songwriting, they have honed their assault of high energy rock ‘n’ roll. Even the artwork for this album marks an entirely new direction for your band. How is this record different from Flash Point? We wanted do something different, but I think the change also came naturally. When we were writing the songs for Shake Electric, we listened a lot to bands like Heart, David Bowie, and T. Rex. We were influenced by that period of music, both musically and visually. We wanted a lot of movement and electricity on the album cover. I remember when we recorded Flash Point, we wanted to keep it very simple and raw, with a punk rock attitude. It is fun and more interesting not to repeat oneself. I think you can hear it is the same band if you compare the two albums. What is your approach to songwriting? An idea for a song usually starts off with a guitar
Lynch speaks about recording the album, traveling on Warped Tour, and writing about deeply personal issues. You came to Philadelphia to record part of this new record. Why did you choose to do it so far from home? My friends Shane Henderson and Trevor Leonard – both formerly of Valencia – are both in Philadelphia, so I thought it’d be a good idea to go and visit them and do a bit of recording. What was recording like for you?
It was very enjoyable and liberating. It was also very spread out. I did a couple of weeks in Philly to get the process going in November 2012, and then I spent two months in London recording in the summer of 2013. It wasn’t rushed, and the whole thing had time to breathe. Is it ever uncomfortable writing about such weighty topics, such as the loss of your father? I find it a very liberating and cathartic experience. I have nothing to hide. You started out in a very DIY fashion. Did you look to other musicians for guidance? Not overly. I really just got on with touring off my own back and recording songs in friends’ bedrooms. It was all very organic and honest.
PHOTO: DAWN WILSON
It looks like the album won’t be out until January, so we will do some more U.S. shows after that. Then we head to Europe for Groezrock [festival in Belgium] and at least three weeks of tour over there. That’s not until May, so there are no plans past that. I’d like to record more soon. Oh, we will also have a flexi vinyl record in November with a B side [that is] not on the album and a couple downloads that are on the album, so there’s that.
I really only got to experience a handful of places properly. The Warped Tour takes place, predominantly, in parking lots, and the journeys between one venue to the next tended to be very lengthy. So, in reality, I saw a lot of America’s parking lots and not much else. However, the cities that I did visit, I really liked. Notable mentions to Pittsburgh and Nashville. My impressions beforehand were pretty close to the reality. Do you tour with a full band when you play now? I do sometimes; it depends on the tour. I like the flexibility of being able to tour both solo and as a full band. What’s next for you? On Monday, I head out to mainland Europe for a headline tour. I’m doing that as a full band. It will be good to get back over there, as I haven’t been since before the summer.
You toured the U.S. for the first time this summer. What were your impressions of America before and after the tour?
S P I D E R S I N T E RV I E W W I T H G U I TA R I S T J O H N H O Y L E S B Y H U T C H riff that me or [vocalist] Ann-Sofie [Hoyles] metal. But, it turned out the audience liked us, come up with, and then in the rehearsal studio too. I think they were shocked when they saw Ann-Sofie running around on stage, screaming we all work together to write the whole song. and all dressed in silver. Some songs can take months to finish, but then others – like the song “Shake Electric” – took You can tell this album was recorded live with 20 minutes to write. The writing progress is very varied. In a lot of bands, there has to be no filters or compression, just raw energy… a dictator to get anything done, but Spiders is We recorded Shake Electric at Kungsten Studios in Gothenburg, with producer Mattias Glavå. a very democratic band, which works very well He has produced bands like Dungen and for us. Håkan Hellström, and has loads of vintage What are some of the highlights since the equipment. He records analog, so it was a super cool place to record. We had all the songs ready release of Flash Point? It has been great. We have played with some when we went into the studio. It took a bit less great bands like Graveyard and Kvelertak, and than two weeks to finish. We recorded the band have played loads of great shows in Europe playing live in a big room. Even the vocals were recorded live. Then, we just [added] some and Sweden like Roadburn Festival in Holland guitar overdubs and percussion. We are really and Way Out West festival in our hometown, pleased with the production and want to record Gothenburg, Sweden. It is always fun touring around Europe when one comes back to a town there again. and sees that there are more people than the In the “Shake Electric” video, you depict drug first time one played there. use, but also the potential consequences. Are you making a statement about vices? Do you adjust your setlists when playing with The idea was that the character would take harder bands like Kvelertak or Metallica? We don’t usually adjust the setlists. I remember, an overdose of something and then go into a “Shake Electric” world, but we didn’t want her when we toured with Kvelertak, we were a bit worried that the audience. The audience is 95 to use anything that would look too real. We percent men. Kvelertak is very masculine heavy had her overdose on some pretty strong eye
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drops. It was just part of the story that we came up with. We wanted a tragic ending. The lyrics are about friendship and losing someone [close to you]. You’ve said, “What we like about many of the records from the 1970s is that it is often heavy yet soft.” What are some examples of this phenomenon? I think Black Sabbath is a good example. They have got really heavy parts, but then break off with acoustic and piano that makes the music so good. Also, David Bowie mixed heavy guitars with strings and piano. It makes the music more fun and interesting to play and listen to.
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST WILLIE NAUKKARINEN BY ERIC MAY finish it. The title is a reflection of those times. It’s about overcoming the difficulties with a sense of determination and stubbornness to finish the record. It’s us basically giving a huge middle finger to the bad times. And I think, on a larger scale, it’s a pretty good motto for us as a band, too. PHOTO: SAMULI RAAPPAN
Finnish melodic death doomers Ghost Brigade have had their share of problems during the recording of their newest effort, One With the Storm. In fact, the album almost didn’t get completed at all. Proving that you can fight the storm or become one with it, guitarist Wille Naukkarinen fills us in on the details. What does One With the Storm mean? To be honest, the album was so difficult to record that there were times when we really weren’t sure if we were even going to be able to From Ex-Craw bassist Shane’s description, the band’s home city of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is one of the most remote capital cities in the world, cut off from the rest of the continent by desert. So it may seem an unlikely place to spawn a crushing, crusty hardcore punk band. Nevertheless, it did, and the now-defunct band managed to last a few years and put out two releases. Now, for those who were unfamiliar with the band during their existence, Ex-Craw’s full discography is being released by Cubo de Sangre as a 19 track beaut called Extant/Extinct. Will you give us a little history of the band? We were just a bunch of friends and wanted to make some fast, heavy music. We formed the band, which we called The Craw, and then we had some lineup issues. We might’ve started that band about five years ago. We were gonna call it a day, but we kept going as a three piece [with Oli on drums, Bill on guitar, and all three members singing], and just changed the name and changed a bit of the direction the band was heading in. When we started Ex-Craw, we recorded the Extinct recording. That was about two or three years ago, and Grobi recorded that one. After that, we got [him] in on guitar, Oli ended up just doing lead vocals, and we got a guy named Tom in on drums for the Extant recording.
I knew that melancholy and poppy melodies would be part of it, and it’d probably be heavier than our previous bands, but other than that, we didn’t really know what kind of music it’d be. I still remember back in 2006, when friends would ask me what our new band sounded like, and I’d be like, “Oh, we have this new song that sounds kind of like a mixture of The Cardigans and mid ‘90s Napalm Death.” I knew that would just confuse them more, but then again, it was the truth. Since then, things haven’t really changed much. We still don’t really have any limits to what kind of music we write.
When did you guys first get together and decide that you wanted to make such depressive and melancholic death metal? I don’t see our music as depressive at all. Melancholic, yes. Beautiful, yes. But definitely not depressive. There is always the element of hope strongly present in either the lyrical content or in the music and melodies. We talked about forming a band for years before we got together. We were old friends who played in two rock bands at the time. Then in 2005, we finally decided to give it a go and see what would happen when we got into the rehearsal room together. As far as musical style goes, we never had anything specific in mind.
What did you do differently on this record that you haven’t done before with Isolation Songs or Until Fear No Longer Defines Us. What makes this release stand out? Everything. The writing process was really different this time. I really wanted to see how the arrangements and songs would shape up if I gave them time to grow. So, when I came
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What got you into punk and hardcore? I was a young lad in high school and heard some loud, sorta fast music and enjoyed it. It was aggressive with some social commentary in it, and that’s what I enjoy about music. I think that’s why I really loved it and started listening to some of the U.K. stuff from the ‘80s: GBH and The Exploited, stuff like that, and American hardcore. I’m 32 now, so I guess I’ve been listening to this stuff for a long time, and it’s still good stuff.
definitely one of my favorite records. “Pacific Solution” includes the line “Proud to be Australian.” You could totally swap “American” into that line, considering our xenophobia, racist culture, and border protection. So, you guys have it bad there too? You’re probably right. In a lot of ways our two countries resemble each other, especially the political system and how that stuff is set up. It’s been going on for quite a while. Australia is a hugely xenophobic country. We seem to get waves of different immigrant populations that come through. The Greeks and Italians after WWII, then Vietnamese people after the Vietnam War, and now Middle Eastern people who bear the brunt of Australia’s xenophobia. I don’t know if you get much news over in the U.S. about our immigration policies, but they essentially send these people who are escaping terrible conditions in their home countries on leaky boats [to] camps that probably resemble war camps. There’ve been murders. It’s pretty gross, actually. The politicians jump all over it, because they know they can get votes out of it.
On the Cubo de Sangre website, you can listen to the whole record and they have the lyrics included… Yeah, that would’ve been [label dude] James’s idea. I’m stoked he put the lyrics. I think lyrics are one of the more important aspects of punk music. The ideas that are being expressed are pretty important, so I’m really happy to have all that stuff out there so people can take a look. “Stench of Existence” has minimal, powerful lyrics reminiscent of Discharge. Was that a big band for you guys? Yeah, huge fan of Discharge. The Why? 12” is
INTERVIEW WITH DRUMMER JEFF MAHANNAH BY JANELLE JONES had this other guy for a minute when we first started until we found a real one. We’ve been using the same bass player, [Matt Maier], now for three or four years. It’s weird, because me and Scott practice all the time and write all the songs, and our bass player just is on board for playing shows and going on tours, rather than practicing every week, which is fine with us.
Your Facebook page only has you and [guitarist and vocalist] Scott [Terrian] listed. Is it just you two now? No. We’ve always been a three piece, but I think when we originally put up that Facebook thing, we were trying to find a bass player. We
What inspires the sorrow in your lyrics? I can only speak for myself here, as I wrote only around a third of the lyrics, but my main inspiration comes from life in general. I might write about stuff that seems sorrowful, but as I said earlier, dig deeper and there is always the element of hope. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Just like I probably couldn’t write a happy song even if I wanted to, I couldn’t write lyrics that weren’t hopeful either. I guess for us Scandinavians, it’s very natural to have a bit of melancholy in our music? It’s deeprooted in the culture and genes.
INTERVIEW WITH BASSIST SHANE BY JANELLE JONES
About three weeks before their superb sophomore LP Do You See is to be released, drummer Jeff Mahannah speaks about the quirky, “Cable Guy” loving Kalamazoo, Mich., based punk band, their new album, and their next significant tour, coming up this spring when they once again head down South to play their favorite (so far) part of the country.
up with new stuff, I didn’t record anything. I’m glad I did this, because the album is much stronger and musically richer because of this. Then of course, having two new guys in the band – bassist Joni Saalamo and keyboardist Joni Vanhanen – is something that changes things. I mean, as always, I wrote all the skeletons of the songs, but they really contributed to the arrangements and had very good ideas of how to make the songs even better. They really brought the much needed enthusiasm and excitement back to the band.
So when you record, you just show him the songs, and he’s like, “OK”? Pretty much. He’s real quick with everything. We can go not seeing him for two months, and then all the sudden, we’ll say, “We’re gonna play in Chicago and Milwaukee this weekend, can you do that?” And we’ll practice it one time and he’ll relearn everything, and everything’s good. Actually, he did play bass on some of the tracks on the new record. Usually, it’s just me and Scott doing everything, so it was cool to have him onboard. The first album: we wanted him to play on it, but he just never could get his work scheduled around it or something. It’s a lot easier with two people as opposed to
having three. I don’t know how some bands have four or five guys in the band. From the first record [Making Paper Roses] to this one do you see a progression? Maybe a little bit. We definitely don’t try to be like, “Oh man, we gotta really sound different on this second one, so that we progress.” Sometimes I think it’s better when bands stick to what they know and don’t try to get too tricky with changing things up. Some of the songs sound a little different, but I think a lot of it’s not too far off from the first album. How’d you hook up with Dirtnap? We wrote enough songs to make the first album and we sent CD-Rs to a couple different labels. We sent one to Ken, and I think he said, “I like this,” and asked us to send more recordings. I couldn’t believe he even wrote back. We really respected his label, and like all the other bands on the label. Then he approached us to put it out, and we were like, “Fuck yeah, put it out!” He put out basically everything that was on the
Since the band is defunct, why is this all coming out now? This is all because James from Cubo de Sangre contacted you? When I got ahold of the email, and explained we’re living in the most isolated city in the world – most isolated capital city, anyway – and we’re not playing, we’d obviously broken up, he was still pretty keen to release it. We were all for that. The artwork was drawn by a friend of mine in Indonesia, and I was happy to get that on there as
CD-R we sent him. I asked him which songs he wanted and he said, “All of them.” With the new album coming out, we decided a shorter album would be better, and the songs that are on the album are the only songs we have right now; it’s not like we had 30 songs to choose from. But it worked out really well, because I think it’s the perfect length for an album: 20 minutes long, 45 RPM, which I always like. How much touring have you done? We’ve gone on three or four tours that are a week and a half or two weeks. Usually our go to is just going down South, ‘cause that’s our favorite place to go, Memphis and New Orleans. We’ve been to Florida a couple times. But our favorite route to go is down through the southern states, and then back up. We go to Texas too, Austin and Denton. This next spring is when we’ll do a two-week Southern tour down there and back.
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messages have to be clear statements.
I N T E R V I E W W I T H V O C A L I S T I L D A N A C H B Y M O R G A N Y. E VA N S Absentia Lunae’s Vorwarts is an album with many layers of meaning, a testament to the band’s disciplined focus. The Italian band’s first in half a decade, the ATMF release is a furious, Italian Futurist Movement-inspired black metal call for social engagement. It is a call to likeminded souls who wish for intelligent use of technology, artistic growth, and the potential for humans to keep climbing higher. You don’t take fans’ intelligence for granted. You’ve mentioned working “far beyond the shadow of any minimalist substance.” Does this mean you’ve no interest in adhering to black metal purists’ strict rules? We took even our first step with the goal to distance [ourselves] from the ordinary If there are upswings in the world of depressing black metal, Krieg is on one. They launched their first video of their long career. They released an amazing album, wooing critics and fans alike. Transient is a crushing riff montage acting as a key into the sanitarium. Also under the Krieg tent, from earlier in 2014, are four splits – one is with Wolvhammer! – and the aptly titled Unmedicated EP. Neill Jameson – the dude behind it all – is gaining popularity for the quips on his Tumblr blog “I Work in a Record Store” and his twitter, his guest articles in Decibel, and his open letter regarding controversial metal musician Blake Judd. He is also known for his work with metal supergroup Twilight, which features Leviathan’s Jef “Wrest” Whitehead and Thurston Moore, of Sonic Youth fame. In the daytime, Jameson works at a record store, but will be the first to argue that any job that sounds “cool” is still a job. Perhaps this outlook accounts for his lyrical subject matter. Eschewing the typical black metal subjects of forests, nymphs, and Satan, Krieg explores human existence and its “bleak suffering.” Their new release Transient stands out as an album unhindered by Jameson’s use of medication. “I don’t want to say medicine had dulled me, but, it made some records less human, less natural,” he explains. “The title means the transience of different emotions my life takes me through. This is the first time I went in and had a full band, fully rehearsed, with songs ready to record. This has much more focus than anything I have ever done.”
black metal tradition. At the time when we started, early 2000, it was like fighting a “Don Chisciotte [Quixote]” crusade against the dominant trend: Nordic-like, Norwegian copycats. […] Vorwarts is no different. It’s a step ahead. There’s no meaning [when] making your own stuff with your own name, but making reference 100 percent to what has been already stated with art. Fortunately, after many years of rubbish, the scene is becoming more selective, only the strong will survive, those who can succeed in presenting a personal vision – visually and musically – and who are capable to reach the listener’s imagination. Luckily, those who followed us from the beginning are already aware and expecting something fresh from us, but the fanbase is growing and
The early Norwegian black metal ethos of thriving in anonymity could be a handy ruse for avoiding live shows, but Jameson does not exploit his anxiety that way. “We have been doing shows for 14 years,” he says. “I don’t pay attention to the crowd, which works well for me.” For Transient, Jameson began by recording riffs, then revisiting and reworking to “trim the fat.” Afterwards, he brought those ideas to the band. “They interpret their own way and rework and add new parts,” he explains. “I wrote 85 percent, but everyone contributed.” And that collective mentality, the one that elevates Krieg as a band, has produced a dynamic and stunning album. Atmosphere is the cornerstone of Krieg, their greatest strength. The record was recorded at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket, R.I. Jameson praises their efforts, affirming that “they know bands and what they want to get out of them. I wanted the riffs to reach out and
INTERVIEW WITH JEFF MARDANES AND DAN JOSEPH BY JONES V AND KELLEY O’DEATH
Do you worry the martial sound contributes to society’s violence? I think society is not violent. Yes, there’s a lot of aggression, but I think it’s more vile. A martial discipline obviously has nothing in common with out of control violence. I have personally practiced karate for a long time, but learned to control my feelings and have the strength [at the] ready once it is really needed, so I think
buy it and prove them wrong. Guitarist Jeff Mardanes and vocalist Dan Joseph were kind enough to grumble to us about some stuff… You are bringing back the spirit of bands like Crass and Conflict, and mixing it up
the meaning of this word is far beyond the [random] violence we [see] massively any day. […] Absentia Lunae is a project that addresses spiritual goals, far beyond this concept of violence. Do you feel a kinship with bands with an unflinching aesthetic or historical leanings, like 1349, Marduk, Ade, or Endstile? Honestly, I think we’re much more into giving different [perspectives]. The bands you mentioned sound war-like. We’re not there to glorify this aspect. We prefer to investigate the inner war of the human being communicating with the challenges that life will cause him to face. There are, of course, some connections due to the aesthetic, but we go beyond this militarist naive glorification. The first war you face is the inner one. After you [defeat] your weakness and bury your phantoms, you start the creation of the supreme-I, and in some ways, you kill a part of yourself and are reborn. You may fall, but the point is taking on the form you are destined to become. It’s like seeking for the lost connection with the primeval origin. Is black metal more about isolation or is it O.K. to have legions? It’s, of course, different from punk music that was collective. Isolation is a challenge; if you don’t communicate with yourself, there’s no room to understand your real nature. To be totally into avoiding contact with human beings is not black metal, but simply stupid. If you do anticipate the end of your physical form, you can become 100 percent isolationist, but you will miss the chance to put in practice your feelings, ideas, creativity, positivity, or sadistic will.
His four years free of meds allowed this volcanic release takes shape. “I have had incredible anxiety, but the anxiety attacks aren’t as crippling. It may not be being off the meds. [It] may just be a product of age that I can handle my emotions better.” Does he feel anxious about exposing such intimate feelings? “Oddly, no,” he says. “That has never been an issue. I feel it is more honest to be open about yourself when that is the focus of your music. I don’t want to represent the triumphs of my life as epic, or the lows as any lower. I want to represent who I am.”
NO SIR I WON’T
No Sir I Won’t is a political punk band from Boston that plays political punk songs about politics. They are grumpy and highly amusing and probably getting old, and their new EP Shit was released on Nov. 1 through Drunken Sailor Records. They think you’ll hate it, so go
The cover art is reminiscent of propaganda posters. Who did it? Eklipse Design: Emanuele Cilloni, a friend of ours in Italy, who was a big Absentia Lunae fan from the very beginning. It was really easy to communicate with him. Yes, some of the elements are propaganda-like, but have to be connected with the Futurist Movement, one of the most revolutionary artistic outputs of our country in the past century. It’s a strong reaction against the dominant conservatism of medieval art, and all the meaning connected to the decadence of this age. Today, we’re living, in some ways, a similar situation, a Modern Age of Slavery. There are strong sources of artificial light that disturb the inner self, annihilate the understanding of the primary goals. Futurism is much more about challenging [one’s] human limits [with] action and creativity. Dynamic and propulsive power was a strong element, the art was the action, the innovative strength of a young generation, a revolutionary youth. We can, of course, think to the modern age, but today, I see many mountains of garbage, rotten mechanic remains, nothing in common with the idea to go beyond the human empty shell.
INTERVIEW WITH FRONTMAN NEILL JAMESON BY HUTCH choke you, nothing too slick or clean. They did a great job.” The first track, “Order of the Solitary Road,” has the moving parts of black metal, but has a swinging riff repeating in the chorus that is killer and exciting. This is a great introduction to the album, which is about to pummel the listener. The harvesting of a catchy riff continues directly into the next track, “Circling the Drain.” Captivating and energetic, the tension beneath the surface bursts forth like a hammerblow. “Atlas With a Broken Arm” harnesses the traditional black metal formula with adherence and control, but “Winter” is a percussion focused bandy between blast beats and slow, swaying darkness. with some classic Boston hardcore. What inspired you to form the band? JM: Dan and I started talking about it in 2008 when he told me he’s been holding onto the band name for a long time. We wrote a couple parts of songs, but it fizzled out pretty fast, everyone was busy with other shit. A bit later, we got a steadier lineup, which was Dan Joseph on vocals, myself on guitar, Dominick [Mango] on bass, and Dan Barker on drums. This lineup has recorded everything so far. D: We all share a love for the old U.K. political punk tradition, and we all came up in the early ‘90s punk scene when crust and political were big. Punk was inseparable from politics then, and even if you weren’t conscious of it, it informed your life and your values. Nowadays, punk seems apolitical, devoid of content, vapid, commercial. I think we felt there was a hole that needed to be filled. Or maybe we’re just getting old. What are your influences? D: I never know how to answer this question. What are my influences? Getting beaten up as a kid; buying a Def Leppard tape when I was 7; watching my mother cry when Reagan
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Most enthralling and surprising is the straight Manchester ode, “Walk With Them Unnoticed.” The blatant Joy Division influence is filtered through Krieg’s signature style, until the brutal vocals come in, of course. Jameson doesn’t see this track as surprising. “Black metal can be really boring, repetitive.” He chews on the thought of relentless blast beats with distaste. “I always wanted to incorporate this sound – Joy Division, Killing Joke, The Fall, even the Smiths – to an extent,” he affirms. “I love that Factory Records aesthetic of the early ‘80s. That is music I love. Obviously, it is going to seep into what I write. I have been slowly incorporating that over the last few albums. Finally, I am able to write confidently enough to write in that style.” was reelected. That’s the shit that really stays with you. We’re a political band, but I try not to be didactic, or at least if I’m going to be, I try to do it in an interesting way. Leave just enough room for people to put their own thoughts into the songs; the more ambiguity, the better. I like to ask questions, make people think about it for themselves. Musically, our influences are having shitty equipment and nowhere to practice. Beyond that, I think it speaks for itself. You have a new EP called Shit out on Drunken Sailor Records. Beyond that, what are your plans for the future? JM: We want to do a West Coast tour in January; hopefully that comes together. We’ve got a couple songs we want to record for another EP. We’d like to record that after tour; we’ll see. We were told we would get to meet GWAR. D: Other plans include releasing more records that alienate people, and continuing to make music that no one likes. I’ve got plans to do a poetry/free-jazz record with our old drummer and our recording engineer. Wish I was kidding…
It’s been eight long years since California death-grind miscreants Cretin released their debut album Freakery. That record was hailed as a refreshing and humorous dose of gritty, old-school grindcore by fans and critics alike. A lot has gone down in the Cretin camp since then, some major life changing events that put the release of the band’s much anticipated follow up on the back burner. Until now. Guitarist and vocalist Marissa MartinezHoadley and bassist and deranged lyricist Matthew Widener are back in action with Cretin’s triumphant and thoroughly fucked up new album, Stranger. Back in 2007 – shortly after Freakery’s release on Relapse Records – Cretin went on an extended hiatus, which allowed their guitarist and main growler to embark on a journey of womanhood and self-fulfillment. That year, Martinez came out as transgender – one of the first musicians in the overtly macho world of metal and hard rock to do so – after struggling with gender dysphoria for most of her life. Martinez socially and physically transitioned, and thus, Cretin’s new boisterous and fun- loving frontwoman Marissa was born. “It was too much for me to concentrate on finding myself and write a new album at the same time,” Martinez says of the post-Freakery period. “We put the band on hold at that point, but I had like 14 skeleton songs all tabbed out on my computer and they just hibernated there until we were ready to get back to it.” However, the roadblocks to Cretin’s return kept a-coming. During their hiatus, Martinez was recruited by grind legends Repulsion – who already employed the services of Cretin drummer Col Jones – as a live guitarist. Widener also kept busy, releasing his incendiary one-man anarchic manifesto Better to Die on Your Feet than Live on Your Knees under the moniker Liberteer in 2012. Once Martinez’s teenage-dream-like tenure with Repulsion came to an end, the Cretin team was finally ready to move forward with their long awaited follow up.
Cretin’s new album Stranger takes everything you knew and loved about their grindtastic debut Freakery to a whole new level of debauchery. “There was room for a little evolution,” Widener says of the band’s newly minted sound. Martinez reiterates the call for expanding Cretin’s sonic palette, saying, “The grindcore label always felt strange on our music. We were targeting that proto-death/grind thing Repulsion did, so we just rolled with it – ‘O.K., we’re a grindcore band’ – but this time around, I really wanted to put more metal into it.” The music is more frenetic, yet somehow even catchier than their previous effort, the production is booming but still aggressive, and the lyrical themes of the album are out of this world ridiculous. “It was a conscious decision to open the music up to more death metal,” Widener explains. “Freakery was kind of low-fi; it’s what I call grindcore for effect, where you’re not even intending to really hear the music or the riff. It’s all an effect to really assault the ears. From very early on, both Col and Marissa said they wanted a more discernable production this time around… So I thought, ‘Well, we have to write really good music.’ [Laughs]” Album opener “It” showcases a ripping guitar solo from newly christened Cretin-ite Elizabeth Schall – axe slinger and vocalist for Dreaming Dead – right out the gate. Jones blasts and gallops like a champ on “Knights of the Rail,” and supplies the manic energy that drives Stranger, while teetering ever so slightly on the edge of derailment. “He’s a louder drummer than you will ever hear,” Widener gushes. “He doesn’t use a click track. He simply goes in there and bashes the song. If he messes up, we do it again. When you listen to a Cretin song, it’s usually one take.” Martinez and Widener served as the primary songwriters on Stranger. With different musical backgrounds – Widener a punk, jazz,
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INTERVIEW WITH MARISSA MARTINEZ-HOADLEY AND MATTHEW WIDENER BY JAMES ALVARES
and classical music savant, and Martinez an unabashed Metallica raised thrasher – the pair have unique and distinctive writing styles, but still manage to fuse together a remarkably cohesive and enthralling sophomore LP. The inviting, collaborative process on Stranger was a far cry from the near dystopian Freakery sessions. “I was kind of like a dictator when it came to the music on that album. It was really a miserable experience,” Martinez recalls.
addiction stems Mr. Widener’s meth-tinged “Twilight Zone”-ish lyrics. The collection of oddities on Freakery have nothing on the sordid tales found on Stranger, which is actually a collection of 14 bizarre and utterly captivating short stories. Arson, conjoined twins, bestiality, fecal play, and an assortment of other gag-inducing bodily fluids… Stranger covers all the disturbing bases. Imagine a really fucked up audio book, set to blast beats and death growls.
“We were all really self-flagellating with some weird self-imposed rules back then,” Widener adds, laughing.
“People don’t really write short stories in metal,” Widener says. “I’m big into literature, I went to school for it; it comes naturally, so why not use it metal? In death metal and grindcore, most lyrics are vague and abstracted, and there isn’t a lot of story there. For the metal that does have stories, no one ever names their characters, there’s no arc, it’s just very simple: ‘This guy killed this person, or torture.’ I think people are starved for stories and [I] frankly don’t know why more bands aren’t doing it.”
“This time around, I made a concerted effort to write songs about 80 percent to completion,” Martinez explains, “then I’d show it to the guys, and we’d start to learn it and refine it in rehearsal.” Stranger’s pummeling grindcore moments blend seamlessly with the album’s larger than life sections of early ‘90s death metal heft and – dare I say – groove. Flashes of wild thrash metal abandon and an ungodly amount of hooks for an extreme metal record – try not chanting along with the album’s title track or “Sandwich for the Attic Angel” – make Stranger one of the weirdest and most addictive albums of 2014. Part of that
of Teen Death songs that came from weird places, like David Bowie or pop radio. When did you start working on these songs? Some of the songs were written over a year before we recorded them, and others were written just before we went into the studio. We had about 30 songs to choose from for a six song EP, so it was tough to narrow it down. For the opening track, we couldn’t decide between two songs, and we ended up taking the best parts of both of them and combining them to make a new song. That’s the newest song on the EP by far.
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST JAMES GOODSON BY JOHN B. MOORE The Richmond, Va., city limits have proven fertile for an amazing crop of punk bands over the last couple of decades, from Avail and Strike Anywhere to The Riot Before. But Teen Death – the latest punk band with an 804 area code – proves the scene is far from over. Just two years old, the band – fronted by vocalist and guitarist James Goodson – has just turned in an impressive EP entitled Crawling, a collection of noisy and endearing songs fed through a grunge filter. What started out as a glorified Riverdales worship band has evolved into one of the next great bands to watch. How did the band first get together? We started the band a little over two years ago. The three of us were all playing different instruments in other bands, and we really wanted to do something fun where we could play instruments that we weren’t used to. We started out as a “Riverdales worship band.” The joke was that all the bands doing that style of music are called “Ramones worship,” so
we were going to stand out by trying to ape The Riverdales instead, who are just trying to ape The Ramones. That didn’t last very long, and we eventually stopped fucking around and started evolving into the grungy, rocky, punk thing that we do now. We rarely played shows for the first year and a half of being a band, but since we’ve started working with 6131 [Records] we’ve been trying to step it up. Beyond The Riverdales, do you have musical influences that would surprise listeners? The Ramones are definitely a huge influence. A lot of classic punk, really. Since we’re all playing instruments that we’re not super good at, we try to keep the songs very basic and to the point, so we’re definitely influenced by that classic punk mentality of just hammering it out regardless of skill level. I’m also just a pretty big nerd when it comes to listening to songs and picking apart the songwriting. I always try to analyze what I’m listening to and try to find the magic, so there are little bits and pieces
What was the recording process like? The recording process was awesome. We recorded with Kevin Bernsten at his studio, Developing Nations, in Baltimore, [Md.], and he just immediately got the vibe that we were going for. We’re not huge gear heads, so it was really helpful to have someone who could navigate all the equipment to help us get the sounds that we wanted. We try to write catchy songs, but we’re not a pop punk band, and we really wanted to make sure that our record didn’t sound like a pop punk record. We had a really specific vision for a raw, noisy record, and Kevin was so instrumental in making the album sound exactly like we’d hoped it would. Richmond has had some great punk bands over the years. What is the scene like now? It’s solid. There’s a ton of bands making a ton of different kinds of music. I can honestly say that some of my favorite current bands are coming out of Richmond. Sundials is about to take over the world. Close Talker is amazing, and more people need to hear them. My only complaint is that there’re a lot of different scenes and they’re very compartmentalized. They don’t mix very much. I love weird shows with diverse bills, so
Martinez explains that, “We were way more immature when we wrote the Freakery lyrics. We would get together and just be obtuse and laugh our asses off. This time, it has way more finesse.”
I’m not crazy about the clique-y stuff. You guys just played a showcase at CMJ Showcase. What was that like? It was a lot of fun. It was the second year that Brixton Agency has been kind enough to let us play their showcase, and the bill was stacked. Angel Du$t was great. Creepoid is one of my favorite bands right now. I heard Palehorse for the first time and loved it. It was a really great lineup. Exactly the kind of genre mixing that I love to see at shows. How did you connect with the folks at 6131? [Drummer] Eric [Kelly] and I have known [label manager] Sean [Rhorer] from 6131 since we were just 18. We met him when we first moved to Richmond, and he was one of the first people to be super inviting and cool to us stupid kids. Strangely enough, none of us knew that Sean worked for 6131 until he asked us to join the label. The other band that Eric and I are in was supposed to play this benefit show, but our drummer couldn’t make it, so Teen Death hopped on instead. The show was kind of awkward and a lot of people seemed pretty weirded out by us, but Sean was there and I guess he liked what he saw, because he asked us to join the label the next day. It was just a really strange series of coincidences that worked out really well. 6131 has been really awesome and supportive of us. It really means a lot for Sean and [label owner] Joey [Cahill] to have so much faith in such a tiny band like ourselves. We try to repay them by putting their gigantic stickers everywhere. What’s next for the band? We’re trying to hit the road as much as we can in 2015, and a lot of new songs are already in the works, so the plan is to do another record next year as well.
G R E AT A P E S PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAN SNODGRASS
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST BRIAN MOSS BY JOHN B. MOORE Punk rock has always thrived in the face of oppression. The Sex Pistols had the British Monarchy; The Clash had Margaret Thatcher; and The Dead Kennedys had Reagan. San Francisco’s tech boom has driven up rent, home prices, and the cost of everything from food to parking, driving many citizens out of the city. Like their musical brethren before them, San Francisco band Great Apes have taken to punk rock to channel their frustration. Their latest EP, Playland at the Beach, documents the changes in their city, takes a look at the past, and imagines the future. Asian Man Records is putting out this album. How did you connect with label owner Mike Park? I loosely met Mike when I was in high school. I was going to shows nearly every weekend, and playing in an array of unmentionable and embarrassingly shitty bands. I knew who Mike was on account of his band and his labels. […] I’ve always admired Mike’s work as a musician and label owner. Furthermore, he’s cultivated and nurtured our local music scene for 30 years. The extent of his contributions – locally and elsewhere – are often overlooked and underappreciated. Our first full-length, Thread, was a split release between Asian Man and our friend Leslie’s label Side With Us. It all came about casually and organically. Simply put, it was a matter of a few conversations. Asian Man’s run in an honest, minimalist, and ethically sound way, which is a model most labels can’t seem to follow these days. I’m honored to have Mike put our records out. What is the theme tying this EP together? Thematically, the EP addresses San Francisco’s past, rapidly changing present, and future. Every song on the record is sung from the perspective of a specific local landmark or building. The driving idea is that each structure is an omniscient character telling its own version of the city’s narrative. It’s a record about the history, cultures, neighborhoods, politics, businesses, people, and greater societal and economic forces that shape the city. The record takes its title from an amusement park – Playland at the Beach – that sat on the beach at the western edge of the Richmond District until 1972. The photo on the record’s cover was licensed to us by the San Francisco Public Library and captures three boys on a ride at Playland in the 1950s. […] It functions on a dark figurative level to represent what’s happening in the city now: a homogenous group of men with little regard for their surroundings, playing with their profits made from machines built for leisure and convenience. Although the record is thematically locally centered and might
alienate some folks from other places, what applies in the context of San Francisco can be transferred elsewhere to paint a broader picture of emerging patterns in America. How is this affecting the local music scene? We’re seeing a loss of artists, and a loss of locations that support the arts, which therefore – at least in numbers – weakens the art community, music of course being included. Numerous music venues and galleries have already been shut down or moved elsewhere as a result. More are currently threatened. Right now, I think San Francisco’s scene definitely still has its vibrancy, albeit it’s constantly ebbing and flowing. However, if this keeps up, as music often involves the young and not particularly wealthy, I’d say a notable hit will become a certainty. Luckily, art is a great medium for expressing frustrations and catalyzing change and action, so hopefully folks will rally and work together to fight back or navigate towards a collaborative, compromised medium. I know there’s already a coalition of local musicians, venue, label, and industry employees who are working with individuals and tech companies to address some of these issues. That’s a positive start… How long have you lived in San Francisco? Have you or any of your friends had to think about moving away as a result of the changes to the city? I’ve been in San Francisco for the past seven years. […] San Francisco’s always been expensive, and anyone who tells you differently is delusional. I would have moved in right after high school had I been able to find a way to afford it. However, now it’s become the most obscenely expensive city in the country. I’ve had plenty of close friends, distant friends, acquaintances, and friends of friends move out preemptively or be forced out as a result of what’s been happening. As horrible as Reagan was as a president, he inspired a lot of great punk songs. Are the new realities of San Francisco having the same result? There’s an old and well-known rule of thumb that basically suggests that true revolt or change can only occur when the majority has been affected and aggravated. […] Music – when done right – can function as a form of rebellion or a means of spreading awareness and ideas. As tensions mount and the problems deepen, we’ll hopefully find more people using art as a combative and/or expressive force to cope and push back. As venues close, we’ll hopefully see an increase in DIY show spaces and pop-up guerilla shows. Although I sometimes wish it wasn’t so, hardship kindles more soul in art than happiness does.
INTERVIEW WITH ROB TURNER AND SCOTT HUGHES BY HUTCH The sounds of Torch Runner – something akin to an angry wolverine on angel dust – are destined to invade more ears. They have released a few EPs, including the savage Colony, on Closed Casket Activities in 2009. Then, they captured listeners’ attention with Committed to the Ground, on To Live a Lie Records in 2012. They are currently assaulting eardrums out west. Vocalist and bassist Rob Turner and guitarist Scott Hughes check in while in transit through California for the last show of their West Coast tour. They began in Mexico and ran up through Canada, then back into California alongside Obliteration and Baptists. Tomorrow, they fly back home to North Carolina.
of the prior second. One’s senses must filter through the overstimulation in these minutelong barrages. The slower “Godlust” has a dirty sway that evokes Down and Tragedy in equal parts. Check the four-minute plus “Circle of Shit.” The dictionary would define this bass line as a “dirge.” Forget all the other times you have heard it used to describe sludge and doom bands. The slow churns of the riffs swirl and pull you into the quicksand grit of this track. Fans of Cursed, All Pigs Must Die, Nails, and Converge should be sucking this up.
“Mexico was the shit,” Turner declares. “We didn’t know who to expect. The guy who put on the show met us in San Diego and we walked across border. Next, we were off to his girlfriend’s house. Everyone was insanely nice. We jumped in the back of a truck and drove to the venue. It was awesome.” The story is recounted with wonder and appreciation.
Hughes unveils his secret for songwriting on this record: “More heavy. More violent. I just keep pushing; see how far I can take it.”
Hughes adds excitedly, “Canada was the best shows of the tour, and packed.” This tour has included 14 shows in two and a half weeks. “Not a single dud,” states Hughes. “It has spoiled us.” The noise of instruments clatters behind the duo as they sit in the van. Their new release from Southern Lord Records, Endless Nothing, is not a huge departure from Committed to the Ground – either in pessimistic sentiment or spastic riff mangling – but the approach was slightly different. Hughes explains, “It was a little different recording this time, as this was the first time we wrote songs which we never had played live. So, we were not used to them, yet. That gave us room to play with them. Changing parts did not feel weird, because no one had heard them yet.” When asked about the songwriting, Turner points to his partner. “Scott writes the majority [of the music]. We turn it into a song when we are together. He comes up with the skeleton of the song. We all work on transitions and arrangements.” Despite the departure in approach, the records seem cohesive. They agree. “We are going down the same path, but a step ahead. There is no style change, but it is a progression.” The album’s final track, “Unspoken,” crashes its last third with a quick groove riff that is surprising, but in character. As the record plays through again, the second track, “Bound by Misery,” harnesses a crisp black metal delivery with the chaotic atmosphere of dark and suffocating dreams.
Turner reiterates, “If you like CTTG, there is nothing to dislike here. Same direction, but a new step.”
One major difference is their switch to a bigger label. Despite the idol status Southern Lord has, the transition was seamless. “Southern Lord is awesome,” Tuner interjects. “We have always dealt with much smaller labels. But this feels like [a] small [label] in all the right places. It is never a big deal to talk with anyone. They work with us well. Southern Lord is DIY in scope.” He attributes this to owner Gregg Anderson’s straightforward approach and generosity. “Greg is hands on. Gregg obviously cares a lot about the integrity of what they put out.” The cover artwork portrays a wolf in a circle, eating thorns. Illustrated by Fernando Peña and Chelsea Owen – who help them with shows in South Carolina – this dark vision encapsulates the futility of following our instincts and desires. The guys elaborate, “The theme reflected in the title Endless Nothing is definitely nihilistic. We deal with many things in life. And regardless of how you approach them – positively or negatively – it doesn’t do anything to change the outcome. The record is about helplessness. Life is going to happen no matter what you do.” Turner and Hughes are about to go help the opening band haul in equipment. Though they seem to believe hopelessness prevails, it clearly does not turn you into a selfish prick. As of now, they have no future plans for a tour, but Hughes insists – due to meeting so many new cool bands on this tour – that they would like to return the favor and “hopefully facilitate bringing some bands we met here in the west [to the] east.” And he assures, “It won’t be long until we are writing again.”
Most of Endless Nothing speeds by and leaves the listener trying to process the dynamic
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According to bassist Kirk Syrek, Dissolution – the title of the new Sick/ Tired LP on A389 Recordings – refers to “dissolving something or ending a relationship. We applied this concept to the various losses that we have experienced in our lives over the past year.” Syrek describes 2014 as “pretty harsh.” The most tangible of these losses came to vocalist Adam Jennings. Syrek explains, “This record is mainly about personal loss and the death of Jennings’ grandfather/best friend. The day he recorded his vocal tracks, I drove him directly to the funeral when he was finished. Perhaps that’s why it sounds so bleak.” These themes have been explored throughout Sick/Tired’s career, which began in 2009. Their new release is on 45 rpm 12” vinyl. Their violent, menacing mix of crust, grind, and hardcore has seared all mediums. They have done cassettes, vinyl, and CDs, while also utilizing various digital outlets: Bandcamp, Spotify, eMusic, and iTunes. Syrek regards this diversification with disdain. “We are against all of this social media and Kickstarter mentality,” he says. “We like to make actual fliers for shows. As a band, we have agreed to avoid this kind of corporate bullshit to keep things obscure and grassroots at the expense of getting more ‘popular.’ We can’t control who writes about us, but we can at least dictate the way we present ourselves. Personally, I feel that vinyl is the only true format for a proper release. Holding it in your hand, the artwork, the insert and dropping the needle is to me the best experience. I hate tapes, but kids love them and they are cheap to make.”
Among these venomous releases, there is obvious growth in their songwriting and production value. From various splits to last year’s monstrous King of Dirt, Syrek acknowledges the standards are being raised. “Our early releases are poorly recorded and sound weak,” he admits. “We had a different vocalist at that time. I cannot even listen to them anymore. We rerecorded the best old songs for a tape called Lowlife with Jennings on vocals. Jennings’ first appearance is King of Dirt, which was a game changer for us. We changed the sound of the band at that point into something much more desperate and punishing. Sometimes, I wish we changed the name of the band when we switched singers, because it sounds entirely different.” Dissolution is a solidified, focused piece of vitriolic madness, though the interludes of noise and static seem designed to allow the listener a respite, a moment to exhale. “Not at all,” corrects Syrek. “I think the noise is more uncomfortable than the music itself.” One of those tracks is a collaboration, pairing these Chicago bred dudes with iconic Japanese noise outfit Merzbow. This appears an odd coupling on the surface, with Sick/Tired smashing all the noise and sweat into short songs and Merzbow experimenting with more atmospheric approaches. “Jennings is heavily involved with the noise scene,” explains Syrek. “He has done his noise project, Winters, in Osaka for many years. He has collaborated with Bastard Noise and is also on the new Brutal Truth record. Basically, that is how we collaborated
with Lasse Marhaug and Merzbow. Honestly the Marhaug track is the best thing on our album.” Among the plethora of splits and albums, Sick/Tired’s message of enmity and vengeance has been preached through many labels: Cowabunga, Schizophrenic, To Live a Lie. “We simply go with the labels that ask us,” Syrek says plainly. “A389 has been phenomenal. It feels like a family and everything is done with extreme care. We don’t really fit in though with a lot of the other bands. I guess we’re the ugly step child of the A389 family.” When asked about Sick/Tired’s genre, Syrek simply states, “We are blast as fuck.” A389 runs the gamut of dark,
evil sounds, and they fit in just fine. Sick/Tired continues to expand their roster of labels with a concurrent split with Czech brawlers Lycanthropy through FatAss Records. It boasts 90 minutes of both of the bands’ Maryland Deathfest live tracks. Syrek explains it only represents a fraction of their future plans. “We just got back from a European tour, and now we are going to focus on writing new material for a split 12” with our friends Sea of Shit, for Deep Six Records. After that, I hope we can do another record with A389. We got invited to play NYC by Haunted Hotel in February for an insane fucking show, but since it is not announced yet, I cannot reveal the bands we are opening for. That being said, it is going to be mental.”
Isles & Glaciers is one of those rare supergroups that gathered together the most talented and well-known artists of their time. Although people may not realize it yet, Isles & Glaciers’ dream lineup belongs amongst the ranks of Temple of the Dog, Asia, Cream, Audioslave, and Velvet Revolver. Their members are – or were – major cornerstones of the bands that gave them such critical acclaim, including Chiodos, Emarosa, Pierce the Veil, The Receiving End of Sirens, Boys Night Out, Dance Gavin Dance, D.R.U.G.S., and Sleeping With Sirens. Their debut, The Hearts of Lonely People, was released in 2010, and now guitarist and keyboardist Brian Southall has brought the project back after a four year hiatus with a reimagining of their EP, remixing three of the album’s seven tracks himself, while enlisting the help of others for the remaining four. What influenced you to revisit these tracks? I really wanted to do remixes from the day the original EP was released. Originally, our plan was to do this much sooner, but things slowly fell apart and the idea of this being an actual “band” wasn’t possible anymore. So, after some minor begging, [Equal Vision Records] told me they would make it happen, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Was it strange to revisit the memories of the work you guys did together on this project? This project is still one of my fondest memories of tracking music. Showing up to a studio where I only actually knew two people, and sitting down the night before tracking
IS LES & G L AC I E RS
to essentially finish writing the songs, was just insanity. We wrote as we went, taking simple ideas we had and turning them into songs. In a week, we did something I’ll always be proud of. Aside from this remix project, what have you been working on? Since the end of The Company We Keep, I am mostly working as a producer and composer for a podcast called The Make Believe. I still write a lot of music, and I will always continue to release music in some fashion, [I’m] just not likely to ever become a full time touring musician again. Will you guys ever come back together to make new music? [Guitarist] Nick [Martin], [vocalist and guitarist] Vic [Fuentes], [drummer] Mike [Fuentes], and I still daydream of releasing music as a Fat Wreck Chords-inspired 1990 to 2000 era punk band, which would just infuriate most people, and is very exciting. Other than that, it’s probably unrealistic that we will write together for anything serious anymore. I contributed a co-write on Pierce the Veil’s “Collide With the Sky” years ago, which was very fun. On the band’s Twitter account, only the negative comments seem to have been retweeted. How has the overall reception been for the remix EP? The overall reception is exactly what I expected, and I’m personally loving it. Music fans have become so goddamned entitled these days, and it’s awful. Things like Twitter
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST/KEYBOARDIST BRIAN SOUTHALL BY RIDGE BRIEL – while being an AMAZING outlet – have also completely destroyed the mystique of what used to be the relation fans had with musicians. People have no problem just openly complaining nonstop, even if they get what they asked for. You can’t make everyone happy. I spent a lot of my time on this remix EP in an attempt to give the fans SOMETHING new, even if it is just remixes. I wish there was a way to make the majority of the Internet trolls stop complaining and start appreciating that someone is at least trying to give them something, at least trying to appease them. Stop whining and be thankful for what you have, ya fucks. How did you gather the other programmers who did remixed these classic songs? Knights is someone I’ve known for years now. His old band toured with The Receiving End of Sirens in the U.K., and we remained friends. I always liked his work,
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specifically his Minus the Bear remixes. dr00gs is a mystery man whose identity I cannot reveal, but we are very close and he’s a remix genius. Citizun has a member, Spencer Bastian, who filled in on bass for The Company We Keep on a tour, and he’s been a friend for a while. Last, but not least, Kara [Dupuy] has been a friend for years; we obviously played together in Boys Night Out as well. I really wanted her to do a piano version of “Cemetery Weather,” knowing that a piano and strings version of that track would really be epic. Any chance The Receiving End of Sirens will make a comeback? Well, it is coming up on 10 years of Between the Heart and the Synapse, so… We’ll see.
2014 has been a banner year for Self Defense Family. The band has transitioned from the buoyant hardcore sound of their previous incarnation, End of a Year, into the riveting, anything goes post-punk force of nature that is Self Defense. This rousing upstate New York musical collective finally christened their new-ish identity by releasing their haunting debut album, Try Me, last January. Dropping a long awaited full-length might be good enough for other acts, but the workhorses in Self Defense decided to go ahead and unleash another handful of singles and EPs throughout the year, saturating the scene with their oh-so-captivating feel bad/toe tapping jams. “We’re all getting older and can feel Death’s clammy boner resting on our shoulders,” Self Defense Family general Patrick Kindlon explains. “Better to be productive now, rather than wait and hope productivity is possible from the grave.” Tupac and Elvis might be content with cranking out posthumous hits from the other side, but it seems like Self Defense plan on staying busy ‘til the bitter end. The two, über-enthralling campfire sing-along tracks off their “Indoor Wind Chimes” backed with “Cottaging” 7” feel familiar enough to have been right at home on Try Me, but brings enough fresh energy to highlight the band’s ever curious and exploratory nature. “There is a record we’d like to build off of what we
S E L F D E F E N S E FA M I LY
did with Try Me, but we’re going to wait awhile before we put that into the world,” Kindlon reveals. “In a perfect world, we’d sandwich our more experimental releases between ‘guaranteed hit’ records. That would probably be the safest way to do what we do. But we partner with a number of labels, and each has its own release schedule to fit us into. That means even the best of plans can go sideways. And, it can’t be overstated enough: we are bad at plans.” Well, not that bad, it seems. Their Duets EP is something the band had in the works for some time, and it finally saw the light of day in fall 2014. The record is – as you may have a guessed – a series of duets between Kindlon and Albany songstress and Self Defense contributor Caroline Corrigan. Corrigan fist entered the band’s universe by singing on select tracks of End of a Year’s final record, You are Beneath Me, (aka the aptly titled You Are Beneath Her). Corrigan’s guest spot on Self Defense Family’s debut, “Mistress Appears at Funeral” – an infectious ‘70s folk rock number – was one of the highlights of the album. We’ve now been gifted with five new Corrigan-infused tracks, her soulful voice the perfect contrast to Kindlon’s gruff and world weary delivery. “Duets is a nice accomplishment,” Kindlon says of this collaboration. “I can’t really sing, but I did my best impression on that record, and it came out well. Caroline
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RUFUS
I N T E R V I E W W I T H V O C A L I S T PAT R I C K K I N D L O N B Y J A M E S A LVA R E Z
delivered strong takes that feel confident in just the right way. And the songs themselves had us stretching muscles we don’t always use. Iron Pier [Records] did a nice job on the record itself. A worthy addition to the catalog.” With technology and the wonders of the Internet, it’s no wonder that audiences today seem so burned out on just about everything. With many consumers listening to and producing the most inhuman and complex forms of music on iPads since birth, it’s marvel that a rogues gallery like Self Defense can create the varying forms of art they do, and still be so wildly innovative. Who’d have thought
that releasing a bunch of Neil Young-ish tunes in the 21st century would be so punk rock? Regarding Self Defense Family’s ever changing musical palette, Kindlon states, “The me from all those years ago would probably call our recent work ‘too soft.’ Or… I’d be secretly jealous of it. Or both. If you do anything you’re only barely capable of pulling off, it reads as daring. We’ve got a few things lined up for this year that fall under that heading. Some will be more successful than others, but all are efforts at challenging ourselves. Maybe that’s not punk, actually. I’m not sure. I lost the manual.”
THE BROKEDOWNS PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK HOUDEK
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST/VOCALIST KRIS MEGYERY BY JANELLE JONES
Utilizing The Brokedowns’ customary humor, guitarist and vocalist Kris Megyery gives us some insight about the Elgin, Ill. based four-piece’s latest masterful punk rock offering, Life is a Breeze, via Red Scare Industries.
morning when we arise from our sleep pods. We light the ceremonial candle of truth and chant, “We are the keepers of the light, the guardians of the righteous realm, we will always obey the celestial beckoning.”
Compared to your previous release, New Brains for Everyone, Life is a Breeze seems darker and more foreboding, such as on “The End is Not Near.” Was this an intentional change? We definitely did not make the songs darker on purpose. Some of the songs on here are probably the poppiest things we’ve ever done. A lot of the lyrics actually feel very optimistic to me, which was kind of calculated. The song “The End is Not Near” sounds like something that should be played during a ritualistic human sacrifice, but I’m literally saying in the lyrics that the end is not near. It’s a reaction to the endless chorus of dipshits who constantly refer to some mythological golden age that never existed, and how everything is horrible and getting worse.
What made you choose “Life is a Breeze” as the title track? The original album cover was like an old postcard and Life is a Breeze seemed to fit. Usually everyone in the band has an opinion about the album title, but everyone seemed to like Life is a Breeze, so it just stuck.
With 16 songs, was it hard to choose a fluid tracklist? We actually recorded 26 or 27 songs, so it took forever to figure out what to keep and what to cut. Once we cut it down to 16 songs, the order came pretty naturally. You write smart, socially conscious lyrics. Are there any common themes? Wow, thanks! Did my parents tell you to say that? [Bassist and vocalist] Jon [Balun] and myself usually split up the lyrics, but on this one, it was mostly me. So, if it’s great, I will take all the credit, and if it’s bad, it’s because Jon was not there to help me and it’s his fault that it’s so bad. There are a few songs on [the album] that are way more personal than most of our older stuff. The common theme that flows throughout our canon is best summed up by the mantra the four of us chant to each other every
Red Scare owner Toby Jeg said you were a more working class band than Cock Sparrer! Is it difficult for you all to get time off to tour? Yeah, definitely. But despite our responsibilities at home, we have always maintained our strict touring schedule of three out of town shows per year. That is a commitment we will never break. The record comes out early December. Are there any touring plans yet? Nothing solid yet, but yes, we are planning some jive. Aside from finishing the record, what were the highlights of 2014? [We] played a bunch of fun shows. We played in California for the first time. The Red Scare 10 Year show was a blast. It was a fine year. For the first time in [drummer] Mustafa [Daka]’s life, he went an entire 13 hours without smoking weed. That was huge for him. Traumatic, but huge.
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST FRANK “KILLJOY” PUCCI BY HUTCH
“Satan, our Lord and Master” are the opening words of Necrophagia’s new release WhiteWorm Cathedral, from Season of Mist. The sample of this incantation continues with a cold delivery. A slow, heavy, fuzzed out riff pushes through, mechanical and removed. “This album contains all of our elements, with no experimentation,” vocalist Frank “Killjoy” Pucci explains of the new full-length’s contents. “13 songs of what we do best. It is not death [metal] or thrash, or whatever. It is extreme metal about my love of horror.” Pucci’s statement stems from Necrophagia’s fans’ dislike for prior albums having been too “experimental.” But since Necrophagia has existed since 1983, one would assume they would want to stretch their arms a little. The band cranked out six demos and two full-lengths after its inception, and by 1997 – after 10 dormant years – former guitarist Phil Anselmo convinced Pucci to resurrect the “patient zero” of horror metal. Their albums saw a rotating lineup and, consequently, many variations in their sound, but in 2014, Pucci assures we’re getting “the most straight forward version of us.” After being recorded, WhiteWorm Cathedral sat dormant for a year before the band decided to rerecord it and move forward. The producer tasked with this rebirth was Jamie Gomez, who Pucci says possessed the skills to make it “raw and heavy.” The result is exactly that: killer metal with occasional organs for mood and asp-like vocals, recounting the horror and violence of this world. Pucci reflects on his band and their attributes with pride. “We are not the best band, but we are unique. No one does horror metal gore like we do.” Besides having recorded a crushing
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and honest album, Necrophagia has “managers again. Finally. I am free of all the details. Business is important, but I do not want to be the business man,” he vents. Most enticing is Necrophagia getting to do live shows. Pucci recalls the early days, when after releasing a record in 1987, the group disbanded. They played no shows to promote Season of the Dead, with one exception: a 1986 show with Slayer. He confesses, “Playing live is you at your most primal. You can feed off of the energy of the crowd. And we get a great reaction!” It’s no surprise that Pucci is a horror movie buff. He may not dig the U.S.’s recent rebirth of the quick and cheap horror movie, but he can appreciate contemporary horror films, mentioning French modern classics “Martyrs” and “Inside.” He invokes the greats: 1960s Mario Bava, “Carnival of Souls.” He says “Night of the Living Dead” may “still be one of the all time greats,” even after repeated viewings. Pucci explains that he goes through phases, “‘The Coffin Joe’ Trilogy of the 1960s, [Dario] Argento, [Lucio] Fulci, Joe Dante, John Carpenter…” He gains momentum when reaching “Christopher Lee and the Hammer Films. Those are the epitome of dread and fear, especially ‘Horror Hotel.’” Pucci summarizes WhiteWorm Cathedral’s fruition as “a long ride. We are really happy with the songs and the samples and the production.” He is excited to continue with Season of Mist after releasing Deathtrip 69 with them in 2011, and fans should be excited too. Let the concrete riffs and mangled bodies continue to pile.
DON’T BREAK DOWN 2 0
Y E A R S ,
H O U R S
W R I T T E N BY LI SA R O O T, PH OTOG RA PHY B Y MATT KA DI
1994. Bill Clinton was president, gas was around a dollar something a gallon, no one (at least than I knew) had a cell phone (some people might have had a pager, but my only phone still had a cord on it.) I’m hating even typing about the nostalgia of that year, but it really was ‘the year.’ To me at least. 20 years have passed since a little punk album called 24 Hour Revenge Therapy was released. It marked the beginning of the end of arguably one of the finest
to the 2014 releases and feeling like it’s 1994 all over again. Well, it’s 20 years later and the idea of sitting and listening to a member of the band talk about those days and recording sounded like a great plan on a Saturday night. Drummer Adam Pfahler has a garage full of mementos of his time in Jawbreaker and took a few hours to talk about the recording of the album with the legendary Steve Albini. If you’re around when he does it again, I highly recommend it. If not, you can watch his LA engagement thanks to Youtube. His ease of storytelling and humor made sitting in a room listening to someone talk who had a member
of the audience help him through the slides a little less nerdy than it sounds. He’s self deprecating and humorous, and tells some fun stories… Like hanging with Ben Weasel and getting $1.60 3- egg breakfasts during their stay in Chicago (as much as Ben tries to make you think he’s the ultimate asshole, I’m certain there’s a fun guy in there), the detailed list he kept of the things he shoplifted, and the time it took to record the album (whichspoiler alert- was incredibly fast.) This is all a precursor to the upcoming Jawbreaker documentary titled Don’t Break Down. Look for it in 2015.
bands of the era. And I get it, gushing about Jawbreaker can elicit eye rolls from the peanut gallery, but I’m a sucker for a 3- piece. They coax so much more out of their instruments without the added rhythm guitar in the mix. I’m not a drummer, but know every drum fill on their albums like an old friend. 24 Hour was just a simple punk record made during a simpler time. And 20 years later it seems like bands are looking to recreate the feel of the bands of this time. It’s kind of crazy listening
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INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/BASSIST IAN FARMER BY DUSTIN VERBURG
odern Baseball is an indie/ pop-punk band from Philadelphia. 2014 has been a huge year for them, with the release of their second studio album You’re Gonna Miss It All. The album has been both a critical success and a fan favorite, and has led to the band headlining a U.S. tour with Somos, Crying, and Knuckle Puck this winter. Bassist and vocalist Ian Farmer fills us in on the rest. It seems like the Philly scene just keeps getting bigger and better. What kind of impact has Philly had on punk as of late? I have to say that I absolutely love Philadelphia. It’s a great city with a bunch of really, really good music coming out of it right now. Bands like Hopalong, The Menzingers, Three Man Cannon, The Weeks, Cayetana, and also Dr. Dog and really big bands. It’s just a hotbed for music right now, it seems, which is the coolest thing in the world. When I originally came here for school, I had not a single clue. I got here and I met out manager, Eric [Osman], at orientation. And he was like, “Oh yeah, my friend says there are a ton of great house shows here.” “Cool! That sounds interesting.” Little did I know that was going to become my life for the next few years. It’s kind of just like a very large community where everyone is super supportive of each other. It’s a cheap place to live, so everyone can afford to live there. I think that’s what produces all of these really good bands. It’s weird because the last three years, I’ve gone down to The Fest in Gainesville, and it seems like half of the people there are from Philly. I’ll go down there to see a bunch of people I never get to see, and it’s like, “Oh wait! I see you all the time; we live in the same city.” Even when we went to Riot Fest, Menzingers played, and I felt like I was seeing a bunch of other bands from the same area. It was really cool. 2014 is almost over and it was a big year for you. What are your impressions of 2014? 2014 has been a huge year because it’s kind of the first year we moved from playing DIY spaces and house shows to actually playing bigger venues. It’s actually to the point where we’re headlining the [Theater of the Living Arts] in Philadelphia, which is really kinda scary and awesome. The place is huge; that’s where I saw NOFX a few years ago.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAN SNODGRASS
It’s been a wild ride. We got to travel the
U.S. for the second time this year with The Wonder Years, and then we went to Europe for the first time, which was a blast. We went to England, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and we’d never been over there. It was crazy. We had a lot of fun. Then we went back to school for a while and that part sucked [laughs]. Now we’re touring again, and it just seems like every time we play, there are more people there to see us. It just seems like more people are talking about our record. It’s still never become something that I totally expect. In the two years we’ve been touring, things have moved abnormally quickly. For example, in 2012, we were on our first little tour to Chicago and back. We’d just left Buffalo [N.Y.] and it was New Year’s Day. We had been talking about the label we’d all want to be on in the next few years: Run for Cover. They’re so cool; they had Tigers Jaw, Captain, We’re Sinking, Pity Sex, and a bunch of other really cool bands. That’s what we want to be on! That day – New Year’s Day, 2013 – they sent us an email. Things have moved way too quickly for us to expect anything anymore. In 2014, we played the Electric Factory. We played places we had gone to see shows our whole lives. My first show at the Electric Factory was seeing Modest Mouse, so to be up on that stage… It’s nothing short of incredible. We couldn’t be more grateful for it. What are your plans for your upcoming tour? I am very excited for this tour. We’ve been touring a lot and we were excited to come home for a week. I think a week is the perfect amount of time to just recoup and get ready. We’re playing with some incredible bands. Super excited to be playing with Somos, Crying, and Knuckle Puck. Then, for half of the tour, we get to play with Foxing, who are just an incredible band and just the coolest dudes. Last time they came through Philly, just at the hotel here, we spent the whole night playing “Magic: The Gathering.” I’m definitely bringing my “Magic” cards on this tour, because I hear Crying plays too. In California, we’re playing with Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra, who are some of my favorite people in the world and put out an incredible record this year. Then we get down south and see our Philly homies Cayetana again. I honestly couldn’t be happier. It’s also gonna be fun because we’ve never done a real headliner. It’s a first for us.
n overlooked and unsung underdog faces a situation in which the odds seem impossible, but emerges successful – and with a clear understanding of himself – because he was brave enough to lay it all on the line. Columbus based singer-songwriter Jake Mcelfresh – aka Front Porch Step – has seen his own life mirror this John Hughes-esque storyline. Armed with his voice and an acoustic guitar, he’s emerged from abysmal depths to what he describes as “beyond anything I expected or would have asked for.” With a new EP titled Whole Again, due via Pure Noise in December, and a January 2015 U.K. tour on the horizon, Front Porch Step’s upward trajectory seems unwavering. Mcelfresh discusses where he’s been, where he’s going, and whether he believes he’ll be a better man when he gets there. Front Porch Step seems to have come out of nowhere. That can’t be true, although 2014 has been a huge year for you. I’d been playing out since I was 14, under my own name. In 2012, someone told me that I should market myself better because Mcelfresh is hard to spell. So I started calling myself Front Porch Step in 2012 and posted a video that was supposed to be a suicide note to YouTube. It blew up a little bit and, next thing I know, it is all over Tumblr and on the front page of Reddit. I started seeing some Internet success through that. In turn, that was how Pure Noise found me.
FRONT PORCH STEP play to anybody. And when it came my time to play, the room was packed with people. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life to walk into that room and realize that all these people had the opportunity to see someone else and had chosen to see me.
The same thing happened at Warped Tour. Every day, the tent was packed. Warped Tour has special guest bands, and one day it was Linkin Park and God Forbid. I had to play during their set […] and I had a full tent during Linkin Park! Same thing happened with A Day to Remember. I remember asking people, “Who here likes A Day to Remember?” and a bunch of people raised their hands. I’m a huge fan of them and love their record. I was so surprised that so many people showed up to the tent when an amazing band like that was playing a few hundred feet away. You haven’t been slowing down either, and are currently en route to another tour, right? I’m finishing out this Pure Noise tour,
INTERVIEW WITH JAKE MCELFRESH BY TIM ANDERL
and then I’m doing some shows with Joel and Benji Madden in November. Then I have a couple things going on for the holidays. I think that’s it for this year, and then next year, I’ll start up all over again.
play some sets at Warped Tour, and I was telling him that we were cowriting and asked him to join us, and asked to make this an EP. And I had a Christmas cover. So we wrote the four song EP.
Is it mind-boggling to play with people who have the status and experience of the Madden brothers? Not at all. It sounds like it should be. But I do what I do, and I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m there to play my songs. If they like it, then they like it. I can’t do anything different from what I do… I can’t play my set any differently with the Madden brothers than I would in a basement that smells like cat piss in front of 35 people. That’s just how it is.
Ace wrote “Heaven Sent,” and I wrote the lyrics. “Whole Again” was written by Alan. “I’ll be Home for Christmas” is me singing with Alan doing harmonies over me. People are pretty excited about it.
How did the Whole Again EP come together? Alan Day [of Four Year Strong] and I were sitting on my bunk at Warped Tour. I can’t write guitar parts for the life of me, and he can write guitar parts all day. So, we decided to write songs together. Ace Enders [of The Early November] came to
I wrote Aware when I was 19 years old and started playing it out two years later. Some people say, “He’s a whiny baby.” Well yeah, it is my 19 year old self whining about stuff. These are songs I’ve written this year. This is a 23 year old man. I think people will get a better idea about what it is to hear a song from me.
I love singing. I always grew up playing punk rock, but if I’d grown up playing the piano, you’d be hearing a lot more songs with the range I have in the Christmas cover. Softer and prettier. I think kids will be blown away by this record.
What are you hoping to accomplish in 2015? Just to play shows. I already have 2015 booked. I’ve already accomplished it. I’ve already exceeded my goals. In 2013, I got to play Warped Tour for one day and it was the greatest day of my life. This year, I played the whole tour. That was beyond anything I expected or would have asked for. Nothing else can happen that will make me feel any better than I do now.
What are your favorite career firsts and best moments from 2014? This year has been crazy. I try to stay humble and I try to expect nothing from anyone. I remember when I played Bled Fest in Michigan, and I had to play the small room while The Menzingers played the larger room. I expected not to
PHOTOGRAPHY BY REBECCA REED
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hen you first read the bio for UltraMantis Black, they sound like a costume hardcore band in the vein of GWAR or Ghoul. Their album cover features a wrestler in full mask, cape, and spandex, facing down a hunter in the woods. But UltraMantis Black IS a wrestler. He sweats, growls, and screams, whether punishing his opponents in the ring or fronting the band’s intense live show. There’s a surprising amount of overlap between the two endeavors. “The Great and Devious UltraMantis Black has already perfected his craft in the professional wrestling ring,” he explains. “Although I continue on that path, it became necessary to deliver the doctrine of UltraMantis Black and the Spectral Envoy of the Final Judgment to a new audience through a different medium. This is what I seek to do through a calculated articulation of aural terrorism.” When asked why he is driven to conquer, UlraMantis Black replies, “Why Not?” This 39- year old man has flexed his 25-year-vegan fueled muscles for crowds in South America, North America, and “select regions of Europe.” But when asked about his birthplace, UMB responds with the enigmatic, “parts unknown.” He wrestles for Chikara, a DIY wrestling league described by UMB with the analogy that “WWE [is] Sony and Chikara [is] Dischord. We operate outside the realm of the mainstream professional wrestling machine.”
fronting a band will place on his vocal chords? “No,” he dismisses the question. “I regularly utilize my voice in this manner within the wrestling ring. I believe it is crucial to express all emotion and feeling in a guttural manner.” UltraMantis Black’s music is gnarly crust grindcore and slow doomy noise that rips the shit out of every molecule in earshot. Having done time in sonic outcasts like Pissed Jeans, Trial, Pilgrim Fetus, Creem, McRad, Merring, Goatsnake, and the Mandarin Orange, the band’s members excel at volume, speed, and fury. With this kind of lineup, it is no shock that Relapse quickly snagged the band. UMB sees Relapse as coconspirator, convinced that “the label was attracted to the declarations of war declared by UltraMantis Black, and to the principles of The Spectral Envoy of the Final Judgment, and thus, was eager to collaborate.”
UltraMantis Black.” Of recording, he explains, “The record was recorded in three hours with an additional two and a half hours to mix.” No approach could be more fitting. The songs are short bursts of drudging riffs split into nine tracks and over in one premature 13 minute spasm. There is sludge, power violence, indie noise, metal, hardcore, dbeat, and punk all brawl to
One would hope that UltraMantis Black would not pushed aside and disregarded as a gimmick, but that scenario seems possible. Why doesn’t UMB take off his mask and deliver his messages directly? UMB finds this notion deeply erroneous: “There was no discussion of performing in any manner other than as myself. The mask is part of my identity. It helps define the Great and Devious
triumphantly dominate one another. Black Flag, Melvins, and The Jesus Lizard construct the foundation of UltraMantis Black as much as Infest, Void, or Napalm Death. The urgency of the musical destruction reflects that of the lyrics, and their demand for immediate action to defend the earth and our species’ humanity. This is no act. “All members of the UltraMantis cadre are committed to the animals and the earth.” Thanks to song titles such as “Earth War,” “Oil and Gas,” and “BioMonster DNA,” that is obvious. The inclusion of the track “Prescription Culture” begs the question of whether UMB sees taking medication as a weakness. He clarifies, “I believe we are all manipulated by an industry that is guided only by profit, under the guise of something that purports to have cures, remedies, and fixes to what we perceive to be physical and mental sickness and shortcomings. Medicine itself is not inherently bad; it is today’s culture of pharmaceuticals [that is bad].” Not only is UMB a wrestler and a musician, he is clearly also an activist. He agrees “without a doubt. There is a time for protest just as there is a time for confrontation and direct action. Not all of us need to approach our activism in the same identical manner. It is always best for the individual to look inward to examine [his or her] own ethical compass and course of action. As our planet edges closer to peril however, the need for a more aggressive stance in defense of animals and nature becomes more crucial.”
D o e s UMB worry about t h e extra strain
ULTRA MANTIS BLACK
INTERVIEW WITH PRO WRESTLER/FRONTMAN ULTRAMANTIS BLACK BY HUTCH
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I N T E RV I E W WI T H VO CALI ST MIKEY CA RVA J A L B Y MORG A N Y. EVA NS
ince Islander’s full-length Victory Records debut Violence & Destruction dropped, the hard rock world has been catching on to their genius. Things have been moving so fast for the nu-metal/ hardcore fusion band that it is high time to check back in with vocalist Mikey Carvajal.
band, and I think that is the case for us, for sure. We just take one day at a time and try not to let any of this get to our heads. I’ve seen some horror stories about bands turning into monsters, and I never want to do that. I never want to be a rock star.
You’ve been tapped to play the Papa Roach, Seether, and Kyng tour? How does it feel? It feels crazy. [Frontman] Jacoby [Shaddix] is a fan of Islander and hit me up about going on tour with them. I was humbled, really. I grew up jamming those dudes and seeing their videos on MTV when they used to play music videos. We really can’t wait to get to know all the bands and have a great tour. Everyone brings something cool to the table, so it’s going to be a fun one.
It looks like you became good bros with Korn at Mayhem Festival this year. Any highlights? Mayhem was amazing for us. It was our first major tour, so to have Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Body Count, and others watching our set was amazing. The Korn guys are great. I grew up listening to them, so to end the tour with my own bunk on their bus was hilarious. Truthfully, though – even beyond the music – some of those guys have become some of my best friends. I’ve felt nothing but love from them since day one.
Has it been a surprise seeing the band blow up more since “Coconut Dracula” started to catch on? Or did you expect it after all of your hard work? I think it’s a bit of both. I am just grateful that people are enjoying it as much as we do. I’ve always heard that when your band is getting more well known, it doesn’t seem like it to the
Many are saying you are the best band spearheading the nu-metal revival. Do you feel any pressure? We don’t claim to be anything but a rock band. We just play the music that we want to hear, and don’t concern ourselves with what is “happening,” or what is trendy. I grew up listening to Zao, Bad Brains, Depeche Mode, Joy Electric… All types of stuff. We will
continue writing the music we want to hear regardless of what trends come along. This world is so fickle. I try my best not to concern myself with those types of things. But truthfully, any compliment people want to give us is greatly appreciated. That vibe may be why people are digging you. Any new song ideas you’ve been kickin’ around or are you too busy supporting the current record? I’m always writing. I’m always recording voice memos on my phone with melodies, or writing lyrics on my notepad in my phone. I try to write often so that I have a lot to work with. How did you get Victory Records to make you tie-dye t-shirts for merch? [Laughs] They actually sent the idea over to us for approval, and we were
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totally down. It’s an online exclusive right now. How has your relationship with the label grown since the release of Violence & Destruction? It’s grown tons. We try to keep them in the loop with everything we have going on while on tour so that we can all work together to the best of our ability. We have a team of people who believe in the record, so it’s been awesome seeing the passion they have for the record. Do you remember the first rap song that really made an impact on you? Easy. “Innn West Philadelphia, born and raised…!” [Laughs] “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song is, for sure, the first one that comes to mind.
CAvALERA CONSPIRACY I N T E R V I E W W I T H V O C A L I S T M A X C AVA L E R A B Y E R I C M AY
It’s definitely unusual to open an interview with a review, but in the case of Cavalera Conspiracy’s latest album, Pandemonium, it simply cannot be helped. It’s definitely the heaviest thing that we’ve heard from these guys in years and shows that they can rip it up just like back in the old days. Vocalist and guitarist Max Cavalera (Killer Be Killed, Soulfly, ex-Nailbomb) speaks about the punishing new album and their desire to play faster material again, as well as some of the album’s lyrical constructs. How is the new album different from your debut? It’s faster, in the spirit of old school and death metal mixed with new influences from today’s great metal bands, like Aborted, Nails, Pulling Teeth, Hatred Surge, Full of Hell, etc. This record seems even heavier than Savages, one of the heaviest Soulfly albums ever recorded. Was that the goal for Pandemonium to release the heaviest fucking thing possible? I wanted to play fast with [brother and drummer] Igor [Cavalera] again. I love when we play the faster classics like “Arise,” “Beneath the Remains,” and “Infected Voice,” as well as the stuff that we’ve done in Nailbomb. What is the lyrical focus of the album? I mostly wanted to focus on the brutality of the world today. That is why it is called Pandemonium. The lyrics are wide and range from topic to topic. I wrote about everything from Japanese kamikaze pilots to the witches of Salem. It’s some pretty wild stuff. What can fans expect from the two bonus tracks? Why didn’t they make the cut? They are more experimental songs. For example, “Porra” is a tribal jam session that turns into a song, but we felt that it didn’t fit the rest of the record, which is
comprised of much faster material. Soulfly went through a very spiritual period with 3 and Prophecy, but material has become darker. Why did this change occur? The lyrics have to match the music, so the harder the music got, the heavier the lyrics got. It’s a natural process. I am still spiritual, but I like to write about all different kinds of things and not just one topic. What are your favorite records of all time, regardless of genre? Some of my favorite records are: Aborted’s Necrotic Manifest, Discharge’s Why EP, Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales, and Cattle Decapitation’s Monolith of Inhumanity. The world seems really chaotic right now. Is this the beginning of the end? I think we are in the Armageddon, the apocalypse, all that shit. The world is crazy about shit right now, but it’s good for writing heavy stuff. The more fucked the world gets, the better music we get. What do you do when you’re not playing music? We’re pretty mellow. I do a lot of painting and reading books, especially biographies. I also like classic movies, like “Clockwork Orange,” “Apocalypse Now,” and “Dr. Zhivago.” Gene Simmons declared rock music to be dead because of piracy. What is your opinion of the digital age? I think rock will never die, just like metal will never die. Maybe there will be less millionaire rock stars, but that’s a good thing, isn’t it? As for free music, what can we do? The genie is already out of the bottle. You have to keep up with the times, go on tour, and survive from playing shows and selling t-shirts. Amen to that!
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST/VOCALIST STEVE DIGGLE BY DEREK SCANCARELLI
n 1977, rock music changed forever with the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Fewer than five months later, Buzzcocks added their debut fulllength record to the foundation of punk rock in England and around the world. Decades later, the band is back with their first studio album in eight years. Original member, guitarist and vocalist Steve Diggle lets us know that he’s still got punk in his heart, even as he approaches the age of 60. If need be, he’ll have no problem taking on a gang of indie kids. The Way comes out completely in eight days. Your last release was in 2006. Why the eight year gap between albums? Why did 2014 feel right? It took eight years to record The Way because we have been busy touring the world, and each year we were going to record, something got in the way. However, in 2014, it worked, and the album feels right. This year, it’s moving for-
ward and not looking back! During that gap of time, what kept you busy? During the [Buzzcocks’] recording gap, I have recorded three solo albums: Some Reality, Serious Contender, and Air Conditioning. So, I have been very busy on the recording front. I have really enjoyed doing those albums, and they sound a bit different than Buzzcocks, but rather have a great Steve Diggle sound. I still enjoy writing and exploring. Another Music in a Different Kitchen came out in 1978. How is writing music for the Buzzcocks different now vs. then? Writing now is writing in space and time, as to where you are in life. As the world changes, you absorb [it] and it affects who you are as a person. That, in turn, affects how you write in the here and now. For instance, I don’t think I could have written the track “Third Dimension” years ago. It could only have
been written in 2014. It’s only now that I can see and feel that song. What was your favorite part about recording this album? I love working in the studio, seeing the ideas and little song demos come to life. Coming up with riffs and vocal ideas on the spur of the moment. It’s the element of the unknown and finding the magic. What was the best part of playing all three Riot Fests on your U.S. tour in September? Riot Fest was such a great time. The atmosphere of the people was great. I would do Riot Fest anytime. It’s important to have events like that: live music with live people. That’s what it’s all about. Rock ‘n’ roll! The video for “It’s Not You” matches the record’s artwork. I’m guessing that was on purpose? We tried to make it like we had just stepped off the album cover [laughs].
faith in today’s punk youth? Punk is about attitude, a way of seeing, thinking, and believing. I still have faith in the punk youth. You have to find the faith within yourself, then it works through the music. It comes in peaks and troughs. Nothing stays constant in life, so you gotta surf the emotional waves. Is it exhausting playing crazy punk shows after all these years? Buzzcocks shows have a lot of energy. So it’s going to be exhausting! But that’s the name of the game. I have the strength of 10 indie kids [laughs]. What can we expect to see from you in the future? More great gigs, and maybe more new music. Me, personally, I will be doing my fourth solo album. The future is going to get even better.
What do you think about the current state of punk music? Do you have
PHOTOGRAPHY BY YUKI KUROYANAG
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW SWARTZ
RESTORATIONS INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST DAVID KLYMAN BY TYLER GIBSON
o one can shut the fuck up about Restorations, and it’s easy to see why. These dudes make music as hard to define as it is captivating. Guitarist David Klyman catches us up on their newest album, LP3 – released Oct. 28, through SideOneDummy – and their hometown of Philadelphia’s punk and indie rock sovereignty. If you Google “Restorations,” your band is always directly under Restoration Hardware. Do you have any beef with the upscale furniture giant, or has this battle for Search Engine Optimization supremacy turned into mutual respect? I very much doubt Restoration Hardware is even aware that their reign as Google SEO champs is under fire. Maybe answering this question will blow our glacial-speed-moving element of surprise. Haven’t checked Bing; maybe we’re hotter on their heels on that one? But that heat might melt the glacier? Hmm… You’ve given me a lot to think about. At least if you start typing “Restor…” it’ll usually give you our band as a few different autofill options. They might be on top, but we’re more diversified. Speaking of diversification, is the weightier songwriting and production on LP3 due to the fat stacks from SideOneDummy, or your own natural progression? Can’t it be both? We certainly wouldn’t have had the same opportunities if not for SideOne. I’m pretty sure I recall there being a solid gold toilet at their
H.Q. in L.A. The other wonderful thing about them is that they turn us loose and just say, “We trust you, give us the best record you got!” Whether that trust is well founded or not is for the listener to decide. I hesitate to use the phrase “artistic freedom,” but here we are. Natural progression was definitely a big part of the writing and recording process. We’ve come to understand who, what, and where each of us exists in the band, and I’d like to think the organic approach comes across in not just the songs, but the sequencing and production as well. Enter: Miner Street Studios and our man behind the board, Jon Low (Twin Sister, The Menzingers, The National). Low has been our go-to producer and engineer since he mixed our first full-length about a billion years ago. I wouldn’t trade our trust and rapport for a solid gold toilet. He’s been consistently making us sound way bigger and better than we have any right to sound. Does being tight with your producer allow you to be more honest in the studio? It allows for a deeper level of honesty. We’ve all been doing this long enough that, for instance, if Low says, “Hey, that wasn’t good enough; do it again,” it’s not taken personally. Similarly, he knows that though his opinion is very highly valued, it’s still our record and our final call on sound and performance. It’s a more productive way to work if you can set your ego aside for the sake of the project. There are many situations in which you shouldn’t mix money and friendship. For us, this isn’t one of them.
The album is going to be on tons of year-end best-of lists, but is there a specific song that gets you, personally, super pumped? The end of “Separate Songs” gets me every time. [Guitarist and vocalist] Jon [Loudon]’s and [bassist and vocalist] Dan [Zimmerman]’s harmonizing is exactly what those lyrics need. “Imagine that focus in real life/Imagine going outside/Imagine not waiting for something to come along.” For me, personally, it means a lot. Like, “Hey, feeling depressed or antagonized? How about you stop wallowing in self-pity and start setting up the steps to fix the situation, you big, dumb whiner.” We recently covered ten or so bands from Philly that played The Fest. Is Philadelphia an important part of who you are as a band? How do you feel about the current musical frenzy in your town? Hometown influence on writing is unavoidable. It’s not always conscious, but it’s always present. It just depends what you take and make of it, how reactionary you become. Philly is a part of who we are, not just fodder for writing, music, and art. The Philly music scene has been forging diamonds for years now. For every band that’s receiving more widespread attention, there are so many others just as deserving. And that’s not to say the bands in the spotlight don’t deserve it as much, everyone does! There’s just a finite amount of attention span out there. Regardless, I’m confident that Philly’s spot on the musical map isn’t going anywhere but up for the
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foreseeable future. Any final musings, anecdotes, shout outs, or fuck yous? It’s 4:22 a.m. We played Pre-Fest four and a half hours ago, and I can’t seem to put myself to sleep. I can’t tell if it’s another bout with low-grade insomnia, generalized anxiety, or perhaps I simply can’t stop the flow of adrenaline from the show. Right now, there are other places I could be. Right now, there are people far from here that I’m thinking about a lot. Right now, hey, it’s your tomorrow. It’s now 4:38 a.m. and, despite those places and people, I’m in Ybor City, Fl. I’m on tour with some of my best friends, pursuing my strongest, clearest passion. There’s no time and place I’d rather be. I can only hope that those places and people can understand that, because this is what I do and I don’t plan to stop.
DIARRHEA PLANET INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST/VOCALIST JORDAN SMITH BY DUSTIN VERBURG
iarrhea Planet is a sixpiece punk rock band from Nashville, Tenn. They combine catchy pop punk melodies with a serious amount of expertly layered guitar heroics. They just got off a tour with JEFF the Brotherhood and Those Darlins, and their new EP, Aliens in the Outfield, just came out on Infinity Cat Recordings. So, tell us about recording your new EP, Aliens in the Outfield. The actual tracks were tracked at Black River Entertainment. It’s a big studio that Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert usually record at. It’s one of the biggest studios in Nashville. We recorded in the side that has a big, open room. We got a great drum sound from that room. The recording process was pretty easy. We recorded for two or three days, and knocked everything out then. It was really fun, and everyone we worked with really knew what they were doing. It was the first time we really got into a real studio in Nashville, and it was us pulling together a team of people we wanted to work with in our city. We’re
going to do our next LP in Nashville as well, probably with the same people. And there’s a surprise on the vinyl. If you get the vinyl, don’t pick up the needle after the record’s done! “Peg Daddy” is a pretty long song and it’s a little different, but it seems like it’ll fit seamlessly into your live shows… That song was a different approach for me with songwriting. I was thinking about my family a lot when I was writing this song, sound-wise. I was thinking about my mom and dad, the music they listen to, and my sister and her husband, what they listen to. I’m the only person in my family who’s super into digging through music and finding small things and underground music. No one else in my family listens to anything other than the bigger acts on the radio. So, I wrote this song with the mindset of making a song that would reach someone who only listens to stuff that’s on the radio. I wanted to write something that would be accessible to a lot of people, so a lot of people would be able to relate to the emotions behind it, and not be like,
“What’s this weirdo band?”
I also wrote the song with a lot more space in the instrumentation: bigger chords, open chords. My all time favorite band is Smashing Pumpkins, and the intro to that song is inspired by the song “Mayonnaise,” which has always been one of my favorite Pumpkins tunes. I want to write a song with a smooth, soft intro kind of like that. In terms of the lyrics, it was a really rough month for me when I wrote that song. That was my first attempt in several years at having a romantic relationship with somebody, and it kind of went badly quick. So that song was written about the state of my life that month, but with the classic [Diarrhea Planet] “gotta keep movin’ forward” feel. How was your tour with JEFF the Brotherhood and Those Darlins? Someone did a pictorial tour diary, right? It’s crazy how well “Peg Daddy” matches us with the photos… It was phenomenal. We got to have Pooneh Ghana – who is arguably one of the best live music photographers in the world – come out with us. She’s
phenomenal. It was really fun having her; she rode in our van the whole tour. She’s a really awesome person. She was born to be on the road. She knows how to rough it and we really enjoyed having her around. She’s got a great attitude, and a great heart, too. My absolute two favorite bands to tour with are JEFF the Brotherhood and Future Birds. So it was really fun getting to be with really close friends on tour, because it kind of makes you feel like you’re at home every night. Great turnouts, people were showing up ready and hungry for the music. It was very epic, a very fun tour. We played a lot of small towns, too. Those shows were awesome. There were a lot of rowdy crowds, people who were just stoked to have us show up. We felt really welcome. It was a very easy tour. What do you have coming up? We have this EP coming out on November 18, and then we’re taking a break from hard touring. We’re taking off three and a half months to write and record the album. It’s exciting to me, because it’s the first time that we’ve had in the last few years to sit down purposefully to write a record that sounds cohesive the whole way through. It’s not going to be just a collection of songs, it’s actually going to be more planned out and methodical in regards to the listening experience. I’m stoked!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY WRENNE EVANS
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST DAVE HUNT AKA V.I.T.R.I.O.L. BY JAMES ALVARE Z
naal Nathrakh have been churning out chaotic slabs of electronic and grindcore infused black metal since the new millennium. Songwriter and producer Mick Kenney and vocalist and philosophe Dave Hunt – a dynamic duo of sonic malevolence – have crafted some of the wickedest – see the title track of In the Constellation of the Black Widow – and most infectious – check anything off of Eschaton – tunes in all of extreme metal. Their newest album Desideratum marks their Metal Blade Records debut and finds the band exploring new elements in their alwaysabrasive wall of sound. Desideratum means “something desired or essential.” What is desirable or essential for Anaal Nathrakh? The title isn’t really anything to do with what we want. It’s more to do with thinking about what a desire is. It’s a lack. Anyone who desires or even requires something lacks that thing. [It] makes me wonder why deities want praise. Attaining something which is desired destroys both the desire and part of the significance of the thing which had been desired. Society nowadays is, in large part, a system for the manipulation of desires. By whom? To what end? What do your desires matter when eventually your only desire will likely be for one more day, one more breath, to see it rain one more time? That’s the sort of thing I was thinking about when I chose the title.
You’ve mentioned an Anaal Nathrakh “formula” for a sound that fits the band’s vibe or ethos. We’re just interested in what we’re working on at the time, and making it an album that we think is fucking brilliant. That’s not really egotistical, it’s what anyone should be thinking when they make an album, surely? We do have a good idea what we’re doing and how to achieve what we have in mind now, but that doesn’t mean we can do it without thinking. Definitely not a case of “just tweak the settings from last time.” So there’s not so much a formula, as [there is] a lot of hard fucking work. The album’s instrumental opener reveals a strong electronic influence on this record. How important is that element to the band’s signature sound? Yeah, we wanted to take that stuff up a notch on this album, so we worked with a guy called Gore Tech. He’s a fan of Anaal Nathrakh, but spends his time making electronic music. Mick sent him an early version of a load of material, and he recorded a load of electronic stuff to go with it. I don’t think it’s vital to our sound, but one thing we think sounds right and aim for is to have a lot going on, different sounds and different textures and so on. Our albums tend to be dense in a way that can take a few listens to start to hear properly, [and] the electronic stuff is another weapon in that arsenal. So yes, we’ll use things like that to spice things up, as well as weird effects and so
ANAAL NATHRAKH on. The overall feeling of music is what we’re interested in, rather than being purists about anything. If it helps us achieve the “AAARGH!” feeling we’re after, we’ll use it, whatever it is. Your performance on the new record is a veritable master class of extreme metal vocals, featuring both agonizing shrieks and soaring operatic vocals. What’s it like mapping and locking these parts down? It’s purely a matter of reacting to the music. The rage, I bring in through the door with me by default. A lot of the vocals are first takes, and I usually haven’t heard the songs very much or at all before we record. We like that immediacy, that gut reaction, and over refining things detracts from it in a way that I think affects what you hear in the final mix. It means that recording can be pretty intense, but that’s a good thing. What’s the point of sounding like you’re going mad when you’re really just pretending and making an odd noise? It’s also intense in an intellectual way too; for all the spontaneity, it’s not a matter of making up any old shit. It all has to fit the thematic direction and be good enough in its own right as well. Much has been said about Mick’s writing and production style. The riffs, the inhuman drum programming, those high-flying melodies… Does he have a rich musical background or just pull it out of thin air? More the latter, but not to the exclusion
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of the former, if that makes sense. Yes, he had a lot of musical input growing up, but he’s not been taught composition formally or anything like that. So yes, to a large extent, he’s pulling it out of thin air. He has a capacity to take a sensation or a state of mind and make music out of it. If he wants to write something that sounds like x, y, or z, he just does it. It’s not really a matter of being influenced by anything in particular, it’s a direct process. “Instinctive” is probably the best word for it.
What inspired the deal with Metal Blade Records? Was there pressure to make your label debut extra wild? No, there was no input from the label into the music at all. Sony or whoever might do things like that, but I’ve never heard of Metal Blade doing it. No label would get very far with us if they tried. We were in a position to either re-sign with the same label or take a look around. We’re naturally quite inquisitive, so we spoke to a few new labels and, of those we spoke to, Metal Blade seemed to make most sense. They didn’t offer us more money or anything, they just have a bigger level of organisation, while at the same time having a core of extreme metal. So we figured they could do a good job getting our stuff out. So far, they’ve been good to work with and we’re optimistic about how things will go with them in the future. It lets us concentrate on what’s actually important to us, which is the music itself.
CIRCA SURVIVE by Brittany Moseley
escensus: the process of descending or prolapsing. The term is usually reserved for the medical field and refers to “the falling down or slipping of a body part from its usual position.” But the first half of the definition – the process of descending – sounds more ominous, especially when plastered in all caps across an album, in this case Circa Survive’s fifth record. It may very well lead some savvy listeners to ask, “Is this the end of Circa?” Not too long ago, the five men of Circa Survive – vocalist Anthony Green, guitarists Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom, bassist Nick Beard, and drummer Steve Clifford – were wondering the same thing. In early 2012, as they were wrapping production on their fourth album Violent Waves, Green began using heroin, unbeknownst to his bandmates and family. The singer has been open about his drug use in the past – pills, weed, binge drinking – but this was far more serious. “I was trying to balance being on tour and
being a dad, and I didn’t do it the right way,” Green recalls. “I developed some incredibly bad habits, and before I knew it, I found myself not being able to go eight hours without heroin. I would supplement it with painkillers when I had to, but my tolerance had never been so high. I could eat seven or eight Vicodin, and it would barely be getting me to a level of where I felt normal. I was getting violently sick if I didn’t have strong opiates in my system. It got completely out of hand for a while.” He emphasizes the last few words. “It was a total shock to me,” Frangicetto admits. “I’ve been around people who take opiates and they dip out and I can see a sign of sleepiness to them, but that’s really the only giveaway you get with heroin users. For the most part, especially ones like Anthony who are functional addicts, you can’t tell because they’re doing enough just to stay normal. They’re doing it so they don’t go into withdrawal. Maybe they get a little moody, but Anthony’s always been moody. He may act a little erratic or crazy, but that’s clearly Anthony’s personality anyway. This deep in our friendship, I had no reason to ever ques-
tion him, because in a lot of ways Anthony has his shit together more than I do. I was just coming out of a divorce. I had all kinds of other shit happening in my life. Every time I saw Anthony, he was with his wife and two kids, and was super-happy and a really great dad.” Eventually, Green told his family and bandmates about his drug problem and checked himself into rehab. While he was going through treatment, the rest of Circa tried to figure out what would be next for the band. They scheduled studio time and planned to have the majority of the album demoed before they went in, but life got in the way. On top of Green’s drug addiction, a couple of the guys were dealing with divorce, and they were all dealing with a bit of the seven-year itch, or in their case the 10-year itch.. “It potentially felt like the end of the band in a way,” Beard says of that time. “It started to feel like nobody had enough time anymore to get together. It felt like nobody was really driving it anymore. Somebody is always pushing for something, and I think we had a long time
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off period and everybody did their own thing for a while, and it was difficult to get everyone motivated again.” But someone did get them motivated again. “I think it was Colin who basically gave thwcve classic football halftime speech,” Beard says. Frangicetto chuckles. He remembers the speech. “We were going back and forth on the best way to handle our situation and figuring out how to move forward,” he says. “All the sudden, it dawned on me: I think what we needed the most was to get in front of each other and be outside of our habitat. I said the best thing we can do is go into the studio with nothing, and sit down every day, and hang and be friends. The time is booked, so let’s just go in and see what happens, and if it winds up us just sitting for nine hours a day, then that’s what we’ll do.” So, that’s what they did. After 10 years, four albums, and countless miles logged on the road, Circa Survive decided to stop worrying about the future. They decided to just hang out and be friends
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATALIE BISIGNANO
again. If they happened to write a song or two, great, but that was at the very back of their minds. “I was very nervous to be diving into acting like a band again without really knowing how Anthony was doing,” Frangicetto recalls. “I did not want to make the classic mistake of, ‘He’s all good, and he’s out of rehab. Let’s just get back to it.’ My worst nightmare was finding Anthony dead in his bunk. I was very much in the mindset of, ‘I am ready to go in there and burn this entire budget and not do a goddamn thing if that’s what it comes down to. I will be completely okay if I just see my friend and he’s alive and he’s okay, and we all make the right decisions together.’”
tic page. The last couple years have been hard, and they’re ready to exorcise some demons. “After everyone went through some very hard shit recently, it felt good to play some of these more aggressive songs, especially for me. I crave that every once in a while,” Ekstrom says. “Anthony has always been extremely prolific as far as finding something that can relate to the masses, but also to us. It’s extremely personal to listen to some of these songs… The fact that he can do that for me just makes it even more important, and makes me want to be a part of it even more.” Clifford agrees, adding, “Every aspect of the band is in a place where I just dreamed it would always be. I know all these guys. I know what everyone’s capable of. Every kind of song that’s on the record is a song that more than one of us has said, ‘We need to have a song like that.’ It’s our fifth record. We know who we are. We know what we’re good at. We know what each other’s qualities are.”
Of course – as tends to happen when five musicians get in a studio – they did start writing songs together. Looking back on the process now, the five of them are in agreement: the weeks they spent recording Descensus was the best time they’ve ever had in the studio together, and it was something all of them needed. By throwing all expectations out the door, Circa Survive ended up writing what they all say is their best album to date. The majority of Descensus – once again helmed by producer Will Yip – was written and recorded in the studio, a first for the band. It’s also the first album Green has written completely sober – he even stopped smoking cigarettes – since Saosin’s 2003 EP Translating the Name. His vision is no doubt clearer, and it comes across on the record. Whether it’s loud and chaotic – “Schema” – trippy and indecisive – “Always Begin” – or vulnerable and dejected – “Nesting Dolls” – Green is finally comfortable laying out the entire truth. “It wasn’t like the past couple Circa records where we overanalyzed songs for months before we left the studio. Everything was fresh and exciting, and it gave us this newfound feeling of elation that we could continue writing together and the band wasn’t going to self-destruct,” he explains. “It gave me something to focus on that was positive. That was the thing that’s really been the difference in my life: being sober and dealing with life in a way that [I’m] actually dealing with it, and [I’m] not trying to hide from everything. I think it’s made me a better person.”
Green has been clean for nine months, and in September, he and his wife welcomed their third child, a baby boy named William. The band is currently on tour with Title Fight and Pianos Become the Teeth, which will keep them busy until mid-December. In their 10th year, Circa Survive are in a much healthier place, both as individuals, as friends, and as a band. But there’s still the issue of that ominous album title. “The final lyric of the record is, ‘We mustn’t let this die,’ and I feel like that might be the glimmer of hope, just realizing we can’t let go of this,” Green explains. “As ominous as the title and some of the songs might project, I never meant to do that; it was just a reflection of what was going on in our lives. We know that there’s something really important to hold on to there.”
It’s no doubt made Circa Survive – a group who have reinvented their sound with each album, jumping between postrock, psychedelic and prog, constantly challenging listeners to keep up – a better band. Descensus is the sound of a band on the same page: a loud, aggressive, cathar-
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I NTE RVI E W W ITH VOCA LIST J OEY CA PE B Y RYA N B RAY
agwagon aren’t a band to be rushed into things, at least not anymore. That wasn’t always the case, of course. In the mid to late ‘90s, when pop punk was scraping the ceiling of its popularity, the long running Santa Barbara punks put out records hand over fist without so much as coming up for air. In the six year period between the thrashy raucousness of Duh in 1992 and the more melodic, but no less infectious Let’s Talk About Feelings in 1998, they released five records on top of incessant touring. But over the course of 25 years together, they’ve become a band that’s learned
how to operate on its own clock, even if that means letting the weeks turn into months, and those months turn into years between records. “I can’t write a record for my band if it’s forced,” says frontman Joey Cape, just a few weeks shy of the release of Hang, his band’s eighth studio record. “We’ve tried it. There’s been a couple of failed attempts over the years. But it’s an interesting thing when you do that. You end up with a thing that has sort of a lackluster sound to it. I think a lot of bands do that, and they either don’t recognize that it sounds that way or they just don’t care. In the case of my band, we’ve always been that way. It’s just the norm for us. It’s like, ‘Eh, we could write some songs, but what is it that we want
to do?’” It’s been nine years, in fact, since the release of Resolve, a comparatively weightier, more emotional record informed by the death of former drummer Derrick Plourde, who committed suicide just months before the record’s release in 2005. Like its predecessor, Hang is marked by slower tempos, heavier tunes that lean more toward metal than punk, and overall more serious emotional themes that dispense with the kind of jocularity that helped define the band’s earlier output. Take opening track “Burden of Proof,” which finds Cape opening a vein over an acoustic guitar before launching into the band’s frenetic, mile a minute punk sound, or “Made of Broken Parts,” which layers a Greg Ginnlike guitar line over a mid tempo pop punk foundation. Then there’s “A Cog in the Machine,” which retreats into riff-heavy metal territory more deliberately than anything the band has ever attempted before. That might sound like an older, wiser, more mature Lagwagon coming out to play, a far cry from the band that built its name in part on loveably silly songs
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about shaving – “Razor Burn” – and getting shitfaced on the road – “Going South” – but is it really? Haven’t Lagwagon always written pop punk tunes that – while undoubtedly catchy – ebbed more on the darker side of things than many of their contemporaries? “Alien 8” is a rip roaring set starter if ever there was one, and it’s been a staple of the band’s live set for years, but the lyrics are quite serious, “Do you ever stop to listen?/Are you a martyr for your pride?/Does it make you feel much better/When you are an alien?” “I think there’s a slight misconception with our band, and it’s entirely our fault,” Cape says. “We have been a band, up until recent years, that has always had one or two silly songs on our records. A lot of those songs tend to be songs that people want to hear live. It didn’t help our cause. It didn’t help me as a songwriter, I’ll tell you that. But I know this: if you go back and listen to the songs and go through the catalog, there’s maybe 12 songs like that. The rest of it is angry or dark or whatever.” Right or wrong, fairly or unfairly, Lag-
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAN SNODGRASS
wagon have always been tagged with the pop punk label. And while that’s selling the band a bit short given the songwriting depth Cape has brought to even the most lighthearted and energetic Lagwagon songs over the years, it’s also not entirely inaccurate. Duh, Trashed, Hoss, and Double Plaidinum are undeniably the stuff on which an entire generation of punk enthusiasts was raised. Add in the band’s long running association with indie punk powerhouse Fat Wreck Chords, and it’s not hard to see why perception has a way of trumping reality. “I don’t have any regrets,” Cape is careful to point out. “I feel so fortunate that anyone at all has cared about anything we’ve done. I wouldn’t want for a second to sound ungrateful.” Cape has put in a lot of time playing solo outside of Lagwagon in recent years, something which has helped break the band out of the sometimes limiting expectations of fans and critics. As the band kept busy on the road despite its studio hiatus, Cape also managed to carve out some extra time to build up
his songwriting muscle. He’s released two solo records – 2008’s Bridge and 2011’s Doesn’t Play Well With Others – collaborated with the late Tony Sly and Drag the River’s Jon Snodgrass, and recorded electric versions of his own acoustic songs with Joey Cape’s Bad Loud. The recordings gave Cape’s singer/ songwriter tendencies a little extra room to breathe. “I think of all the millions of photos we used to do that were really silly, the album covers, and the silly songs, and they were super fun,” he says of Lagwagon’s early years. “It was great. But as a songwriter, you want to be taken seriously. I’ve done a lot of records in my life now, on most of which the music has been very, very serious. People who know me and the music I’ve made over the years, they don’t come up to me and say, ‘I love your band, they’re so fun.’ They say, ‘You know, that song you wrote, I’ve been going through some stuff with this family member of mine, and that song helped get me through.’ That’s what I hear.” Cape says it was on a tour in support
of Lagwagon’s box set a few years back that the band got bit with the urge to get back in the studio to put together the pieces of what would become Hang. Cape brought his own lyrics and music to the record as per usual, but what separates the making of Hang from that of other Lagwagon albums is that it was a full-band affair. Guitarists Chris Flippin and Chris Rest, drummer Dave Raun, and bassist Joe Raposo each had a part to play in working out the songs’ arrangements, and the collaborative nature of the record made it one of their most diverse. Hang’s metal leanings and eclectic sounds might surprise some longtime fans, but not Cape. Instead, he sees it as getting back to the core of the band’s musical foundation, the sounds that inspired its individual members from day one. “I never considered our band to be a punk band,” he says. “I think we’re inspired by both punk bands and metal bands. A song like ‘Cog in the Machine,’ I don’t think that’s much of a stretch for us. You just get braver, and you do what you want to do, period.”
“I feel like we’ve always done that, but over the years, we’ve gotten better at it,” Cape adds. “This was a record that was put together by the whole band. Everyone in the band loves the record because we made it together. I wrote the lyrics and most of the music, but I brought the songs to the band in the state where they were able to do huge things with the arrangements. Because of that, it kind of sounds more like the heart of the band. In that sense, this might be the most Lagwagon-esque record we’ve ever made. It’s a success for me already, no matter how it’s seen and heard.”
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I N T E RV I EW WI T H VO CALI ST/ B A SSIST CJ RA MON E B Y J A N ELLE J ONES
n Veteran’s Day – two days after he got back from playing Japan – former Ramones bassist and Marine Corps vet CJ Ramone answered a few questions about his current outfit, which also includes the Adolescents’ Steve Soto and Dan Root on guitar, and Social Distortion’s David Hidalgo Jr. on drums. The band’s latest album, Last Chance to Dance, incorporates all the goodness that made The Ramones so great, vacillating between tough, aggressive songs and poppier tracks. Who’d you have playing with you in Japan? I have Steve Soto and Dan Root, and this time I brought a friend of mine, Joe Rizzo. He plays with Walter Lure’s band [The Waldos], but he’s played with just about everybody who’s ever been big in NYC. We had five shows and every one of them was unbelievable. I started playing out again in 2008, and slowly started making my way around the world again. I released my last record Reconquista through a Crowdfunding site. I’ve kept it under the radar for a while, but this year, we got signed to Fat Wreck Chords, so we’re starting to make a little bit of
noise now. But we’ve been really lucky. Every year, without advertising, we’ve gotten more and more offers. We’ve [played multiple times] in Brazil, South America, Europe. I’m doing a show in Munster, Germany, with a band called The Donots. I may do a show at The Ramones Museum [in] Berlin, but that’s not a definite. Why revisit The Ramones’ material? Since the Ramones retired, all the books that came out, there was a lot of negativity in them. I felt they weren’t being represented well. I figured the best thing to do was to go out and start playing their music again, and remind everybody about what made them great and take the legacy back. There’s been a lot made of Joey and Johnny’s relationship, but I always tell people it’s like a family. Sometimes you get along, sometimes you don’t. Johnny and Joey had other issues, but they understood that The Ramones were important. They always considered the band and their careers first. This song from the record, “Mr. Kalashnikov,” is that one of your more political ones, dealing with gun policies?
It’s really a double-edged thing, because in some places, everybody owning a gun is good, because at least the average guy’s got a chance if anything goes down. In other places, it’s just a way for the bad guys to keep control. But I’m a big fan of the Kalashnikov. It’s such a simple, little piece of machinery. I grew up around guns. I maintain at least having one gun in the house forever. I’m a hunter, so it’s not like I do it just because I’m a fan of guns. With The Ramones, on the last record [Adios Amigos!], I have a song [called] “Scattergun,” so it’s a subject I write about every once in awhile.
You end the record with the super hardcore “Cluster Fuck.” Did you always know that song would close it out? Dan Root wrote the music, and that’s probably the most political song I’ve ever written. I’m not too big into politics. I vote, but I don’t really preach or talk about it that much. I just felt that song really fit the end of the record well. What we were talking about before – about learning from the guys in the band – that’s one thing Johnny taught me: your live set and the way you put tracks on your record [should] take people on a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster. That’s what I try to keep in
PHOTOGRAPHY BY YUKI KUROYANAGI
mind when I make a setlist or when I do the tracking on the record. That one is just really powerful and quick, and I felt like it was a suckerpunch at the end of the record. What about “Won’t Stop Swinging”? That one Steve Soto wrote the music for and I wrote the lyrics. It’s about growing up on Long Island. I worked at Republic Fairchild, an aircraft factory, pretty much right out of high school. I thought that was my security blanket, I wouldn’t have to look for another job because I’d be there until I retired, or at least until I did something with music. It closed down, and the economy was really crap back then. I woke up one morning and was like, “I gotta get out of here,” and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Funny enough, when I was in the Marine Corps is when I got the audition for The Ramones. That song relates to that time period where I felt like I didn’t wanna give in and just live and die in my hometown. I promised myself I wouldn’t give up. I’m lucky enough [that] it actually happened for me.
Bronx Mariachi el
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST MATT CAUGHTHRAN BY KARA VAPOREAN
os Angeles favorite Mariachi El Bronx – popular diversion of punk band The Bronx – released their third full-length self-titled album Mariachi El Bronx III on November 4 with plans to tour Europe before the holidays and much more in store for 2015. Mariachi El Bronx released their last album, Mariachi El Bronx II, nearly four years ago. During that time, the band had to find the right balance between El Bronx and The Bronx. Despite being busy with touring, recording The Bronx “IV,” and the everyday tribulations of life, the band finally decided it was time for a new mariachi record. “It felt like the right time being able to choose between The Bronx and El Bronx,” says their frontman, vocalist Matt Caughthran. “After the first El Bronx [record] there was so much going on musically that we decided to do El Bronx II instead of writing the Bronx ‘IV.’ Sorry, I know it can get confusing between the two,” he adds apologetically. “Then we decided to go back to the Bronx ‘IV,’ so after that, it felt right to go back to El Bronx and write slower tunes and get back into the vibe. So that’s what we did, it just kinda felt right.” Except this time, El Bronx was ready to take things up a notch, writing a more experimental mariachi inspired record, rather than another straight up mariachi album. “We wanted to step out of the box because the second [record] was our best to an extent,” Caughthran says. “So this time, we wanted to add a new element and create growth. A lot of it is electronic stuff and adding that texture to the record. Slowing things down and not being afraid to make a darker record.”
From the boredom and curiosity that spawned El Bronx’ first record, the band has evolved with the release of the weightier Mariachi El Bronx III. “The whole first record was learning the genre, the second [was] learning the instruments and seeing how far we could take it,” explains Caughthran. “Now let’s write the record how we wanted it the first time around. Kind of like a ‘take two’ type of thing… We wanted to evolve further and learn new stuff and create new things.” Mariachi El Bronx III features a few traditional songs, but the majority of the album is much darker than the first two records. “It’s almost like an exorcism… to get things off your back. Break free of all the shit that’s been weighing them [the band] down. It’s kind of an evil record,” Caughthran admits. “A celebration of a downfall. It’s like you get so into it that you’re almost like, ‘Fuck it,’ and wanna stay that way. ‘Cause it’s like, ‘What’s the worst that can happen? I’m already in a dark place, and it’s almost easier to stay the same than fight to change it.’” Caughthran thought he expelled the negativity when writing the Bronx “IV,” but once he started writing El Bronx III, he realized there was even more still pent up. “I though I got rid of all the demons on the Bronx ‘IV’ record, but then I sat down for this it’s almost like, ‘Whoa, where did this stuff come from?’” Caughthran says. “It was a super painful process for me for a long time, and the guys helped me through it. There’s a lot of questions when you’re trapped in an evil mind.” Nestled in the woods of Charlottesville, Va., with no cellphone service and the surreal countryside, El Bronx – which is Caughthran, guitarist and multi-
instrumentalist Joby J. Ford, drummer Jorma Vik, trumpeter Brad Magers, jarana player Ken Horne, guitarrón player Vincent Hidalgo, and violinist and multi-instrumentalist Ray Suen – spent two weeks at the Haunted Hallows Studios to create Mariachi El Bronx III. “Getting the Haunted Hallows spot was the most amazing [experience] for the band,” says Caughthran. “It was a chance to get the fuck out of town, where you don’t even have to drive to the studio. Just wake up and create, don’t have to worry about anything. Have dinner together every night, work from 10:00 a.m. till four in the morning. It was amazing!” While in the studio, El Bronx had the incredible opportunity to work with Oingo Boingo’s John Avila, who also produced Mariachi El Bronx I and II. Caughthran explains that the band “needed someone to take us seriously and John was one of the last on our list. It was love at first site, musically speaking… He gets the heart and soul of the project. He is the only one that could have made these records. He has such an amazing gift.” For El Bronx, Avila is more than just a producer. He is an extension of the band. “[Avila] is the secret member of Mariachi El Bronx…” Caughthran gushes. “If it’s a change in note here and there, a little extra tuning here and there… He’s so great at completing our thoughts.” Musician and producer Rob Schnapf – who has also worked with acts such as Fu Manchu, Elliot Smith, The Vines, Saves the Day, and many more – mixed Mariachi El Bronx III and, according to Caughthran, was the perfect guy for the job. “We really got lucky with Schapf. He’s a talented motherfucker. We were
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so busy touring and he’s such bad ass, he just got it. We had a couple different options, but no one was as good as him.” Mariachi El Bronx III is a vindication of social conflict, which is a prominent theme on tracks such as “New Beat,” “Wildfires,” and “High Tide.” The song “Nothing’s Changed” features DJ Bonebreak of X on marimbas, and Willie Acuña of Mariachi Sol de Mexico is featured playing the harp on “Raise the Dead.” El Bronx will take its mariachi overseas December 1 through 16 on a European tour with gypsy punk outfit Gogol Bordello. And while mariachi may not seem like it fits in the European music scene, Mariachi El Bronx has managed to attract a more than zealous fanbase. Caughthran explains, “We went to the U.K., mainland Europe, Australia, you know, all over [a] place where there’s really, one: no Hispanic culture, and, two: no history of mariachi music at all. Every time I just think we are gonna get beer thrown at us, people just start clapping. It’s not about understanding the specifics, it’s about people wanting to be super stoked listening to a different style of music from guys who probably don’t have any business playing it.” For 2015, Mariachi El Bronx will hit the high seas on the Flogging Molly Salty Dog St. Patrick’s Day booze cruise. According to Caughthran, the band will be busy but no plans are set in stone. “We are working on a bunch of stuff right now,” he says. “Probably go back to UK in the first of the year, do some East Coast stuff, we have that giant booze cruise with Flogging Molly… we have loose plans. You gotta trust you will be busy.”
As far as hard working musicians go, Devin Townsend certainly ranks among the top tier. The sweetheart of progressive metal, he has released 16 studio albums bearing his name, five groove metal masterpieces with Strapping Young Lad, and a gorgeous country rock album earlier this year called Casualties of Cool. With the massive crowdfunding success of Casualties of Cool – he met 550% of his goal! – Devin Townsend pooled the excess funds into creating the whopping double album Z2, which contains Dark Matters and Sky Blue, both equally impressive in their own right.
What inspired the double album – one as Devin Townsend Project and the other as the second Ziltoid album – instead of releasing the two halves separately? It started in a less than noble way, I’m afraid. I had originally just planned on following Epicloud with Ziltoid 2 (Dark Matters) because that’s [where everything led]. Unfortunately, that’s a style of music that – although I find it liberating to write – is frankly annoying to a bunch of people on my team. Therefore, they asked if I had any other songs kicking around, which I did. It was only after I agreed that I realized it was not as easy as just replicating Epicloud. The process became challenging and forced me to analyze my current state of mind in ways I hadn’t anticipated. The end result is a record that I’m very proud of, and that has a very important place in my catalog in my opinion.
What sort of theatrics will you be showing off on your upcoming North American tour? It’s an all new show, and the logistics of it are currently – as of this morning – overwhelming. We are chipping away at it, and the bottom line is: I have a vision
that depends on a few factors that I have no answers for yet. So let’s just say… “Bad ass!” You’ve said for years that you’re approaching the end of Devin Townsend Project. Do you still feel that way? [It’s] hard to say. I feel that Z2 offers a sort of conclusion to a certain time in my life that began with the first Ziltoid album. The bottom line is, if my desires change, the music follows. [Strapping Young Lad] ceased to exist because it was completed. Are DTP and Ziltoid complete? I’m actually not quite sure yet. I’ll keep you posted.
INTERVIEW BY RIDGE BRIEL
You had over 70 song ideas for the double album. Are there demos that didn’t make the cut? Oh man, that number keeps going up every time I do an interview… I’d say closer to 50, including the 20 or so that made the record. There’re lots of good songs in there too, songs that maybe just didn’t fit the ebb and flow of the theme. I will certainly be revisiting some of them, though there are also some that are just straight up shitty songs. What challenges did you face writing for the two very different albums, especially coming from your last project Casualties of Cool? Did you place yourself in different mindsets for each one? Fatigue was the main problem, but I knew that was the case going into it. I proceeded because I felt there would not be another time – as a result of the excess capital generated from the pledge drive – for me to get away with making such an odd and elaborate (expensive) vision. I also usually like to be in different mindsets for different albums, but as a result of circumstance, this album did not afford me that luxury. Being perfectly honest, making Z2 was a pain in the ass. But I loved the opportunity, so it levels itself out. What was the reception like for Casualties of Cool, especially since you reached 550 percent of your goal? Do you plan on more touring to support it? I love that album, and even then, it
only hints at the potential [that it can have]. I played a few shows with CoC and it was such a pleasure. I’m still in the honeymoon period with it though, so it’s hard to judge accurately. I would love to continue, and my plans for it are numerous. Time, again, will tell. When first meeting years ago, I asked how your pendulous ostrich eggs were doing since they started hanging like “old man balls?” Are they closer to the ground than they were in 2011? I’m all sack at this point in my life. It’s like a fucking army tent. I hide under it like Frodo in “Lord of the Rings” whenever I’m faced with impending conflict. What are your thoughts about Animals as Leaders and Monuments, whom you will be touring with soon? Supremely talented. I hope they have senses of humor, because they’re heading out for a month with a bunch of dorky Canucks. What are your plans after the Z2 show? No plans other than trying to be more proactive with time management. I love my work and will always continue if I can, but my lack of planning foresight manifested in chaotic times, and that’s why Z2 is here. My musical mind is like a sponge: if I have water to soak up, you’ll get water when you squeeze it. If it’s piss though…
I NT E RVI E W WITH VOCA LIST B LOTHA R B Y ERIC MAY
his interview is definitely one of the toughest ever conducted. For starters, the publicist had to use a time machine. It literally took about 10 minutes to transport berserker GWAR vocalist Blothar from his world to ours, and I don’t think he is all that happy about the imposition. Nevertheless, he is willing to share some details his legendary history with the band, as well as the upcoming record Ebola, their desire to play the Super Bowl, and the ongoing Eternal Tour, which honors the fantastic legacy of Oderus Urungus. You immediately announced the Eternal Tour after this year’s GWARB-Q. What are your impressions of the tour so far? It’s a fucking horrific disaster for me, personally. Every night, I get sucked through a time machine onto stage, performing in front of thousands of pimply faced, mostly retarded metal fans with chlamydia. But in truth, the GWAR Eternal Tour is about honoring the fallen scumdog, [former vocalist] Oderus Urungus. That’s what it’s about, that’s what we’re doing, that’s what we offer fans the opportunity to do. It’s to pay their respects to the greatest rock ‘n’ roll singer to walk this planet, or any other. With you and co-vocalist Vulvatron now taking the reins, what new kinds of horror and debauchery can the slaves expect? First of all, fuck Vulvatron! Nah, let
me not say that. I’ve never fucked Vulvatron. I don’t know anyone who has and survived. Are you asking what people can expect to be different about GWAR? Well, there’s not going to be Oderus Urungus for one fucking thing! He’s not there. We don’t know where he’s at, but we expect he’s holed up somewhere smoking crack with prostitutes. But he owes me a shit ton of yams. That’s how old I am. I come from a time where we calculated currency with yams. They owe me a lot of yams. No one seems to understand that. What I can tell you is this: what you can expect from GWAR is the exact same thing that you can always expect from GWAR without Oderus Urungus. Oderus Urungus brought to the band something that no one will ever be able to bring to the band again. But it’s still GWAR. It’s still the mayhem; it’s still the disaster. It’s still the emotional rollercoaster of a GWAR show. Everyone dies, people come up on stage and get massacred. The band does shit tons of drugs, and fucks every fucking whore that it can get its hands on. That’s what I think is GWAR. That’s what it still has to be. How were you able to be summoned so quickly? It took a great battle involving an ancient horn to bring lead guitarist Pustulus Maximus into the band… You are absolutely correct. Well, in this instance, what has made it easier is my personal familiarity with GWAR. I was with the band before they were
really a rock band, and walked around with them. I actually come from the same planet; I’m a Scumdog who was banished to Earth. Well, actually, I’m a chaplain in the Scumdog army who is serving the master of the universe. What actually happened was GWAR was fucking up and they got banished. Well, you know the tale. I was sent here by the master to witness to GWAR, to help them in what I think you humans would call ancient times before GWAR was frozen. I couldn’t do anything with them. They didn’t want to listen to me. They knew everything. They were walking around fucking apes, doing drugs, throttling the dinosaurs, and the master had to freeze them. He had no choice, or they would have destroyed the entire planet. And as it turns out, this planet is somehow linked to the entire fate of the universe, so he had to preserve it. I was here to help him, but I wasn’t able to do my job, so I was frozen right along with them. I know the songs of GWAR because every Scumdog warrior knows the songs of GWAR. And in my particular case, because I helped to write many of them. What is your opinion on the Ebola virus? It’s not doing as well as you’d hoped… Yeah, that’s right. Ebola, to us, is like garlic. Something that you add to food to make it delicious. And what we found with the humans, surprisingly, despite the efforts of President Obama – who is apparently responsible for every bad thing that happens to this country – somehow humans have managed to invite widespread outbreak here. The Africans are still delicious as ever, thanks to a myriad of diseases, but here in the United States, it hasn’t really caught on. So the answer is that Ebola is like a spice to GWAR. It, of course, kills humans, but it also makes them delicious. Are you still trying to play the Super Bowl? You would be much more interesting to watch than Beyoncé. Well, we want to play the Super Bowl,
but we don’t want to play music. We actually want to play in the Super Bowl. That’s what humans don’t understand: that GWAR wants to participate in the Super Bowl as a sort of third opponent. But no one seems to be prepared to agree to that. As for Beyoncé, I don’t get what you’re complaining about. Why, she puts on a fantastic show! One of my favorites! But to tell you the truth, we fancy ourselves as athletes, so we believe that we could probably beat both teams that are in the Super Bowl on any given year. What will the new record sound like? Shit. No, it’s going to sound fantastic. If you like the sound of shit. But it is going to be a GWAR record. It’s going to sound like a GWAR record. It’s going to sound like all of their records: meandering heavy metal music. You can probably expect it to sound a little bit like earlier GWAR material. We’ve only got a couple songs that we’ve been working on, so we don’t really know exactly the direction that it’s going to take. Pustulus is a fantastic rock ‘n’ roll writer; [rhythm guitarist] Balsac [the Jaws of Death] is also fantastic. I, myself, am an absolute genius. I bring my artful magic to the band. [Oderus’ infamous phallus] the Cuttlefish of Cthulhu will also be writing! Apparently Oderus has mistaken the time machine for a glory hole, which he sticks his dick through every night. I’ve always known the Cuttlefish much better than Oderus. He’s a fantastic man. The Cuttlefish is a sophisticated being and he’s a bit smarter than Oderus. So he’ll probably make an appearance on the record as well. Finally, how long does this planet have left? None. There’s no time left. It’s over, at an end. Death is imminent… Especially for you!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAN SNODGRASS
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I N T E R V I E W W I T H V O C A L I S T T R E V O R P H I P P S A N D G U I TA R I S T B U Z Z M C G R AT H B Y B R A N D O N R I N G O
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LOUIE CASTELLANOS
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and I just couldn’t like them anymore.” But yeah, it’s a heavy, dark record. I think it’s the heaviest and darkest that we’ve ever done. The title Watchers of Rule and the song titles are super epic. Is there an overall lyrical theme to the album? TP: Not entirely. Each song has a different meaning on a personal level, even on a band level, and even politic[ally], but it’s more just a record about a bunch of different themes. BM: The album title Watchers of Rule: it’s about dudes watching dudes who fucking rule. Like when you go to our show, and you see us fucking ruling at metal, you’re a watcher of rule.
an you believe that it’s been over a decade since the New Wave of American Heavy Metal/ metalcore scene featuring bands like Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, and Unearth first took over the American metal throne?! Though a lot of the bands that exploded during that era have either broken up or sold out, Boston, Mass.’s Unearth are still going VERY strong. Following a successful 10th anniversary tour for their landmark album The Oncoming Storm, the band has now released their sixth album, Watchers of Rule, and have proven that they are still as viable, relevant, and entertaining as ever! What was your mindset during the creative process for the album? BM: My mindset musically was to try and make it different, but the only way that I think I know how to do different is to make it a bit more technical and over the top wankage-wise. So we just fucking went for it. Like, wrote shit that’s out of our league, above our heads.
Is that what it really means? BM: That’s what it means to me. TP: Basically, to be quick about it, [it means that] those who have the power to watch over us aren’t actually free to have the rule. Are your lyrics usually about personal things or are they generally fictional? TP: There’s some historical stuff in there that I toss in, current events, personal experiences, politics; I kind of just go all over the place with my lyrics. It’s just about my personal experience, my time on this earth. I’ve experienced certain things and I’ve formed certain opinions, and my lyrics are my way to express myself.
Is touring still as fun as when you first started? BM: No, it gets very, very fuckin’ old, except for that one hour a day that you’re on stage playing music. You’re like, “All right, this is it.” You wait around to do that, and a lot of the mundane details are just annoying. It beats cleaning toilets – which is what I did before this – so don’t let me sound too jaded. I don’t really wanna clean toilets again, but touring, it’s boring. I mean, it’s a young man’s game. We’re old men here, and… TP: We’re not old men. BM: Phipps isn’t an old man, I’m an old man. I like to be home. But I don’t like to work, so therein lies the problem. This is my best bet right now.
In regards to the longevity and evolution of your career, what is your secret to success? BM: I think we make songs that don’t suck. That’s really all you gotta do. TP: I think it’s that, combined with
The album seems to be a lot heavier. Was that your intention? BM: Yeah. I mean, there’s nothing ever wrong about being heavier. No one’s ever said, “Well, the band got heavier
perseverance on the road. A band is kind of like a team… Well, not “kinda,” it is a team, and there are battles you win and battles you lose or whatever. You just have to go through just try to go after it every day, and ride that battle through and have a good time. Just always have fun playing your songs and just keep going.
BUZ AND TREVOR’S TOP 10… ERR 7 REASONS TO BUY WATCHERS OF RULE: 10. You can establish your old school metalcore credibility 9. Derek Jeter has guest vocals on the record; I dunno if that made the press 8. Breakdowns! 7. Your deathcore friends will hate it 3. If you don’t buy it, ISIS wins. Not the band Isis, but the bad guys ISIS 2. This is our sixth album and everyone knows a band’s sixth record is their best one 1. Breakdowns!
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST NICK HOLMES AND GUITARIST ANDERS “BLAKKHEIM” NYSTRÖM BY BRANDON RINGO
ith 2014 winding down, it’s safe to say that it’s been a pretty great year for death metal. Many fantastic releases have come out, but perhaps the best has been saved for last in the form of Grand Morbid Funeral by the (primarily) Swedish legends Bloodbath. Led by Katatonia members guitarist Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström and bassist Jonas Renkse, as well as former Katatonia guitarist Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson and current Opeth drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot, the band has an incredible lineage, but one not necessarily associated with death metal. However, one listen to Grand Morbid Funeral and it becomes obvious that these dudes still know how to shred like it’s 1989. After announcing Grand Morbid Funeral, one of the biggest questions marks was who would be helming the vocals. Bloodbath’s past vocalists include Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth and Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy, so whomever they chose would have
huge shoes to fill. There was rampant speculation amongst fans, with most people assuming it would be a Swedish musician. Surprisingly, the band ended up calling upon the home of the Black Death and chose legendary British vocalist Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost. “The guys asked me during our 2011 tour with Katatonia and Devin Townsend Project, [and it] took me a while to decide, but I finally agreed about eight months ago,” states Holmes. Nyström adds, “He had the style and delivery we were looking for that suited the concept of the album, he had a creditable history within the genre,” then laughing, “O.K., I’ll admit it, he’s fuckin’ legend.” Naturally, in a band like Bloodbath with members who are spread out all over, finding time to write and record together can be very difficult. According to Nyström, the process took quite a while to actually begin. “It just dawned on me now that we never write for Bloodbath while the project
is passive,” he admits. “I guess we just gather inspiration through all that time when our death metal focus is dormant. Eventually the tension builds and, when it finally overflows, it’s actually a natural urge to make another album, if our schedules allow, that is. For each album, the writing and making of demos has prequel-ed the album recording by a couple of months at most. It’s almost like, when things finally get green-lit for Bloodbath to return from the grave, then that’s pretty much all we think about, until it’s over again. It’s an intense and fun period, since it doesn’t really happen very often.” Even after the stars align and the band begins the writing process, it still takes a while before they actually come together. “The only time we ever wrote together as a band was when we recorded Breeding Death – our first EP – back in the winter of 1998/99,” explains Nyström. “All those songs were born on the spot, straight out of a drunken jam, with the actual recording integrated at the same time. Ever since then,
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we’ve been composing individually, at different locations, and always split the amount of songs [that] needed to be written equally between us.” Overall, Grand Morbid Funeral is an absolutely perfect example of what old school death metal should sound like. The album hearkens back to some very early – and awesome – influences and, according to Nyström, it accomplishes exactly what they set out to do. “Looking back on it now, it turned out exactly like we intended with 11 songs of dark and rotten death metal, smudged with a filthy, raw, and heavy production. [It’s] our most morbid album to date,” he exclaims. “This album is definitely in the ‘80s as far as influences and sound goes, and that’s something we [haven’t done] wholeheartedly so far. We always kept our influences ‘80s/’90s death metal, but the sound and attitude was always more ‘90s and onwards. This time, we let go of triggers, decided to leave things unedited, and just let instruments ring out and defile the air.”
he fact that stoner titans Monster Magnet have been around for 25 years is worthy of a celebratory tour. Despite lineup changes, drug issues, and an eight year rollercoaster ride on a major label, the band has managed to not only survive, but persevere. It has now been a little over a year since the release of their highly successful ninth album Last Patrol, and they’re already preparing to release a new record… Sort of. In typical Monster Magnet fashion, they have given the finger to tradition and released Milking the Stars: A ReImagining of Last Patrol, not quite a remix of Last Patrol, but more stripped down and psychedelic. This release is Last Patrol’s creepy, half-naked uncle. According to the band’s eccentric frontman Dave Wyndorf, the whole process started easily enough. “It started with a part,” he admits. “There was a part of one of the Last Patrol songs, and I was like, ‘You know, that part didn’t get enough play. That’s a really cool riff, that should be longer.’ And I said to myself, ‘Well, too late asshole, you already did it.’ And that’s when I was like, ‘Well, fuck, if I did that, I can do this.’ I mean, nobody’s gonna stop me, it’s my ass. Directors do director’s cuts, right? People do whatever the hell they want.”
I N T E R V I E W W I T H V O C A L I S T D AV E W Y N D O R F B Y B R A N D O N R I N G O
Having spent the majority of the past year either on tour daydreaming about mellotrons and citars, or in his hometown studio tinkering away, Wyndorf just never seems to stop creating. “These days, if you don’t have something out, like, every second, people think you, like, died,” he says. “It’s a jungle out there, dude! It’s weird.” After having so much fun working on Milking the Stars, Wyndorf has now begun work on another remix album of sorts. “I’m like, ‘Ya know something, I really like doing this. I’m gonna do this to Mastermind too,’” he announces. “I always thought Mastermind was cool, but it wasn’t exactly the way I wanted it, it was too slick. There’s too much space, it was just mixed too slick, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna fuck this shit up,’ and that’s what I’m doing now. I’m fucking it up, and it’s gonna sound so much better than the original Mastermind. I dunno if people will say this, but for me, it’s the perfect thing to do between the tour and the next record.”
songs, and I love them. My collection of my favorite songs done by other people and reinterpreted is huge. If I like a song, I’ll go for the elevator music version and see what that’s about. It proves that a good song is a good song [if] it can be reinterpreted.” In addition to the upcoming Mastermind remix, the band has plans to work on a new record in the near future. However, they have no plans to divert their evolution towards raw,
psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll. “I haven’t really decided on what kind of record it’s gonna be,” Wyndorf admits, “[but] it’ll be done with the same amount of care as Last Patrol. I don’t think you’re ever gonna see a really super slick Monster Magnet again. We’re not, like, big studio anymore. I don’t think you’re gonna see big, ‘Space Lord’-type produced songs. We make hard rock, but it’s always gonna have a lot more oddities in it.”
Though a lot of fans may question his decision to tinker with records that are already great, for Wyndorf, musical revision has always been a passion. “In the old days, people used to do cover versions and weird versions and interpretations and muzak versions of
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RAGE NUCLÉAIRE INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST LORD WORM BY HUTCH
ord Worm shook the world when he left Cryptopsy. He surprised more people when he reentered the music world, not in death metal, but black metal. The new entity, Rage Nucléaire – spawned in Montreal – unleashed Unrelenting Fucking Hatred in 2012. Two years later, Lord Worm comes bearing an even nastier, grimier album entitled Black Storm of Violence. Unapologetic and snappy, English teacher Lord Worm educates my ignorant ass.
sound ugly. Also, as far as I can recall, the only filter used would have been some reverb.
With “Sino-American Chainsaw War” opening with the sound of chainsaws, are you worried about legal action from Jackyl? I’ve never heard of Jackyl. Imagine my apathy.
What is the most imminent threat to humanity? Humanity is its own worst enemy. The threat comes from within.
What are you saying about ChineseAmerican relations? I’m not saying anything about SinoAmerican relations, any more than zombie movies say anything about dead people. The song is a gory what-if scenario. The vocals seem to be mixed low. Is the aesthetic of the sound the main priority? The sound aesthetic was definitely top priority: something that impure has to
Are you surprised that the U.S. – backed by a coalition of countries – is back at war? War is a constant on this planet, whether with the U.S. or without. That isn’t about to change, and I’m glad: the more people die, the fewer people I might potentially have to put up with.
Do humans deserve a better existence? Not all of them. Those who do usually wind up dying before those who don’t; perhaps, being dead, they do go on to a better existence. Do you believe in any kind of karma or spirituality? Oddly, yes. I’ve made some nihilistic statements, certainly, but I’m not actually a nihilist. I’m an “annihilist,” if you will, but with a dark spirituality all my own. You’ve said, “If there is no gore, what’s the point?” Why is gore so attractive to
you? Carnographic imagery works on a variety of levels, thus affording me greater lyrical ambiguity, because gore makes such cool window dressing.
You are a teacher, which implies an interest in bettering humanity. Does that contradict your music? I get paid to be a teacher. I don’t get paid to do Rage Nucléaire stuff. Let’s see what that implies. Besides which, speaking better English only implies greater linguistic ability or comfort; the guy learning English might still be a turd after the lessons. Who is in Rage Nucleaire? Three guys who used to meet with Montreal’s Black Council – “Le Conseil” – and who eventually decided to do something about the relative dearth of ultraviolent music hereabouts. Our music may – or may not – be special, but we’re not. Will you ever do live shows? That simply will not happen. Pass the word along. Please. How do you feel about new album? Who produced it? How did you record? We’re quite pleased with the way it turned out. It’s very loud, which has the potential to bother people, and we like that. Our
stuff has always been self-produced: [keyboardist and bassist] Alvater’s home “studio” has all the requisite hardware and software, so we needed no one else. As to recording, that was done every Friday night between 8 and midnight – sometimes later – right from the moment we’d finished doing Unrelenting Fucking Hatred. We would gather beneath Alvater’s basement stairs, with Alvater at the board, Dark Rage in the only other chair with his guitar on his lap, and me standing around between them. There really was only room enough for two chairs. I never minded, though, because, of course, vocals sound better coming from an upright throat. Any difference between this new album and Unrelenting Fucking Hatred? The feel is more controlled, and more impure. There’s an old school vibe to it, as some of the riffing suggests; I’m thinking here, especially, of “The Deadfall Triptych.” Also, for the most part, the songs are longer, lending the album more groove. What do you want listeners to think after hearing the new LP? In an ideal world, the listener would think, “Now what?” and not know where to go from there. Diamanda Galàs, maybe? Or maybe switch to movies and watch Ittenbach’s “Burning Moon,” something like that.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SEBASTIEN ST PIERRE
ICEAGE I N T E RV I E W W IT H V O C A L I S T DAN KJÆR NIELSEN BY HUTCH
hen Danish rock band Iceage formed six years ago, they were 17. Now at 23, the four members put a new album together that’s representative of the extreme transition that happens to anyone during those erratic years. Unlike the average early 20 something, their maturation has been recorded. The world’s first exposure to Iceage was through Youtube videos of the young dudes in Copenhagen, ripping some Frankenstein’s monster mix of speedy, atmospheric black metal and Joy Division-esque moody gloom with the urgency of hardcore. When their hard to catch first full-length New Brigade hit the shelves, it quickly disappeared. Harbingers of cool such as Pitchfork and mainstream reviewers such as The Washington Post both lauded the teens’ seminal output. Noise leaders with massive indie cred, Matador Records, snatched them up and released 2013’s You’re Nothing. Iceage’s second effort was a whirlwind. The transition to a big U.S. indie did not result in a regretably slick production.
Instead, lo-fi, reverb drenched, chaotically fast tunes of hectic despair tore through the LP’s 28 to 34 minutes, depending on which version you bought. Sophomore jinx eluded.
After one year, Iceage unleashed their third slab of wax. Their confidence morphed into a less punk approach and slanted more toward indie rock and the Manchester sound, and drummer Dan Kjær Nielsen says they feel “absolutely great. [Plowing into the Field of Love is the] best thing we have done. We cannot wait to get it out.” Immediately, as they open with a five minute plus opus, the punk core is eschewed for a more expansive sound, but a solemn atmosphere is still key. The lo-fi, garage ethos still is prevalent. Other instruments – piano, trumpets, and additional strings – are woven into the growing tapestry. Each song embraces a different mood. The Libertines’ despondent triumph of despair is easily recognized here, but the swirl of The Velvet Underground, Hüsker Dü, Germs, Joy Division, and even Swans is also lingering throughout the album.
“We didn’t intend to make the same album. We have evolved and progressed,” Kjær Nielsen says. Claiming the evolution was “not intentional, but just how we write now,” he continues with a calm, sardonic hubris, “[Plowing…] is masterpiece of rock music because it is not one mood. We don’t want to decide what people feel. But I feel it’s beautiful and evocative.” When asked how the production was handled, Kjær Nielsen says, “We worked with the same two guys to produce our record. They were helpful and good at pushing the right buttons and understanding what we wanted.”
He notes that the album was recorded seven months ago, and this span of time has infused anticipation into the band. They will be visiting some new cities on their U.S. tour this fall. They then will return home to Copenhagen before embarking on a tour of Europe. When discussing the benefits of touring foreign countries, Kjær Nielsen expresses the frustration of “seeing cities from the window of a car, but you try to explore as you can. When we get
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a couple days, we form our own ideas of the city.” He cites his favorite locations as “New York, Los Angeles, Eastern Europe, Croatia, Serbia, and Tokyo. Tokyo is magical.”
While the instruments supply a somber, yet frantic foundation, the lyrics remain something of a mystery. Kjær Nielsen frankly states, “[Vocalist and guitarist] Elias [Bender Rønnenfelt] wrote all lyrics.” He explains Bender Rønnenfelt’s approach as “a protagonist” who explores “themes and feelings.” He adds that the lyrics contain “ecstatic moments in brief spurts,” and says these tracks are “trying to express them in a certain way, touching on duality and longing and shifting.” The mood and song structures are dramatically different from their previous work, while maintaining a drastic rush of emotions. The landscapes carved in each track are dynamic and powerful. Kjær Nielsen feels that this is the album they have always wanted to write. “We knew what to do to make this album. We have tried to paint this picture before.” This time, they nailed it.
INTERVIEW WITH BASSIST JON MARKSON BY JOHN HILL
ith The Sidewalk Ends, Such Gold have created an album encapsulating everything they’ve worked for. Now with a solid lineup that meshes cleanly, they’ve produced a warhead of an album that’s packed with some of the best textures and instrumental intricacies in the scene. Throughout the whole record, you can hear each instrument weave through each song, pulsating under some of the most catchy and screamable lyrics around. How does it feel to be the Dream Theater of pop punk? I’ll take that! [Laughs] I think there’s a lot of ways to put it, but Dream Theater of pop punk? I will accept that. I think we might be the first ones to be called that by anyone, so I think that’s cool. It was always obvious you could play your instruments really well, but with this one, you just went for it. I think this is sort of where the band has been going for a minute, and [we] pushed forward towards that fact because Ben [Kotin] is our live guitar player now. Ben had always been writing the guitar parts, but would only play when someone couldn’t make a tour or show for whatever reason. Definitely the natural progression of the band, and
[it was] pushed that way because we’re [the] most in our element now. I think everyone is encouraged to push themself now that we’re most comfortable with this ensemble itself. What was the most difficult song to put together? Either “No Cab Fare” or “Engulfed in Flames.” “No Cab Fare” took us a minute to really figure out the arrangement, and that chorus part: how to make that work vocally. That’s one of the two songs we went into the studio without vocals for, so we ended up demoing some of the vocal parts that weren’t written. That took, maybe not the most effort, but a lot of thought. “Faced” came out the other day, and people seemed kind of confused by its sound. Yeah. I think there’re a couple big camps of people who like Such Gold. I think I have sort of a third party and first party perspective of the band, because I haven’t been in the band for the entire [life] of the band, but have been for the last two and a half years or so. Not as close to some of the reactions as the other guys, but I have been there for the changing of the reactions. There’s a camp of people who want the band to sound like the first couple of releases, which is funny because the last three re-
leases have sounded very unlike those, and sort of in this [vein]. Has “pop punk” become a loaded ph rase? I’m not exactly sure, man. I know some people use the term to just talk about punk rock that isn’t hardcore or ‘90s skate punk. I feel like people could probably call A Wilhelm Scream pop punk. I don’t really know, I haven’t given a ton of thought to it, other than it may be referring to a scene of bands that play with each other, rather than stylistically… I like what you said – “The Dream Theater of pop punk” – because it’s vague enough, but touches on certain elements on the record. When I think Dream Theater – and I don’t know if you feel the same way – but when I think about really heady guitar music, there’s a certain aspect of pretension to it – like, “Check out these guitar solos,” – that I hope the record doesn’t put across. If you guys were like, “Hey, let’s be a progressive pop-hardcore-punk” band, it would be obnoxious. Yeah, we didn’t go into it with any largescale concept.
Right, right. [Laughs] I’m glad you hear it that way. I think you’re the first third party person to report on it. Like, we’ve had third party friends tell us, but I appreciate the kind words! What’s your favorite lyric on the album? It’s always one of those “flavor of the week” things, but right now, it’s probably “Food Court Blues.” It’s a song about Ben working at a food court, super literal. To me, it’s a very fun and beautiful way to explain this beautiful food court work he does to others he’d never encounter. Not in a negative way, but yeah. It’s just a funny image: a song about working at a hamburger place. Not trying to make any grand allusions to life and death, or relationships, just a song about hamburgers. If you gave the record to someone who’s never listened to Such Gold before, how would you hope they react? I hope they hear aggressive music that’s highly musical and listenable and not so sticky.
Right, everything layers well, and it adds up to a great song, and not just jerking off with a guitar.
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I N T E RV I E W B Y K E V I N W E L L S
ome might say singersongwriter Tim Barry has all one could ever want: a wife, two daughters, a successful punk rock career with Avail, a successful solo career, and house to come home to with a yard full of chickens laying eggs and vegetables growing in the ground. Barry releases his fifth record, Lost & Rootless, on Nov. 25 on Chunksaah Records. “One day, I was flying somewhere and somebody was like, ‘Man, I’m just so jealous of you,’” Barry recalls. “[They said], ‘It’s just you, a guitar, and a duffle bag, and some merchandise.’ I was like, ‘I never really thought about it. I really am doing this and you’re right. It is f**king easy.’” As is common in the South, Barry was raised in a Christian home and was exposed to religious music from an early age. “I grew up going to a church that played folk music. It had a banjo, electric bass, and acoustic guitars, and a bunch of earthy Catholics singing Jesus songs,” he laughs. “So, that’s the music I kinda got used to hearing growing up. To rebel from that, I think, is natural.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY REBECCA REED
Barry’s older brother discovered punk and metal music when their father moved the family to England for a year. Barry was just a preteen when his brother started taking him to shows. “The first punk show [my brother] took me to was a French punk band in this small club,” Barry explains. “It was [my] first time seeing a circle pit and people slam dancing. Naturally, growing up with not a heavy religious background, but a mandatory Sunday listening to folk Jesus music, there was nothing better than listening to heavy metal Satanism and rebellious punk and political punk. I kind of fell into this community, this counter culture, when I was very young and grew up with it.” For Tim, transitioning from punk to acoustic music was less of a conscious decision and more a progression borne of being raised in two seemingly very different worlds. “More than 50 percent of the Avail songs were written on acoustic guitars,” Barry says, underscoring the common thread between his two chosen genres. “When Avail stopped playing music, I was already doing live acoustic shows. There was nothing that seemed different except that it was more stripped down.
It was taking songs I had been writing and playing them publicly, I guess.” Though the punk music chapter closed for him, Barry the punk was still very much alive. The lessons he learned from punk rock culture and musicians made him the artist he is today. “If it wasn’t for punk and DIY and counter culture and the politics involved, I would be such a different person,” he asserts. “I’d just be laying carpet or unloading trucks. I’d be a drunk asshole, kicking the dog and drinking a six-pack when I get home every night, because I’d be frustrated. So, I feel really lucky.” Barry describes his music as acoustic folk rock, but laughs, “I think my music’s pretty fuckin’ punk. Maybe not in sound, but I think in the thought process, it’s there. I don’t think of punk rock as a genre, really. I think of it as a lifestyle. I don’t know if three chords makes you punker than six. I really think it’s the way you live your life that makes you who you are.” Despite being a veritable legend, Barry prefers to keep his albums under 40 minutes partially because he doesn’t think people should have to listen to
him for very long. He claims he has never been very good at guitar and has always lacked confidence in his skill. “If anyone has ever seen me live, I have a pretty abrasive approach to live shows, because I spent so much time trying to play over bar banter. Nowadays, I feel lucky that a lot of people come to listen, not just to drink. And with that, I have been getting better at playing the guitar, because I’m not playing like I’m in Slayer: as loud as I can and screaming.” Whether a song makes it to an album or not is immaterial to Barry, who says he just enjoys playing them to himself. “I really do find music to be a nice escape when things are hectic at home,” he discloses. “I can lock myself in the shed and play until I get into a complete zone. It’s a really peaceful thing. That’s what I like about music. My favorite shows are the ones where I finish and I have no recollection of what just happened. I felt what I was singing. I thought about the people I was singing about. Those are my favorite moments in music.”
STILL SHREDDING 2 DECADES LATER
arlier this year, it was announced that Metalville Records and Nuclear Blast Records would be teaming up to release a trio of new releases together this fall. Along with the 15th Anniversary edition of Sonata Arctica’s Ecliptica Revisited, the labels are also releasing new albums from veteran prog metallers Threshold and While Heaven Wept. In addition to their albums being jointly released together, the two bands are also celebrating their 25th anniversaries this year, so we talked to them about the landmark and upcoming releases. Both interviews were conducted by Brandon Ringo
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST TOM PHILLIPS
ands that have been around for two decades tend to dwindle creatively at some point. Despite While Heaven Wept’s lengthy 25- year career, the band is still steadily surging towards their creative peak. This is especially evident on the new album Suspended at Aphelion, a 40minute piece of music that surges across the musical spectrum, proving they are still an unstoppable force. Vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter Tom Phillips elaborates on their new ambitious project. What sparked the idea to make the album play as one continuous song? We’re no strangers to long-form epics – there’s several in our discography – and all of the albums have been thematic in nature, literally aural journeys meant to be taken as a whole, rather than in parts. When the first couple sections of what was to become Suspended at Aphelion were channeled, it was very clear to me that it was going to result in something epic, but there was no particular destination or end in sight. I just let it flow as it demanded to be realized. Perhaps about halfway in, it was like, “O.K., this is all one composition that is twisting and turning through a variety of keys, moods, tempos, and emotions,” so we just let it unfurl accordingly. We’d never done a truly conceptual album before, even if the previous two were unknowingly cycling through the stages of bereavement and, thus, somewhat of a storyline. Suspended at Aphelion is the first WHW release that truly is one complete journey. Did you originally write it as one giant piece of music? The way you hear it on the album is literally how it unfolded chronologically. Really, the 11 subtitles reflect changes in
I N T E R V I E W W I T H G U I TA R I S T K A R L G R O O M
mood, developments in the storyline, or pauses in the actually channeling, as it actually transpired. There really aren’t any “singles” on this record; it’s meant to be taken as a whole. Though – much like “The Furthest Shore” from the Vast Oceans Lachrymose album – there are obvious “songs within songs” such as “Heartburst.” And it really is – to me – one mammoth work of an unorthodox structure. But there are reoccurring themes, variations, and progressions throughout, hence my point of view. It was actually [vocalist] Rain [Irving] who suggested the subtitles – for the convenience of the listener more than anything else – which is why I still refer to them as “parts” rather than by name. So what is the concept of the album? Aphelion is the furthest point from the sun. As with all of our past work, it’s entirely metaphoric. The sun is going to represent different things for different people, however it basically is anything that we, as humans, endeavor towards with passion, vigor, madness… Whether that pursuit is spiritual, romantic, materialistic, idealistic, or perhaps seeking the meaning of life, answers to difficult philosophical questions, sobriety even… The fact is, sometimes despite all of our efforts, strength, hope, faith, sometimes these ambitions are simply unreachable. The opening segments of the album reflect these pursuits, whereas the remainder of the album deals with facing the reality of the futility and the subsequent emotions on the journey to acceptance. And Suspended at Aphelion does reach a place of acceptance, albeit a bittersweet kind in that, despite being cognizant of the fact that said dreams are impossibilities, we still yearn for them.
or British prog metallers Threshold, 2014 is a very important year. Not only is it their 25th year of existence, the band is also releasing For the Journey, their 10th album. Though the band has traveled a long road to get to this point, their interesting mixture of Manilla Road and Pink Floyd on For the Journey proves they are still as formidable and relevant as ever. Guitarist Karl Groom catches us up on all things Threshold. When did you begin writing For the Journey? At the end of that touring period for March of Progress, [keyboardist] Richard [West] and I felt inspired to start writing for the new album that became For the Journey. In fact, on the return from a performance at Sweden Rock in summer 2013, we discussed a general theme and planned the timescale for the new recording. After losing some friends in music, a band member, and family in the last few years, this definitely had some impact on parts of the writing process for me. However, I don’t feel a weight or negativity to the album, and it is a positive way to remember those who meant so much. There is a shift to a much more personal approach, which is new for Threshold. What were some of your initial goals for the record’s sound and style? After the last album was met with such great reviews, I always wanted to take a different path for this one and not repeat ourselves. For the Journey shows a much darker side of Threshold, along with more personal lyrics. This whole move came quite naturally and in line with our experiences during that time. I guess you can see some kind of bridge between the albums with songs like “Watchtower on the Moon” and “Turned to Dust,” but tracks like “The Box,” “Mystery Show,” and “Unforgiven” depict the atmosphere
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
surrounding the record more accurately. Over the course of your career with Threshold, how has your style changed and evolved? I feel that one of the most positive aspects of Threshold is an identifiable sound that is unique to the band. Having our own sound was something very high on the list when starting to write music at the beginning of the band. There is a natural evolution from one album to another when I listen, and if you skip from the first to the last album, you can see how far we came. For me, our biggest strength is placing songwriting and melody before complexity. I use technique to embellish rather than as a prerequisite. When you are writing new music, what sparks your creative fire? Any books or movies? I place importance on writing all my music in the time leading up to a recording session and capturing the mood of the moment. Recycling old ideas is something that never appealed to me because, if it wasn’t good enough before, it cannot be up to the standard of a new album. I find it is great to look back at albums we produced to see what the band [members] were experiencing at the time. Books are part of the general experience in life that affects how we think, but I am not a great movie watcher, with special effects often taking the place of a good story. Inspiration comes when least expected and forms about 50 percent of a good composition. Hard work and experience makes the difference in making that song communicate with the listener. It is so important to not let go of the writing process until [the song] is the best it possibly can be.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIK LARSSON
SCAR SYMMETRY I N T E R V I E W W I T H G U I TA R I S T P E R N I L S S O N B Y E R I C M AY
wedish metaphysical melodic death metallers Scar Symmetry are back with a brand new three album trilogy that deals with the process of man becoming machine. The first is Neohumanity and is inspired by science fiction author Ray Kurzweil. Guitarist Per Nilsson discusses this concept – particularly the ideas behind “Spiral Timeshift” and “Cryonic Harvest” – as well as the overwhelming possibility that this trilogy could foreshadow things to come. The Singularity (Phase 1 – Neohumanity) is part one of three. What concepts are driving this trilogy? We felt that, after having released album after album in a steady fashion, it was time for us to try something a little bit different. Our initial idea was actually to do a trilogy of EPs based around a lyrical concept, but the project quickly grew to a trilogy of albums instead. We tell our version of the future of mankind and the part that the emerging new technologies will play. Neohumanity seems to be based on transhumanism, the process
of putting one’s life energy into a machine. Do you see this as an actual possibility in the future? The lyrical concept is loosely based around the ideas and predictions of Ray Kurzweil – check out his book “The Singularity is Near” for reference – which is mostly considered to be plausible, even probable in some cases. As opposed to some of the lyrics from our previous album The Unseen Empire, which was more inspired by out-there conspiracy theory stuff – like the works of David Icke – which most people don’t believe to actually be true. But it does make for some good fiction! So yes, we think it might be an actual possibility in the future, and it is an important part of the storyline of Neohumanity. The single “Limits to Infinity” seems to deal with the global elite hiding secrets from the rest of us. Do you gentlemen believe in the concept of a global elite, Reptilians, or the Illuminati? Neohunmanity is mostly based on real science stuff and it never goes as far out there as we did on The Unseen Empire, so there’s no Reptilians involved in this album! There is a global elite in our story though, similar to the Illuminati
theories. It’s hard for us to say if there actually is a global elite, a shadow government, and the Illuminati, but there are a few huge multinational corporations whose actions sometimes come off as downright evil and insidious. But that would be much harder to transform into metal lyrics. Or maybe our next project should be a concept album about Monsanto? You’ve always used titles based on metaphysical science. What exactly is a “Spiral Timeshift”? Our drummer Henrik [Ohlsson] always wrote all of the lyrics, and sometimes, I wonder about stuff like this myself! [Laughs] “The Spiral Timeshift” is about this coming great paradigm shift, and how it is impossible to stop an idea whose time has come, no matter how rejected and resisted it might be at first. Does the “Cyronic Harvest” have to do with cryogenically freezing famous people until we develop technology allowing them to live forever? Like Walt Disney…? Yeah, that’s exactly what it’s about, and in the lyrics for our song, these people who are suspended in a frozen limbo are being unthawed with the help
of tissue-reconstructing nano-bots. Eventually, they leave their proteinbased existences behind when their minds are being uploaded onto artificial carriers, essentially granting them eternal life. There are some absolutely fantastic guitar solos on this record. Who are your influences when it comes to playing guitar? My biggest influence and probably my favorite musician ever is Allan Holdsworth. Other important players are Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, Scott Henderson, Bill Frisell, Michael Lee Firkins, Greg Howe, Jason Becker, and Pat Metheny. I could make the list a lot longer, but those are some of the most important ones. What do you guys do when you’re not playing music? We’ve chosen not to do the band fulltime, so we all have different day jobs. Most of us have side projects and other bands that we play with, and I produce and mix other bands. [bassist] Kenneth [Seil] runs his own business as a garden designer, which I guess not a lot of fans know! He is also a bass and guitar teacher.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FOLKEN MALMUR
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FOLKEN MALMUR
Before our tour with Skeletonwitch and Black Anvil we were asked by New Noise magazine to keep a “tour diary,” to be submitted for publication at the end of the tour. The following is my best attempt at an accurate account of what happened at each show on the tour. The names have been unchanged, to incriminate the guilty.
9/5 - CHICAGO, IL - DOUBLE DOOR We rolled into town after several weeks of travel. Starting a U.S. tour is always a hassle for us, as we can’t get visas, don’t have passports, have tons of warrants, and some of us aren’t even actually human. It usually goes like this: donkey cart to coast; stow away aboard tramp steamer to U.S. port; steal van and trailer and drive to location of first show; slaughter opening band and take all their gear; begin tour. Luckily, the opening band in Chicago were Earache recording artists Diamond Plate, and they had pretty good gear. They will be missed. The show itself went well, with the sausage-bloated Chicagoans in the audience bouncing off each other like sumo wrestlers all night long. That’s what was going on upstairs. Downstairs at the Double Door (so named because they have not one, but TWO doors) there was a rather anemic rave, complete with ridiculous costumes and terrible music. Those two things are near and dear to us, but we were hungry, and the young Chicagoans in tiny spandex shorts and body glitter just looked so appetizing. We’ve been shitting glitter for weeks now.
9/6 - CLEVELAND, OH - THE AGORA BALLROOM Beautiful downtown Cleveland! We tried to get in contact with everyone we know who lives there to see if they wanted to come to the show. Everyone was “out of town”. Was it us? Is it the smell, or the fact that we try to kill everyone who gets within five feet of us? Both? We decided to take a stroll and reevaluate our life choices. Walking around on the street it seemed like everyone who lives in Cleveland was out of town. This city could be ours for the taking. A new Creepsylvanian colony, smack in the middle of the rust belt. We’ll have to work on it. Backstage smelled like mold, the toilet didn’t work, and it was ten feet under-
ground. It felt like home. Gary, Raeph, and Paul from Black Anvil amused us with stories about Vinnie Stigma.
9/7 - buffalo, ny - broadway joe’s Broadway Joe’s was next to a donut shop run by a guy who yelled at everyone who tried to park in his parking lot, which was empty. I always assumed that making donuts for a living would make one a jolly, chipper person, but this man’s heart was frosted with rage and hate and fried to a blackened, sprinkle-covered lump. We liked him, but his donuts sucked, and I seriously doubt they are “Famous” in any way. The show went off without a hitch, unless you count the beginning of the set, when my guitar wouldn’t make any noise of any kind and the entire audience was cackling with sadistic glee at my misfortune. In retrospect I may have been imagining the cackling, which makes what I did to the front row pretty inexcusable.
9/8 - BOSTOn, MA - THE SINCLAIR
The Sinclair was one of the highlights of the tour. Great club, amazing staff, incredible crowd, etc. I was almost sad to see it smashed to pieces during our set. Hopefully they’ll rebuild, because they had a really good thing going there.
Grudges; the latter of which featured a young man in an ankle brace named Travis who was going to be taking over on second guitar in Black Anvil after Gary left the tour in Springfield, VA. A cursory inspection told me Travis didn’t wear as much cologne as Gary, which I welcomed. I assumed Gary was wearing that stuff to keep us at bay, but it only served to inflame my passions. I like to stay focused on tour.
9/10 - philly, pa - underground arts
Philadelphia! The birthplace of your ridiculous country is now a burnt husk of its former self, decaying in the humidity like a flattened dog in the road. Nice venue, though, and the show was great. My long lost uncle, Uncle Shitty, joined us onstage to help us sing “Victim in Pain.” He sounded a lot more like he was from Long Island than I remember, but it’s been so long. The mighty Vektor opened the show, nicely illustrating exactly why the local openers should be worse than us, not better than. During our set I tried to show them up, and, in a vain attempt at sweep picking, seriously injured myself
and an unfortunate audience member in the front row. It wasn’t the final humiliation of the evening though, as an episode of the Nekrosexual was taping in the next room, and we were asked to participate. We gave a short interview during which the Nekrosexual stumped me several times. The NEKROSEXUAL stumped me. The shame does not wash off, much like the Nekrosexual’s clown makeup. Luckily the rest of the band were there to make with the yuks and entertain the lucky/masochistic/insomniac audience. As Bruce Lee said: “Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” That’s bullshit, of course, but it sounds good.
9/11 - pittsburgh, pa - mr. smalls
Mr. Small’s is a deconsecrated church on a very steep hill. A few years ago that hill killed our transmission. It didn’t just kill it, it butchered it, spat on it, and kicked its corpse into a pile of undifferentiated meat. Mr. Small’s: one, Transmission: zero. Get it?!?!? This time we were ready for it, and we attacked the hill from a different angle, leaving
9/9 - brooklyn, NY - St. vitus
This was the first of three shows we played off the tour package. Skeletonwitch was going out with Amon Amarth and Sabaton after our run with them was over, and NYC is one of the dates on that tour, so they couldn’t play there twice in a month. Fun Fact!: It’s called a proximity, or radius, clause. We missed Skeletonwitch and Black Anvil, but the show sold out and the audience was full of New Yorkers, who are some of my favorite people to kill. The openers on this show were Secret Tombs, Mutant Supremacy, and
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HECTOR TALAMENTEZ
it quivering in the corner in a pool of it’s own urine. Fuck you, hill. There was a carnival/street party down the street that featured an inordinate number of old/fat people riding around on rascal scooters, many of them toting oxygen tanks. They were the undesirable, the indigent, the debilitated, or as we call them “easy pickins’.” If anyone wants to buy a slightly used and slightly bloody rascal, contact us through our website. 9/13 - richmond, va - the broadberry The Broadberry is a new-ish club in Richmond. It apparently used to be the kind of place where sweaty dudes in leather got together and rubbed on each other, so in that respect not much has changed. It’s also pretty close to the Slave Pit, so we got to visit and get a tour of the new updates they’ve made to the place since we were last there. Jeremy from Black Anvil is a gigantic GWAR fan, and he got to actually wear a Sexecutioner mask, which must have been disgusting. The audience was a who’s who of Richmond metal royalty, nearly all of whom wanted to get in on the list, the bums. GWAR, Municipal Waste, Occultist, Volture, Battlemaster... buncha stinkin’ bums. At any rate, the show was great and the rest of the night was a haze, like being stuck in a blizzard, flurry, or other snow related disaster. Several Confederate landmarks were defiled, and a few new ones were erected. It was a wild night.
9/14 - charleston, SC - TIN ROOF This was the second show we played without Skeletonwitch, but this time Black Anvil joined us. The Tin Roof is a tiny little club run by a man who used to be G.G. Allin’s tour manager (the one and only Johnny Puke- the ed.), so clearly our shenanigans were not going to phase him in the least. At some point in the evening, however, a group of Emmett Kelly style hobo clowns showed up to the club to serve as “party enhancers.” They clowned around, acted drunk, got actually drunk, and generally just added to the atmosphere of weirdness that pervaded the evening. When we got onstage things took a turn for the ugly. Uglier than usual. One of the clowns, who I have been informed is named “Ralf ”, and who was clearly drunker than I was, decided to engage the onstage talent directly, grabbing at poor Baron Samedi’s voodoo staff and breaking it. Naturally, Baron Samedi took it as a invitation to break Ralf. A short scuffle ensued, and I’m just going to say that Samedi won. Sometime later Ralf threw a whole beer at us, bottle and all, spilling the precious golden nectar into a mic amplifier on the stage and starting a small fire. All in all, he was one of the funniest clowns I’ve ever seen. The poor bastards were hounded out of the club and presumably hopped the next freight train out of town. Later we found an open knife on the ground,
and Crown Royal bag with half a brick in it on a speaker next to the stage. My only regret is that it didn’t turn into an all out brawl, if just so I could read the headline through a swollen eye the next day: “Clowns VS Cannibals At Shock Rock Sock Hop”. If the Black Anvil guys joined in with their matching vests it would have been the most epic fight since the Warriors took on the Baseball Furies, or that mime gang, or whatever. Nevertheless, Charleston is Ghoul territory now. Stay out of our fuckin turf, Clowns. I just remembered that Raeph from Black Anvil knocked over a bunch of little old ladies and young children in the audience when he rushed the stage to sing Victim in Pain. He’d probably make a good hobo clown.
9/16 - atlanta, ga - masquerade hall The Masquerade is a great club in Atlanta that was converted from an old mill. It has three levels: Heaven (top floor), Purgatory (middle floor), and Hell (bottom floor). The fact that “Heaven” is a good 20 degrees hotter than “Hell” doesn’t seem to have factored into the floor naming process. Aside from that BITTER IRONY it’s a swell joint and the audience that night was receptive to being dismembered alive by four hooded mutants. Our tour manager, Michael McDonald (yes, he was the singer from the Doobie Brothers, but he’s a tour manager for Skeletonwitch now), got on
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
our nuts about taking too long to change over between sets. I told him where he could stuff it, but then out loud I apologized and said it would never happen again, sir. Hey, he’s the guy who pays us all those turnips at the end of the night, and Skeletonwitch deserves to go on before 3 AM. I’m a cannibal, but I’m not a monster. After the show a bunch of us went to the infamous Clermont Lounge to take in some of Atlanta’s least desirable strippers. Dissector and I stayed behind and took a tour of the “Chambers of Horror” haunted house that was being constructed next door. Some guys who work on The Walking Dead put it together every year, and it is truly impressive. I even fell victim to a jump scare, and I’m a mass murderer. Amos from Death of Kings foolishly offered a place to sleep, and we took him up on it. We spared his life, but we didn’t spare his pillowcases. Note to potential hosts: hide your white bedding and stick with dark colors and patterns.
9/18 - houston, tx - fitzgerald’s 9/18 Houston, TX. Fitzgerald’s Houston had great parking. Also, the loudest techno music I have ever heard was playing played in the room directly beneath the backstage area. We set the place on fire and never looked back. The screaming was horrible. The techno was worse.
9/19 - dallax, tx - trees
This club is across the street from the worst Mexican food I have ever eaten. It’s also where a famous incident took place that involved Kurt Cobain smashing someone with his guitar, which is probably the coolest thing he ever did with one. The backstage was up on the balcony, which was a perfect spot from which to watch Skeletonwitch and Black Anvil tear it up. I was beginning to rethink my plan to murder them all at the end of the tour.
crowd went wild. Killbot showed up two feet shorter than usual; the crowd started killing each other. I sat on a
monitor and ate a sandwich for the last half of the set; the show broke out into an all out riot. I’m relatively certain
that metal fans in L.A. are mentally ill.
9/20 - austin, tx - red 7
Funny names for the bands we toured with:
Red 7 has an outdoor stage, which was where this show took place. The temperature was hovering somewhere around 500 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the evening, but at least it was a dry heat. The show was packed with willing victims, including our friend Hector’s young son, who came up onstage to help fight Killbot. Just for that, we let him live. The rest of the crowd was slaughtered without emotion. We had a whole day off the next day to drive to Mesa, AZ, which is about 13 hours if you aren’t driving an old van with a giant trailer. No sweat, we had a whole day and a half! Luckily the “check engine” light came on right outside Austin, and we spent half the day (Sunday) looking for a place that could tell us what was wrong. The AutoZone employee who sold us the sparkplug we needed asked what band we were, apparently ignoring the Ghoul shirts, hats, jams, and backpatches we were all wearing. We told him that we were sort of like GWAR, and he said he worked as an EMT as a couple of GWAR shows in the 90s, where he saw a guy who had split his mandible right down the middle of his chin in the pit. The guy was talking to him and his front teeth were moving independently. Boner city.
Black Angus Black Handful Gelatinwitch Sellin’em Merch
9/22 - mesa, az - club red
9/22 Mesa, AZ. Club Red We thought Austin was hot? Oh, what fools we were. What naive, pathetic fools. Mesa, Arizona is Satan’s taint, and the club was hot enough to bake bread, which, being flush with butter, eggs, flour, yeast, salt, and water, I did. The bread turned out great. I nearly died of heatstroke. Skeletonwitch had to cut a couple songs because Chance was starting to black out. Luckily Club Red had a whole other giant room that was nearly freezing, just for the bands. Too bad, so sad, audience dicks!
9/23 - los angeles, ca - roxy
9/23 Los Angeles, CA. Roxy Theatre We can always count on L.A. to deliver an insane audience, and they came out in droves for this one. Non-stop stagediving, moshing, and headbanging was the order of the evening. Cremator’s bass went out for three songs; the
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FOLKEN MALMUR
ROB SOUCY INTERVIEW BY DAVID KELLING
heard stories about Rob Soucy long before our paths crossed. On tour with Defeater in NYC, we were standing outside a Slayer World Painted Blood listening party, where there were free stacks of the Anvil book everywhere. We stuffed a ton of them in our bags and later resold them all to Barnes and Noble for credit for other books. Rob grew up in Massachusetts and was childhood friends with Defeater bassist Mike Poulin. They still work together. Rob directed their crazy, bombs-goingoff-everywhere video for “Bastards,” and has worked with many other artists, like Alkaline Trio, Azaelea Banks, and Citizen. Recently, our band Culture Abuse flew Rob out to San Francisco for a couple of days to film a music video at Folsom Street Fair (if you don’t know what that is, you should google it). The day of the shoot, Mike – who was living in Las Vegas with a girlfriend – called and said he was coming up to the Bay. When he arrived, he told us that he and the lady had decided to call it quits and he was driving back to Massachusetts the next morning. Rob – being the crazy longhaired free-spirited world traveler director that he is – decided to cancel his flight and make the trip with his old
friend. He also told me I was going. This is a conversation with Rob about his craft, the past, and the future, after driving across the country towing a U-Haul trailer full of our friend’s belongings. What are you doing? Smoking a J. Curtains opened or closed? Open, just paid the rent. [Laughs] One month and 20 days late. I’ve been avoiding my landlord for two months. Just been avoiding her part of town.
thing every time because this holds true for me. When I sit down and watch a movie, I’m ultimately watching the movie for the story. I’m not a special effects guy. That stuff doesn’t matter to me. Of course I love watching cinematic feats and groundbreaking shit just like anybody else. But ultimately, it’s for the story. If the story is good and the story is there, I allow myself to go on a rollercoaster ride, because half of watching films is sitting down and watching it. I know the magic of movies
is to really let yourself to be swept away in the story. I’m just there. I go there. I think that some things are technically really obvious, even the laymen viewer can check it out, but if the story is bad… Like a lot of television. TV is made a lot quicker and less to the craft. So when I’m hanging with my girl, watching Netflix – I don’t watch a lot of TV – when I’m not really tuned into the story, I notice EVERYTHING. That Defeater video is wild! Bombs
That’s because you fly out to things like the Culture Abuse music video, and then you drive across the country with your motherfucking friends. I’m smoking a spliff, chilling. I’m going to sit here like a little fucking office worker, like some suit and tie fool, and write it all out, and it’s going to be tight as fuck. You’re a fucking sicko, do you know that? There must have been a full moon the night you were conceived and born. My friend who records music can’t listen to certain bands because he thinks about how they’re recorded. Do you do that with movies because that’s your job? No, I get asked that a lot. I say the same
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going off everywhere, people shooting, people dying. Real war stuff. Were the explosions real, and who were all those actors? Mike produced that and – the day before the shoot – his dad built an air-compressing machine for all these explosions to go off. Killed it. Did you just have one chance to do all that? No, it was funny, those guys are like my homies, so I really pulled a lot of favors and stops for them in the sense that they have such a huge concept and such a huge idea, but financially, sometimes you hit a barrier with what you can do. It took every creative trick in the book to make that shit happen. There’s a full war going on in that music video, but we only had like four extras. Literally. The same three people die over 100 times.
was just all so fast. Just a bunch of young kids touring in bands, shit gets crazy man. When you’re not smoking weed, you have no supervision at all, and you get bored, people just stir shit up, man. Some people are wired strangely. I’m still friends with everyone I’ve ever been in a band with. I’m cool with everyone, and I look back at those times as impressionable times in my life, and some of the most important times in my life. I have a lot friends who got into drugs and alcohol at the time – I’m not straight edge anymore – but it’s given me tolerance in my adult life. You understand how far you want to go with things when you create those restrictions earlier on in life. Yes, do some ridiculous shit and just
keep pushing it and push past it. Did you ever think from the beginning to now, this is what it would be? Never, man, no. I remember entering California for the first time. It was 3 a.m. I was driving the van, and I wanted to get to California. I was 17, “I’m going to California. I’m going tonight.” Everyone’s asleep, but we’re getting there. I remember getting there and being like, “Holy shit, I can’t believe punk rock took me here.” I remember that same feeling when I flew into Hong Kong. There’s a guy in a fucking 100 foot fishing boat next to these huge skyscrapers. “Punk brought me here… This is insane.” It’s only been a natural progression from my camera and my curiosity to take me even further. I hope music takes me more places in the
future. I’d like to tour and play music around the world again. Now, I don’t have any expectations. I’m just here for the ride. I don’t say that in a corny way. What else can you do? Don’t ever get too comfy. The future? This fall, I’m recording an album with my band Out of Our Head that will be coming out next year. Moving forward next year, I’ll do the music video thing selectively, but I’ll also be putting out a short film I’ve written. I’ll be going back to New England to shoot that. I’ll be releasing the Culture Abuse video after they send me this ____ they’re supposed to be sending. What? You cut out…
It rules that you hook up the homies, but you’re also doing some bigger budget shit, like Azalea Banks. When you were doing music, did you always know you wanted to do films? Yeah, I always had an interest in it and I always wanted to be a part of it somehow. Maybe I didn’t know I always wanted to be a director, but I always – as a kid – thought, “Man it’d be sweet to make movies.” Are there things that click now when you look back? Yes, it’s like, “Oh shit.” Going to the video store everyday. Or being the guy in the van being like, “Here’s the list of movies we’re going to watch.” We’d have the portable DVD player, all [be] huddled up around it in the van with tons of stolen DVDs from Wal-Mart. Do you miss the road? I’m still on the road, man. True, I don’t really consider this lifestyle still on the road. I mean like when you were playing in First Blood. The thing is, I’m still on the road, but with [touring], I had to deal with six other people in one space, and I still would have a soundcheck at 4 every day. Now I’m just by myself, taking my photos, and going wherever the fuck I want to go. I don’t have a [tour manager] telling me I have a bus call at 3 a.m. So you went on those tours – with “load-ins” and “bus calls” – with some pretty heavy hardcore bands. Were those tours crazy? When I was touring, I was primarily in straight edge bands. It was kind of crazy. At the time… I don’t want to say… There were definitely times, if things got any crazier, people wouldn’t be here type stuff. But at the time, it
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID KELLING
SOMMERS INTERVIEW BY HUTCH
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llison Sommers’ illustrations are startling. There are bold choices in the execution, while exhibiting a fluidity of motion in the corpse-like characters. The vibrant colors contrast the still life and portrait approach. She utilizes familiar figures with missing or grossly altered appendages that intrigue the audience. She has also expanded into multimedia work and has begun working with multiple mediums. When did you start drawing? I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, I think. I was an only child, happy to be alone, and drawing is the thing I’ve always kept myself busy with. Who do you believe your audience is? I don’t target at all. My work may not be for everyone, but I’d be loath to pinpoint my audience. What do you want someone to experience when they look at your drawings? That’s up to them. My experience of the work will necessarily be different than yours. What influence has religion had in your life? How did you process religion as a kid? I was raised in a pretty liberal sect of the Lutheran church, and, as such, I have never felt religion to be particularly dark or intrusive. The Lutherans were the “love-thy-neighbor,” “personalrelationship-with-God” sort of folks. I think I processed the concept of God the way I did imaginary friends, with the added bonus of being able to ask for favors. Now? I’m an atheist.
What do you listen to when you draw? It really depends on what I’m doing. If I’m sketching, or thinking, I listen to a lot of classical, all sorts of stuff, from Mahler to Glass. If I’m in the gruntwork phase of a piece, I’ll often listen to podcasts or talk radio; I like NPR, BBC, stuff like that. You use many bold reds, usually for muscles and blood vessels. What attracts you to blood? I’ve always been attracted to it for some reason. There’s something about the revulsion we’re meant to feel for it, combined with its existence as a life essential, which makes it such a thing of interest. I paint with it, too. Your drawings have a distinct fluidity, almost serpentine like intestines. Where does this instinct regarding dynamics come from? There’s something very fluid and sensual about graphite-on-paper to me, and I think a lot of my line-making springs from just the tactile feel of the medium. That, and who doesn’t like viscera? Will you discuss themes of your painting The Third Decision? I’d prefer not to pinpoint the themes of any one piece, but this piece is from a recent obsession with barrows [a mass of earth or stone over remains of the dead] and mass graves, and the potential intimacy of close-contact bodies in such spaces. You often illustrate figures with missing elements: heads, faces, limbs, hands… Do you feel incomplete? I’d imagine we all do.
the first bands that were doing the ‘good cop, bad cop’ vocals,” he says. “It’s like the most common thing in metal right now to have heavy verses and melodic, clean choruses – or vice versa – but back when Fear Factory’s debut came out, after I signed them in 1992, they were the first band I ever heard doing that, let alone doing it within the genre of death metal!”
MONTE CONNER INTERVIEW BY BRANDON RINGO
uring his time as Roadrunner Records’ A&R wizard, Monte Conner was the man responsible for signing andt developing bands like Fear Factory, Slipknot, Type O Negative, Trivium, and Machine Head. For those who aren’t entirely sure what the duties of an A&R guy entail, it’s basically everything from soup to nuts. “On a day-to-day level, my job is to spot the talent,” Conner explains. “In other words, I have to figure out what bands to sign. Then, once I sign those bands, I have to pair them up with the right producers and mixers to get the records made, and basically oversee everything about the creation of the record including its artwork. Once the records are complete, I get involved in areas like videos and marketing as well.” After leaving Roadrunner in 2012, Conner went on to start a new label called Nuclear Blast Entertainment. “Basically, Nuclear Blast Entertainment is a partnership between myself and the owner of Nuclear Blast Records, Markus Staiger,” he clarifies. “Markus approached me when I left my former company about coming to work for him, and said, ‘Look, why don’t we start a new company together. We’ll call it Nuclear Blast Entertainment, and all of the bands that you sign
will come out on Nuclear Blast Entertainment.’ So, in other words, I don’t personally work with the bands on Nuclear Blast Records, I only work with the bands I sign to Nuclear Blast Entertainment. But it’s not like there are two different companies and staffs. We are all one united team.”
Because of this forward thinking approach, Conner has been at the forefront of quite a few budding trends in metal, making him the proverbial Joneses everyone is trying to keep up with. This proves especially true of his signing bands like Obituary, Suffocation, Gorguts, and even Sepultura in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, helping to ignite a massive extreme metal explosion. “When I signed Sepultura and Obituary, I signed those bands because I thought they were great death metal bands,” he enthuses. “Whether it was Obituary’s uniqueness in the way John Tardy scatted his vocals, or Sepultura’s uniqueness in the fact that they were from Brazil. I saw unique facets in both of those bands. Death metal was a genre that was exciting to me, because I didn’t see a lot of other labels doing it at the time, so it just seemed like a good gamble.” As both a huge fan of music and an
A&R guy, there are plenty of perks to the job, but it does create quite a conundrum. “One of the biggest difficulties about doing A&R is the whole balance of what I call ‘art vs. commerce,’” Conner admits. “You want to sign bands that you’re 100 percent passionate about, that you love, but at the same time, you have to see a market for these bands. So, there are plenty of times when there will be a band I come across that I love, but can’t sign, because I don’t think they can sell records. And on a few occasions, I have signed bands I simply like, as opposed to love, because I feel the label can do well with them. So ideally, you want there to be a balance between the art and the commerce, with the art winning out as often as possible.” It would be understandable for somebody who has navigated the treacherous seas of the music industry as long as Conner has to be burned out on music. That is not the case. “You know, I’ve been signing metal bands now for over 27 years,” he reflects, “so my standards are very tough and I’m really, really particular. It takes a lot to impress me. So, I would say that I have become a lot more jaded over the years, as would anybody in my position. But am I still a fan of music? Absolutely. More than ever!”
So far, Conner has been responsible for signing bands like Machine Head, Thy Art is Murder, and Suicide Silence. Conner’s formula for choosing talent is a very simple one: “Pretty much what I look for is originality,” he admits. “I mean, there are so many bands out there right now, thousands of bands putting records out. There was a time when there were like 2,000 new records coming out a year. Now there’s something like 30 to 35,000 new records a year. It’s insane the amount of stuff that’s coming out, so my job as an A&R guy is to be the gatekeeper, and figure out which bands are going to stand apart, which bands the metal world needs.” One of Conner’s most recent signings through is Fear Factory, a band he also signed during his time at Roadrunner. They are a perfect example of the originality he is looking for. “There are many unique things about Fear Factory. To just cite one example: they were one of
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BARF COMICS I N T E R V I E W
W I T H
J A M E S
C A L L A H A N
H U T C H
“I really am just interested in anatomy and motion. But see[ing] the inner working of the human body requires narrative motivation, and this usually involves violence. I enjoy the deconstruction more than the gore.” This is how artist James Callahan explains the recurring theme of projectile organs and exploding heads in his work. And with the bold colors and survival rate of his deconstructed characters, it rarely feels genuinely violent. Just awesome.
Many people find the underground through skateboarding. It’s about individuality, a “sport” through which you can embrace solitude or gather with friends. Callahan is no exception. “There was a small board company in Virginia called Manifest. They were pretty great about giving used boards to kids. My parents weren’t thrilled about me skating, so that was the only way I could get my hands on one. Trucks and wheels came from other neighborhood kids.”
James Callahan is Barf Comics and – whether you know it or not – you have seen his work if you dwell in subculture. So, why “barf ”? “The name came from me illustrating posters that were fake horror comic posters. They were super gory, but usually involved some goofy toilet joke. Not too long after that, I started freelance illustrating. I kept the name because it was more memorable than my real name.” For 10 years now – located in the DIY haven of Richmond, Va. – Callahan has been exposing the world to his brand of illustration through comics, punk records, and skate decks.
From there, he found Fugazi’s Red Medicine, then the collection of hardcore Dischord 1981: The Year in Seven Inches. Like many kids battling mental stagnation in class, brown bag covered textbooks were a young Callahan’s canvas. “I drew a lot of the Big Boys’ anarchy skate logo, mostly because it was easy and has a skateboard. I still love that band.”
we were pysched on. Not much has changed for me with skating. The things I was into when I was young were still the things I was into in the ‘90s and early 2000s, except they were out of style. I still don’t care that they are coming back into to style, except I get asked to draw more entertaining projects.” On the merch page at barfcomics. com are shirts featuring his most recent creations: a hot dog shark, a Ratso Rizzo-esque avocado, and a king cobra flamingo. Callahan explains, “I like a challenge. Often, this involves combining two or more elements that don’t belong together. The challenge in that is figuring out how to communicate a hopefully never-before-seen concept into an instantly recognizable idea.” Bold, bright colors are also a key component of his style. “I just want the work to move. I want you to look at it and instinctively see what is about to happen next. The color and dimension are just to help you give this work life.” This movement is inspired by the works of Jim Phillips and Geof Darrow. Callahan adds, “I am always absorbing as much work as I can. There are always new artists to find and their perspective to understand.” But before we forget, this is Barf Comics. The Auteur is one such outstanding comic by Callahan, writer Rick Spears, and colorist Luigi Anderson, that started in March. Callahan pitches the book like a cigar-chomping studio exec: “Fresh off the biggest bomb in Hollywood history, producer Nathan T. Rex enters a downward spiral of drugs and depravity in a quest to resurrect his career and save his soul. Over budget and behind schedule on PRESIDENTS
DAY, he is backed into a corner by bad publicity, a crap project, and studio politics. But enlisting serial-killer-turned-murder consultant Darwin, his trusty assistant Igor, narcotics from Doctor Love, and the lovely actress Coconut, T. Rex will stop at nothing in his quest for cinematic fame and glory.” In the comic, T. Rex produces films such as “Zombie High,” “Cosmos,” and the sardonically titled “Ten Commandments 2.” It is inspiring to see Callahan execute his outlandish ideas within the parameters of a narrative structure. He is preparing for 2015 with more single-cell explorations of motion and organic propulsion through more Shipyard Skate projects, film posters – such as the one for Drafthouse Films’ release of Why Don’t You Play in Hell? by director Sion Sono – and Barf Comics’ ongoing adventures in splatter.
These days, while prolifically drawing oddball and offbeat ideas, Callahan’s soundtrack is usually “reverby surf-punk. But, I listen to everything from movie soundtracks and the news, to thrash metal and science podcasts.” According to Callahan, the first piece for which he was actually paid was “a scuba-diving bloodhound for a fish market called Stuart’s Seafood.” He has since cranked out work for Shipyard Skates, Creature Skateboards, Thrasher Magazine, Dark Horse Comics, Obey, Municipal Waste, and Strike Anywhere. He has also banged out a multitude of comics under the titles of Barf and Auteur. Unsurprisingly, one project features an imaginary national league of skateboard teams. “Adam Creagan from Thrasher approached me about drawing team logos as if there were a national league,” Callahan explains. “We just riffed on it until we came up with a bunch
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Choice cuts from 2014
The new death metal masterclass featuring Katatonia, Opeth & Paradise Lost members.
The highly anticipated new studio album from the Norwegian black metal pioneers.
Grand Morbid Funeral
www.peaceville.com facebook.com/peacevillerecords twitter.com/peacevillerecs youtube.com/peacevillerecords instagram.com/peacevillerecords
20 YEARS OF SINNIN’
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY NGUYEN
was gonna go down in a way that wasn’t on our terms.
BLOODSHOT RECORDS INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDERS NAN WARSHAW AND ROB MILLER BY JOHN B MOORE
Founded 20 years ago by three likeminded alternative country fans in Chicago, the Bloodshot Records is still run by co-founders Nan Warshaw and Rob Miller. Over the years, the label has put out records by musicians like Ryan Adams, Old 97’s, Neko Case, and many more. To celebrate the two decades since their first release, For a Life of Sin: A Compilation of Insurgent Chicago Country, they are putting out an impressive 38 track album featuring artists like Ted Leo, Chuck Ragan, and Superchunk, digging deep into the catalog and covering songs by Bloodshot bands. What made you decide to start the label? RM: Boredom, naiveté, a complete lack of self-awareness for what we might be getting ourselves into. You know, the usual recipe for starting things. We also felt that the underground roots scene in Chicago – which was being categorically ignored by everyone at the time – deserved some sort of documentation. It also seemed like a good way to cadge some free drinks and guest list spots around town. Did you have a stronger affinity to punk rock or country? NW: Punk rock was an essential soundtrack to our lives. Rob and I were each college DJs, and played drums in punk rock bands. In the late ‘80s, the music industry discovered Chicago, and then proceeded to sign alt rock knockoff bands. I had been DJing, and began throwing in the occasional country song to shake things up. It was only when we began putting together our first release, For a Life of Sin: Insurgent Chicago Country, did we learn about the rich history of traditional country music in Chicago. RM: Everything I’ve done in my adult life has been deeply informed by my immersion in the punk scene as a teenager. The whole Crass edict of “If you don’t like the rules they make,
refuse to play their game.” At the time we started, I found the collision of roots and punk to be a natural and exciting one. As Harlan Howard – the great songwriter – said, “It’s three chords and the truth.” That’s what Black Flag was and that’s what Johnny Cash was. Were there any other independent labels you looked to as inspiration? NW: We looked toward labels like Touch and Go, Dischord, Twin Tone, Amphetamine Reptile, SST, and Homestead as DIY examples. Plus historic labels such as Stax and Motown as stylistic models. From the get-go, we saw the value of creating a sonic identity. We also knew the only reason to work within the bowels of the music industry was to be able to further the careers of artists we loved. What was the hardest lesson to learn from starting and running the label? RM: We are still learning them. Be it technology, personalities, or the vagaries of popular culture, new and oddly shaped hurdles are always being thrown in front of us. We remain – in our hearts – dedicated music fans, not business people or industry hacks. It’s always surprising – though it shouldn’t be at this point – when people you work with in some capacity behave in ways that are… Hmm… Disappointing… Or when our intentions are called into question.
You have discovered a ton of great bands. Does it bother you when they leave for a larger label? RM: Not at all. I mean, some folks do it more gracefully than others, but ultimately, it’s a success story. The goal is to get an artist you believe in heard by more people. If they feel that going “up the ladder” is the best way to do it, our job is to get out of the way. We can’t buy people tour buses or operate – nor are we willing to operate – in the more unseemly realms of the “industry” that one often has to deal with to get ahead. Besides, a rising tide lifts all boats. The anniversary record is amazing. How much work was it to line everyone up? Did the artists get to decide which songs they wanted to cover? RM: The great aspect of this record is the energy and creativity our staff – all giddy music fans – brought to this. Given my tenure here and my personality bent, it’s hard for me to self-promote, look back, or take a compliment, so their enthusiasm was humbling and the array of artists they reached out to showed a bravado that I greatly admire. The breadth of
talent, and the speed with which they responded, was really startling. To think that what we’ve done would have resonated with people in so many dark corners of the sonic spectrum is so humbling and exciting. And the choices the artists made were largely organic, and oftentimes deep catalog and surprising. Some were rather faithful and some were total reimaginings. What could be more fun than that? What do you look for when signing new bands? RM: To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart talking about pornography: “I know it when I see it.” You see it and it grabs you. Simple. Try to not let your brain get in the way. First time I saw Justin Townes Earle – halfway through the second song of his solo set at some weird house party in a suburb north of Chicago – I KNEW I had to work with the guy. Also, there has to be a willingness to work as hard behind the record as we do – we can’t care more than they do – and to play it like you mean it. I hate it when people look bored playing their own music. If it doesn’t move YOU, why should I give a shit?
Was there ever a point when you almost shut the label down? NW: No. We made a point of resisting the boom and bust mentality. When Ryan Adams’s Heartbreaker album took off, we didn’t move to a fancy office building and hire a receptionist. Instead, we hired indie publicists and promoters to work specific releases. RM: I think there have been a couple of rough patches – say during the crash of 2008 – when in the dark corners of our hearts, we wondered if we could carry on effectively. But I was goddamned if I
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
WES JOHNSON OF ARCHIVE RECORDINGS
I N T E RV I E W B Y M AT T M A S C A R E N A S
t’s always impressive when musicians are involved in every aspect of writing and recording music. Producer Wes Johnson has been earning a name for himself in Salt Lake City, Utah, the past several years, recording bands all over the genre spectrum. Johnson’s most recent notable work is recording Nothing for Us Here by Cult Leader, for Deathwish Inc. What made you decide you wanted to make records? Growing up, I always was the one trying to record my band, starting with a karaoke machine at age 10, a Tascam four-track cassette recorder when I was 12, then recording at a proper studio. I knew right away that audio engineering was what I wanted to do. How did you start? What were the first moves you made? I was fortunate enough to discover a place in downtown SLC called Spy-Hop when I was 15. I applied for one of the apprenticeships they offered for Audio Production and Design. It was a great way to spend my evenings when I was done with school, and on the weekends. I was able to learn the basics of audio theory, record my own band for the first time, learn Pro Tools, and most importantly, make some friendships
that I still hold to this day. Throughout high school, I had a portable recording rig that I would use to record my bands and friends’ bands in various basements and living rooms. It was a great crash course in dealing with acoustics and the impact it had on recording. After high school, I was accepted into the University of Utah’s jazz program for guitar studies, but instead, found a studio space/apartment that I lived in, and recorded as many bands as I could for the next four to five years. What are some of the most monumental learning experiences you’ve had so far? I did a week long workshop with the great Michael Wagner (Dokken, Metallica, Megadeath) where we spent nine days producing, tracking, and mixing one song for a band in great depth. I also did a great three month internship at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, Calif., where I got to be a coffee and cleaning bitch along with assisting Oz Fritz (Tom Waits, Iggy pop, The Ramones) on a few records, which was a great experience. You recently recorded Cult Leader’s debut EP. How did that come together? My best friend Sam Richards, the bass player of Cult Leader, called me and
asked if I was interested in doing a demo for them. I immediately said yes. They came into the studio for a weekend with the intention of demoing out the songs that they had written. There were no expectations for an actual release, aside from posting some songs online and just having something to send out to the friends and connections they had made while they were in their previous band, Gaza. Even though it was intended as a demo, I still recorded it for them as if it was going to be released. I am a firm believer in always going for it and making something the best that it can be, even if it is intended to be a demo. How do you guide musicians to reach their full potential while recording? I try to figure out three things before working with a band. The first is what they want to accomplish with the recording. The second is figuring out the best way to accomplish their goal. And the third, which is most important, is figuring out their personalities and what part each member plays in the band; who is the guy who takes the brunt of the jokes, the guy who is the primary songwriter or band leader, the guy who is the business and marketing guy? I try to figure all of this out so I can guide the session and everyone’s
personalities to be captured the best way possible for the recording. You play in Traveler’s Cold and Reviver. How does recording bands differ from playing in bands? Do you prefer one over the other? I can’t really pick a favorite. Both help me accomplish the same goal, which is to always be creative and constantly progressing myself personally and musically. I started out just playing in punk bands when I was young, but I always have had the recording itch. As far as the bands that I play in, I am way fortunate that not only are they some of the best musicians I know, they are also my best friends. Is there a new type of project you’d like to take on? I think doing a proper live record would be fun and challenging. I would like to actually get a multi-track session from a live show – or a few – and do a proper mix in the studio. Also, if Iggy Pop wanted to do a record, that would be sweet.
I thought we might do something a little different this issue and discuss color. Colored vinyl is hip as hell, it’s becoming an artform of it’s own. So here’s some of my favorite hues of 2014. IRON REAGAN - TYRANNY OF WILL
YOU BLUE IT - WEEZER COVERS 10”
This bitch looks like a dried up blood spill. Deep red mixed with black? Not even straight black is that fucking tight.
Being a Weezer cover album, the things gotta be blue. The ring of cornflower blue surrounding the mostly white vinyl is so dope you wish you had a copy.
MER I D I AN
CATHEDR AL R E S T O R A T I O N S
This color way embodies the American spirit in ways no other record does in this list. Red and Blow half/half makes for a pretty patriotic looking LP with a little bit of purple thrown in the mixture between colors to please the hippies.
L P 3
This thing is weird. I’m not even really sure what the color way is called. Yellow/ Orange/Brown/Red/Purple smear? Who knows. It’s still rad and definitely one of the more unique colors of the year.
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
7 ” VIOLENT SOHO - HUNGRY GHOST
This little guy is the youngest rapper on Rhyme Sayers, and this is his first physical output. This soothing green vinyl just catches the eye and totally encapsulates the vibe of the track. This single is definitely worth picking up if you’re into backpacker type hip hop.
So THAT’S what it looks like to be burned alive by a volcano. I’ve never seen a vinyl color reflect the cover arts theme more perfectly than this. And just to note, Side One Dummy does a really cool job at keeping their color game on point. Keep it up.
THE HOTELIER - HOME, LIKE NOPLACE IS THERE G U I L T Not even sure which pressing this is, but this is my favorite color way. It’s a yellow/ orange/white swirly looking thing and I think it looks just swell. I told myself I’d never discuss the actual music on these musical Frisbees, but this is probably one of the best albums, in my opinion, to come out in years. If you’ve been sleepin’ on this, wake the fuck up.
- PRIMITIVE FORM
So…. This is clearly not a record. It’s a tape. I know this is a vinyl column, but this was sent to me by the wonderful people at Cricket Cemetery Records. This shit is like, hand dipped swirly DIY goodness. Black and gray, no fucks given. I’ll be showing off some more of their rad stuff later on next year because they truly put a ton of effort into their releases, but this is a good appeteaser for now.
So that’s pretty much it for 2014. I know the economy is bad, everybody is broke, the rent is too damn high... I get it. Buying music seems so frivolous anymore that most of you just google the album you want and add “blogspot” or “zippyshare” to the end of it and get it for free. I’m not gonna lie, I do it too. But what does that say about us as music fans? Are you less of a fan if you’re not sinking your mostly empty wallet into records? I don’t think so. A lot of smug motherfuckers out there will say, “well, I don’t download music illegally,” and try to make you feel like shit. Fuck that. You are allowed to do whatever the fuck you want. But I will say that supporting bands directly by going to shows and buying merch is the absolute best way to spend any money you have set aside for music. Second to that would be supporting small, independent labels who bust their asses to bring you new music that they have a passion for. In the long run, nobody is really floating in cash on this level, so the community solely relies on pre-orders and vinyl. But don’t let the fact that you don’t buy records make you feel like you’re not important to the process. Most labels stream all of their albums for free on various websites. The best thing you can do is share that music with your friends or other like minded people. Word of mouth is a much more powerful weapon now than it ever was. The internet is a neverending pond of new music and ideas and shitty opinions and porn and all sorts of crap. Why not use it for good and share something you love with the people you love. Shit, your parents probably conceived you to the B-Side of a Kenny Loggins record. That’s some important ass shit right there. So, as we slowly waltz our way into 2015, I want to challenge you to find 1 record that you just can’t live without. And when you find that record, I want you to share it with 15 people. It’s no guarantee all 15 will be as stoked as you are, but there’s a really good chance a few will. Share the fuck out of it. Or if you’re feeling extra fucking frisky, make a playlist or a mix cd or god forbid an actual mix tape. Make one for your friend, for your lover, for your mom, for your crush that you haven’t told how you feel about them yet, for a coworker, whoever! Give that stupid gift of music to someone, anybody who will listen. Sing along in the car to your favorite songs with your best friends. There’s no better feeling, I guarantee it. “Darling, my attitude is ‘fuck it’; I’m doing everything with everyone.” - Freddie Mercury, 1979 @ NEWNOISEMAGS
In a similar vein are Germany’s Nuclear Warfare, whose emphatically titled fourth full-length Just Fucking Thrash was released via MDD Records. It’s a solid, no-frills headbanger taking cues from the beer-friendly school of Tankard, and – while it might not excite the more adventurous listener – it cannot be faulted for a record when titled so honestly. But, if it is a visceral wild-rapids ride of brutally mechanical thrash you seek, look no further than Bloodshot Dawn’s latest LP Demons. Undoubtedly too technically refined for some – especially the pronounced melodeath/ Meshuggah moments – Demons certainly proves the U.K.’s footing in the death-thrash world.
Summer is long gone and, as we retire our zombie-monster-whatever Halloween costumes for another year, the onset of winter suddenly becomes all too real. King Diamond’s hotly anticipated shows are but a distant memory, as are the respective thrash roadshows from Kreator, Artillery and Onslaught, and the Toxik, Vektor, Blood Feast Halloween bash at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar. Inevitably, the frostbitten bleakness of winter draws near – unless, of course, you live in a climate unaffected by the indiscriminate howls of Arctic weather fronts – and it is perhaps best to look back to the depths of last winter and (re)introduce ourselves to London’s epic speed metal newcomers Hundred. Their self-released EP The Forest Kingdom has been floating around since January 2014 and is now subject to something of a minor rerelease. The most important
Equally imaginative while operating at the opposite end of the death/ black spectrum are Belgium’s epic and blackened thrashers Onheil and their Storm is Coming full-length, released through German label Cyclone Empire. Infused with the grandiose melodies of heavy metal, black metal’s vocal rasp, and the ever important rhythmic gallop running throughout, Storm is Coming can, at times, stray too far from its thrash roots, but is not without worth as the sort of thrash George R. R. Martin characters might well bang – and decapitate – heads to. It’s delightfully wintery, too, which means we have come full circle in preparation for the darkness that lies ahead. Wrap up, drink whiskey, and thrash on!
factor is, however, whether or not the idea of Pagan Altar riffing with Holy Terror warms yer wintry cockles. One would assume the answer to such a query will always be an affirmative FUCK YEAH!, so it is with utmost urgency you lend your ears to these young guns’ three guitar magical attack! An alternative remedy to winter’s dark nights and frosty mornings is the age-old and foolproof method of shotgunning beers to vicious and hostile crossover, particularly that of Helsinki’s mighty thrash warriors Foreseen. There’s been an seemingly endless stream of truly killer Finnish thrash in recent times, and Foreseen stand tall among their peers with debut LP Helsinki Savagery, a hearty fistpump to crossover legends Carnivore, Nuclear Assault, Cro-Mags, S.O.D., and Violence. The LP and CD versions are seeing a U.S. release via 20 Buck Spin.
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE
NEW NOISE MAGAZINE