IN THE STUDIO WITH
RED FANG INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST DAVID SULLIVAN BY JOE SMITH-ENGELHARDT
ortland, Ore.’s Red Fang—who recently celebrated their 10th anniversary as a band—entered the studio late February to record their yet untitled fourth album and third release with Relapse Records. The band began recording the follow-up to 2013’s Whales and Leaches while living at renowned producer Ross Robinson’s home studio in California. Guitarist David Sullivan describes the process so far as intense, with a minimum of eight hours every day being dedicated to the album.
prominent in their sound. They have always taken an approach of letting their songs develop organically as they’re being written and continued that approach for the new album. The guitarist says that some of the songs have a more punk rock edge, others are fast and heavy, and some even exhibit pop characteristics while still having the band’s signature rock vibe. “We’re not trying to be a certain style,” Sullivan says. “We just do what we enjoy, and it seems like people are also into it.”
“We’re fully immersed,” says Sullivan. “It’s not like we go to the studio, then we go back home. It’s nice, because you’re just fully immersed in it instead of going to the studio, working, then getting out of creating mode.”
Red Fang played a mini tour across the Northwestern U.S. last December to celebrate their 10th anniversary, as well as a few shows on the way to Robinson’s studio. “We were going to do a special show in Portland,” says Sullivan. “We kept talking about how the very first show we played was in the basement at a house I used to live in and we used to practice in. We thought, what if we do a 10 year anniversary show in that same basement! But, I don’t live there anymore, and it would exclude too many people because it’s a small space, so we decided to do a mini tour.”
The band took a more relaxed approach to writing their new album compared to their previous release. “The last record, we had a three month break at home between tours and we were like, ‘We’ve got to get a new record out there,’” says Sullivan. “So we did it all real quick and booked studio time. I didn’t really enjoy that. It was too much pressure to get things done with a self-imposed deadline.” The group spent a lot more time working on songs for the new album and have been working together with Robinson on arrangements, something the group has never tried with a producer. Sullivan describes the new material as being varied in style, but the core essence of Red Fang is still
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The band used these live show to test out some of the new songs and see how they could develop them further. “Originally, when we talked about this album, we thought it would be great if we could write these songs and actually take them out on the road and play them,” Sullivan explains. “Just get really familiar with them and get to know the song, and see what’s working and what’s not.”
Red Fang continued tweaking riffs and arrangements with Robinson in the studio—and on their own on the way to his studio. “It’s one of those things where you have to get to a point with a song and say, ‘This is the shape it’s supposed to be,’ but it’s kind of endless,” admits Sullivan. The guitarist says he was unsure of Robinson before meeting him based on some of the bands he has produced in the past, such as Slipknot, KoЯn, Fear Factory, and Limp Bizkit, among others. “They weren’t exactly my style. At the time, they were great, but I was like, ‘I dunno, that seems like an odd combination,’” says Sullivan. Robinson traveled to the band’s hometown to meet them and the group was sold on working with him right away. “After meeting Ross, I realized he’s not going to push us towards any particular genre or any style,” Sullivan continues. “He’s just going to help us do what we want to do.” The group is still in the process of getting artwork for the album and deciding on a title, but are already working on a new music video with director Whitey McConnaughy, who has previously worked with bands such as Flogging Molly, Off!, and Turbonegro, as well as filming and writing nearly all of Red Fang’s previous videos. The band are also planning a full tour in support of the new album sometime after its release in the fall on which they will hit up both Europe and the U.S.
shines a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA+ commuFqP nity and the world of alternative music. While queer
representation is often refracted through the prism of normative curiosities and concerns, FQP features queer voices saying whatever they want, however they want. Don’t fear the realness.
F E AT U R I N G M O N I CA T R I N I DA D
Chicagoan artist, writer, and organizer Monica Trinidad’s resume is constantly growing. In 2012, she founded zine collective Brown And Proud Press, which she says focuses on “sharing personal narratives of struggle as a catalyst for social change and healing.” Last fall, she joined her first band, Cochina, which allowed her the chance to further expand her community of “rad queer punks” through a 12 day tour that she plans to document as a zine. In January of this year, she co-founded For The People Artists Collective, which aims to “create work that uplifts and projects struggle, resistance, and survival within and for our marginalized communities.” For the past two years, Trinidad has helped to organize the Chicago queer and trans punk festival, Fed Up Fest. It may be tempting to see Trinidad as “tireless,” but to do so would undermine her efforts. No human is tireless, and her work often centers on the crucial need for self-care and community care when engaging in critical activism. To that end, in 2016, Fed Up Fest will be continuing on without her. In her own words, here’s why… Intersectionality is a thing. Organizing a queer punk fest while a Black and brown punk fest was also a thing being
organized made me feel like I had to choose between which identity I wanted to highlight. But there wasn’t anyone intentionally making me choose, saying, “Monica, are you queer, or are you brown?” The Fed Up Fest collective in both 2014 and 2015 was an even ratio of white people and people of color, yet the fest still attracted a mostly white audience, and that was really hard to see after putting lots of effort into making sure the bands, workshop facilitators, zine readers, and tabling organizations weren’t all white. It was also hard to hear a lot of folks in the punk community completely whitewash our collective and subsequent fests. When you’re putting in so much energy and labor as a queer, brown femme, and then you hear that stuff, it can really disempower you from continuing to do the work and rid you of any desire to be present in that community. The Black and brown punk fests were also sorely, visibly missing white punks from the attendance list. No one said they couldn’t attend Black And Brown Punk Fest; in fact, some monetary support would’ve been impactful, yet the non-presence was noticeable. I think all of these dynamics speak volumes to the level of work that still needs to
be done in Chicago’s punk community: challenging heterosexism, transphobia, white supremacy, visibility and social capital, racism, and anti-Blackness, to name a few. In hindsight, maybe there was something we could’ve all done to make these connections feel more solid. We know there are Black and brown queer people, and queer Black and brown people, so how do you navigate that and create spaces where both of those identities can be uplifted and respected in their own right, while also drawing visible and tangible connections between the two? Chicago’s punk community has had its fair share of homophobia, racism, and anti-Blackness, so it makes sense that queer and trans people would want to create a new space away from the bullshit, and that Black and brown folks would also want to create a space away from white punk-landia. I think I personally chose to organize with Fed Up Fest collective and not Black And Brown Punk Collective, because I was at a place in my life where I was trying to come out to my family and extended communities, and so, surrounding myself with “all things queer” was a priority for me. I’ve phased out of organizing with Fed Up Fest this year, for many reasons, but mostly because I got really busy being active with organizations challenging police violence in Chicago. I still support Fed Up Fest continuing this year. It’s actually really important that collectives organizing huge, annual events rotate members often to decrease burnout of individuals. It also decreases the chances of repetitiveness
or overlooking important critiques. In my dream world, it would’ve been so beautiful to make both fests happen in the same week, with one fest kicking it off on one weekend, and another fest closing it out the following weekend. In between could’ve been tons of workshops, basement shows, panels, DIY skill-shares, etc., etc. It could be such a magical week in Chicago. I’ve found solace in art and zine-making as a way to uplift all of the pieces of me that exist. Creating zines with queer people of color, both punk and nonpunk, has been therapeutic and essential for me in remembering that DIY culture is deeply rooted in challenging dominant narratives and norms. Queer people of color have always existed in punk, at basement shows, in zines, at zine fests, in radical organizations, and in uprisings. It’s been incredible seeing more queer and trans people of color feeling more comfortable and able to be out about their identities in all of these spaces, and I know it’s definitely due to the work that went into spaces like Fed Up Fest and Black And Brown Punk Fest. But what do we do when those distinct spaces no longer feel like enough? One of my favorite radical, revolutionary women, named Mariame Kaba, always reminds me that “sometimes it’s okay to let organizations die” once they’ve accomplished what they set out to do. Not that I necessarily want these two fests to cease existing, but to instead explore possibilities of something bigger and more sustainable. Doing that requires lots of work and everyone on board, and it didn’t seem like we were all quite there yet.
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more mature and a littler darker than their previous efforts. Schmidt describes the writing process, saying that “a song was brought to the table, and then, we would mush it around like a toddler with Play-Doh until it felt right.” He also attributes some of Western Settings’ musical growth to Chicken, saying, “We did have a rad producer helping us with opinions and ideas throughout the writing process, which definitely was different and really awesome.”
SAN DIEGO BURRITO CRUSADERS- WESTERN SETTINGS INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/BASSIST RICKY SCHMIDT BY DYLAN HENSLEY
Western Settings’ new EP, Old Pain, came about due to a moment of rare opportunity for the San Diego Punk band. Singer and bassist Ricky Schmidt explains that this EP was written as the band was coming off of the Dying Scene Records release of their debut
album, Yes It Is, explaining that they were “originally going to do just two songs and shoot for a split with another band, [but] when the option to work with [Tyson] ‘Chicken’ [Annicharico of Dead To Me] came available, we said, ‘Uhhh… We want to write all the
At just over a year old, Homosuperior out of Washington, D.C., are hitting the ground running and spreading their wings as a transcore/queercore band. The group—Anderson on guitar, KC on bass, Kit on drums, and Josh on vocals—formed on New Year’s Eve of 2014 and started writing songs shortly afterwards. The members of Homosuperior were all out by that time. As Kit says, “Starting Homosuperior wasn’t a response to being queer in a punk scene. Wanting more queer and trans representation in punk was and is definitely a driving force, though.”
they had their own personal goal to “create more and stronger overlaps between D.C.’s punk and queer scenes.” It seems to be working. Kit says that they have seen more and more queers who don’t go to punk shows coming out for their sets.
“Making music has always been a reactionary thing for me, so right now, I’m more concerned about the fucked up things that are happening to other trans people,” Anderson says. As Josh puts it, “The band was more of a response to turning 30. It was a ‘now or never’ kind of realization.” Though their main agenda is to be themselves and have fun while doing so, Kit says
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songs with this dude.’ So, we settled with the five song EP.” The end result—which is available on vinyl via Creator-Destructor, and digital and CD via guitarist Will Castro’s imprint, La Escalera Records—was something a little
“I was going through a little dark, rough patch; a lot of the people surrounding me were also.” Schmidt says, explaining the less cheery sound and lyrics of these songs. “I made a point to not be doom and gloomy about it, but rather, ‘We’re going through this and most people do, and that’s that and we’ll be OK.’ Everyone hits darkness repeatedly through life, and this one touches on that a little.”
QUEER FOLK TO THE FRONT- HOMOSUPERIOR
“People are amped to see a band this flagrant, I think,” KC adds. Outside of the band, the members have been doing a fair amount of footwork to further the inclusion. Since 2011, Josh has been hosting a dance party and alternative drag show called Gay/Bash! at the Black Cat, a punk bar and venue in D.C. “I got a lot of shit for the name at first, but people eventually understood that it’s a ‘fuck you’ to homophobes,” they clarify. In 2011, KC helmed the documentary, “From the Back of the Room,” about feminism and punk. KC says, “Folks have been really great and gracious about the film, and I have grown hugely as a result of its release and distribu-
PHOTO: KATHERINE GAINES
INTERVIEW BY KAYLA GREET tion.” Homosuperior lyrically cover “typical shit, from a jaded queer perspective,” Josh says. They elaborate that infatuation, addiction, religious hypocrisy, as well as love, money, and social struggles are all common themes in their mu-
sic. “And the mall, because duh,” Josh includes. Homosuperior just finished up a small East Coast tour and hope to get a few more shows outside of D.C. under their belt soon. Their demo, aptly titled Mall Madness, is available on the group’s Bandcamp page.
Looking for what you want to chase in life often requires letting go of your roots and sowing seeds elsewhere. The Florida based pop/R&B duo, Colours—vocalist Kyle Tamo and drummer Morgan Alley— held strong ties to the rock scene, but were looking for a new outlet for their creativity. They turned from their rock ‘n’ roll past and stepped into a world of pop music and art. “We had an idea to pursue something a little bit more in [a pop] direction, something that fell away from the ‘scene,’ the rock music scene,” Alley explains. “It’s something that’d been on our minds for a long time.” When the two first encountered each other through mutual friends, they began bouncing ideas back and forth and quickly realized they had shared goals and desires. It was a connection that both knew was worth exploring. “When Kyle and I met, it was almost instantaneous,” Alley says of their bond. “We had a synergy to each
other when it came to writing music and when it came to the aesthetic of music.” Colours first began releasing music through a series of music videos and live performances online. This collection of songs ultimately made up the band’s first EP. It was these tracks that would catch the attention of fans and even Victory Records. “Victory was a really unexpected label for us to jump on with,” Alley admits. “Despite us being a bit of a different band for their roster, they believed in us and our vision.” With a label behind them and the drive to create more than just songs—to create art—the band recently released their first full-length LP, Ivory, on Feb. 26 after years of writing and preparing. “We started writing the record back in 2013,” Alley explains. “It feels so good to finally be able to share [these songs] with the public. It’s been such a long time coming for us.”
DANK BASEMENT SOUNDS- GEOMETERS PHOTO: TIM HUTTON
INTERVIEW WITH KYLE POLLARD, SAM WADSWORTH, & DAVID BEALE BY DYLAN HENSLEY “I feared for the structural integrity of that poor little old wooden house on the hill,” says vocalist and guitarist Kyle Pollard of a Geometers show at a longstanding punk house. “Everyone knew it was ridiculous, but also knew it sounded great. So many bands have shticks, whether it’s costumes or three keyboard players or [being] totally assed out and drowned in reverb,” he
continues. “Maybe, unintentionally, I think our shtick […] is the fact that we roll up with a ridiculous amount of wattage.”
San Diego skate punks Castoff began for no other reason than vocalist and guitarist Bill Hockmuth was looking for people to play music with. “I was spending time demoing songs in the months after my first son was born, and I suppose it seemed like a good idea to try to find people who would want to play and record them,” he says. “Brought some guys I had jammed with a bit before onboard, and that’s what started it. Not too much of a unique or interesting story,” he laughs.
him on immediately. Josh became our drummer early in 2015, as he came on a recommendation from a mutual friend. He just blew us away during the audition, and we were set to go with the new lineup in January 2015. They all really changed the band for the better in a very significant way.”
2014 proved to be the year of change for Castoff, as the original drummer, bassist, and guitarist left the band. Hockmuth says the addition of guitarist Ron Santiago, bassist Brandon Lounsbury, and drummer Josh Kidd set the band on a better path. “It actually ended up being a great opportunity to bring in Brandon to play bass, since I’d known him for a while and was familiar with his playing from seeing him in other bands,” Hockmuth explains. “I knew he would be a great fit and brought
Drummer David Beale explains that Geometers came into their own as a band “when we got our live rig together and got our sound. It’s something that a lot of bands are overlooking, especially in [New
The band is ready to release their newest full-length, First Step to Recovery, through Bird Attack Records in the U.S. and Morning Wood Records abroad. Castoff were able to put much more into First Step to Recovery than they were with previous recordings. “We were able to spend a lot more time on preproduction in crafting and arranging the songs this time around,” Hockmuth expands. “The last EP we threw together much more quickly, and while we still really like those songs, we wanted to grow a bit in our songwriting on this effort. We also recorded this one out of town, whereas the previous EP, we recorded local in San Diego.”
PHOTO: DUSTIN SMITH
MORE THAN JUST SONGS- COLOURS
INTERVIEW WITH DRUMMER MORGAN ALLEY BY ANNETTE HANSEN But Alley says what’s most important to the band is that they release music that is so much more than just catchy. Alley concludes, “I think that attention to detail is
so important within your music and outside of your music, to create an experience for people. I think the attention to detail is how we really focus on the art of Colours.”
York].” Much to his dismay, “no one really cares about gear or tone or anything. Bands aren’t very loud. Rock ‘n’ roll is not alive and well in NYC.”
Bassist Sam Wadsworth explains their process: “A majority of our songs are totally collaborative. Written in the same dank basement, being really loud together.” This chemistry developed when Beale joined the band. Wadsworth refers to him as “a totally competent guitarist who writes songs, so we have a pretty strong melodic perspective when we get together. Even just messing around with a riff, somehow that will catch someone’s ear and they’ll say, ‘Hey, keep playing that, I got an idea.’ Then, that will spawn the next idea and the next idea.”
This pursuit of tone shapes their sound almost as much as their shared influences. All three members come to the table with equal appreciation of Dischord Records and Jawbox. It is no wonder that they chose to record their forthcoming full-length with J. Robbins, an experience that moved quickly from being awe-inducing to stressful, forcing them to cut more material than could fit on an LP. Considering the time it would take for the record to be pressed, the band decided to carefully excise those songs that did not fit thematically and hit the road with a self-titled EP on limited cassette via their own imprint, Codependent Records. The Geometers EP is also available digitally via JetsamFlotsam, while their full-length is tentatively set for release this summer.
Beale chimes in, adding that they “all make each other think about what we’re doing a different way. As long as we keep doing that, we can be a band indefinitely. We could play one show a year; as long as we’re challenging each other, I would still consider us a serious band.”
SKATE PUNKS OF SUBSTANCE- CASTOFF
PHOTO: PAUL SILVER
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST BILL HOCKMUTH BY GABI CHEPURNY Castoff continue to provide their listeners with something of substance. Their catchy hooks and driving riffs are backed up with lyrics that actually say something, as they tackle real life social issues. Hockmuth explains, “Personally, I love reading what a
band or artist has to say. It’s also one of my absolute favorite parts of writing a song. I believe a great melody or great riff just seems empty without great lyrics.”
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Bassist Cody Sullivan explains Vibrating Antennas’ itinerary as “just fun, noise, and art.” Santa Rosa, Calif.’s fuzz-drenched postpunk trio express their ideas through harsh, heavy chords. The Vibrating Antennas follow up their initial release—2014’s The L’ength on Broke Hatrè—with a subdued ride of tension, State of the Art, out since Jan. 8 via Melotov Records. Thick, fuzzy guitar tones swirl around heavy riff-laden bass lines, building an atmosphere of loftiness that could crossover to the shoegaze realm if not for the punchy percussion acting as an anchor keeping the swimming vocals from drifting too far out to sea. State of the Art was recorded at Grizzly Studios. Sullivan reports, “We engineered it and mixed it and produced it ourselves with the help from our friend, RJ Phillips. We wanted a free and ultra-intimate experience. We got that by not having a professional engineer. We love learning and experimenting, and although it took more time and effort by trial and error, we’re better for it. The record is
better for it. Tracking went pretty fast, so we had time to layer cool shit on it.” The ability and time to produce State of the Art themselves was key, as The Vibrating Antennas thrive on reticent, spacey vibrations and syncopated rhythms. Distant and reserved, the music pulsates and feeds itself. A raw, coarse sound finishes ideas that Sullivan and crew had polished before the studio. “Almost all of [the record] was written, musically,” he says. “The vocals were hashed out and reworked quite a bit in the studio.” The themes of The Vibrating Antennas are evident and reflected within the title, State of the Art. Sullivan relays, “Most of the songs are about living life as an artist, thinking about abstraction constantly.” Sullivan is delving into the dynamics of “the mystical creation of ideas in art.” Their sonic expressions echo the massive inspiration from perpetual wonder. “We stand in awe when music reveals itself,” he adds.
PAST FEELING BETTER- HODERA
PHOTO: ROLLING WHEELS
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST MATTHEW SMITH BY SEAN GONZALEZ Last summer, New Jersey’s Hodera exploded onto the music scene’s radar with the release of their debut album, United By Birdcalls, released via All Sounds.
Its lead single, “Feel Better,” saw some wide success and charted on the Top 50 Viral playlist on Spotify for a few weeks last fall. After touring FEST 14 and the
Hammer Fight spew booze-fueled, heavy blazing metal out of New Jersey. With two albums on the Horror Pain Gore Death label since 2011, they now unleash Profound and Profane March 25 on Napalm Records. Hammer Fight’s sound taps their Motörhead influence like an IV bag. Vocalist and bassist Drew Murphy espouses his love of beer and harsh metal, reviewing his recipe of mourning when Lemmy passed: “I got a bottle of Jack Daniels, a pack of Marlboro Reds, and was severely late for work the next day.”
The knobs were manned by Bobby Torres at Frightbox Studios in Rutherford, N.J. Murphy spits adoration quickly: “He’s a maniac, a musical genius, and tons of fun. If he was the only guy we ever record with again, that would be fine with me.” The two months spent recording Profound and Profane exhibit an increase in sweat and quality for Hammer Fight. Murphy points to his band, producer, and one more element that added a new punch: “That added oomph is the work of Mr. [Pete] Rutcho doing the mix and mastering. That guy knew exactly what we were looking for and he nailed it.”
Hammer Fight have been tearing up stages and speakers for five years. After getting their mixes back for this album, Napalm called. The sound on Profound and Profane is big, thick and sharp. Polished production boosts the low-end rumbles, while allowing Murphy’s growl to intimidate. These elements sync with wailing solos and dirty riffs of dual guitars. Murphy comments on the recording. “We just went in there and banged it out,” he says. “It was honestly the most fulfilling creative experience of my life.”
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Titles like “Low & Broken” and “Gods of Rock ‘n’ Roll” prove odes to selfdestruction still exist. However, songs like “Target Acquired” and “The Ultimate Sacrifice” show Hammer Fight donning a political edge. Murphy doesn’t pause. “We’re far from a political band, but some topics are hard to avoid,” he says. “War is fucking gross. Politics are fucking gross.” Hammer Fight kick tunes about living hard
MYSTICAL CREATION OF IDEAS- VIBRATING ANTENNAS
INTERVIEW WITH BASSIST C O DY SULLIVAN BY H U TC H Sullivan reiterates that perpetual engagement as he contemplates how this album impacts him now, with objective distance: “We’re all pretty excited to see the final product. We love putting out records. We’ve put so much attention to this thing. We’re honestly ready to move on to the next.” An
album a year seems plausible. The challenging of each other will most likely inspire another leap into naked musical experimentation.
U.K., they haven’t slowed down since. Their unique blend of folk and basement rock fuses emotional familiarity into their catchy choruses. Even with all of the hype, vocalist and guitarist Matthew Smith and company are always looking forward. “I have a new record and I’m ready to record it,” he reveals. “At this point, I’m looking past ‘Feel Better.’”
“It’s just me vomiting what’s in my brain onto a page regardless of the medium,” Smith states.
Smith is known for his transparent lyrics that give insight into his life and what ails him. “I find it difficult to hold back; I find I come a little too transparent,” Smith admits. A trait Smith says he picked up from his dad, the characteristic bleeds into Hodera’s sound. An avid poetry writer, Smith uses art as a way to express as much of himself as possible.
While still writing all the material for the songs, Smith has three bandmates behind him that he feels comfortable with, Alek Mager on bass, Scott Tilley on drums, and Doug Gallo on guitar. Hodera now have all the tools necessary to make their mark with their own perfect mix of folky influences and indie rock. Smith is determined: “I know what I want to do. This new record is going to be a lot more diverse and well written and even more honest than United By Birdcalls.”
SNACKS, BOOZE, AND ROCK'N'ROLL-HAMMER FIGHT
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/BASSIST DREW MURPHY BY HUTCH and drowning the fires of anger. A simple conversation about libations turns to talk of liberation through fraternity: “I’m a big fan of stouts, IPAs, and porters,” Murphy says. “If I can’t see through it, that usually means I’ll like it. [guitarist] Dan [Higgins] usually brings some new fancy shit to
rehearsal for us to try out. And [guitarist] Todd [Stern] usually brings a crockpot full of savory snacks. I love being in this band.”
Trying to sell rap metal in 2016 would be a lost cause for most bands, but U.K. based grime/tech metal hybrid, Hacktivist, are not your average group. Their longawaited debut full-length, Outside the Box, is a masterclass in combining two dissonant sounds: underground hip hop and progressive metalcore. The album, due out via Rise Records on March 4, is chockfull of world class heavy, live-ready tunes, coupled with grime’s notoriously blunt lyrical content. Hacktivist’s best attribute is an ability to take these serious styles of music and make something that is an absolute joy to listen to. After making fans wait nearly four years, bassist Josh Gurner shares that the band are just as excited to get this album out: “It’s been a very long time coming, and I can promise that nobody is more stoked to have it finally released than we are!” It’s clear the joy the band felt creating the record leaked into the music itself.
The band wanted to expand their musical horizons with Outside the Box. Gurner explains, “The early stuff we were putting out tended to lump us in the ‘djent’ category. We love the bands from the tech metal scene and feel at home playing with them, but we didn’t want to be confined by what’s expected of a djent band. [The album has] a developed sound from what fans will know, with a broader spread of influences.” Hacktivist’s lyrical approach and their name itself are very timely. Gurner expands on what the band wished to convey with the album, saying, “It’s important to see everything with open eyes. The world is awash with misinformation and propaganda, trying to steer people in certain directions and to separate us. We don’t want to preach messages onto people, but we want them to see with logic and not be blinded by hate.” Hacktivist will be very busy, touring the
BIG SCREEN DREAMS- SINISTRO PHOTO: JOANA LINDA
I N T E R V I E W
C H R I S T O P H E R
H A R R I N G T O N
The expanding dimension that is Portuguese based avant-garde metal band Sinistro’s newest LP, Semente, has a unique complexity to it. It enables the listener to rage in the vast extremity of it, while simultaneously being hypnotized by its inner-calm. Comparable in creative weight to Federico Fellini’s epic film, “8 ½,” the album sits snugly in the echelons
of expressionistic art, as engaging as it is striking. Combining Patrícia Andrade’s soaring operatic vocals and the kind of catatonic doom metal that steers towards the statuesque, Semente contains the perfect amount of varied forms. It’s emotional, original, and direct. “There’s a lot of trial and error during our creative process, we find it kind of thrilling
La Bella began in 2011 at a turning point in their Los Angeles DIY music community. More to the point, this was a time during which shows were happening less often and active bands were calling it quits. Their first full-length—Ides, released Jan. 20 by Sombras Del Progreso—is a record three years in the making and best understood in the context of that turning of time implied by its title. “There are songs that appear on this LP which were written in 2013,” vocalist Cam Hughes says. “There are numerous songs which we had picked up and put down over the time that the record was being written.”
and rewriting songs, going to school and working—yet, they remained active in their community, organizing political projects and establishing the Bridgetown DIY space, which acts as a punk venue that they are working to expand into a broader community center role.
La Bella started out of the gate strong, playing at home and touring, releasing an EP, and even remarkably completing a full U.S. tour after two members relocated to Portland, Ore. Yet, life in general kept them from returning to their initial pace, even after all their members came home to L.A. Their writing process slowed down—they split up their time writing
At last, in 2015, they entered the studio with Jack Shirley at The Atomic Garden to record Ides. The match is well suited to La Bella’s scrappy, post-hardcore sound, and indeed, Hughes remarks that Shirley is able to “coax out the specific sound that you may not have even known that you were looking for. […] We’d be hard-pressed to find someone who we gel with the same way.” What Shirley’s production and La Bella’s slow-and-steady but dedicated ethic reveals is a record that Hughes says is “cohesive, but I also think […] provides some insight into how we’ve moved forward with our writing. […] I’ve felt the need to obscure
OUTSIDE THE DJENT BOX- HACKTIVIST
INTERVIEW WITH BASSIST JOSH GURNER BY NICHOLAS SENIOR U.K. and then Europe throughout the spring and onto the summer festivals. As for a future U.S. tour, Gurner states that it’s only a matter of when the band can get the right
tour lined up. With an excellent debut in tow and a massive U.K. following, U.S. fans will surely embrace one of modern metal’s most exciting bands.
to start with something very minimal and see it come to life and become a full composition,” the mysterious Sinistro band members, F, Y, P, and R say. “We are completely in love with the process.”
can be. The band currently have a new music video for the song “Relíquia” out, and envision scoring films in the near future. “Sound and image are like bread and butter; they go well together and we like the idea of working with them both,” the collective muse. “It’ll be just a matter of time until we get involved in writing music for film.”
When the band asked Andrade to contribute vocals for 2013’s Cidade, it was, at the time, simply another step in their creative method, but it morphed into something much more. “When Patrícia was invited to participate in the second record, none of us were really aware whether it would be a one-time collaboration or not,” the band states. “She came to the studio after listening to nearly finished demos and delivered her magic in just a few recording sessions. When we started thinking about a third album, it became pretty obvious that she was one of us, so this time, she developed her vocal parts with us during the songwriting.”
The doom is monumental, the subtleness wondrous, and the visuals mesmerizing. Semente drops April 8 on Season Of Mist.
Forging Fritz Lang-ish hallucinatory moods that blend seamlessly into soothing gothic ambiance, Semente is as visual as a record
CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT- LA BELLA PHOTO: JOE CALIXTO
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST CAM HUGHES BY DYLAN HENSLEY some things and, at the same time, become more explicit about others.” As a band, they are not just committed to refining their sound—with its jazzy flourishes—but also taking a hard look
at themselves. In true DIY screamo fashion, Hughes encourages the listener to “critically examine and engage with the music and words, to wrestle with them and to feel encouraged by them or to disagree with them in fundamental ways.”
ISSUE 24 NEW NOISE
PHOTO: MCKAYE JAFFE
PHOTO: JAMY CABRE-FOR THE LOVE OF PUNK
I N T E R V I E W
W I T H
R A Y
C A R L I S L E
Teenage Bottlerocket vocalist and guitarist Ray Carlisle finished recording his acoustic debut record, Do You Wanna Go To Tijuana?, on Oct. 27, 2015. Nov. 3, his twin brother and Teenage Bottlerocket drummer and co-founder, Brandon Carlisle, was found unresponsive in his Fort Collins, Colo., home by his roommate. He fell into a coma during his hospitalization and passed away on Nov. 7. Since then, Carlisle has been reinventing Teenage Bottlerocket’s songs with help from co-frontman Kody Templeman and new drummer, Darren Chewka, as well as adjusting to playing live by himself as Ray Rocket, but more importantly, how he is doing, personally? “Life is good. I’m hangin’ in there,” he assures. “It’s been rough, but, definitely, having my album coming out is something to look forward to musically. It’s helping to keep my mind off everything. It’s helping me get through, um—the saddest thing that’s ever happened in my life.” Do You Wanna Go To Tijuana? drops April 1 through Teenage Bottlerocket’s label, Rise Records. Carlisle joined his mainstay band for a few local shows in March before their big summer tour, have a Ray Rocket release show in his hometown of Laramie, Wyo., on April 1, and then, take his solo act on the road with The Copyrights and The Lippies in May. He’ll essentially be doing what he’s been doing since he and Brandon formed Teenage Bottlerocket back in 2001: rocking the fuck out. Only now, without his brother, it won’t ever be quite the same. Even the words of the songs he penned before Brandon’s death have taken on new meaning. “The emotion behind the Ray Rocket record is there, and um, you know, with my brother passing away, it adds to that emotion,” Car-
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H A R R A H
lisle admits. Making Do You Wanna Go To Tijuana?—which consists of 10 Teenage Bottlerocket songs and two originals—even more special is that Brandon plays drums on the final track, a rocked out version of “First Time,” the acoustic closer to 2015’s Tales from Wyoming. Carlisle first demoed the album at his home in Laramie, before taking them into The Blasting Room in Fort Collins. Presenting the upbeat punk songs acoustically was a fun challenge, and one that his brother was, at first, skeptical about. “Brandon was definitely a little more skeptical, because he was afraid that if the record turned out like shit, then it would reflect poorly on Teenage Bottlerocket,” Carlisle says with a laugh. “So, that definitely motivated me to record a record that Brandon would be proud of. I got the chance to show him the album after it was done, and he was really excited.” Now, the challenge of moving Teenage Bottlerocket forward, and moving on with two creative outlets, awaits Carlisle. With the spirit of and love for his brother forever with him, and the connection to the fans they made together strengthening him, Carlisle says he’s ready to move on. “Brandon always had this thing he’d say, which was, ‘Be sweet,’ and it’s not always easy to be sweet. Especially on the road. […] So, just playing shows in the future, I want to be as cool with everybody as possible. Life is short. It’s shorter for some than it is for others, and I want to leave a positive feeling with people who I come in contact with, because things in my life have certainly changed in the past few months, and I just wanna try to be the best person that I can be. Whether it’s with Teenage Bottlerocket or it’s just me by myself, I’m just really thankful and grateful that I get to do this with my life. I feel real lucky.”
MORNING GLORY PHOTO: REBECCA REED
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST EZRA KIRE BY JOHN B. MOORE If it seems like the New York based punk outfit Morning Glory are constantly putting out new music, well, it’s because they are. Singer Ezra Kire has always been a prolific writer, so why stop now? “I write all the time, but punk songs only come to me every now and again,” he explains, listing his other projects, which include piano and electronic based work, as well as kids’ songs. “But I’ll never give up punk; it’ll always be my main thing—it’s the ethos behind all my projects, no matter what the genre.” With three records and a split alongside Off With Their Heads already out, Morning Glory had half a dozen orphaned songs that didn’t find their way onto 2014 Fat Wreck release, War Psalms. “I know what you’re thinking,” Kire says. “They weren’t good enough to make the first record. But that’s not true. We recorded two records at the same time with the intent of releasing the second full-length six months later. But Fat [Wreck Chords] didn’t want to do it; they had a full roster of releases already scheduled through the fall. That’s what they told me, anyway. But I still wanted to release it and so did Anxious And Angry. So, it’s coming out. By any means necessary.” Anxious And Angry—also known as the brainchild of Off With Their Heads frontman Ryan Young—decided to give them a proper home. Young contacted Kire and worked out a joint release between his label and Buyback Records, the label started by Morning Glory bassist Heavy Metal Chris. The 10”, dubbed Post War Psalms, is just as ferocious and powerful as its predecessor and should be out April 1. “I met Ryan right after he got back from their Australian tour with one of the versions of Black Flag,” Kire recalls. “I knew his band before that, but otherwise, we had never met. He
contacted me through our booking agent. At first, I thought he was some crazy stalker-type fanboy. Then, I realized he probably is, but at least he owns and runs a distro/label. We’ve become pretty good friends at this point. Heavy Metal Chris I’ve known for years. He can’t play the bass for shit, but he’s got a solid upcoming label called Buyback. I think he’s Greek.” The partnership has proved fruitful beyond treating the world to the handful of tracks on Post War Psalms. “My problem is I’m always writing new songs, so a record is never really done to me,” Kire explains. “So, at some point, I have to cut myself off of the project. See, that’s what happens when you have no supervision in this world. But Ryan and I have discussed putting out [the aforementioned piano project] later this year. Ryan is kind of like supervision in a way. It’s very helpful to have an endgame and someone who is a doer to encourage you to stop and just release it already.” Once the EP is released, Morning Glory will likely play some live shows, but very little has been officially set in stone. “We have some shows booked in New York. We’ll probably do other shows, but we have yet to plan and book it,” Kire says. “I’m pretty sure our booking agent, Ron, doesn’t like me anymore, and we only recently got John John Jesse back in the band as our guitarist, so we’re just starting rehearsals. We’re having fun playing new songs and just being a band. There’s still some kind of simple cathartic joy in being with your friends, getting stupid, and playing some songs in a room together.”
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST RICHIE CAVALERA BY GABI CHEPURNY Incite want to be leaders of the next wave of mayhem in heavy metal. Vocalist Richie Cavalera says, “We need that young fresh blood, and people with energy and excitement to rebuild the scene from the ground up and really create a new generation for metal to thrive off of, rather than just destroying it and making it grow old.” The band began in 2004, but Cavalera reports that the band members weren’t having fun due to rigorous touring schedules and being away from family for too long. After the release of All Out War in 2012, things came to a head and they brought in a new lineup. Current members include Cavalera, guitarists Dru “Tang” Rome and Kevin “Dis” McAllister, bassist Christopher “EL” Elsten, and drummer Lennon Lopez, a crew that the singer says is the best thing that ever could have happened to Incite. The group’s newest effort, Oppression— which drops April 22 via Minus Head Records—clearly illustrates the way they’ve grown over the past two albums. Cavalera says, “I think with this record, we just wanted to push everything to a new level. Being a band, having the consistency now to grow over these past two records, and keeping the same members really made it a lot more fun and just a vibe that was great from the get go. We really wanted to make a staple album that was something that people could listen to and be like, ‘Damn, this band is just getting better and better and better every time they put something out.’” Incite like to bring in additional voices and talent on all of the work they do, and Oppression was no exception. The
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PHOTO: MCKAYE JAFFE
group brought in Connor Garrity from All Hail The Yeti, along with heavy metal radio host Jose Mangin, to add vocals to the record. “Coming into this record, we were just thinking who would work and who would fit right on the songs,” Cavalera explains. “Connor brought this real gritty, old school, like Al Jourgensen [of Ministry] effect that’s on his voice; it came off so cool. And then, you’ve got Jose: it was just really cool to have him be a part of it and sing on it as well. You get that opening intro that he does—where it’s his radio voice—and that scream that he has that’s so kind of iconic in today’s music. We wanted that on there, and it just turned out to be a really fun time with each of the guys. You hear it on the songs.” All Hail The Yeti and Incite are labelmates on Minus Head, who Cavalera says has been good to both bands: “The label is really good for development. With each record, they’ve put more behind it, and it’s really brought us to where we are now. I think it’s made us a better band.” The art on the cover of Oppression “was done by Dan Seagrave,” who also did the cover for Up in Hell, according to Cavalera. “I envisioned it as oppression of people and our human mind body and spirit, and I think that the fire that burns inside our stomach is always there and just waiting to be released. I’ve always wanted people to understand that we’re all going through the same stuff. You’re not alone, and I love that Incite can maybe open their eyes and see that shit’s crazy out there and people are being divided. I just believe that music is that strong and that powerful to where it can make a change.”
INTERVIEW WITH DRUMMER ANDY HENRIKSSON BY JANELLE JONES “Please come to our shows and hang out, because you never know when this madness will end,” implores Victims drummer Andy Henriksson. Perhaps this half-joking pronouncement is a result of questions regarding the band’s longevity— the Swedish band started in 1997. Of that fact, Henriksson confesses, “It’s scary and weird, because it doesn’t feel that long at all. Things have just kept rolling and rolling.” He acknowledges that more and more nowadays, their personal lives force the band to take a few breathers. For instance, when asked about the time between releasing Sirens—the crusty hardcore punks’ sixth album, out April 15 on Tankcrimes—and their previous one, 2011’s A Dissonant, Henriksson explains, “We have been working on and off with this for years, but not constant.” He reveals that he became a father for the second time, guitarist Gareth Smith had a daughter, and vocalist and bassist Johan Eriksson had a son: “There have been lots of kids involved in the process that, of course, slowed things down.” Along with other responsibilities and life changes, the drummer also divulges that a more discerning ear for what songs should make the record has come with age. “I think we are getting pickier for every album and that we throw away more riffs [and] songs now than we did before,” he explains. “[I] think we work on every song much more to make it as good as possible. This time, the hardest thing was to choose what songs we shouldn’t have on the album.” Of those that were excluded, Henriksson says maybe one day they’ll be released. What did make it onto Sirens is pretty exceptional and extremely powerful, as is oft the case with Victims’ heavy-hitting records. The
band unleash on the pounding “Reverse,” “Turn,” “Sirens,” and “Behind,” and then end it all on a slower, more melodic note with the superb “Ashes.” “We really like how it turned out in the end,” the drummer says. Victims recorded Sirens in Stockholm with Fred Estby at Studio Gutterview. The process took a while, as the guys had to work their regular day jobs and only went into the studio at night and on weekends. Also impacting the recording schedule was that Estby was on tour “on and off too.” Handling mastering duties was Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise fame—they go way back, as Victims and From Ashes Rise released a split on Havoc Records in 2003. Likewise, because of the band members’ busy personal lives, touring isn’t exactly what it used to be. “We get a lot of offers,” Henriksson explains, “but we just can’t say yes to everything.” So far this year, they had a late-March West Coast tour in support of the new album, including two dates with Napalm Death and Melt Banana. It’s been 10 years, Henriksson notes, since Victims last hit that area of the U.S., so naturally they’re excited. Also confirmed are some European festivals, including Hellfest in France, Temples Fest in England, Bloodshed Fest in Holland, and D.I.Y. Fest in Poland. He also says they hope to get to Japan at the end of the year. When asked what the band is like live, the drummer again jokes, “Old men trying to act like they were 25,” then adds more seriously, “a solid hardcore show with energy and controlled chaos.”
PHOTO: ADAM KOLODNY
INTERVIEW WITH DRUMMER BRENDAN FINN BY SAMANTHA SPOTO When Brooklyn based band Big Ups
careful mindset the second time around.
first began playing music in 2010, the
With their first record, Finn and his friends
quartet found themselves circling the
maintained a casual attitude towards their
college scene around New York University
music, not putting too much thought
where they all attended school. What
or care into whether people would pay
brought them together wasn’t so much
attention to the songs they produced. With
common interests, but rather the sheer
Before a Million Universes, that laxness
act of creating something—anything—
that enticed them. With that mentality,
“It was intentional that we were more
pursuing music post-graduation wasn’t
focused on the types of songs we wanted
necessarily a main priority for the band,
to write, how we wanted to write them
but with encouragement from friends and
[and] structure them, and what we wanted
fans alike, Big Ups quickly realized their
them to say,” says Finn. “It was just a more
project had potential to exist in a bigger
thoughtful process. After playing for a
space—in places beyond the basements
few years and seeing that people liked our
and city apartments they found themselves
music, it made us want to put a little bit
in time and time again.
more thought into how we did this record.”
On March 4, the band released their
In the last few years, Big Ups have been
sophomore album, Before a Million
able to develop a definitive sound and
hone in on one that better expresses where
Records. Recorded in Baltimore with the
they came from and who they are now.
help of Roomrunner bassist Dan Frome,
“Spending the last five years playing with
the album—the title of which is borrowed
bands that we really respect influenced us
from the Walt Whitman quote, “Let your
in a huge way,” says Finn. “I think having
soul stand cool and composed before a
those years of playing countless shows and
million universes”—reflects the mindset of
understanding how each of us plays in the
Big Ups’ members. “We may be this small
band solidified how we sound overall.”
fish in a big pond, but we don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing,” says drummer
Thematically, the songs on Before a Million
Brendan Finn. “I think standing before the
Universes provide insight into the day-
universe is another way of taking a look at
to-day experiences of the band. Finn and
yourself and what you’re doing, and right
the others work nine-to-five jobs in order
now, we are all excited about the things that
to ensure that they can continue playing
we are doing as Big Ups.”
music. Although balancing work and play “gets tricky,” as Finn explains, Big Ups do
Although sonically, Big Up’s latest record
not take their opportunities for granted.
doesn’t stray too far from their debut
“We all feel very lucky to be playing music
LP, Eighteen Hours of Static, the quartet
right now and to be doing this thing with
approached the creative process with a
Big Ups,” he says.
NEW NOISE ISSUE 24
PHOTO: JACLYN SHEER
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST MIKE HILL BY MIKE GAWORECKI Brooklyn based doom and black metal hybrid Tombs are on a roll. 2011’s Path of Totality and 2014’s Savage Gold were two of the most critically acclaimed metal albums of the past five years and helped firmly establish Tombs as one of the most vital American metal bands working today. The band’s new EP, All Empires Fall—out April 1 on Relapse Records—is not going to break that streak. For being such a succinct record—five songs in 24 minutes—it makes quite a statement. The abysmal blackness, the ferocious riffs, and the twisting, turning song structures are still there; this is, beyond doubt, a Tombs record. But there’s a fuller spectrum of sound this time around, a new, creeping, underlying ambience in the songs, which only adds to Tombs’ mystique. A lot of that has to do with their addition of a full-time keyboardist, which opened up a whole new sonic palette for Tombs’ principal songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, Mike Hill. The process for All Empires Fall wasn’t all that different from past records, Hill says, mostly consisting of him coming up with the riffs and song structures on his own before bringing them to the full band. The biggest difference was that the band Hill brought that material to now featured Fade Kainer of Batillus, who handles all of the electronics and synths for Tombs. “He actually added a lot to our sonic contour,” Hill says. “That’s probably the biggest step forward in our sound.” Hill has tried to incorporate what he calls “electronics” into his songwriting in the past, but says he wasn’t able to achieve the effect he wanted until Kainer joined the band. “There are frequencies that just aren’t available with stringed instruments that you can add with synths,” Hill adds. “We were able to create space in a different way. It sort of stimulated a different creative process. Some of the stuff on the
EP has a synth sort of vibe to it, and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve that without electronics or a synth player.” All of Tombs’ records have some kind of theme to them, and in this case, the title, All Empires Fall, is about as literal as it gets. “This one particularly has to do with the cyclical nature of civilizations and the concept that this current version of civilization most likely existed at an earlier time, prior to our recorded history,” Hill says. “Like anything that’s cyclical, there’s a rise and a fall. And it seems like we’re on that declining slope right now. That’s sort of the vibe, the songs make reference to that.” For instance, “Deceiver”—a song from the EP that starts with a Tool-esque bass line over thumping drums before breaking into more of a blackened power metal riff—is based on the fall of the Sumerian civilization. But the lyrics aren’t completely literal, Hill says. “It’s more like a vibe,” he clarifies. “Each song is a chapter. All the lyrics were written in a five to six week period, and the meditation was on that subject.” Hill lists “Obsidian Void” as one of the lyrical highlights of the album. “That has more to do with stepping into the void after everything falls apart,” he explains, “the unknown aspect of reality, beyond the physical world. That’s the vibe of that song.” Tombs fans hoping for a new full-length who don’t exactly see the brevity of All Empires Fall as one of its virtues can take heart in the fact that it is, hopefully, a short but sweet sign of things to come. “I wanted to get something out this year. I didn’t want to go through a period where we didn’t have anything available for an extended period of time,” Hill says. “We added Fade to the band, we have a new drummer, and I just wanted to get some kind of release available for people to check out, because we’re all really excited about the material we’re writing.”
DEBUT ALBUM FOR FAT FROM NEW ORLEANS HARDCORE PUNK UPSTARTS PEARS! OUT NOW! ON TOUR
DEBUT ALBUM FOR FAT FROM PORTLANDâ€™S FAVORITE PARTY PUNK BAND MEAN JEANS! 04/22/16 ON TOUR NOW! fatwreck.com
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST SUNAO-VIA AN INTERPRETER BY HUTCH Vivisick is a Japanese hardcore band. This simple sentence does not capture the gamut of the band’s repertoire. Vivisick may be better described as a sociopolitical art collective that play a blend of hardcore, punk, and other styles. Their ethos is reflected in the title of their singles collection, Set the Apathetic Era on Fire, from 1997-2004. The frenzied pulsations on Vivisick’s records utilize spastic fury and erratic time changes to vent political disillusionment. These songs show fervent, fertile minds constantly thinking and constantly challenging. At the end of 2015, Vivisick released their third full-length on Tankcrimes, Nuked Identity. They’ve been a band since 1996, and the older Vivisick play less gigs these days. That predicament only hones the intensity of their live shows. Vocalist, Sunao, reports, “That’s the reason why every gig is really important and precious. We’re playing Vivisick over 20 years. We realized that life and the band are not immortal. We’re feeling that every gig is totally our treasure time.” When discussing the energy and ferocity of Vivisick’s music, Sunao brings up legendary hardcore bands in their prime. When he replies about their live show, Sunao explains, “We’re glad that you said ‘collection of spasms.’ We don’t know from where our energy comes when we play a gig. I’ve seen the video of Misfits in 1982 and Los Crudos. We’ve seen Mukeka di Rato in Brazil. We try hard to make people become crazy just from the beginning to the end, which is insane show we love.” These influences are great examples of Vivisick’s fiery, provocative politics mixed with the recognition of what it means to be a band: having a stage and a platform to express ideas with an audience’s intense attention. The thick danger of ‘80s hardcore echoes throughout the album’s tracks. “We’re influenced by too many things,” Sunao says, “and it is a complex mix. Each
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PHOTO: ADAM KOLODNY
PHOTO: JACLYN SHEER
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST MARC GÖRTZ BY RIDGE BRIEL
member’s preferences are different, and ultimately, have no meaning for us. We’ve been playing in Japanese hardcore scene. We’ve definitely been influenced by that. Not only the legendary bands; we’ve been influenced by watching and listening and playing with all bands. I think we’ve progressed with the times.”
German metalcore quintet, Caliban, were
looking at the clock. It just felt great, and
everywhere in the late 1990s and early
I think that’s also a reason why this is our
2000s. It seems like they were on every
best album. It was just very comfortable.”
metal sampler out there and everyone was wearing their merchandise. It’s been
Even compared to their last album,
almost 20 years since they exploded onto
Ghost Empire, there is a big difference
the scene, and they show no signs on
in the songwriting. “I still really like
Another compelling phrase lauded by the band is: “There were punks before music.” This perspective triangulates Vivisick’s attitude succinctly. Punk music, which they play exceptionally well, is one avenue of rebellion. Sunao continues, “If we’re alive, we’re involved in politics and society. Exaggerated speaking, each person’s breath, words, feelings, behavior; [those elements are] going to be building the world.”
stopping anytime soon with their 10th
Ghost Empire, but what I don’t like is the
album, entitled Gravity, dropping March
clinical sound,” Görtz says. “I think some
25 on Century Media Records. “[The title]
of the songs lost their energy, and that’s
has nothing to do with the gravity that we
something I really wanted to change on the
are all familiar with,” says guitarist Marc
new album. In a live setting, the songs from
Görtz. “We mean it in a very personal way.
Ghost Empire sound much heavier than on
It refers to everything that can drag you
recording. For the sound, I used a Kemper
down, like drugs, society, bad relationships
EVH 5150 III amp, but I tweaked it hard
or friendships, etc. This is what we mean
and tried a lot of different cabinets. The
That rebellious attitude leaks out in Vivisick’s bold and audacious visual art. “We just challenge our idea of what is interesting,” Sunao says. “Our imagination is going to be [expressed through] artwork, liner notes, t-shirts, flyers. Not doing all ourselves, but [with] awesome friends who help us. They’re going to be high quality. That’s really lucky. When we organize the event, we still contribute flyer by us, at first. If we perform an awesome show, the audience may buy our records. It’s going to spread friendship in the place. That style is not changing.”
guitar sound is what I worked on the most
Vivisick push forward after two decades with energetic, frantic hardcore punk. Never shying from a catchy chorus, the music is infectious. Most lyrics are sung with three or four voices layered. This adds to a chaotic, inclusive vibe in their songs. Their live set encourages—no, demands crowd participation. This approach elevates the performance to the level of a movement, fevered and fueled by pure beliefs, disavowing gender, sexuality, age, class, and race. Nuked Identity is a punk manifesto that motivates its audience to shed their complacency.
for this album, and I’m happy with the way While it’s full of their signature groove
it turned out. The best part is that I can use
and hooks, the real meat of the album is
this same rig onstage to bring that same
the dark, heavy sound that invades every
sound and energy to the fans!”
crevice of Gravity. “During the writing, we discovered early on that this album is going
On top of their regular dates, their fans in
to be more heavy and rough,” exclaims
Europe are treated to an annual tour called
Görtz. “I wanted to transform this [feeling
Darkness Over Christmas, but—perhaps
of playing] live to the album. That’s also
due to the rising cost of live production
what I tried in my studio for a long time, to
and obtaining tour visas—fans Stateside
find the right sounds for everything.”
will have a tougher time catching Caliban live. “We are really trying to go back over
Where does this feeling come from?
to the U.S., because it’s been a really long
To wear your heart on your sleeve can
time!” Görtz assures. “We always like to
sometimes make or break a band, but for
tour the States; I just hope we can make it
Caliban, it works best. “Basically, I wrote
happen very soon.”
the album in the studio,” notes Görtz, adding that it “really gave us all the time
In the meantime, check out Gravity, which
we needed without any of the pressure of
Görtz notes has “elements from past days
being rushed through the process. It’s also
like Shadow Hearts with a mix of I Am
why I’m able to try out so many things
Nemesis and Ghost Empire. We hope you
without having someone by my side
all enjoy it!”
GADGET PHOTO: ERIK LARRSON
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST RIKARD OLSSON BY JOE SMITH-ENGELHARDT Blistering fast drums, harsh vocals, and buzz saw riffs are exactly what you’ll find on Swedish grindcore act Gadget’s first album in a decade. Released on March 11 through Relapse Records, The Great Destroyer is an in your face and straight to the point record featuring a critical view of the tragedies going on in the world around us. With a similar approach to that taken on their previous two albums, Gadget tackle issues of war, corruption, and manipulation through their nihilistic lyrics. Guitarist Rikard Olsson sees Gadget and the genre of grindcore as a way to cope with life and the declining state of society, due to “the possibilities, really. It’s fast, furious, and direct in your face. You can blend everything in it, play death metal riffs with a hardcore punk edge to it. Or vice versa! I can [give] all my feelings and frustrations an outlet with this kind of music. I don’t think that would be possible for me if [we were] to play something else.” While the majority of Gadget’s lyrics are in English, the band also write some of their songs in their native tongue. Olsson says the band have a very natural process for blending Swedish lyrics with English lyrics, picking out a few phrases or words that stick with them if they suit the song. “It’s always good to have a few of those on the albums,” says Olsson. “For us, the Swedish lyrics always sound a little more raw and honest.” The band also recruited legendary grindcore vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway of overtly political act Napalm Death for the devastatingly fast paced “Violent Hours (For a Veiled Awakening).” Olsson says he had always been into the idea of having friends and guests on recordings and really wanted Gadget’s first album in 10 years to be special. “The idea with Barney came from that I
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GEHENNAH PHOTO:SHEER SOILE PHOTO: JACLYN
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST MR. VIOLENCE BY RIDGE BRIEL
realized that we actually had tons of really great bands passing through our hometown every summer, since we used to have a pretty huge metal festival taking place,” says Olsson. “So, when Napalm Death was booked for that fest, I just thought, ‘Hey, I should just ask Barney.’ We knew [Napalm Death bassist] Shane [Embury] from before, since we’ve toured with Lock Up, and he got us together. I wasn’t there in the studio myself unfortunately, but the other guys said that he showed up all [torn] up from traveling and grinding, and just delivered. A quick in and out, like a true professional!”
We are currently in the era of the musical
in any way; we’re bad at planning things in
comeback. From bands whose popularity
Gadget have made their comeback as strong as possible not only with their recording, but also with their live sets. The band amazed extreme metal fans as one of the most exciting acts at the 2016 Netherlands Deathfest, which was put together by the team behind Maryland Deathfest along with the organizers of the Dutch Neurotic Deathfest. Olsson seems very hopeful that Gadget will be moving onto bigger and better things in the future, but is especially excited for playing live again: “That’s what all of this is about in the end. We’d hope to conquer some new land this [time] though. Hitting places that we’ve never been before and, hopefully, if we’re lucky, record some more new material in the not so distant future.”
only increased in their absence to forgotten local dive bar acts, they are all joining the
Judging from the title track, “Too Loud to
onslaught of up and coming bands to
Live, Too Drunk to Die,” and “Let’s Fall Off
collectively deliver some of the best music
the Wagon,” drinking culture is a big part
turnouts of the last 20 years. Nineteen
of the band’s identity. The camaraderie that
years after their last full-length, Decibel
comes with drinking goes hand in hand
Rebel, was released, Sweden’s Gehennah
with the metal genre. “As far as drinking
have returned with Too Loud to Live, Too
goes, we’re not really brand specific,” Mr.
Drunk to Die, available now on Metal
Violence notes, “we usually drink whatever
Blade Records. “The reception has been
we get our hands on. If we get to choose,
really good, better than we expected to be
bourbon and whiskey are at the top. Jim
honest,” exclaims vocalist Mr. Violence.
Beam is a favorite. When it comes to beer
“Not only are our old supporters liking [the
though, Carlsberg is always a winner.
new album], but a lot of people who haven’t
Swedish beer Falcon is also consumed in
heard of us before are into it as well. We’ve
even received good reviews; we’re not used to that!” They should be! The new album
Signing with Metal Blade has proven to
is classic Motörhead/Venom worship that
be one of the best things to happen to
doesn’t take either band’s style too literally,
Gehennah in a very long time—aside from
creating a unique listening experience that
Knuckleduster joining, of course. “We
would rule the jukebox at any bar.
didn’t really expect to be signed by such a big label to be honest,” Mr. Violence says. “It
What made Gehennah dust off the ol’ guitar
all comes down to us meeting Alan Averill
and put on their leather for a new album
from Primordial—who also happens to
after 19 years? “The main reason we started
work with Metal Blade Records—at a
writing new material again was that our old
festival in Sweden. We gave him a copy of
bass player, [Ronnie Ripper], dropped out
the Metal Police EP, and that’s what led to
and Knuckleduster [from Swedish thrash
the signing. We weren’t actively looking
metal band Invasion] joined in his place,”
for a contract; we tend to wait for things
says Mr. Violence. “That made us pick up
to happen rather than pursue them in this
the pace and start doing new stuff. Our
band, so the fact that we got picked up by
friends at Lightning Records asked us to
such a legendary label was mind blowing
write an EP, so we wrote the Metal Police
for us! Hopefully, we can come across the
7”, which was our first release since 2003.
pond and embarrass ourselves on U.S. soil
That led to our contract with Metal Blade
in the near future!”
Records, so it was a number of random factors that led to the album. No planning
THROW THE FIGHT
PHOTO: LISA ROE
PHOTO: CORY WILAB
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST ANTON REISENEGGER BY RIDGE BRIEL Being a metal band in the late to mid 1990s was rough for many, especially in America. Some folded under the rise of grunge and alternative and some adopted those styles, but for Chilean-British death thrash band Criminal, the opposite proved to be true. “There had been a lot of censorship during the 1980s under [Augusto] Pinochet’s dictatorship, so in the ‘90s when he was voted out of power, everything started to open up a lot,” explains vocalist and guitarist Anton Reisenegger. “International bands started playing in the country, [and] MTV had a metal show that was huge and helped us a lot. You could even hear us on daytime radio alongside the likes of Sepultura, Pantera, and Prong. It was crazy at times.” Now, 25 years after forming, Criminal have just released the phenomenal new album, Fear Itself, on Metal Blade Records. If you’re a fan of Cavalera-era Sepultura, then this is the band you’ve been looking for. Angry and raw, Fear Itself has old school thrash nostalgia written all over it, especially in its recording process. The band stayed completely away from modern recording techniques like samples, quantizing, and amp simulators, which allowed the album to have that natural, primitive sound without pretending they can play what they cannot. “If you used drum edits for example, then that’s fine,” Reisenegger elaborates, “but if you use them to make the drums play something the drummer isn’t capable of playing in real life, then it’s just cheating. A lot of bands and producers seem to get lazier; they end up replacing all drum hits with samples. They don’t even bother with the velocity, so all hits are at the same volume, and since it’s all quantized, it sounds like a machine.
NEW NOISE ISSUE 24
It’s sad that even some of our old heroes like Exodus and Overkill seem to have fallen into that trap.” Unfortunately, that seems to be a trend in metal today, with fellow musicians and producers tearing into fake play-through videos and false claims. However, when bands fall into that trap, it allows bands like Criminal to rip their faces off with their talented brutality. Talented dark artist Costin Chioreanu— who has also created art for At The Gates, Arch Enemy, and many others—supplied the artwork for Fear Itself, and its title “is more of a political statement,” Reisenegger explains. “It draws from Roosevelt’s quote, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,’ which still rings true to this day. People are being intimidated on a daily basis, made afraid of war, terrorism, immigration, fear of losing their jobs… It’s the game politicians have always played. The track ‘Shock Doctrine’ is specifically about that.” But how does that message resonate personally for the band? “It means you mustn’t be afraid of setbacks, just carry on doing what you do,” Reisenegger offers. “In this business, you have to have a high level of tolerance for frustration, but it all depends on your motivations and expectations.” For 2016, Criminal will be playing in South America and all over Europe. As for the U.S., Reisenegger says, “We’ve had a lot of people contact us through social media asking when we will be there, so I hope we can make that happen.” Pick up Fear Itself, out now on Metal Blade Records!
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST RYAN BAUSTERT BY NICHOLAS SENIOR Throw The Fight feel like the forgotten band, despite having written some of the best melodic metal of previous decade. Tracks like “His Blood, My Hands” and “Our Horizons” are borderline classics, which promptly labeled the band one to watch almost a decade ago. Though the interim has been rocky at times, that band is here to finally fulfill that promise 10 years after their debut EP. Throw The Fight’s excellent third LP, Transmissions—due out via Bullet Tooth Records on April 8— showcases the band firing on all cylinders with a sound equally melodic and punchy. It will come as a genuine shock to those who have stopped expecting greatness from the band. Guitarist Ryan Baustert states that Throw The Fight wanted this to feel like a throwback record, explaining, “Our first record, In Pursuit of Tomorrow, was something we modeled this record after. We wanted to make [Transmissions] heavier than the last one. I think it was mission accomplished,” he laughs. Transmissions feels both fresh and familiar, harnessing the type of huge melodies and massive riffs the band was best known for, while still taking their sound to new heights. Baustert continues, “We’re the first ones to say we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We just want to write catchy rock songs with great melodies and sweet riffs.” On the strength of their best material to date, Transmissions is something that should definitely get the attention of many more listeners. What led to this reinvigorated version of the band? Baustert states, “Honestly, what got us here was taking some time off.
We were a little burned out after our last tour. We took some time to spend time with family and work on some personal projects. After we took a little time off, everything clicked really fast. This is the most excited we’ve been about a record of ours for quite a while! Being able to share this record with people I’ve been friends with for 10 to 15 years is just awesome.” This reenergized focus led to the easiest Throw The Fight recording process yet. “We ended up building a home studio setup in the house, because I wanted to get into the engineering side of things,” Baustert explains. “From that, we were able to crank out a lot of material really fast. We had about 25 to 30 songs at various stages of completion before we went into the studio.” The hardest part was narrowing down the 10 best songs, and it’s clear that the super producer team of Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland really brought out the best in the band. Throw The Fight are well known for their fantastic live show. They are that opening band who attract new, unsuspecting listeners by the sheer force of their ability to turn these hooky rock/metal tunes into live bangers. The band will tackle a short Midwest headline run before catching up with Trapt in April. More is in the works for the summer. Baustert laughs that it will be tough to mentally gear up for touring again, but with this excellent record and some great shows lined up, 2016 should be a huge year for Throw The Fight. If you’re looking for one of the best melodic metal records of the year, give Transmissions a spin.
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INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST MATT SCHMALFELD BY JANELLE JONES As strange as it sounds for an outfit who only graduated high school not even eight years ago—Fullerton, Calif., based four piece Audacity—their new garage-y, power-pop infused, punkladen record, Hyper Vessels, is the band’s fourth album. Hyper Vessels comes out April 1 on Suicide Squeeze, while Burger Records will release it on cassette. As the band have often done since graduating in 2008, they’ll be touring extensively in support of the record, embarking on a U.S. tour March 30 and hitting Europe in May. Audacity’s two vocalists and guitarists, Matt Schmalfeld and Kyle Gibson, started Audacity in 2001, when they were in sixth grade. Schmalfeld chalks up the band’s impressive longevity to a couple of factors, explaining, “We were best friends growing up. Even the people who became our drummer and bass player later [Thomas Alvarez and Cameron Crowe, respectively] joined the band because we were best friends.” When Schmalfeld and Gibson first began jamming, Schmalfeld says, “We were still too young to be motivated by any music business machine, so we were like, ‘Let’s just make music and get together and have fun.’ Sometimes, you get together in a band and you’re all already 25, and it starts from a different place.” Almost immediately after picking up their guitars, the guys were writing original material. Schmalfeld and Gibson are still the ones who write the lyrics and bring to practice the skeletons of songs, but once the full band gets together, it becomes a collective effort with the entire band adding ideas. However, one major thing changed while making Hyper Vessels: Audacity demoed the songs at practice before they got into the studio. “I’ve been getting into recording gear,” says Schmafeld, “so, we would demo
NEW NOISE ISSUE 24
out stuff at practice. We’d listen back to a practice track and make changes or sometimes [decide it] sounds good [as it is].” As for the final, professional recording, the band enlisted the help of longtime friend Ty Segall, whom they met while they were still in high school. “We were there for seven days. It went super well,” says Schmalfeld, adding that they’ve “known Ty for a long time” and feel at ease with him at the controls. Audacity are a new chapter in the Fullerton legacy, as their hometown was a hotbed of early American hardcore punk. Such early ‘80s legends as Adolescents, D.I., Agent Orange, and Middle Class came out of Fullerton. This history obviously isn’t lost on the band, as Schmalfeld gushes about his time hanging with some of the members of these bands. In fact, they used to hang out at late Middle Class guitarist Mike Atta’s vintage shop, Out Of Vogue. “He was really a great man to know,” says Schmalfeld. “Same with Rikk Agnew [of Adolescents, D.I., Christian Death, and Social Distortion]. He’s just the best and the coolest guy in person. […] Just that we might have a place in the lineage of Fullerton punk rock is something special.” Schmalfeld and Gibson even teach a guitar class at the local junior high, which happens to be across the street from what was once the Black Hole, the namesake of the Adolescents’ “Kids of the Black Hole.” “We can tell [students], ‘This all happened right next to where you are right now,’” he says. As someone for whom music and punk meant so much as a youngster, teaching kids and passing on a love for music has a special place in his heart: “It’s fun to see young kids getting inspired about plugging their electric guitars in and making noise.”
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST HANNO BY NICHOLAS SENIOR One of underground metal’s brightest starts is German duo Mantar. The band have risen quite steadily over the past couple years, in large part because they have such a unique and driving sound. Their Nuclear Blast debut, Ode to the Flame is due out April 15. The pressure of rising to the occasion would crush most groups, but for a band notorious for their primal energy, Mantar pushed through with passion and aggression. The result is an outstanding sophomore record that cements the band’s status as one of the best extreme metal bands around. After the band released their debut, Death by Burning, in 2014, the group blew up. For guitarist and vocalist, Hanno, the duo’s rise was unexpected. “Everything went pretty fast in the underground,” he says. “We toured a lot, sold some records. We have been in more than 20 countries, even three times in the U.S. That was kinda crazy. So, we didn’t really know what was happening back then. We lost our jobs due to the band.” Understandably—maybe in part due to the turmoil the record was created in— Ode to the Flame is fantastic. The band’s unique take on sludge, punk, black metal, and doom is more potent than before, with an unexpected catchiness and power. “It’s gotta be raw, simple, and most of all, it has to have groove,” Hanno says. “I think a lot of bands in any kind of extreme music genre forget about the basic and primitive needs of men. They have so many gimmicks, but don’t know how to groove and roll. We do.” Ode to the Flame’s meaning is simple and cathartic: “kill, destroy, fuck shit up.” Hanno expands, “Well, it’s more about the general urge we have. We
don’t wanna change the world with this band; we don’t wanna spread any propaganda and don’t push any message. That doesn’t mean that our lyrics are just meaningless bullshit, but we don’t consider it to be our mission to preach to the people. Don’t get me wrong, this is not supposed to sound arrogant, but we have this band because we enjoy it and enjoy playing, not because we feel the need to satisfy anyone’s needs and desires. We didn’t come to put meaning in your life. We came to slay.” So, what lights Hanno’s flame? “Our main motivation is just the beauty of the destructive ecstasy we feel when we play,” he says. “Just like fire. The title Ode to the Flame is a reference to the first record, as we wanted to keep up the universal and cleansing power of the guiding theme ‘fire.’ Fire is eternal. It has the power to reset everything to zero and wipe out any kind of plague. The flame furthermore is a symbol of your own iron will. Passion, so to speak. And I am not talking about the passion of an ‘artist’ or any other trivial things. The fire we are referring to is about the will to survive. Or the will to destroy forever. As mentioned before: primitive rage.” The band will be touring throughout the U.S. and Europe in the coming months, with bigger tours set to be announced later. Hanno has a hook to get people to see the band live: “If you can, stop by and have some beers with us. You won’t regret it. If we suck, you still can get hammered. Nothing to lose.” It’s exactly that attitude that has made Mantar one of the most exciting bands in metal: they’re here to have fun and fuck shit up, and want you to join them.
Slingshot Dakota’s third studio album Break — available everywhere on CD, vinyl, cassette & digitally on March 11, 2015 from Topshelf Records.
“New strides with striking conndence.” -A.V. Club “A snapshot of a band growing outwards. Starting as they mean to go on, Slingshot Dakota go from strength to strength” -Upset
Also available from TOPSHELF RECORDS:
It Kindly Stopped for Me
THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE Long Live Happy Birthday
7” / DIGITAL - SPRING 2016
7” / DIGITAL - MARCH 25, 2016
New 2016 releases coming from Happy Diving, Special Explosion, Del Paxton, Enemies, CLIQUE, Field Mouse, Ratboys & more.
THE SADDEST LANDSCAPE Darkness Forgives
12” EP / DIGITAL / CD / CASSETTE - SPRING 2016
CD / DIGITAL / VINYL / CASSETTE - OUT NOW
GRAVES AT SEA PHOTO: ORION LANDAU
I N T E R V I E W W I T H N AT H A N M I S T E R E K , N I C K P H I T , A N D B R YA N S O U R S B Y M I K E G A W O R E C K I More than a decade into their existence, crusty doom-sludge legends-in-theirown-time Graves At Sea are finally putting out their first full-length record: The Curse that Is, available April 1 on Relapse Records. “It feels weird,” says guitarist Nick Phit. “We’ve done splits and singles and EPs for so long that a full-length almost didn’t feel like something we were supposed to do. Two songs at a time, max.” The band released a demo in 2003, followed by a single in 2004, two splits— one with Asunder in 2005, the other with Sourvein in 2014—and an EP in 2014. Phit thought all of that material might get collected into a complete Graves At Sea discography some day, but an original full-length just didn’t seem to be in the cards for the band—until now. “We’re all proud of the way it turned out,” Phit says. “I think the timing was right for multiple reasons. [Vocalist Nathan Misterek] and I are both a little more stable these days, and our current lineup is way more motivated, which in turn, motivates us.” The title for Graves At Sea’s first longplayer, The Curse that Is, is an homage to what Phit calls “the curse that is this fucking band.” He explains: “If it’s not one thing, it’s another with us. When we toured with Sourvein, I thought they were going to leave us at a gas station if one more bad thing happened.” But the entire album isn’t about the curse that is Graves At Sea’s existence. “Each song is a different take on some topic or reason of why we’re all fucked,” Phit expands. “I’d say pessimism is a constant theme, but that’s probably just the genre, ain’t it?” Songs like “This Mental Sentence,” “Waco 177,” and “Minimum Slave” are intended to make socio-political statements, according to Misterek. “We all grew up in the punk scene, and, although I wouldn’t regard Graves as being a ‘political band,’
NEW NOISE ISSUE 24
we wanted to approach the themes from more of a real world/personal experience angle than previous works,” he says. “This Mental Sentence,” for instance, is about “the expanding acceptance of medicated living: a pill for every problem, another pill for the problems caused by the first pill, and the endless cycle of trying to feel ‘normal.’” “Minimum Slave” is about the “declining life quality of the American working class,” Misterek says. “Jobs with benefits and pensions are a thing of the past, cost of living keeps going up, but wages remain virtually unchanged in the last decades.” Mid-album cut “The Ashes Make Her Beautiful” is a gorgeous, haunting song that starts with acoustic guitar and violin before the doom onslaught resumes, setting an appropriately somber tone. “It’s a memorial piece for my dog, Akasha, who died while we were on tour in Europe,” Misterek says. “We tried to mix things up a bit with style. This being our first fulllength, we wanted to have something for everyone, so there’s not really a specific sound to the whole album.” Sonically, the album is sure to be one of the most intriguing and ambitious doom metal releases of the year. “From the start of writing this record we all agreed that we wanted to make something that had a bigger scope than anything any of us had done before,” says drummer Bryan Sours, “which isn’t easy when you’re making a 70-plus minute record.” “We’re all proud as fuck for what we were able to create on this record together,” Sours concludes. “I feel like, once people hear the record in it’s entirety, they’ll feel the same way.”
PHOTO: CORO KROMREI
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST ALEX HOFMANN BY NICHOLAS SENIOR Fallujah heightened expectations after their last record, The Flesh Prevails, became an instant progressive death metal classic. Signing to Nuclear Blast Records and crafting a worthy follow-up is no easy task. Thankfully, the Bay Area five piece are no ordinary band, as they have truly outdone themselves with the outstanding Dreamless. The album, due out April 29, sees Fallujah exceeding expectations with an album that is sure to be another standard-bearer for the boundary-shattering group. Dreamless isn’t really concerned with being a death metal record; instead, Fallujah have transitioned and honed their ability to craft fantastic, truly progressive songs. Was this on purpose? Vocalist Alex Hofmann shares, “Absolutely. You can tell it’s still Fallujah, but the point is writing something new just comes naturally. All of our efforts are always placed on making something that sounds a little different from what we’ve done. The difference with this album is we’re getting more polished at writing songs as a band. The songs are more of a package deal and round themselves off.” Whereas The Flesh Prevails was a more personal experience, Hofmann utilized a different approach for Dreamless. “Each song is embedded in a certain narrative from a certain film that is meaningful to me in one way or another,” he explains, “and each of these themes tie back to my personal experiences.” Hofmann declines to divulge the exact inspiration for each song, preferring to keep it hidden to see if the fans will figure it out. “It keeps the emotive, personal aspect of The Flesh Prevails, but it’s exciting having this other material to work with,” he adds. “You don’t just have the film; you have the characters, or the certain look a person has on their face, or the lighting, the cinematography, or the broader theme a scene was trying to convey. I definitely had more fun writing this than I did The Flesh Prevails.” The band are offering up a unique “Drinkers Bundle” for Dreamless that includes a pint glass, coasters, and bottle opener, so what does Hofmann recommend drinking while listening to the record? “I’d say it depends
on what songs you’re listening to,” he says. “Since it’s going to be spring when it’s released, I always recommend for warmer weather something that’s more refined. I genuinely believe that there are beers and drinks directly associated with bands. Some bands are [Pabst Blue Ribbon] kinds of bands, and some are [Russian River’s] Pliny The Younger kinds of bands. I would go Belgian with Dreamless. I’d recommend Belgian IPAs or a piney or yeasty Saison. You want to drink a beer that you’re drinking out of a glass, not something out of a can or bottle. You want something where you can put your vinyl on, sit back, and absorb it. I’d recommend something a little boozier that will creep up on you, that you’re not going to pound all at once.” You want something that tastes better as it opens up, much like Dreamless, an album that not only invites careful listening, but is better the more you allow it to open up and show you all of the complex flavor that it offers. Next, Fallujah are set to go on a long, whirlwind U.S. tour with death metal legends The Black Dahlia Murder, a tour Hofmann is thrilled about. “It’s fucking long,” he laughs. “It was the only tour offer we’ve gotten that actually startled us. It’s a big undertaking, because we have routing shows before and after, two weeks off, and then on to Europe for the festivals. The upside for us is all the drives on this tour are short! This is the perfect tour for us to be on after releasing an album because [The] Black Dahlia [Murder] wanted to do smaller club venues, so every show will be packed, and the crowds will have a ton of energy.” Fallujah are set to take 2016 by storm. Dreamless is the sure to be the best progressive metal album you’ll hear all year, packed with furious riffs, dazzling leads, and beautiful songwriting. Catch this band on tour before you have to pay premium dollar.
WORMED PHOTO: SPIKE PORTEUS
PHOTO: STEVEN COHEN
I N T E R V I E W
J O H N
M O O R E
It’s been about five years since the world
in Nashville, with the help of Raconteurs
last heard a new album from Trapper
member Brendan Benson certainly helped
Schoepp, but he never intended the wait
bring in the talent. “That’s the spirit of Mu-
between records to be that long. On top of
sic City. Plug up and go with whoever can
touring, traveling, writing, making music
swing by,” Schoepp says. Along with Maron
videos, and other less exciting adult stuff,
and Davis, Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cul-
he had to deal with problems in his throat.
lum, Jr. from the instrumental band Steel-
“There are a lot of moving parts in a re-
ism, the Hold Steady’s Steve Selvidge, and
cord’s release, and if you’re a young artist
the McCrary Sisters all stepped into the
at the bottom of the food chain, it just takes
studio this time around.
longer to get everything moving,” he says, about a month before his next effort, Rang-
The additional artists—as well as different
ers & Valentines, is released. “That’s the way
instruments—add a more experimental
it goes. We’ve assembled a great team for
and ultimately satisfying vibe to Rang-
this record, and I’m glad we didn’t rush it.
ers & Valentines. Benson and Schoepp
The sky isn’t falling after all.”
were going for a diverse yet cohesive feel. “Brendan has a great mind for rock and
Xtra Mile Recordings—home to everyone
power pop music, but also loves old soul
from Against Me! to Frank Turner—is put-
and country records,” Schoepp says. “Some
ting out Rangers & Valentines on April 1.
of my favorite records are Wilco’s Being
It’s 10 songs of solid American indie rock
There and Springsteen’s The River because
backed by a slew of guest musicians includ-
of how fun and varied of a listening expe-
ing Superdrag’s John Davis and an oddly
rience they are.”
appropriate cameo by comedian Marc Maron, who plays guitar on a track. “Ser-
The started with 25 songs and ultimately
endipity struck many times while making
whittled them down to the best 10. “Age
this record,” Schoepp says. “Maron was at
doesn’t always equal confidence, but it does
a Jewish deli in Nashville at the same time
give you more experiences to draw from,”
a few of us were. We told him about the re-
Schoepp says. “For me, that’s widened the
cord and he asked if he could come by. He
subject matter and made for a more excit-
had never been in a studio with musicians,
ing album. But I’m biased!”
and we’d never been in the studio with a comedian, so there were a lot of laughs all
So, how long will fans have to wait for the
next record? Likely not too long. Schoepp says he feels like he already has the next
It was serendipitous because Schoepp
one written, even before this one hits the
had been listening to Maron’s podcast in-
terview of Benmont Tench just the day before they met up. Recording the album
NEW NOISE ISSUE 24
INTERVIEW WITH DRUMMER GUILLERMO "G-CALERO" CALERO BY RIDGE BRIEL There are bands labeled “technical death metal” who barely play the style, then there are bands like Wormed who exceed any expectation one could have of the subgenre. Brimming with an insane amount of virtuosity and skill, Wormed have established themselves as one of the most respected metal bands to spawn from Spain. Most notable is vocalist J.L. Rey Phlegeton’s piercing growls that derive from slam metal styling. Their last few albums have touched upon a deep conceptual storyline that has to do with their CONEKnity Project. Their newest is the upcoming Krighsu, which was released March 18 through Season Of Mist. When it comes to the sprawling storyline, drummer Guillermo “G-Calero” Calero explains where Krighsu takes place: “Krighsu is the prequel of [2013’s] Exodromos. It starts with Krighsu waking up as the last of the Chryms, a cyborg army, who were saved for an event when [an imminent threat to the survival] of the human race exists. The aforementioned event happens, but as the album starts, we can see things didn’t go as planned…” Very few bands stick to an overarching storyline like Wormed have for the last 17 years. Spreading across one demo, two singles, and three full-lengths— including Krighsu—Wormed have developed an immersive story. When we left off at Exodromos, we were told about the futuristic scientific concepts and chaotic visions of the last human in the cosmos, Krighsu. The known universe was absorbed by a quantum wormhole in an inverted multivectorial reionization. Krighsu must find a planet with the human seed. “The fact that he is the one that wakes up last and is put into this mess of a galaxy where the last act of the last humans was their own demise—as it couldn’t be otherwise,” says Calero. “There is no one but him to deal with the mutated robotical swarms. As for
why him specifically, you will have to dig deeper into the story and next releases to find out!” Wormed’s music is spastic, yet ultimately refined. How do they top their previous releases each time? “This is my first album with Wormed,” Calero says. “The writing came natural to us; we were creating the riffs and songs the way we liked most at the moment. We didn’t really go into it one way or the other to top the other albums. I can say Krighsu is probably the most intense Wormed album, and I am proud to have contributed to that. About the recording process, I think preparation is really important—as for anything, really. As long as you go with your material rehearsed and prepared, it is a lot of fun and motivational to see your work finally taking form in front of you!” On top of all that, Guillermo also has another band with a release on the way. “Years ago, I formed a band called Gennotype; we will be releasing our debut EP this coming March!” This kind of material takes a lot of time to write and develop. “Apart from the first song of the album, which was started before I joined the band, the album was written from summer 2014 until early 2015,” Calero explains. “We had the European tour in between, so it took like five or six months to write.” On the topic of touring, he adds: “Apart from various festivals, like Maryland Deathfest, Resurrection, and Death Feast, we are planning a tour around Europe by the end of the year.” In conclusion, Calero says that Wormed “hope you like the new album, Krighsu, as much as we do. Thank you for the support and see you on the road!”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY EMILY 'SCOOBY' DUBIN
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARIST ERIK CZAJA BY DEREK SCANCARELLI
owsing vocalist and guitarist Erik Czaja’s new queen size mattress is 60 inches wide by 80 inches long. He knows this because he had to measure it to make sure it would fit inside the band’s bus before driving from his parents’ house in New Jersey to the band’s base in Chicago, and playing four shows along the way. The bed is an old hand-me-down, but it’s an upgrade from the twin size he’s been sleeping on for nine years. He wrote most of the lyrics to the band’s upcoming record while sitting on that bed. The album doesn’t have a title. It’s not “untitled,” or “selftitled,” it’s just in a sort of name purgatory. You’re better off not asking any questions about it.
up. In the past, he wrote emo songs about failed relationships and self-deprecation. Writing was his outlet for selfevaluation, and the lyrics were often more descriptive than the words he was able to verbalize face to face. Now, he’s starting to say what he wants to say, and the release of Dowsing’s new record will be a purging of his feelings.
Dowsing have grown a lot as a band, too. The newest incarnation came together after a weeklong tour with Donovan Wolfington in 2014. Czaja— the only original member— also plays in Kittyhawk, and in Pet Symmetry alongside Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. Bassist Mike Politowicz tour manages and fills in on bass for Pity Sex. “I gotta be an adult here,” says Drummer Will Lange plays bass Czaja, sitting on the bench in Ratboys, and guitarist Mikey of the converted mini school Crotty is a recording engineer. It bus that would soon house all seems hectic—and it is—but the mattress and focusing on somehow, they make it work. logistics like it was a real life game of Tetris. This isn’t the Czaja says that Dowsing is his only way that Czaja is growing primary focus and he’s proud
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of the band’s evolution. The new album, which comes out in April on Asian Man Records, sounds totally different: the tones are warmer, there are far more guitar tracks, and the band made it as loud as possible. They took their time recording and mixing instead of the usual three days spent on Dowsing’s prior releases. At first glance, the band isn’t all that serious. Sure, Czaja may have an M.A. in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois, and Politowicz did study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, but they are easygoing; they love planes, trains, candy, and are obsessed with LaCroix Sparkling Water. It gets heavier when assessing the new record and the hindsight that inspired Czaja to write a songs like “Wasted on Hate” and “Grunge for Life,” aggro social commentaries on the Chicago DIY scene that somehow reduced itself into a giant meme-trolling message
board. The songs echo how drama in the community made the band less inclined to play their hometown. When asked if they felt unwelcome, Czaja replies, “A little bit, at the time,” then clears his throat. “I think it’ll be different now.” The record also features pleas for forgiveness from past band members. Dowsing, who have been no stranger to lineup changes, recently replaced their entire rhythm section. “You hurt people, you kick them out of your band,” Czaja says, laughing nervously. “It ruined a lot of relationships for a long time. I don’t regret doing it, but I regret how it was handled.” Looking forward, Dowsing have their heads held high. Many of the rocky relationships have been mended and the 10 track untitled album is looking A-OK. When the new songs are finally out, the band expect to be released from the pigeonhole of emo, pop-punk, or whatever the hell the Internet has dubbed them.
always spend time focusing on differentiating moments to make songs more interesting.” For such an important moment on the record, “Wake Up” was almost scrapped until they reimagined it as the ballad it is today.
INTERVIEW WITH SARAH AND JAKE DESMARAIS BY SEAN GONZALEZ
hough often classified as a loud alt-rock band, one listen to Fucko and the listener immediately understands how that simple the label belies the complexity of the Boston trio. The tunes across their long-awaited debut, Dealing with the Weird—out since Feb. 26 via Black Numbers—feature loud bass lines beating behind fuzzy guitars and vocals that are monotonous, yet powerful enough to cut through the noise. In terms of breaking away from the rest of the artists in the genre, bassist Jake Desmarais states, “I’m not really concerned what a song sounds like, because we’re not afraid to throw something away if it doesn’t feel right.”
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This way of writing has created an album full of dense tracks on which all of the instruments mesh well together. As for inspirations, Jake doesn’t bring them to the table, instead allowing his and his sister, Sarah Desmarais’ writing style to progress the music forward. “Sarah and I write songs together… separately,” he explains. “We both come to each other with bits of songs and share ideas we have with them.” As for Sarah, she is surprised the record is not more poppy due to her love for singer-songwriter Rose Melberg. “It’s odd that we don’t make cleaner, more poppy music because
of my love for her, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say ‘Wishful Thinking’ wasn’t inspired by a Softies song,” she states. One can hear pop influenced beats on the debut, such as on the peppy “Shitty City.” There is a giant seismic shift of energy midway through Dealing with the Weird, starting with “Wake Up.” An emotional ballad featuring only Sarah and her guitar, the song stands out against the other hefty tracks for being simple and easygoing. Just when the rest of the band begins playing, they start to fade out. “Jake is always reminding me to think about dynamics, [and] rightfully so,” she says. “I like really straightforward chords and progressions, and we
The record has several softer moments, like “Whatever Floats Your Boat (Sinks My Heart),” but more often, Fucko are channeling loud and aggressive music, like on “Best Little Something in Somewhere.” The overdriven guitars and bass churn through chord progressions while letting feedback find its way in the sludgy mix. Jake isn’t afraid of being softer, however, adding that “it was actually really fun making something that sounded different—‘Wake Up’— and I feel like we’re going to do a lot more of that going forward.”
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY EVAN SUNG
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST JASON ALEXANDER BYERS & BASSIST JOHNATHAN SWAFFORD BY THOMAS PIZZOLA
rooklyn, New York, loud rock act Black Black Black— which features vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, guitarist Jacob Cox, bassist Johnathan Swafford, and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher—will unleash their sophomore record on March 25 via Aqualamb Records. Entitled Altered States of Death and Grace, the album contains 10 stripped down, catchy, and hard-hitting tunes that run the gamut from straight up bangers like the one-two punch of openers “Zoloft Manual” and “I Got Scabies” to more slow burn numbers like the evil, shimmering, psychedelic tones of “Lloyd Needs Meds” and the doomy “Exorcist Everything.” There is no sign of a sophomore slump to be found. In fact, that was the band’s intention all along. “Our first record was an experiment,” says Byers. “We wrote all of those songs within three months. Recorded the entire record in one week and it was released very soon after. With Altered States of Death and Grace,
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we took our time and added some new elements. Both records are very similar as far as dynamics are concerned.” In addition, the title has a special relation to the singer. “All of the songs relate to obsessions that I have,” he says. “One of which is the Ken Russell film ‘Altered States.’ My dad had me watch it with him when I was 12 years old. That experience was definitely a life changer. The title came to me one day. It felt very natural.” Byers’ lyrics touch on the darker side of the human experience, but there is also a touch of humor to them, too. “I’m attracted to dark subject matter. I don’t care about expressing my personal life in words,” he explains. “I find writing positive songs boring. Many of the lyrics are based on research I’ve done. Such as the abuse of pharmaceuticals, suicide statistics, and dentistry. Add a dash of horror films that have influenced me for fun. Many of the songs relate to each other. Yes, they are dark, but there is a
lot of humor within each song. If you read into the lyrics I hope that you’d laugh.” Aqualamb Records release albums in regular formats such as vinyl and digital, but the label is also known for putting out gorgeous 100 page softbound books for their releases, each of which feature lyrics and artwork that pertain to the music. Each book also contains a download of the album. This type of release is a natural fit for a band whose singer is also a graphic artist of some renown. In fact, the book is a perfect symmetry between Byers’ two worlds. “A lot of Jason’s artwork and lyrics serve as the narrative of Black Black Black, so having the book format is perfect for us to express and visualize the album ideas and themes in detail,” says Swafford, who is also co-owner of the label. Even beyond the creation of Altered States of Death and Grace’s book, Byers
sees a connection between his two creative disciplines. “I consider myself an artist first. A musician second,” he explains. “I’m just a vocalist. I can’t play an instrument, and I don’t want to. My bandmates are great musicians. I like to leave the music and arrangements to them. It adds an element of surprise for me when I first hear the songs. Being a musician and a visual artist are no different. As long as I’m being creative, I’m happy, although doing both at the same time can be difficult. I use the same research I do for both my fine art and music. They definitely influence each other.”
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATALIE BISIGNANO
ay Anything’s new album, I Don’t Think It Is —which was released digitally Feb. 5, and will drop physically on April 15 via Equal Vision—grew out of the desire to do something different. “I think my inspiration in the first place was that there was a lack of inhibition to moving forward from our last record, where I got to do a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t do on a Say Anything record,” says Max Bemis, who—up until recently—had been the sole mastermind behind the band. “So, I think I was just kind of following that mindset, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to revert back to doing the same kind of rehashing over and over again.’” This time around, Bemis worked with brother-in-law and Mutemath drummer, Darren King. According to Bemis, there’s a specific magic between the two musicians, one that he had never felt before when working with other artists. “It was just the most inspiring thing to happen to me at that point; he’s such a genius and a prodigy,” Bemis says. “It was the type of thing where even though a lot of the songs have live drums, because he’s such a maverick, we could come up with something and he could play it in 30 seconds, and play it better than I could ever imagine it could be played. Since me and Darren come from similar but pretty opposite ends of the spectrum, there’s a lot of things that I would not have thought of on my own or I wouldn’t have let myself come up with if it wasn’t for his encouragement. I’d like to thank him for that.”
“It’s amorphous, it’s all those things, and yet, it’s not those things. You can’t really define what it is…” Bemis says there was a general “I don’t give a fuck” vibe throughout the entire process of making I Don’t Think It Is. “It really became this running theme of the record,” he elaborates, “It became how we made it; it became my attitude while thinking about how it would be received. I don’t mean not trying or not caring, but being confident enough to say, ‘This is what I’m doing and I love it, and I’m gonna kind of just do it and not think about it.’” This mindset eventually drove Bemis to make the album available to stream online the day before releasing it for sale. He says, “My favorite thing would be if my favorite band just put out a record. They didn’t tease me about it and didn’t really let me know they were making it, and suddenly, I could just have it and listen to it.” Many diehard Say Anything fans may be wondering if Bemis is finally relinquishing his stronghold of control over the band’s material. While he still has a
great deal of say over Say Anything, there are definitely other opinions to take into consideration now. Bemis says, “I think having the creative oversight is something that I would never give up. That never worked in Say Anything, even when there were two or three solid members who had played on the record and helped write the music. I was still the dude who made all of the big decisions. But, when it comes to the sonics and working with other musicians and working with other songwriters— basically, seeing Say Anything as this kind of collective that I’m the head of—I don’t think I can go back from doing that now.” Often, when artists cross genres, they’re met with criticism regardless of the quality of the product they turn out. Bemis says he has seen less of that and more of fans either loving the album… or hating it. “I thought there would be more comparing us to Limp Bizkit or something,” he jokes, “but, honestly, what I’ve seen is that people are either so passionately into this record or just don’t understand it, and for me, that’s actually a good thing. I think the hip hop influence is pretty blatant; I’m basically rapping on like half the record. One of my biggest inspirations on this record was Beck, and Beck has been mining hip hop and modern pop for most of his career. So, I think there are some cases where it works and some cases where it definitely doesn’t work, and unless you try, you never really know. I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do.” Whether they love it or hate it, fans may wonder what to call Say Anything. Are they a band? Is it one guy? A collective? Bemis says it’s none of the above: “It’s amorphous, it’s all those things, and yet, it’s not those things. You can’t really define what it is. Now, it’s very much what the music entails.”
ISSUE 24 NEW NOISE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY REBECCA REED
“Two hours before we were supposed to leave for Australia, our bassist made it known that he would not be coming,” PEARS vocalist Zach Quinn says of their current tour. “Do we cancel? No. We ain’t fucking quitters. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep the train a-chuggin’ forward. So, I’ve been playing bass, Chris (Aiken) from Strung Out has been playing bass, Strung Out’s sound guy, David, has been playing bass. Nothing will stop us. Nothing.”
hen, Quinn broke his hand. When asked how—or possibly, why?—guitarist Brian Pretus replies, “He punched the stage.” Fair enough. Frankly, it doesn’t seem out of character. Despite all of the tumult, the New Orleans band mean it when they say they’re not fucking quitters. PEARS will almost assuredly press on and complete their March Australian run, then return to the States for a dizzying amount of dates in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.S. again, and back to Europe. This blistering, hand-smashing schedule is all in support of Green Star, the band’s sophomore record, which drops April 1 on Fat Wreck Chords. If PEARS’ history with touring has taught them anything, the MIA bassist and the FUBAR extremity are only the beginning. “A lot of the crazy shit that happens to us happens on the road,” Pretus relates, recalling the time their infamously patriotic van, Old Glory, caught fire. “If you’ve ever seen what our van looked like, its pretty funny to imagine it on fire,” he admits. “It’s pretty badass.” Van fire beget tow truck beget motel room in “some bum fuck town” beget a bed bug scare. After Old Glory was repaired by “some fucking Mormon,” it was only a few hours before the glorious red, white, and blue phoenix once again went down in flames, stranding PEARS in “this awful fucking tiny town: Marston, Missouri.” It may seem like music is mostly fun and games and destruction for PEARS, but all the tomfoolery is propped up by a solid work ethic that is evident on the new album. “We worked really hard on Green Star and had a hard time just sitting on that material since we recorded it over the summer,” says drummer Jarret Nathan. “I can’t wait to actually play them now. And we live on the road, so the enormous touring schedule isn’t anything out of the ordinary.” Pretus is also excited about “finally getting
the chance to play all these songs we’ve been sitting on for, like, eight months. I can’t wait to hear people’s reactions. The band nerd guys are gonna go nuts about it. The tooones, maaan, the tooones.” While the band nerds wallow in the record’s pristine tones like pigs in slop, the word nerds will have the opportunity to soak up the new lyrics. “The theme would have to be sacrificing parts of who you are for the sake of other parts of who you are,” Quinn explains. “You know how they say to open a door, you have to close three others? Something like that? The record is kind of a eulogy for the doors I have closed.” When asked if he has a method for communicating these themes on stage, or if he’s just a conduit, Quinn admits, “It starts off as the latter for sure, but with the first record, I found loose choreography that seemed to translate the stuff most efficiently and made it easier for me in any given moment to disappear entirely into each song.” Fans can likely expect the same brand of patented Zach Quinn interpretive dance this time around. At the end of the day, whether fans will be hearing it live or on record, PEARS just can’t wait to shove Green Star into their earholes. “I’m really just stoked for everyone to hear this new record,” Nathan says. “It feels important. It’s by far the best project I’ve ever been a part of. Just front to back, all 16 songs—listening to it still gives me the chills. I like to listen to my own band, whatever, shut up, dude.” “I’ve never made a record like this, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Quinn attests, “so the prospect of failing in one way or another was healthy and very present. I feel like we did it. I listened to it on the plane—a completely masochistic activity, as if there would be something I could do at this point if I found a problem—and it doesn’t feel boring. My biggest concern with this record in particular was that it would feel too aware of itself. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I was worried about that. In a lot of ways, retrospectively, [2015 debut full-
length] Go to Prison feels like a trial run for this record. Everything was leading up to this one.” “There definitely are lots of anxieties and lots of stress with our second record,” Pretus admits. “Most having to do with the expectation that it won’t be better than the last one. You know, the whole ‘I only like their old stuff ’ shit people think is cool to say. Aside from that, this is the first time any of us have ever put out a record on a big label, or really had any financial backing for anything, so that made us more aware that we’d better make sure the shit rocks, which isn’t an easy thing to think about when you’re having writer’s block. As far as everyone’s expectations go, we don’t give a shit what people say about us. The only thing that matters now that we have people backing us is that we’re happy with it and that we don’t blow the opportunity we’ve been given. We definitely made a record that I think is worth 10 times what we actually spent on it,” he laughs. For the recording of Green Star, Nathan says PEARS were “lucky enough to have James Whitten, who we adore working with, along with Mike Supina from A Wilhelm Scream, who’s just so fucking smart when it comes to recording. Guitar tones, drum editing—he played a huge role in the outcome of this record. It’s just sonically incredible, I think, and a lot of that has to do with having Mike there.” Nathan adds that, despite the attention to detail on the album, the band finished the major tracking in six days and wrapped recording in roughly two weeks. Quinn expands upon the band’s approach to making this release a more cohesive project: “I kept thinking of [Green Star] as a sort of odyssey album, like a ‘through the looking glass’ type thing. I was very concerned with making each song feel like a step further on a single journey without making it feel over the top or even treading on ‘concept.’ In no way is that decidedly a blueprint for efforts here on out, but that’s
what this record was supposed to be.” Ultimately, PEARS do not need a blueprint as long as they have the nigh magical pairing of Quinn and Pretus steering the ship. The pair met randomly in 2007 or ‘08, and Quinn says they connected while on a beer run. “We realized that we both heard the harmonies that could’ve [or] should’ve been on whatever was on his car stereo,” he recalls. “A musical soulmate, so to speak. From there, it was a bunch of different projects, but the intense symbiotic relationship began in PEARS.” “Once upon a time, one of us would write a song, then it was finished. Now, one of us will write something, and then, we just pass it back and forth making changes until it reaches its final draft,” Quinn expounds. “So, we take turns cleaning up one another’s messes.” Pretus unknowingly echoes Quinn, saying, “Well, we’re musical soulmates. So, it’s very easy for us to bounce ideas off each other. We mostly write stuff by piecing things we’ve recorded over time onto our phones. […] We just piece a bunch of shit together like a puzzle and it ends up being a song, and then, I write the drums on a midi grid and record two guitars and a bass track, send it to everyone, then they learn it for whenever we practice or whatever—which is never—and then, Zach writes lyrics in some dark cave or some shit and has a mental breakdown, and then… a PEARS song is born.” “I want everyone to appreciate how insanely talented Zach and Brian are as songwriters,” Nathan concludes. “When you get the right combination of people, you can make really interesting and unique music. Before I joined this band, I knew it was something special, and I hope Green Star continues to give people the same feeling I had when I heard them for the first time.” A more recent recruit, Nathan says that when he heard the band for the first time, “It was the kind of music I had always wanted to play. […] PEARS has given me everything I’ve ever wanted out of life as far as being a drummer goes. I’ve met, toured with, and actually befriended my childhood heroes, all while traveling the world and playing in a band my heart is truly in. It feels good; I consider myself very lucky.” PEARS still have a long road of promoting Green Star ahead of them, but Quinn is already forming a hazy picture of the next release. “After a doozy like this, I’m feeling the call back to something simpler,” he reveals. “I know that Green Star, in my mind, is lyrically a spiritual successor to Go to Prison. Go to Prison is loosely about the confines of perspective, hence the title, and it is expositional, introductory, whereas Green Star is applying what was established in an active setting: microcosm vs. macrocosm. So, there may be a conceptual third act somewhere in there—a resolution.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL SILVER
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY REBECCA REED
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATHAN KATSIAFICAS
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST ANTHONY NOTARMASO BY NATASHA VAN DUSER
fter The Burial has been an unyielding force in the metalcore scene since their formation over a decade ago. Stemming from Minnesota, the band’s three founding members—guitarists Trent Hafdahl and Justin Lowe, alongside bassist Lerichard Foral—helped carry them through all of their career ups and downs. 2015 proved to be the most trying year to date, making the band’s latest release, Dig Deep— which dropped Feb. 19 via Sumerian Records—a record many people believed might never see the light of day.
"...it’s a hard one to listen to without missing one of your best friends." Flashback to the summer of 2015 when a cryptic, conspiracy theory ridden open letter surfaced on Lowe’s Facebook page, announcing his reasons for leaving the band unexpectedly. While many brushed it off as a dramatic stunt or simply paranoia, the rest of the band responded several days later citing mental illness as its source. A month down the line, it proved even graver. On July 21, Lowe was found dead beneath a bridge he presumably fell from. Though the band had been in the studio prior to his death, the loss of Lowe put an immediate halt on everything the remaining members of After The Burial had been working toward, influencing their decision to drop off that year’s Summer Slaughter Tour.
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Though all seemed lost, After The Burial banded together to rebuild themselves and release what may be their most personal collection of songs to date. “We didn’t know what was going to happen,” explains vocalist Anthony Notarmaso. “It was a really hard record to do. That’s kind of where the whole album name came from, and I think it shows on the record. […] It was definitely the hardest record that I’ve ever had to write. I’m sure everyone else feels the same way. It was just a really tough, tough thing to go through without having one of your members there with you.” Fans got their first taste of After The Burial’s inspiring efforts with the single “Lost in the Static,” a track they wanted to release to concretely show they were still pushing forward as a group. While Dig Deep is nearly 40 minutes long, it is only comprised of nine tracks, largely due to the many setbacks that affected the band while writing, recording, and co-producing the record with Will Putney. Though few, the tracks are brimming with a newfound emotional sophistication and document of the trials the group went through. “‘Laurentian Ghosts’—I think it’s the hardest song for me to listen to,” says Notarmaso. There is a heartbreaking swell in his voice each time he reminisces about his fallen comrade. “Justin,” he carries on, “we’d all catch him playing that riff a lot and we made it into that song. […] It’s an ode to Minnesota and it just has a lot going on, and it’s a
hard one to listen to without missing one of your best friends.” After The Burial have found great success and overwhelming support with their latest record, as positive feedback from peers, fans, press, and critics alike continues to pour in. “I don’t know what’s going to happen or where we’re going to end up, but I just know that things are finally looking up after such a long time of being left in the dark,” Notarmaso concludes. “We reached inside ourselves and found this extra little bit of something and decided to keep moving forward. We just want people to know that they can do that too. We’re just like them. We’re just these normal people who got lucky playing music, and I just want people to know that there’s a lot of beauty out there and don’t give up.”
“Dig deep. Keep going.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEREMY SAFFER
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alls Of Jericho are there has been a lot of pain, darkreemerging, much ness, and chaos. This record is the like their home- soundtrack to that.” town of Detroit. Kucsulain admits to the ramTheir first album and EP were parts that living such an intense, cold, metallic declarations in the focused life can place into the late ‘90s. In 2006, All Hail the writing process. “It was extremely Dead reestablished them in the hard for me to get back into writscene with thicker production ing,” she recalls. “I had a mental and a punk spirit that enthralled block for a very long time. Belisteners and lucky live crowds. coming a mother changed things Two albums and an EP followed for me. No longer could I put on as Walls Of Jericho dominated a pot of coffee and write all night the worldwide hardcore scene. long. So, I changed the way I apAfter eight quiet years, the band proached it. Mike and I would are back again: No One Can Save get together, listen to music, and You from Yourself—out March 25 bounce ideas off each other. Bevia Napalm Records, the band’s ing in his studio, the vibe and the new label after parting with energy is what really pulled it all now-defunct Trustkill Records— together.” feels like All Hail the Dead in spirit and in urgency. Each mem- Walls of Jericho play metallic ber is busy, but they are all dedi- hardcore. Never shying from cated to pushing their new album a dive-bomb or Slayer adoring out into a distraught world. riff, the band still have a twostep foundation that stirs pits. “A lot has happened,” fierce vocal- Defenders of the mighty breakist and social advocate, Candace down, Walls have packed a surgKucsulain, says of the last eight ing punch in No One Can Save years. “[Guitarist] Chris [Raw- You from Yourself. The music is son] joined Stick To Your Guns. incendiary, sparking rage in au[Bassist] Aaron [Ruby] opened dience members who feel a venhis own tattoo shop. [Drummer] omous ire equal to the band’s. As Dustin [Schoenhofer] has done Kucsulain explains, that synergy a ton with other bands. [Gui- is no accident. “I feel this retarist] Mike [Hasty] continues cord completely represents us in to record bands and rule at life. many ways,” she explains. “HavI have a beautiful daughter and ing eight years between records, am a strength coach [and] per- we have perfected our setlist sonal trainer. After The American and developed our true sound. Dream, I decided to start a fam- We realized there were certain ily. The band was very support- songs that created the vibe and ive. We kept touring on short energy we wanted for the stage. stints until my daughter was old We approached this record with enough to understand why I was that goal in mind: all ragers! It’s leaving.” Kucsulain relates the heavy and it rips. My vocals are band’s push to drop new material more clear and sometimes punk directly to her own life. Her drive sounding, a bit more like our earhas been gestating. “For the past lier stuff.” few years, I have been a part of a powerlifting meet/organization While musically brutal and heavy, called Relentless,” she explains. Walls Of Jericho will always be a “We raise money for kids with hardcore band—not a “metal” cancer and life-threatening ill- band per se—because they are nesses. The families that come not up on a stage to be adored together is what sparked the first and invite wonder at their techsong we wrote for this record, nical prowess. Theirs is a punk ‘Relentless.’ Over the past year, show at heart, one where crowd
participation—and more importantly, connection—is the focus. On No One Can Save You from Yourself, songs like “Cutebird,” the title track, and “Relentless” exemplify this. Kucsulain goes back to her youth to explain this. “What attracted me to our kind of music was connection,” she explains. “I was lost and, for lack of better words, fucked up. I needed music. It saved my life, for sure. The realness and bluntness of the lyrics are what made me fall in love. We won’t ever stray from that. If there isn’t emotion in the music, it’s just bullshit. I feel there is enough of that in the world. We always pull from our experiences.” “‘Cutebird’ is a song about my younger brother Larry, who passed away from brain cancer last year,” she continues. “It was terminal. He fought for three months. My sister-in-law and I collaborated on the lyrics. His passing awoke something in me. He lived life to the fullest, always making time for his passion and family. He made a life worth creating; not many can say that. He had been going with me to shows since he was 12. I wanted to give the world a way to remember him.” On No One Can Save You from Yourself, Walls Of Jericho weigh in on their tough personal times, as well as the world’s problems and hypocrisies. Included in the liner notes are quick explanations under the lyrics, sincerely and emphatically relaying the band’s message to anyone willing to take the time to read them. Beaming like the proud mother of this crushing new album, Kucsulain looks forward to sharing the music. “We want to be on the road more. It’s just a balancing act for us,” she says. “We have Mexico coming up. Also, Europe in the summer. Hopefully, some U.S. this year also.”
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY NALL DUBE
ince their formation in 1988 and eventual ascension from the primordial soup with their 1995 debut, Adrenaline, Deftones have experienced a drastic transmogrification. Rather than a simple transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, the evolution of Deftones’ sound from album to album is more akin to the constantly evolving armor of Iron Man. Each release is prettier and stronger in different areas than the one before it, but they all bear the band’s indelible fingerprint, their perfect balance of mood-changingly gorgeous melody and gut-stomping aggression. One of the reasons the band has been so successful over their career is that they give equal attention to the developing both elements, never letting one fall by the wayside. But much like Iron Man, there is very little agreement between fanboys about which of the band’s myriad styles and eras is the best. Entering into the fray on April 8 is their new album for Reprise Records, Gore.
we’re family, and man, sometimes you wanna knock your brother out,” Cunningham explains. “That’s brutally honest, but that’s the truth. We’ve been around for quite some time now, and we’ve had some of the most high and amazing times and some of the lowest, but that’s part of life. I can say without any doubt that the amount of times that we’ve had together that have been positive way outnumber the bad times. It’s not always easy, but it just comes down to us being brothers who don’t always see eye to eye.” While the duality of the band’s sound can make things difficult creatively, it has also given them a very distinct kind of freedom. “I love it all, but honestly, I think—just, as the drummer in the band—having that ebb and flow, having the kind of sound we have is a pretty cool thing,” Cunningham enthuses. “I love it all. I love the brutality, but I also love the fact that we’re able to do these more lush arrangements and have these different
own thing.’ [Then], this huge scene blew up around us and we were part of it or whatever, and we just continued always doing our own thing. We were going to do our own thing regardless, but we did make an intentional shift with White Pony. That was our stamp on that time and [making that] shift, I believe, [is what has] allowed us to still be around today.” There is no greater a monument to the band’s creative freedom and stylistic balance than new album, Gore. This is the band’s first release following the heart-rending death of founding member, bassist Chi Cheng. “It is the first record since he actually passed and that’s the crazy thing,” Cunningham says. “When he had his accident, it wasn’t like he was killed, he was in this comatose state for over five years and it’s like, that’s the worst thing that I could ever imagine. Having to watch him and see him go through that was the worst, man. When he passed, I was thankful that he was free. Of course, we were
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Unfortunately, this divergence is also present in the band’s writing process. “There are five guys with five strong personalities and the goal is always to go in and see what we can come up with without ever having too much of a plan, and it’s not always easy,” admits drummer Abe Cunningham. “That’s the give and take of what we do. I think that the well documented tension between [guitarist] Stephen [Carpenter] and [vocalist and guitarist] Chino [Moreno]—whether it’s there or not, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t—but quite frankly, some of that tension, while it sucks to be part of it, has really allowed us to have some of our most interesting music.”
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textures. It really frees us up to make it interesting. Hopefully, over the years, people kind of know what to expect from us, it’s not the same every time. I mean, Slayer is one of my all-time favorite bands, [but] they can’t really go away from their signature sound; it’s one of those things. So, we are in a unique position where we’re sort of allowed to do things. I know we’re going to piss people off, but it is what it is.”
That freedom, Cunningham believes, is one of the main reasons the band was able to separate themselves from the late ‘90s numetal label that they were chained to when they first broke out. “Like I said, it’s a really unique position that we’re in,” Cunningham While internal creative tension can reiterates. “We were around before a lot of occasionally be part of the band’s rogues those bands. We started in 1988; obviously gallery, it is merely another aspect of the we didn’t have a record out until ‘95, but familial bond they share. “I love these dudes we had been together all those years. For with all my heart: we’re beyond brothers, us, it was like, ‘Whit, we’ve always done our
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devastated by that, but we also had times over the last five years where we were like, ‘Are you getting better, or are you not? I want you to be free at this point.’” While the band has had incredible success and chemistry with current bassist, Sergio Vega, Cheng’s influence and impact will forever be embedded in Deftones’ legacy, no matter which type of armor they are using in battle. “I’ve learned so much from him; we all have, together as a band,” Cunningham confirms. “We were trying to figure out how to write a song and how to maybe write another song, and then, play a show, and then, maybe play the next town over. So that’s where that all came from. We learned everything we know together, and Chi’s spirit was incredibly strong when he was walking with us and is still here every day. This is what we do and he’s always been a part of that, in both the physical world and the spiritual.”
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STEP AWAY FROM THE SCENE HALF ALIVE INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST RICHARD ROGERS BY NATASHA VAN DUSER
t’s a Thursday afternoon and vocalist Richard Rogers is sitting and drinking tea in Huntington Beach, Calif. It’s one of the brief breathers he can take before he has to pack up and drive to San Diego later in the day to begin practice for SECRETS’ upcoming American headliner, the Everything that Got Us Here Tour. Beginning at the end of February and lasting all throughout March, the band’s trek through the United States will include support from Palisades, Too Close To Touch, and Picturesque. It is set to be their biggest tour to date. The name Everything that Got Us Here hits very close to home for the four piece as it shares the same name as SECRETS’ third full-length release, which dropped at the tail end of 2015. The record works as a culmination of everything that led up to where they are now and the transitions SECRETS made on their way to get there, such as parting ways with their unclean vocalist, Aaron Melzer, and letting bassist Wade Walters take Melzer’s
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place. With tracks touching on the importance of fan interaction, such as “Turn the Page,” to overcoming any obstacles that may get in one’s way, such as “Rise Up,” this record is most notable for its more mellowed out alt-rock sound. “Everything that Got Us Here is just about everything that got us to the point as a band for the third record,” explains Rogers. “Our first release, we had a different vocalist, and it was majority screaming and just a
Other tracks lyrically dug up many of the underlying secrets of the band’s origins. “[‘Half Alive’] was one of the most meaningful songs, personally and as a band,” says Rogers. “The meaning of the song is, like, we were basically forced to be something that we didn’t want to be at the beginning of our career, and finally, we’re able to do what we want now.” Creating a heavy debut record is a telltale story heard time and time again from fledgling bands looking to break out in the industry. Having enough clout and the freedom to record in a new direction without the constraints of dissenting opinions has become quite a relief for Rogers, although it involves more work. “There’s a lot more pressure on me,” he notes, “but I like it that way, because if something goes wrong, I know that it was my fault versus me relying on somebody else to do something. Before, there was another vocalist who could talk on stage and do interviews or say things like that, and now it’s on me. And I kind of like having that pressure.”
Introducing this pressure has also helped Rogers—and SECRETS as a whole—come to terms with this evolved sound, even if it means stepping away from the scene they initially began in. “I don’t even listen to heavy music,” Rogers says. “I listen to Bayside,” who he directly cites as the biggest musical influence on this album, “and Taking Back Sunday all the time. So, I mean, I can honestly care less about what happens to [the heavier music scene], because I wasn’t fully invested into that scene. We still have hints of it; we can’t shake it off. We’ve played it for so long. Even before SECRETS, I was in a band like that, and I just literally grew out of it, but we still have some of that flavor on us.” Going against the heavy music grain is not a new concept for the metalcore and post-hardcore scenes, as groups like Bring Me The Horizon and Of Mice & Men have been trailblazing more melodic, commercial versions of the genres in the mainstream. However, SECRETS aren’t looking for Top 40 success. They’re looking to inspire people. “I think when you decide, like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do this. We’ve got to get on the radio” or something, it just becomes kind of not real at that point,” he says. Therefore, the band seek to release tracks aimed at lifting people up with their continued attention to creating and promoting positive lyrical content rather than by gathering a larger following.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAMERON BURCHILL
lot of swearing. It wasn’t what we were about. So, we just wanted to move closer to rock, but still heavy.” This new direction became highly apparent with songs like “Learn to Love” and “I’ll Be Fine,” which are more centered on clean vocals, melody, and tone.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALAN SNODGRASS
S ARLIE STEFFEN IS EMERY BY CH R H C R E M M U R D H INTERVIEW WIT
aving survived more than their fair share of hardships, Minneapolis, Minnesota’s American Head Charge are back with Tango Umbrella, following up their 2013 EP, Shoot. The classic lineup of vocalist Cameron Heacock, bassist Chad Hanks, keyboardist Justin Fowler, guitarist Karma Singh Cheema, and drummer Chris Emery, along with guitarist Ted Hallows who joined in 2013, will embark on an extensive U.S. tour with Motograter on May 12
" No matter what happens, we're brothers and we love each other. No one’s throwing each other to the dogs."
“I really do think this is the best one yet,” says Emery of Tango Umbrella, adding that much of the material has the old school flavor and heaviness of the band’s Rick Rubin produced 2001 release, The War of Art, which won critical acclaim. Hearing the demos was invigorating to Emery. “Right off the bat, I was excited to do it again,” he says. “I hadn’t heard stuff like that from them in so long. I felt like, in my heart, it was a no-brainer. The vocal melodies and things that Cameron is trying, I’ve never heard him do before. It just seems like the best of Head Charge to me.” The Tango Umbrella lament, “King Among Men,” with its haunting in-
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strumental elements and poignant lyrics, affects Emery emotionally every time he hears it. “It brings me to tears,” he says. Shortly after he rejoined the group in 2011, his brother Tim committed suicide. He admits that he is almost instinctively reminded of his brother, as well as former bandmate Bryan Ottoson, who died from an overdose on the band’s bus in 2005 while on tour in North Charleston, S.C. “After the first couple of years, I was so numb, and it wasn’t getting any better,” he recalls. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming. I had to get put on meds for a little while, because it messed me up so much. When we did this record—it was the hardest record I’ve ever done, because I was still racked with grief. It really affected my personality. I was bumping heads with Cameron really bad and being a jerk to him. I think after that, we had this breakthrough, and we’ve just had a ball together ever since. We’re good friends now.” The drummer, who has battled substance abuse for many years, says that having put together some years of sobriety has helped him manage his emotions and navigate life better. “I would always buckle under pressure and run from problems,” he admits. According to Emery, it was utter defeat that opened his eyes. It seems he doesn’t take his sobriety and emotional stability for granted. “You never know. I might implode next month,” he says with humility.
While the road to Tango Umbrella has been rocky, American Head Charge have truly found their stride. “I think the one thing that has seemed to follow us around is an insatiable desire to want to play together,” Emery says. “No matter what happens, we’re brothers and we love each other. No one’s throwing each other to the dogs. That’s not how we operate anymore.” “I’m just so grateful that we’re here where we’re at,” he concludes. “It makes me not want to waste a single day of it. I just like to revel in the moment. We want each other to stay on track and keep going. Make the most out of this fun trip.”
oronto’s Blood Ceremony shook the doom-psych scene with their eponymous debut in 2008. Evoking the early occult rock of Coven and Sabbath, Blood Ceremony cultivated the atmosphere of Hammer films and haunted English castles with riffs, female vocals, and a flute. Trimming down on the Iommi-ian down tuning, Blood Ceremony unleashed their fourth studio full-length March 25 via their mainstay label, Rise Above Records. Lord of Misrule loses some chunk in the riffs in favor of more arranged songwriting and a varied display of English vibes. Lead vocalist, organist, and flautist, Alia O’Brien, relishes in the wide array of influences and sounds. The “Lord of Misrule” was the doomed figure elected to preside over the Feast of Fools, an annual Saturnalian bacchanalia popular in the Middle Ages in which masters became servants and servants, masters. After the hedonistic revelry subsided, the Lord of Misrule was sacrificed in a symbolic cleansing of sin. The listener here, guided by Blood Ceremony, wanders through the eccentric and vibrant displays one would see and hear and smell and taste at such a lascivious festival. O’Brien indulges, “Our album, to me, is shrouded in an aura of melancholy, even during its peppi-
est, poppiest moments. I feel like our sound works well with the idea of a sacrificial, temporary Lord who is, at one moment, reveling in excess, and the next, sacrificed to Saturn. We have a few decidedly pop songs on the album, ‘Loreley’ and ‘Flower Phantoms’; folkier numbers like ‘The Weird of Finistere’ and ‘Things Present, Things Past.’ But, the heavy riffs are still there in ‘Old Fires,’ ‘The Devil’s Widow,’ and ‘The Rogue’s Lot.’ This album is more dynamic than our previous releases. We envisioned this album as a sonorous ‘feast of fools’, in a sense: a smorgasbord of weird musical offerings.” A beefy rocker like their earlier output, “The Rogue’s Lot” dives into the English feel with imagery and sound complete. Acoustic romp, “Things Present, Things Past” acts as the album’s closer. In between, Blood Ceremony take the listener on a seductive journey that blends stoner rock, occult visuals, and occasional, catchy ‘60s Mod stomps. The elaborate songwriting, spanning many styles, led the band to one specific producer. O’Brien explains, “The songwriting is incredibly varied on this album. We wanted the songs to be united. Liam Watson sprang to mind as the obvious choice. He is a visionary. He has recorded garage, soul, folk, and heavy music, all of which are present on Lord of Misrule. We’re all avid consumers of garage, freakbeat, and ‘60s soul. It was an amazing experience getting to realize our weirdo-pop vision at Toe Rag
Studios. It ended up sounding extra gritty, psychedelic, and stark.” “I think we’re all really happy with where the songs were at when we entered the studio,” she continues. “Liam helped to further polish each song. He was an active producer and contributed creatively to many of the arrangements. Liam’s analog studio wizardry took our songs to the next level.” After Lord of Misrule hits on March 25, Blood Ceremony will trek on a two week tour, bookended by Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands and Desertfest in London. On those dates, Blood Ceremony will preach the fate of the Lord of Misrule. They will explain with their songs the celebration of the serfs standing over their masters. While denying intentional political themes that may vibrate in today’s climate, O’Brien bites at the idea. “I think that the idea of a temporary reversal of the social and political order is pretty interesting, a bit anarchic,” she muses. “This album does not carry any concrete political messages, but if our music happens to inspire some sort of a revolution, that’s fine by me!”
INTERVIEW WITH ALIA O'BRIEN BY HUTCH PHOTOGRAPHY BY ESTER SEGARRA
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK GERSH
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST BRANDON BLAINE BY SEAN GONZALE
alifornia’s Plague Vendor stormed the country’s punk scene in 2014 with their debut, Free to Eat, from Epitaph Records. The quartet surged through 10 songs in under 20 minutes and left their mark with dazzling punk spirit and high-octane energy. Scratchy guitars met chunky grooves on every song, allowing for the vocals to be sporadic and in the face of each listener, such as on “Cursed Love, Hexed Lust,” which featured a vocal assault rambling through a paragraph of words in a matter of seconds, backed by a quickpaced rhythmic beat. Even though it was recorded in ‘08, the band used the songs on Free to Eat as stepping-stones into bigger venues and better places. “When we started the band [and] began writing what would become Free to Eat, we were all in different places musically and personally,” comments Plague Vendor vocalist Brandon Blaine. This contributed to a record that sounded youthful and all over the place.
“IF YOU AIN’T SWEATING, YOU AIN’T WORKING HARD ENOUGH.” Now, the band is looking forward to their release of BLOODSWEAT via Epitaph Records on March 25. Blaine came up with the name for the record after writing a few powerful songs to rally behind. “Ox Blood” has a classic hard rock vibe thanks to the tight rhythm section of drummer Luke Perine and bassist Michael Perez. While maintaining high energy, a few songs such as “Chopper” and “Credentials” are more abrasive and heavier, which came naturally to the foursome. “We’ve learned a lot, and become closer as brothers and a band,” remarks Blaine. “So, that’s what you’re hearing on BLOODSWEAT: four friends turned band, turned brothers.” “Anchor to Ankles” has an ominous vibe to the verse, with Blaine commanding softer vocal lines before the chorus explodes with screams. Plenty of other surprises are found on the new LP, such as “No Bounty,” a tune that creeps along at solemn pace with crunchy guitar leads from Jay Rogers, sounding a bit like a Jack White B side. Most of Rogers’ licks on the record experiment with piercing solos and heavy riffs. Plague Vendor are far from a pretty sounding rock band, instead indulging in a rather filthy sound channeled through raw kinetic energy. Plague Vendor’s live show is as vivacious as their albums. Led by Blaine’s stream of conscious assault on the mic, the group makes their presence felt as soon as they begin playing. A lot of the live show is charged by erratic vocal performances. “It’s still something I am and will always
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be a student of,” Blaine comments about his vocal duties. “Each song requires a different type of energy, and each song takes me to a different place mentally and psychically. I know when I’m pushing it, and I know when I’m in the pocket, but like I said, I’m still learning.” Knowing that each performance of a song takes a different kind of energy is a key element to Plague Vendor’s sound. “Got It Bad” is a moody track that has a pulsing bass pattern with soft guitar lines. As BLOODSWEAT’s closing track, it spews out a different energy in comparison to the rest of the record. Where other tracks are frantic and chaotic, “Got It Bad” is focused and intimate. It finds Blaine toned down and vulnerable, spiraling through an entranced state of mind. Usually, the combination of the heat and atmosphere, and the song’s place as the closer of a set allow Blaine to get in the mood to perform it. “Sometimes live though, I won’t want to perform that song, because I don’t feel like going to that place and/or am just on another level entirely to even consider it,” admits the vocalist. Every time it’s played, Blaine gives it a distinct personality, which made the recording process even more important. Blaine “wore a few thick t-shirts, a hooded sweater, my leather jacket, and had the AC turned off ” while recording entire takes. “With the heat and a few shots of hydro 10, I was able to get a take I was satisfied with,” Blaine says. “I always tell myself, ‘If you ain’t sweating, you ain’t working hard enough.’”
If that statement doesn’t capture Plague Vendor’s ambition, nothing can.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADAM DEGROSS
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST ENZIFER BY RIDGE BRIEL
erhaps one of the more well known blasphemous black metal bands born from the early 1990s, Norway’s Urgehal quickly rose to a universally regarded prominence in the scene. Albums such as 2011’s Atomkinder became instant classics and placed them forever in metal’s good graces. Urgehal have always stayed true to the message of black metal and never sacrificed musicianship or the evil spirit that resides in all of us for furthered success. Unfortunately, in May 2012, former vocalist and guitarist, Trondr Nefas, was found dead in one of his favorite places in the woods. It was tragic, but fitting, as “Urgehal” means an endless and dark forest where all the evil dwells. Guitarist Enzifer and drummer Uruz decided to press on and complete his dying work, Aeons in Sodom, which was released in February on Season Of Mist. “[The album was] written long before Trondr died, and we had also made a demo recording of the whole album,” says Enzifer. “Therefore, we felt confident in keeping every little detail intact. Trondr wrote ‘The Iron Children,’
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‘The Sulphur Black Haze,’ ‘Norwegian Blood and Crystal Lakes,’ and ‘Psychedelic Evil.’ He also came up with the name Aeons in Sodom. He composed, arranged, and wrote all the lyrics for his tracks. He even plays his eminent guitar solos on his tracks, which we took from the demo recording to keep his presence strong.” Truly a fitting swan song for Nefas and Urgehal as a whole, Aeons in Sodom is true, unrelenting, raw brutality. The music had been written, and the lyrics and the ancillary aspects of the album were also near completion; all that remained was the creation of a professional recording. “The album cover was also his idea, it was made before his death by the very talented Raduta Calin from Romania,” exclaims Enzifer. “We also used his introduction to what would eventually become the last Urgehal gig at Metal Mean Festival in Belgium of 2011 as the intro for the album. Both Uruz and me knew how much Trondr was looking forward to recording the album, so the least we could do is honor his memory and to mark the end of Urgehal. We owe him that, and I don’t think any of us would have found peace if we didn’t.”
Truly a work of art that will forever be remembered, Aeons in Sodom not only represents the band at their greatest, it also features a list of guests that read like a who’swho list of modern black metal. “Since Trondr never recorded the vocals for the album, getting one vocalist to replace him was out of the question,” Enzifer explains. “We got in touch with several of our closest comrades; they all showed total devotion and did a great performance.” A small sample of these well-regarded individuals includes Hoest of Taake and Deathcult, Nattefrost of Carpathian Forest, Niklas Kvarforth of Shining, Nag of Tsjuder, and Sorath of Hagl. Some, like Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone, had very unique ways of recording. “[Nocturno Culto] didn’t want to hear the song or read the lyrics before he entered the studio,” Enzifer recalls. “I just met him there. He listened to the track while reading the lyrics, and then, recorded the whole thing. It was quite impressive.” So, what does the future hold for Enzifer? “Uruz and I have talked about starting something new with other member [of
our circle], Hønefoss Militsen, but nothing is final. Time will show, but it won’t be anything like this album,” he assures. In the meantime? “Uruz is busy with Swedish black metal masters, Craft, and also another band called Saint Deamon. I’m busy recording the last Beastcraft album, and I’m also playing with Orcustus.” Though Aeons in Sodom mark’s Urgehal’s farewell, there will be several final performances to serve as a send-off for the band. “We will play a memorial show together with Trondr’s other two bands he had when he passed, Beastcraft and Endezzma, at Vulkan Arena in Oslo, Norway, on May 13. This will be a special ceremony with all the respective vocalists on the album.” This concert will truly be one for the record books; hopefully, those who cannot attend will see a DVD or Bluray release in the near future.
Enzifer concludes, “Hail Nefas! Gone, but never forgotten.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JJ CA
+HIRS+ I N T E R V I E W W I T H J E N N A "J P " P U P B Y K AY L A G R E E T
ith a home base of Philadelphia—for now—the +HIRS+ collective has been around since the late ‘80s, has had hundreds of people contribute to it, and has released close to 300 songs. Even their TBA upcoming record has over 30 contributors. “The place of origin is still debatable. We’re from all over the place,” says Jenna Pup, who goes by JP. While the lyrics are often unintelligible, +HIRS+’ bandcamp page lists all of them for fans to decipher. They cover themes like hating cops, trans experience and transphobia, racism, religion, survival, and the epidemic of violence and murder faced by trans women. “When was the last time you heard of a trans woman dying of old age?” asks JP. The tunes are brutal and heavy with chugging guitar and some really
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intense blast beats, all screamed at the audience as loud as possible. JP founded the collective, but didn’t come out as trans until after the band was up and running. She says she “knew something was up beforehand, but was unsure until shortly after performing several shows and releasing a handful of records with +HIRS+.” Their record Worship was written entirely by JP about her life at the time, including the realization that she wasn’t born cisgender. As the collective exists now, they primarily perform as a two piece, which certainly has its benefits. “It’s way easier when it comes to decisions for the band with just two weirdos,” JP shares. “It may look like two of us playing shows, but [we] really feel like one in that moment.” Though there
are also huge cons to having only two members, such as loading a ton of gear by themselves, especially since they bring enough equipment for a full band.
The reaction to the group on the local level has been extremely supportive. Unfortunately, for every positive action, there is often an equal but opposite reaction. There was a time when +HIRS+ used to attract, as JP puts it, “fuckboy tokenizing metal dudes trying to put us in their pocket so they could wear us like some ‘look at me! I’m not transphobic, because I listen to +HIRS+’ badge.” While it can be difficult at times to gauge fans’ sincerity, the collective has done their best to weed out the pretenders. +HIRS+ are stoked that the mainstream media and social media have begun shining a spotlight on transgender people, and cite the Internet as a fantastic tool for connecting queer and trans people all over the
world, but JP clarifies, “I don’t think it is in any way easier for trans folks to survive now because of this. We still have to struggle, but at least there are a bunch of us putting ourselves out there for other trans folks.” +HIRS+ prefer to be referred to simply as a punk band with no other frills or subgenres, partially because it describes the sound, but mostly because it describes their ethics. They’ve released two LPs that clock in at 100 songs each, with most of the tracks clocking in between eight and 30 seconds long. Most of their catalog has been self-released, though just last year, the collective got a boost from Get Better Records. JP says that they had just released a cassette with Peeple Watchin’ when Get Better reached out to them and offered to make it into a 7”. After that, she says they “became quite good friends, and we could not be happier to work with them.” JP says +HIRS+ show no signs of slowing down, as it is “impossible to stop a collective of freaks, faggots, and weirdos who are always changing and often anonymous,” but the collective’s motto sums them up best: “Looks like hell, sounds like shit, queer as fuck.”
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST SVEN "SVENCHO" DE CALUWÉ BY RIDGE BRIEL
ver 20 years have passed since Aborted stormed onto the scene with their at-the-time unique blend of wholesome family death metal with the abrasiveness of grindcore, a dash of perversion, and a sprinkle of disgusting. Back in January, they released an EP called Termination Redux as a sort of preview for their April 22 album, Retrogore, both of which were backed by Century Media Records. In reference to their time spent on the scene, vocalist Sven “Svencho” de Caluwé comments, “It’s like the holding of a fantastic pineapple in your hands, right before shoving it up an enormous, lubed up buttock. It’s spiky, sweet, and above all, very tasty. I personally think we should have quit a billion years ago, but I have absolutely no skills in life, so I ended up doing this death metal thing. It’s really weird knowing that the only thing you are good at is annoying the neighbors and scaring little children and old folks. Very satisfying though, nonetheless.” Truly a group who have found a way to make a living working a dream job, Aborted have released many albums that were, and still are, considered death metal classics, such as 2011’s Engineering the Dead and 2008’s Strychnine.213. Planning isn’t the easiest thing to do; such was the case with writing and recording Retrogore. “We are absolute idiots and figured, hey, why not do an EP—to tease the new album, and release it in the year we celebrate our 20th anniversary—that will include songs that won’t make it on the album,” says de Caluwé. “You see, us not being exactly smart, we weren’t ready with the album yet!”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LABRINI GOUMA
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In any case, one can always turn to booze to fuel the creative—and other— juices. “Thankfully, after many alcoholic beverages, we pooped out another 13 songs [plus a re-recording of ‘Termination Redux’] to conjure shit demons to and exorcise the happiness out of your lives!” de Caluwé exclaims. It’s a fitting life motto
for the band: Retrogore is an absolute shitfest of an album, in the best way possible. Aborted is one band who have never faltered by changing their dynamic, yet still sound fresh… as fresh a corpse rotting in a sun burial plot. Speaking of corpses, who would Aborted abort if they could? “The Kardashian’s mother Kris Jenner,” says de Caluwé. To play in an intense band like Aborted, one must live the deathgrind lifestyle. What is the deathgrind lifestyle, you ask? Well, as de Caluwé puts it: “We like to be locked up in a moldy basement and dream of masturbation, while we are not allowed to touch each other—that would be wrong. It really brings this ‘je ne sais quoi’ sense of frustration and anger that leads to these fantastically brutal songs that fit in the insane and dark world of Aborted!” So, aspiring musicians, in order to write the best deathgrind in the business, heed these words of advice! Of all the songs in Aborted’s back catalog, why re-record “The Holocaust Incarnate” for the Termination Redux EP? “Quite frankly, it’s the only song from [Engineering the Dead] that we still like and play live a lot and haven’t re-recorded yet, so it was time,” de Caluwé explains. With the recent resurgence of vinyl and desire to own obscure back catalog tracks, will there be a chance the older material might get re-pressed? “Why would we steal bread from the mouths of all those selling our old shit on eBay for retarded prices?” de Caluwé questions. “It’s such a good plot! Honestly, what’s in the past is in the past. Most of the main releases are still in print besides demos, which we really don’t see the need to be re-pressed or re-released at all.” To conclude, uncledaddy de Caluwé offers these words of wisdom: “Eat your cereals, go to school, don’t be a dumbass, and listen to death metal.” And of course, be sure to check out Retrogore, out April 22 on Century Media Records.
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INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/GUITARI ST LUKE BOERDAM BY F. A M A N D A T U G A D E
he opening scene of Violent Soho’s video for “Like Soda,”—a single off of their new album WACO out March 18 on SideOneDummy Records—features the Brisbane bred boys shamelessly creating chaos in an Australian suburban bowls club, a destination similar to an American country club. In between clips of hair flips, kick flips, and reckless guitar strums, a seemingly older version of Violent Soho surfaces. Dressed in white, club-regulated uniforms, the four piece take turns teasing and flirting with a group of older women. “I don’t mind. I don’t care. I’ll just say, ‘Whatever,’” frontman Luke Boerdam screeches into a tall, slim microphone set on a crisp, clean lawn. Bassist Luke Henery, guitarist James Tidswell, and drummer Michael Richards support Boerdam’s vocal screams, drawing attention to their own style and sense of humor.
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At a first glance, the song and the video are married to the band’s motto: having fun, drinking beer, and getting wild. However, the concept behind both takes them in a deeper and darker direction. For Boerdam, the image of the bowl club represents one facet of a system that holds power to affect perception and status in a stratified socioeconomic environment. Its picturesque, unwrinkled setting is the perfect backdrop and introduction for WACO’s critical intention. Boerdam elaborates, “These are the types of places that echo a prior notion of Australian culture that now sits in the shadows of suburban watering holes that never change, and, as a result, maintain a sort of power over their own destiny. These places refuse to go away.” That fear of conformity and control lurks within the 11 track album, which is built upon a horrific, notorious siege that took place in Waco, Texas, in 1993. A quick Google search ignites investigations and recollections from journalists and histo-
rians dedicated to finding out what really happened. “It’s a complicated story and deserves a much more thorough answer,” Boerdam says, noting the story surrounds a federal raid, which resulted in the “death of around 80 people, allegedly from a mass suicide.” The album’s title track, “Waco,” is a direct nod to that incident. Buried inside a familiar melody, Boerdam sings, “Yeah, I’ll be waiting. We’ll be waiting for a Second Son,” and later recanting with “False message, I believe it—need a prophet of my own—In a Waco, I’ll call…” Expressive lines like those address how uncertainty and full-throttle faith often cater to allowing beliefs to influence behavior and change reality. “These are systems that can be felt by the immediate environment around you, but also can be systems that are self-imposed,” Boerdam says. Pleas for faith and for truth are boldly laced within the choruses, while revelations are revealed throughout the bridges, especially in “Holy Cave,” “Evergreen,” and “So Sentimental.” Boerdam says, “We need to hang on to something so desperately that when our world comes crashing down, so do we.” Boerdam’s interjections of indifference commit to apprehension and confusion, and living in constant worry dives into
another realm of discomfort and doubt. In its entirety, WACO is constructive and contemplative. It is a journey that seeks out what an individual’s role is in a society financed by political, religious, and sexual expectations. Moving the album’s inspiration aside, it is important to note Violent Soho’s current, catchy collection is not at all aggressive. In fact, the record often feels quiet and comforting like an unexpected favorite song that comes on the radio during a late night drive home. A closer listen unveils a subtle similarity to their last album, Hungry Ghost, which was well received by their Australian fans and garnered attention from their American audience. “Hungry Ghost addressed themes of self-destruction and self-neglect,” Boerdam says. “I suppose WACO takes many of those themes and reflects them in a way so as to question our surroundings.” WACO’s distant, bleak reality is integral to understanding the band’s casual, thoughtful interpretation, which lends itself to an idea of individualism that is best understood in the simplest way: “Just to have fun and do whatever, I guess,” Boerdam says.
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INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST SCOTT RUSSO
BY GABI CHEPURNY
UNWRITTEN LAW L ongtime fans of Unwritten Law may wonder what they’re getting themselves into upon their first listen to the band’s newest release, Acoustic, which drops April 1 via Cyber Tracks.
Lead singer Scott Russo tackled the project by himself, planning for it to be just him and a guitar taking on old tunes from the band’s 26 year history. “The idea was that it was gonna be a piece that was gonna be just me,” he says. “It was gonna be quick for Suburban Noize [Records]. It was meant to be recorded in a week, and it was gonna be me and a guitar and that’s it… Maybe an overdub or two. I went down there—again, it was just gonna be a quick record, just turn out, like, 13 songs in, like, a week and keep it pretty streamlined— and two and a half years later, we have an acoustic record,” he laughs. Wile most of the tracks on Acoustic are rearranged versions of older Unwritten Law material, Russo also delivers two new tracks: a cover of John Legend and MSTRKRFT’s, “Heartbreaker,” and an original song, “Belongs To You,” written to get Russo’s girlfriend back. “I felt like I would be shortchanging my fans, if I have any, if I didn’t put at least one new song on the record,” Russo says. “So, I chose that one, because the feedback was positive. I
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wrote it with an acoustic guitar as an apology to my girlfriend. I guess I’m in the position that I can write a song if I fuck up really bad, so this was one of those moments where I had to write that song. I sat down and I thought about exactly how I felt about this person, and it got her back for a while, for sure. It was strictly a gift for her.”
Chris Lewis to round out the lineup. Lewis joined the band before he was even officially asked. Russo explains, “I recorded this record, and I didn’t have a band. I hired and bought Chris Lewis a plane ticket to Australia before he even knew it. We had this guy playing for us, and I was talking to Wade and I said, ‘I can’t take this guy to Australia with us.’ Wade said, ‘Chris Lewis wants to play with Unwritten Russo may not have had a band at the Law.’ So I said, ‘Why don’t we buy him a plane beginning of the Acoustic recording sessions, ticket right now and see if he wants to be in but he found support in NOFX guitarist the band?’ And we did just that. And before we Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta and his wife Jen could even let the other guy go, we had already Abeyta who run Cyber Tracks, the label bought Chris a ticket to Australia.” Unwritten Law is currently signed to. “He understands this record,” Russo says of El The current version of Unwritten Law, as Hefe. “Where some people might say that it’s Russo says, is the best it’s been throughout the not punk rock, that was the most punk rock band’s entire history, in terms of intra-band shit I could have done, was make something relationships. And while they may have been that was so fucking farfetched. That is punk known in the past to pick fights with anyone rock to me. He got that and he understood willing—or not willing—that is no longer the the record. When I sat down with Jen and case. “The band, in its entire career, never loved Hefe, the words they used immediately sold being onstage in any format of being together,” me to Cyber Tracks. I’ve been on every major Russo reveals. “There was always one member label on the planet, and these guys have been that didn’t like another member or something. the most on it and they believe in it as much And for the first time in 26 years, we’re all as I believe in it. So, that being said, I feel like in love with each other. We all love playing I found the correct home.” together and showing up at a show. We all believe in what we’re doing, [whereas, before,] Since then, Russo has rejoined forces with I don’t think we ever believed in what we were Unwritten Law drummer Wade Youman, doing. It’s sad that it took 24 years, but better along with bassist Jonny Grill and guitarist late than never, I guess.”
he Lippies are young, both in the ages of their members and the fact that they’ve been around just over a year. But you might not guess that from their self-titled debut fulllength, which came out on Red Scare Industries on March 4 and will be supported on back-to-back tours with The Falcon, Worriers, Ray Rocket, and The Copyrights. The four piece are out of Grand Rapids, Mich., and they sound like they just time traveled from the early to mid ‘90s where they’ve been hanging out with Tilt, The Gits, and The Muffs. Comprised of Tonia Broucek on vocals, Lawrence Kole on bass, Taylor Shupe on guitar, and David Sparks on drums, The Lippies identify themselves as a feminist pop punk band. As Broucek says, the unique tag makes it easier for people to find them, but more importantly, “music is what helped me understand Feminism and I wish I had found [it] sooner!”
Though Broucek used to be in an acoustic folk duo, and has a solo project in which she plays ukulele, her tenure in The Lippies is the first time she’s helmed an electric band. After a post on Facebook by Broucek about starting a band, Kole and Shupe were in, and Sparks came to them via Craigslist shortly after. Ironically, the first time Broucek sang on stage to an audience was at a Paramore show where Hayley Williams randomly brought her up to sing a song with her. There’s video of that floating around YouTube, and it is a fantastic performance. “It was liberating how natural being on that stage felt. Singing with Hayley Williams was a dream come true and also a nice kick in the butt to work on pursuing music,” says Broucek. It’s safe to say she was ready for bigger things.
and Kole, on the other hand, have a fair amount of experience being in bands, but “nothing that really stretched beyond the scope of the Midwest,” says Kole. This time around, however, The Lippies are going places. One of those places was Las Vegas in 2015 where they were out on their first tour and happened to cross paths with Toby Jeg of Red Scare Industries while playing a show for Tim O’Hara of The Lillingtons’ wedding. “After our set, I ran behind the merch table where I was babbled at by a strange man selling the Lillingtons merch,” Broucek recalls. “He gushed about us for about 10 minutes before I got away and complained about how he called us hicks to Kole… That’s when Kole told me who he was. I still didn’t give a shit because I’m stubborn and suspicious of anyone who compliments me too much.”
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INTERVIE W WITH VOCALIS T TONIA BROUCEK & BASSIST LAWREN CE KOLE BY KAYLA GREET
Before they went out on that tour, Kole remembers that the rest of the band was pondering the potential of being offered a record deal, but he told them not to worry, because things like that just don’t happen. He was mistaken. “So, here we are just shy of a year later, putting out our first full-length on Red Scare. It’s safe to say I called that one wrong!” he says.
The Lippies’ self-titled record covers messages from a strong and unfaltering female voice. Broucek explains that writing songs is “the most therapeutic [and] non-destructive way for me to deal with my emotions. It’s all about processing feelings and seeking resolutions. Because I experience a lot of misogyny and it hurts me, that’s what I write about. Performing these songs allows me to scream out everything I’ve held in my entire life.” The way Broucek sees it, writing Feminist pop punk songs Kole shares that “this is actu- “is not only important, but it ally David’s first band ever! is completely necessary. Pop He thought we were going for punk is a genre saturated in more of a ‘90s alt-rock sound. sexist bro bullshit and that is We totally conned him into no good. How about a band being in a punk band.” Shupe that isn’t sexist?”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT MURRY
BY SAMANTHA SPOTO
“TURNED OUT A PUNK”
with Damian Abraham of Fucked Up
It’s not always enough for a musician to simply play music; they need to talk about it too! That’s exactly why many punk and hardcore performers have turned to the ever-growing art of podcasting as a way to broadcast their thoughts to the public. These are just a few of the can’t-miss musiccentric podcasts started by some of the same musicians who have written your favorite records…
Sometimes, straying from the path leads to great surprises, a truth that serves at the thesis for Jonah Bayer’s podcast, “Going Off Track.” Bayer—a music journalist and vocalist for screamo supergroup, United Nations—says “Going Off Track” is, as the tagline says, “a more than music podcast.” Alongside Fuse, Myspace, and VH1 host Steven Smith, television producer and music documentarian Mike Cangemi, and audio producer and recording engineer Brad Worrell, Bayer talks with musicians, celebrities, and industry insiders about a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The crew prides themselves on creating a comfortable environment for guests, one that encourages them to be candid and welcomes freeflowing yet intimate conversation. Check out their nearly 200 episodes at goingofftrack.com.
hosts and the show’s listeners. On his website, Young provides a space for people to communicate any personal concerns or questions they may have, which he later addresses on air. To submit your own questions, visit anxiousandangry.com.
“100 WORDS OR LESS: THE PODCAST” with Ray Harkins of Taken
“ANXIOUS AND ANGRY”
Damian Abraham claims he is just “another asshole with a podcast,” but he is also the frontman of Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up, the host of VICE’s ongoing weed documentary, “Canadian Cannabis,” an artist, and a father. With all of that and more on his plate, Abraham still finds time to sit down with people involved in the music industry, hoping to discover where their love of punk began and where it has taken them. “Each week, I’ll talk to people from all walks of life with one thing in common: they all grew up listening to punk,” he says. The show’s inaugural episode featured Beggars Group boss, Martin Mills. Since the launch of his podcast, Abraham has spoken with nearly 70 guests, asking them all one important question: “How did you turn out a punk?” All of the episodes are archived and available to stream at damianabraham.com.
“GOING OFF TRACK”
with Jonah Bayer of United Nations
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with Ryan Young of Off With Their Heads
On his “Anxious and Angry” podcast, Ryan Young—the Minneapolis rocker best known as the vocalist of Off With Their Heads—brings his friends together each week to chat about music and the ways their fickle brains tend to lead them astray. Young has long been vocal and open about his own mental health struggles, and the podcast addresses the issue in both an entertaining and valuable way. “Anxious and Angry” extends beyond the feelings of Young and his guests; it also establishes an interactive relationship between the
You may know Ray Harkins from his night job screaming with the hardcore band Taken, but when he’s not shouting into a microphone on stage, he’s softly speaking into one for his “100 Words or Less” podcast. Over a decade ago, independent music grabbed Harkins with an intensity that hasn’t let up since; aside from playing in independent bands, he has also worked in the music industry for the last 15 years. Thanks to that extensive experience, Harkins’ knowledge of and fascination with music shines through in each weekly episode. At its heart, “100 Words or Less” seeks to understand what inspires musicians and artists who are active in the independent scene. Nearly 200 episodes of insider information await you at 100wordspodcast.com.
“MAN OF THE HOUR”
with Sébastien Lefebvre of Simple Plan and Patrick Langlois Simple Plan’s rhythm guitarist, Sébastien Lefebvre, and photographer, Patrick Langlois, have come together for 13 straight seasons to
bring their longtime fans an hour of music-related entertainment every Wednesday night. The duo introduces nearly 85,000 listeners to new music each week and provides supporters with a glimpse into their private lives. Nearly six digits’ worth of listeners can’t be wrong! Find the proof at manofthehour.ca.
by asking his guests to speak about their creative processes, their lives, and their routines. He also admittedly uses the show as a way to vent about what confuses him, bothers him, and gets him excited. New episodes are out every Tuesday at creator-destructor.com/podcast.
seven major cities each week on live broadcast and streaming worldwide every Friday evening on punkradiocast.com. Sib’s intentions are purely punk, explaining, “The idea of my show is to turn people on to new and old punk rock. I have no method to the show except a cup of coffee and trying to play as much music as I can in two hours.” Sib doesn’t only play music, he also rounds up some of the most influential bands around to chat about the state of punk. His guests have included Johnny Ramone, NOFX’s Fat Mike, Lars Frederiksen of Rancid, Against Me!, Bad Religion, The Bouncing Souls, and many more. You can even submit a song request at joesib.com/ccr!
CREATOR-DESTRUCTOR PODCAST with Ben Murray of Wilderness Dream/Heartsounds
Although fairly new, Oakland label CreatorDestructor’s podcast started out full speed ahead. The host is Ben Murray—from Wilderness Dream and Heartsounds—following in the footsteps of his uncle, famed radio personality and producer, Ira Glass, from “This American Life.” With such inherent podcasting prowess on his side, Murray attempts to better understand the world of music
“COMPLETE CONTROL RADIO”
with Joe Sib of SideOneDummy Records “Complete Control Radio” is a weekly show hosted by Joe Sib, the co-founder of the ever-expanding SideOneDummy Records. The show first began in 2004 and has since grown in popularity, reaching
THE SHORT LIST
, EPS, & DVDS SLIP UNDER YOUR RADAR! DON’T LET THESE REISSUES, SPLB ITS Y HUTCH
PHOBIA DECADES OF BLASTPHEMY
In March, Melotov Records presents Phobia’s Decades of Blastphemy. This is an extensive four disc discography, chronicling the first two decades of the band’s career. The stats for Decades of Blastphemy are daunting, encompassing 17 complete Phobia releases from between 1990 and 2010, equaling over 150 tracks. Vocalist and founder Shane “The Pain” Mclachlan comments, “We are very happy to be releasing this discography. […] I am proud of what has been achieved with the band.” Acknowledging the idea came from Karol of Selfmadegod Records, Mclachlan is excited to share it with Melotov. Label head Melanie Voltz joins in: “This release is one of the crowning achievements for Melotov. Getting to work with a legendary band that has been around for as long as I’ve been alive is beyond overwhelming.”
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On the space-surf punk frontier, Oakland’s The Phenomenauts are releasing a 7”. After seeing Neil Degrasse Tyson on “The Daily Show” propagating science education, bassist and vocalist Atom Bomb began sporting a pin saying “I’m With Neil.” Bomb continues, “Then, I decided to write a song to pledge my allegiance to his way of thinking.” Tyson tweeted that he was honored but “weirded out” when he saw their video. “Dr. Tyson declined to be directly involved,” Bomb elaborates, “but encouraged us to use his publicly available image and words. He suggested that we donate a portion of the proceeds to the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, an educational non-profit he’s involved with.” The vinyl—out on Silver Sprocket—is a swank picture disc with the astrophysicist’s visage.
SoCal hardcore riff pounders of the ‘80s, BL’AST! are perched to drop an album on Rise Records, but they tease us first with a staggering piece of wax. BL’AST! covers one side, while NOLA sludge mongers, EYEHATEGOD release a dirty ditty on the other side. Mike IX Williams, EYEHATEGOD vocalist, states, “I am honored to share this split record with Santa Cruz’s finest, and the fact that both of our bands still exist and are still rocking in this black void in time is a testament unto itself.” Clifford Dinsmore of BL’AST! adds: “To this day, [EYEHATEGOD are] still one of my all time favorite bands. I hope to God this release gives us all a cheap excuse to play some more killer shows together.”
erupt for five minutes with “Tyrant,” soaked with their iconic noisy rumbles and vomitus growls. Ilsa push the galloping, dark, eight minute “Cult of the Throne.” They proclaim, “God is none. We have won!” The fans win here as well.
"THE DICKS FROM TEXAS" DVD
Agoraphobic Nosebleed stunned the metal world into submission with their new EP, ARC, available from Relapse Records in clear, gold, green, white, or black 12” EP form. Between the next few full-lengths, each member will write an EP of material with guitarist and writer Scott Hull dedicated to a tangential sub-genre of metal. ARC is the child of vocalist Katherine Katz. ARC is a doom masterpiece of sludge-y, ugly riffs. Vocalist Richard Johnson—who is planning on industrial metal—says it took “a long time to get the songs together. There wasn’t any rushing at all.” As far as playing ARC live, Johnson admits, “I don’t know when we’ll do that.” Then again, ANb playing live has only happened once last year at Maryland Deathfest.
Relapse Records is offering all new material from sludge champions from both sides of the globe. Coffins and Ilsa share their 12” EP with both songs on the same side. This makes room for the limited edition vinyl to include an etching on side B. Coffins
Most compilations of ‘80s hardcore boast the amazing “Dicks Hate the Police,” the debut single that perfectly captures the sweaty rage and virile vehemence excreted by four punks from Austin in 1980: Dicks. Dicks bled Texas from their audacity to the bluesy stomp embedded in their version of punk. Their legacy evolved and mutated on labels like Radical, Alternative Tentacles, and SST. The band embodied punk rock: DIY, loud, abrasive, confrontational and, ultimately, fun. Cindy Marabito was friends with these men and had the insight to press record early. Despite the stereotypes of Texans, Marabito equates Dicks with Texas as she explains her new DVD documentary, “The Dicks from Texas”: “Here is this commie, self-described ‘faggot’ hardcore punk band playing outrageously brilliant songs like ‘Dead in a Motel Room’ and ‘Dicks Hate the Police’ with [vocalist] Gary [Floyd] in tight mini-skirts and a brassiere.” Floyd was one of the few openly gay musicians in ‘80s punk. The film starts chronologically. Marabito explains, “It began when I met Gary Floyd, Buxf Parrott, Glen Taylor, and Pat Deason way back in 1979. I was going to school at University of Texas at Austin and would lug around big ass old WWII equipment and try to shoot the Dicks. Later on, I was living in San Francisco and working at Monaco Film Lab. I began the project then shooting on 16mm.” Some of the people interviewed in the film include punk icons like Henry Rollins, Mike Watt, David Yow, Texas Terri, and Ian MacKaye. Marabito adds, “So far, nobody’s hated it. It’s mind-blowing to me how many people—both hardcore Dicks fans and kids who’d never even heard of the Dicks— love this movie. I call Gary and read him the reviews, and he’s blown away too!”
BOOK NOOK NEW NOISE
INTERVIEW WITH VOCALIST/BASSIST FAT MIKE BY GABI CHEPURNY
“There’s no way that three terrible musicians, junkies, and alcoholics could make it this successful without doing anything, without going to a major,” says lead singer and bassist Fat Mike Burkett about the growth trajectory of his band, NOFX, which is chronicled in their new book, “NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories.” The book hits shelves on April 12 via De Capo Press, and it’s 352 pages of one unexpected story after another, even for those who have been fans since the band’s inception in 1983. Fat Mike, guitarist Eric Melvin, and drummer Erik “Smelly” Sandin started NOFX before punk sold to the majors and even before Fat Mike knew how to sing. Guitarist Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta joined the band in 1992, ending their search for a second guitarist. The lineup has remained the same ever since. NOFX began the process of writing their book four or five years ago with the help
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of Jeff Alulis, who helped film “Backstage Passport,” the Fuse TV Series that documented the behind-the-scenes action of a NOFX world tour. “We didn’t go with someone who’s ever written a book before. Which is weird, right?” Burkett muses. “So, once again, we did it unlike other people do. We decided to let our friend do it. Basically, listening to what other people tell you to do has not worked for me my whole INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JOE BIEL BY LILY MOAYERI life. If someone says, ‘This is how it’s done,’ I’m suspect.” A punk attitude directs the life of Joe Biel, founder of the 20-year-strong The book covers a shocking amount of Portland, Ore., based independent dark content, including information even entity, Microcosm Publishing. Biel is NOFX’s members didn’t know about each also the co-founder of the Portland Zine other. “Writing a book, you have to dig Symposium, a filmmaker, and an author, deep into your core—for the kind of book most recently of his own autobiography, we wrote—and tell truths that you’ve “Good Trouble: Building a Successful never told anyone,” Burkett says. “We all Life and Business with Asperger’s,” discussed it, and we said if we want to do which he self-released on March 15. a book, it’s gonna be one like no one’s ever done before. We have to tell the honest Not yet 40 years of age, Biel penning his truth about ourselves and bear our souls. life story could be considered premature, And I think we did that.” but early on in “Good Trouble,” it’s clear that this is not the case. Born to For most of their career, NOFX have been a soon-to-be disabled father and an mislabeled and widely known as the funny abusive mother, Biel struggled through punk band that shouldn’t be taken too a difficult upbringing where he spent seriously, but the book may alter their most of his time drunk, but productive. reputation. Burkett says, “People think of As an industrious teenager, Biel started us as a joke band, because we’re funny on what would become Microcosm with stage and we have a few funny songs, but I milk crates full of zines he sold at punk mean, our songs aren’t funny. […] I think shows. people are gonna think about us completely differently. I think maybe we’ll get more Biel writes with the hindsight benefit of respect.” knowing he has Asperger’s Syndrome, Burkett may not be entirely sure where to attribute the band’s success to, he espouses a theory in chapter six. “I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe in destiny,” Burkett clarifies, “but I can’t shake the feeling that there’s possibly a race of mole people living in the Earth’s core, playing a world-sized game of electric football, and using some huge magnet to somehow always guide me to safety through the chaos.”
my life, but everybody with Asperger’s learns by failing. Even things that were terrible at the time were helpful, because they became a priority and I had to make the time to figure out who I am, what makes me feel good, what I want, and why I don’t fit in anywhere.”
which he wasn’t aware of until he was around 30. He speeds through the events of his life in a casual tone, and his deadpan humor—a difficult achievement in print—comes through strongest in the phrases he uses to describe himself, such as “eccentric old man in training.”
Biel’s honesty, his resolve, his tenacity, and his failures as much as his successes make the reader want to root for him, step in and give him a hand, or in some cases, shield him—although Biel never invites anything resembling pity. “As a society, we only focus on this idea of mitigating failure with Asperger’s,” says Biel. “What is more important to me is to change the conversation. Aspies can gain success. It does happen all the time. We eventually get to a place where we can carve out a life for ourselves. I feel like I would have inevitably found what I needed to be happy.”
“‘Good Trouble’ is what everybody always wanted from me,” says Biel. “I had to give up having a private life long ago. If I weren’t sharing things about my life in a 100,000 word personal book, people would try to connect the dots on their own and make weird assumptions and leaps in logic. Plus, when you have Asperger’s and they don’t know that part of the story, you come across as an insensitive jerk. By the time I wrote ‘Good Trouble,’ I very much knew who I was, how I felt about things and what my values were.”
“When you have Asperger’s, you continue to evolve intellectually in a way that a neurotypical person doesn’t,” Biel explains. “I get smarter every year of
V I S I T R E D S C A R E . N E T FO R M O R E I N FO O N T H E S E G O D L E S S P U N K S ! !
The Falcon "Gather Up The Chaps" Members of Lawrence Arms + Alkaline Trio + Dave Hause
"The Lippies" For fans of White Lung, Dead Kennedys, The Gits
FO R M O R E I N FO , TO U R D A T E S , W E B STO R E , A N D M O R E :
The Brokedowns + Direct Hit! "Making A Midwesterner" 5-song split EP for Record Store Day
he triumphant three part female harmonies of Bad Cop/Bad Cop capture the ears of punk fans globally, inspiring fun, tenacious vibes. Their debut album, Not Sorry, dropped via Fat Wreck Chords in 2015, and the Luchadora posed stoically on the record’s cover reflects this attitude. Her clenched fists rest powerfully on her hips as she stands proudly beneath the band’s shimmering name. Her mysterious costume of blue, brown, and gold matches this glow to create a strong visual statement. This empowering image was brought to life by the band’s guitarist and vocalist, Jennie Cotterill, who carries an MFA in Illustration from California State University, Long Beach. During Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s recent U.K. tour, she detailed her process for creating the iconic character: “That was the last in a long run of lady-wrestler themed art pieces I’d made last year. I talked the girls into letting me do the cover with one. We got into who or what she should be wrestling: I definitely didn’t want her fighting another lady, and didn’t want to show the band as anti-anything. A few articles on the personal benefits of ‘assuming a powerful pose’ were bouncing around, and I liked the idea that this was a strong, self-possessed, capable human.”
ASSUMING A POWERFUL POSE:
THE ART OF JENNIE COTTERILL INTERVIEW BY SCOTT MURRY
The resilient positivity of the Luchadora appears in much of Cotterill’s work, whether it’s the band’s song lyrics, their brightly sprinkled donut logo, or her personal paintings. Having taught at a college level, she speaks about not overinflating the definition of being an illustrator. Rather than having a one-track mind about how her career should evolve, Cotterill says, “It’s important to keep a flexible definition of ‘success.’ Lots of people think the only way to make it is to be a superstar. But most of us are not, and that doesn’t mean we’re failures. A lot of art students have that very narrow aperture for success. It’s a terrible way to go
through life. I always hope my students grow out of it and accept whatever they’re doing as successful.” This can be a challenging mindset to maintain in a field as subjective as the arts. Cotterill attributes her strong frame of mind to inspiring teachers from her undergrad years. “Growing up, I’d never met a working artist, so it all seemed kind of impossible,” she recalls. “When I was at community college, a few of my teachers clued me in to the Illustration program at Cal State Long Beach. Having their support was tremendously encouraging and gave me some much needed direction and confidence. Illustration seemed like a viable way to make art as a living.” Working full-time as an illustrator, wielding many skills and mediums, Cotterill has balanced band life and art life in proportion. Her brushes thrash an eclectic variety of found surfaces, most commonly in acrylic paint. She says with a modest laugh, “I’m better at mediums that allow a lot of adjustment.” This didn’t stop her from tackling the cover of the forthcoming NOFX autobiography, “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories,” in gouache, a thickly opaque, chalky watercolor paint. While gouache was her nemesis in college, she loves the look of it. Rightfully so, as the book has a nostalgic, childlike charm; its thick brush stokes and animated stippling effects for the sky and grass make it look like a Golden Book series cover gone awry. Cotterill’s work is highly approachable, rich with bright color and graphic punch. From whimsical pet portraits to detailed mixed media sculptures emblazoned with humorous phrases, this Renaissance woman’s ability knows no bounds. This spirit reflects her multitalented inspirations: Claes Oldenburg, Wayne White, and “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” to name a few. Each of these represents a modern optimism. Cotterill
says frankly, “I like art that’s fun and engaging rather than elitist and alienating.” Perhaps this preference is informed by her relocation from suburban Detroit to the West. “I wouldn’t have pursued art if I didn’t move,” she admits. “Everything I learned and developed art-wise is from Southern California. It’s a more hospitable environment for creative lives: there is more disposable income, and a lot of companies interested in crafting a brand identity make good work for artists.” Cotterill feels her art also affects her output in the SoCal punk scene, saying, “Some things I learned from art have worked their way into my music and the art I do for the band. [First,] it’s okay to be influenced by someone else, but be sure to let your own voice come through clearly. [Second,] let the ______ do its thing and don’t force it to be something it’s not. When you paint, let the size and shape of the brush do the work. If a wall has heavy texture, use it to your advantage. If your drummer hits like fucking Donkey Kong, save the quiet songs for another project and go with it. [Third,] a purely negative statement is pointless.”
ISSUE 24 NEW NOISE
I N T E R V I E W W I T H C O - O W N E R D A R R E N WA LT E R S BY JANELLE JONES
ven though 2015 was Jade Tree’s official 25th anniversary, the label is still celebrating. Their special compilation marking the momentous occasion, aptly titled Twenty Five Years, was released on Feb. 26. “We’re following in the Dischord [Records] spirit and taking our time getting things together,” co-owner Darren Walters jokes. “The reality is that, although we were founded in 1990, it took until 1991 for the first record to actually come out.” About the 25th anniversary compilation that will feature one song each from 13 bands, Walters says, “We’re using the comp as an opportunity to educate people who were not around when we were born,” so newer label signees will not be included. With such a diverse and intriguing roster as Jade Tree’s, putting this record together was a
J E TS T O B R A Z I L years worth of vinyl all in one shot is nearly impossible, so we have to plan accordingly.” They’re not into only rereleasing single albums, so instead, they approach artists with the idea of rereleasing their entire catalogs, like they did with The Promise Ring last year. “Rarely do we have just
difficult endeavor. “What’s not only the best record by a band, but what’s the best song?” Walters muses. “In some cases, I could argue that’s not necessarily the case. [This] record doesn’t necessarily have the best song by the band; it just fits the mood of the record. It fits our style as well.” One selection Walters makes a point to mention by name is “I Typed for Miles” by Jets To Brazil. The band used to end shows with that number and it’s from their debut album, so it was a fitting choice to close out this comp. The label retrospective also includes such noteworthy bands as Swiz, Pedro The Lion, The Promise Ring, and Lifetime. At the moment, the label is also intent on re-pressing albums “because we got a lot of records that people want out on vinyl again,” explains Walters. “Unfortunately, trying to make 25
one record we want to put back out,” says Walters. “If we’re gonna put out one of their records, let’s put out all of their records.” Jade Tree will soon be announcing more upcoming vinyl rereleases, so stay tuned. And of course, 2016 will also bring a focus on the label’s newer signees—like The Spirit Of The Beehive, who will have a new album out—and promoting tours by Spraynard and Dogs On Acid. You Blew It!, who’ve actually been on the label for a while, will see the release of their first full-length. “It should be an exciting year,” declares Walters. Jade Tree began all those years ago when both Walters and co-owner Tim Owen ran their own small labels, Hi-Impact and Axtion-Packed, respectively. Both labels focused solely on straight edge hardcore. Hi-Impact was on indefinite hiatus
at the time, while Owen was getting ready to release a record by Four Walls Falling. At this point, Owen changed the name of Axtion-Packed to Jade Tree and approached Walters to be his partner in the new label. “We started simply,” says Walters. “We put out the Four Walls Falling record, and the idea from that point was, ‘Why don’t we have no rules?’ essentially. As long as Tim and I like the artist [and] we like them live, where they’re from [and] what genre [they fall into] wasn’t gonna matter.” Jade Tree was basically an adaptation to the times. Walters and Owen saw that the straight edge hardcore scene they loved was changing and they needed to branch out. “Both of us realized that, in order for us to remain viable, we had to change, and that’s important as business people,” Walters says. He notes that, around 1990, many labels were still singular in their focus, and that labels like the West Coast’s Epitaph and Jade Tree touchstone, Dischord from D.C., worked solely with bands from their immediate regions. Walters and Owen broke the mold by deciding to work with whomever they liked. “Tim and I have always enjoyed all different styles of music, and the label is first and foremost a representation of the things he and I like and listen to,” Walters explains. “If we’re not releasing music we like, there’s just no point to it.” This business model may have proven successful now, but it was not always the path of least resistance. “We got a lot of shit for that initially,” Walters notes. “It would’ve been a lot easier if we released one style of music, but it wasn’t interesting to us.” With such a great body of work and so many seminal releases, we’re thankful they stuck to their guns and stayed true to what they believed in.
ISSUE 24 NEW NOISE
then my hand, as she led me to the stage entrance.
’m not exactly sure how this trip transpired, but some way or another, I ended up in my brother’s van with his band—at the time—Maker, en route to the Canadian border for a string of shows. Our trip started off as usual when a merry band of hooligans tried to cross a border smelling like an ashtray. They searched the van head to toe and, after an hour wait, one of us didn’t make it over. If I had a nickel for every time I had to leave a man behind at an international border crossing, I could buy a bottle of Coke. Now, I could steer this story down the road of describing how we ended up in a shooting gallery of an old warehouse, trying to buy a dime bag from a junkie who was failing horribly in an elaborate runaround scheme to attempt to rob us… but I’d like to take a more sensual route in observation of Valentines Day.
She kept up drinking with me as the night went on. She never missed a beat and worked a full bar by herself. She was a damn good bartender, I thought, and she knew how to work it. All of 28, she dressed like a 16 year old en route to Ozzfest. She only dressed in black and her hair was dyed a dark, unnatural red with purple streaks; she accompanied this look with dozens of gel bracelets scaling up her arm. “What does the rest of your night look like?” “Pretty wide open,” I said.
I was washing some pint glasses behind the bar while she counted her tips on the other side. As she finished up, she pushed an empty shot glass towards me and instructed me to fill it up. I started to pour as she spoke… “Now, I wanna make something very clear to you. I don’t want you to get your hopes up and think that I’m going to fuck you tonight. I actually just broke up with my boyfriend of 10 years and I’m still dealing with it. I got to talking with you all night and you seemed to be a really chill guy—and not a psycho or anything—so I thought maybe we could hang out. Ya know, just for a little change of pace in my life. A new person to just talk to.” She was so relatable, and her desperation for an honest friendship hit home with me. I raised my glass and toasted: “Just friends.” We knocked back the shots and I poured another round. Jäger makes me gag after a night of slamming tequila, so I reached down to grab an empty glass of water when I noticed a light control panel labeled “Fog Machine. Disco Ball. Projector.” I hit all the switches and raised my glass again.
She scoffed and walked away to serve someone a drink. I was taken aback—did she just make a move on me? You see, up until this point, I found her to be an amazing bartender, but there was no physical or sexual flirtation. It was strictly a “patron to server” bond we had facilitated. At first, I had no intention of We rolled into Toronto for buttering her Limp Bizkit, but soundcheck around 4 p.m. I was her flirtatious look started to three sheets to the wind already get my mind racing. “I’m gonna make sure we have and had nothing to load in, bethe best night we have had in cause all I brought on the trip I don’t remember the bands—I years.” was my camera and an extra was drunk—but when the peopair of underwear. I sat down ple started to clear out at the Fog started to billow in all at the bar while they loaded in end of the night and my broth- around us. A spotlight flashed and continued to drink. We hit er came to get me from the onto the disco ball above as it off right away, our only dif- barstool, she asked me to stay it began to magically twirl, ferences being that she loved and help her close up. Now, creating a dreamlike environKoЯn and Jägermeister, while I I thought I knew what this ment. A projector slowly startprefer blues and tequila. “Other meant. Sure! I bid farewell to ed to descend from the ceiling than that—Chrissy’s all right,” I the band as my only ride out on the stage. Her eyes lit up! thought to myself as she poured of Canada went on to the next She jumped over the bar and me drink after drink. town. grabbed two microphones, and
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For the next five hours, we poured shots and did karaoke on that stage under the blinding spotlights as if we were performing to a stadium filled with 50,000 people. I sang feel good Motown classics while she sang a mixture of Evanescence and Marilyn Manson songs. She was halfway through a wonderful rendition of “Dope Show” when my memory goes blank. I don’t remember much from here on except for waking up on the ground a few hours later. I felt something sharp poking into my shoulder. I opened my eyes and was blinded by the stage lights still spinning around like a full concert was in session. I tried to roll on my back when I realized that Chrissy The Bartender was spooning me, and we had fallen asleep on the drum rug of the stage. I reached back to my shoulder to pluck out a broken drumstick that was ripping through the sleeve of my shirt. I rolled over and tried to wake her up. She slowly opened her eyes and realized where she was. Waking up next to me didn’t shock her—she was comforted, and she told me that with her face as she smiled and leaned in to hug me. We hugged the type of hug you give your friend when their brother dies. It was the type of hug that lasts long and is firm with emotion. A real hug, a true human gesture of deep empathy and understanding. She whispered “thank you” into my ear, and we shut the bar down in silence. Outside, the sun had been in the sky for hours. As we parted ways, she spoke for the last time. Smiling with confidence, she proclaimed: “I’m going home to my boyfriend now.” She turned around and I never saw her again. I drunkenly staggered to a Motel 6 and lay in the shower attempting to sober up—plotting how I was going to get to home.