The third and final night of 2015's Lawrence Field Day Fest kicked off hard. It was pushed back half an hour, but Eyes of Iolite wasted no time in getting things ripping. "The Thing" kicked it off, and for the rest of their set, it was fuzzed-out blast after blast. Sludge? Doom? Whatever you want to call it, this trio knows how to deliver metal. It's so fucking heavy, with a volume and low end that makes it hard to even breathe. There's no moshing to this: just let the band lead the assault. [gallery ids="18498,18499,18500"] My friend and former roommate has been playing drums for the People's Punk Band for months now, and he's been talking them up as a band I'd love. I tend to worry about hyperbole such as that, because it's usually unwarranted , but in this case, he was dead right. Big, chunky riffs, and that weird harmonic vocal thing that Turbonegro or Death By Stereo does? Sold. Fucking sold. It's punk 'n' roll, and my only complaint was carrying around a goddamn camera bag, because this is the sort music to which you throw yourself around with wild abandon. Doing that with a grand of electronic equipment is dumb -- although, in this case, tempting. [gallery ids="18512,18511,18510,18509,18508,18507"] It's basically what happened halfway into the Federation of Horsepower's set. The rock 'n' roll train that this five-piece rides is hard to avoid becoming a passenger on, and when they do something like cover Cocknoose's "All Jacked Up," what the hell am I supposed to do? Not scream along like a maniac? Obviously not. This is as near as I get to attending church, so I better testify while the service is going on. Exaggeration aside, they've been a favorite for over a decade now, and any chance to see them rock out in my town is a welcome one. That goes doubly true for a show like last night's, where in addition to 100% rock 'n' roll power, frontman Gregg Todt wandered outside and across the street with his wireless pickup, playing guitar in the middle of a goddamn crosswalk. That, my friends, is showmanship. [gallery ids="18501,18502,18503,18504,18505,18506"] I saw Gnarly Davidson, but only about a song or two. It was, as to be expected, very loud, the band set up on the floor and blazing through their setlist. Every show from these three makes me wonder whether or not they have to chug water beforeheand, because thet have to be getting some sort of workout from their performances. They put their fucking all into their music. Psychic Heat proceeded to rock out the Jackpot afterward. It's odd, because the band plays out so often, I don't feel the need to see them as much as I have the opportunity to do so. That means that every set I catch is light years ahead of the one previous. Saturday night's performance was frighteningly tight garage psychedelia, and their crowd was all head-shaking, hip-moving enthusiasm. Bonus: Kliph Scurlock was filling in on drums, absolutely murdering the kit, and comedian Barry Crimmins (star of the new Bobcat Goldthwait doc, Call Me Lucky) was right up front. It was amazing, and the perfect end to three days of rock insanity. [gallery ids="18513,18514,18515,18516,18517"]
My first band of the second night was a muscular rock 'n' roll quartet. It looks like I'm going for a theme, huh? Actually, Kansas City's Admiral of the Red would pair nicely with the Vedettes. The KC act definitely leans more toward modern rock in their sound, but definitely knows how to lock in to more than just shredding and screaming. There's a punk verve and melodic hook to what they do, and while it's not earth-shattering in terms of novelty, it's certainly worth watching. [gallery ids="18475,18474,18473"] Having seen the Josh Berwanger Band probably more than any other active local band, I think I know what's what. The lineup Friday night is the one I really wish would be the "official" one. I know Heidi Gluck has her own solo career, but goddamn if Berwanger isn't better with her guitar and vocals providing counterpart and harmonies. Even something like "Enemies," where the vocal component is pretty simple, just results in much more going on. The harmonies are richer, the guitars are fuller, and it's nigh-impossible not to start singing along. A bonus of last night's set was the band being a little more rough and tumble in their playing. It was more garage, less stadium, and it made me happy to see the foursome get a little scrappy. Downside to their set: the crowd grew during it, but it was due to people wandering in from the free Split Lip Rayfield show down the street. As soon as it ended, the club FILLED, but with loud assholes ignoring the band onstage. Upside: "Mary" was renamed "Theresa" for the first verse, and the band won over 20 drunk kids instantly. [gallery ids="18476,18477,18478,18479,18480,18481"] Afterward, I attempted to see David Hasselhoff on Acid at the Taproom, but things were nearly an hour behind, so it was more just chatting with folks, using the bathroom, and getting down to the Replay for Sister Rat. The Lawrence trio has been playing a lot more shows in recent months, and it's really helped. The doom punks have always been a favorite of mine, but the stage presence they've gained leads to shows which are a lot less nerve-wracking in terms of tension. They look like they're enjoying themselves now, rather than white-knuckling it through their set. The songs are tighter, and I love watching these brash women fucking kick ass. Songs like "Revolutions" and "Valhalla" are still amazing, but other songs manage to grab people who aren't already fans, and that's fucking rad to watch. "It's Okay" has gone from a feedback-soaked mess to a screaming declaration of hope. Sister Rat may now be the only band which has successfully married doom and pop-punk, and watching them pull it off every time brings me a joy I can't put into words. [gallery ids="18493,18492,18491,18490,18489,18488"] KCMO's Sedlec Ossuary ended my night on a fully-destructive note. The death metal act drew a crowd of their own who head-banged the ever-loving fuck out of the Replay. The bar hasn't seen a band like this in some time, and it needed it. The energy level was through the roof. Double kicks, breakdowns, and pummeling bass combined with melodic riffing to just destroy. Those vocals, too: raspy screams that switched to guttural roars on a dime. The only downside is that stuffing a band with two guitarists and a full metal drum kit onto that little Replay stage meant there wasn't a lot of room for the band to move. Maybe next time I see them, I can catch them on a stage where they have room to strut. [gallery ids="18487,18486,18485,18484,18483,18482"]
[caption id="attachment_18148" align="aligncenter" width="560"] credit Joshua Halling[/caption] This summer, I broiled in an amphitheater parking lot to see if it was still worth it to attend Warped Tour. For the most part, it was not -- with the sole exception of the UK's Marmozets. Back in July, I described the quintet as such:
"The singer moves like Mick Jagger and can fucking wail, and the rest of the band locks into a groove while also just pounding out riffs. The low end sounds like Rage Against the Machine, but above it, the group rocks like nobody else. It's hard to explain, but suffice it to say, it roped in everyone who walked by. People were positively gobsmacked, and rightly so. I've never seen quite so many audience members shake their heads in disbelief at a discovery like this."It still stands. Marmozets released their debut full-length, The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, back in September on Roadrunner Records, and it's massive. They're currently touring in support of it, as part of the Journeys Noise Tour with Issues, I Killed the Prom Queen, and others. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes on the phone with singer Becca Macintyre last week, and a we talked about Marmozets' music and how it affects their audience. Rock Star Journalist: Why would you say your music is the way it is? Becca Macintyre: It's just the combination of what everyone wants to write, I guess. It's really hard to explain. We just write the songs that we want to, to be quite honest. Jack and Will [Bottomley] are the ones who have more influences in terms of music. Me, Sam, and Josh are all just kind of like, "Eh." We don't have that many influences. We just write what we want to write. Does it help being in a band where's there's the shared experiences of two sets of siblings? Oh, yeah. It's the best thing. We ended up becoming a band in high school, and we just kept with it, until we were just like, "We want to take a shot with this. This is our life." Mamrozets has built its name by just playing so much. Does that help build the band – both in terms of popularity and musicality? Of course, 'cause you're living and breathing it. The more that you do that, the more the people are going to see you, and we really care about that, because we just want to show people what we're made of. It's almost like – we really believe that our music can help. It goes beyond what kind of genre we are exactly and into whether kids are going to love it. It's up to them whenever we play a gig, and that's just awesome. After Warped Tour, we did a tour with Lonely the Brave, and we swapped each day who would headline. It was a joint headline, and Lonely the Brave are an amazing band, as well. To go back [to England] and play to a thousand and up kids, screaming at us, it was quite a scary thing to go from where every single day, you played to a few dozen, and you had to catch people as they came by, and then – to go back to Britain and play to a thousand kids who are going absolutely insane for your music, and then to go back to America and start all over again. And then to go back to England – I just believe that every time we go back to England, it's just going to be a bigger crowd. I hope that it'll be the same every time we come back to America – more kids will understand us and come watch us. That was an interesting thing you mentioned – music as a thing to help people. Marmozets' songs have a hopeful aspect to them – am I catching what you're aiming for, there? Yeah. That is. We come from such a messed-up generation – that's what I believe, anyway. There's a lot of greatness coming out of it now, but I just feel like everyone's been brainwashed into society and the way that everything is. And with the music – the music that's being shoved down kids' throats these days – we kind of find it as a joke, and that's what helps us to keep going. All the fan mail we get at the moment is like, people who are going through depression feel like they're giving up on life, and they write to us saying that our music helped them get through that situation, and it's like, "Oh my gosh." You can't ask for anything like that, do you know what I mean? For kids to think of going that way, and then to buy an album that's encouraged them to get on through life, it's like, "What the heck?" I think that's what music should be about. That's what we believe, anyway. That's a really touching thing – that you're as influenced by the people who listen to your music as the people who listen to your music are influenced by you. Exactly. We wouldn't be where we are without people buying our albums, coming to our shows, and wanting to hang out with us. That works – it's a win-win situation. We can't do it all by ourselves. If you can have a message about something behind your songs, that helps people, that connection's a straight thread. I'm not on stage, with half my clothes off, you know what I mean? That's not what we believe. People come to a show, we talk about real shit that people need to touch hold of. Your stage presence – which is what drew me in to your music in the first place – is very dynamic. It's like you're a high priestess or a band leader conducting something. I'm just – I feel like I'm an emotional person, like I'm fighting. I feel like I'm always having to fight, and I can't wait until the day where I'm just, like – I don't feel like I'll ever be able to relax. I can't relax. My mind's always thinking all the time, and I just want the best for people because, growing up, everyone goes through their shit, and I just feel like I want to fight for people who are part of the weird and wonderful world of the Marmozets, I guess. That's what I feel like I have a responsibility to do: not just make money from music. There needs to be a joy behind it all, I guess. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/roadrunner-usa/marmozets-move-shake-hide[/embed] Marmozets play the Granada in Lawrence tonight as part of the Journeys Noise Tour, with Issues, I Killed the Prom Queen, Ghost Town, and Nightmares. Doors for the all-ages show are at 6:00pm, and more information can be found here. The Noise Tour runs through the end of the month, and more dates and information can be found at Marmozets' Facebook page.
I'd had the pleasure of interviewing Mike "McBeardo" McPadden in advance of the release of Heavy Metal Movies: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big-Scream Films Ever! Sadly, when we spoke, all I'd had a chance to read was the intro and a sample chapter, which was exactly enough to have me foaming at the mouth to get my hands on the full magilla. Thanks to Bazillion Points being kind enough to shoot me a copy, I've now spent the better part of the last month thumbing through Heavy Metal Movies each and every time I've been on the couch. It's taken about that long to get through the epic tome, but every moment spent perusing its pages has been well-spent. In addition to revisiting old favorites, seeing what was left out, and just trying to see what stuff I need to track down. The whole tone of the book has an excellent mix of the irreverent nature found in The Psychotronic Video Guide To Film and the strangely paternalistic dismissiveness of Stephen King's Danse Macabre. Some entires are blink-and-you'll-miss-them short, while others run for a couple pages -- although every entry is worth reading. It's surprising to see McPadden praise something like Role Models, yet dismissing the likes of cult fave Street Trash as "false metal." However, you might also find new perspectives on the likes of Dolph Lundgren's version of The Punisher and why it's worth seeing (91 on-screen deaths might be a teeny part of it). While not as in-depth on certain keystone films, as was Destroy All Movies! (which is the punk movie guide), McPadden covers so much territory and so many films, this is a must-have for any fan of cult cinema. It's amazingly fun, and is more than happy to give reasons to see everything worth watching. Even better -- you're warned away from having fun of Sleepaway Camp or Pieces spoiled for you, which is the nicest thing I can think of. Heavy Metal Movies is out now from Bazillion Points, and is on-sale in their store for $10 off cover price, plus you get a patch.
Seattle's Helms Alee just released their third full-length, Sleepwalking Sailors. It's their first for label Sargent House after two LPs on Hydra Head. It's a massive piece of work, both in terms of sound and emotional impact. The trio is currently on tour, opening for labelmates Russian Circles. That tour (also featuring the ever-brutal KEN Mode) hits the recordBar in Kansas City on Saturday, March 15. We spoke with Helms Alee guitarist Ben Verellen a while back about the new album and tour. You've got a label switch with this new album, Sleepwalking Sailors – how did it come about? Hydra Head, essentially – they're not done, but they're done putting out new records. So, that was kind of a big bummer. We were planning on releasing a third Helms Alee record, and they just figured out they needed to stop doing what they were doing and roll things back. It kind of put us in a spot where we had to figure out what we were going to do with these – we had 20 new songs all ready to go. So, we finally decided that we were going to do a Kickstarter campaign and try and release the thing ourselves. So, we did that. Only after we recorded the record did it fall into the hands of Cathy [Pellow] from Sargent House via Chris Common, the guy who recorded the record, who was living at her house. I don't know exactly how she stumbled onto it, but she called up. How does moving to Sargent House affect how the Kickstarter works? I know you guys were basically treating it like a pre-order. We kind of realized that this was a lot of work that we wouldn't have to do. It was all pretty exciting. It's all been pretty good working with Sargent House. Sargent House has been really flexible about all of this. It's going to work out great because they're helping us put together all the reward packages to get everybody taken care of who helped chip in. It's basically going to work as if we did release it ourselves and everybody's going to receive their records. Where did you record? Here in Seattle, at a couple of different studios. At a place called Litho, and at a place called Red Room. Was the recording process less stressful, thanks to having the Kickstarter money? We've been pretty lucky in the past. Hydra Head was able to give us a little money to record. Never a lot, but it wasn't like we were pooling band money from shows, scraping into our bank accounts – that kind of thing – but the Kickstarter campaign was a big success, I would say. You guys raised $2000 more than you were asking for. Yeah! It was incredible. It meant that we could afford to record to tape now. It's something we really wanted to do. It's a little more expensive. It also meant that we got to work at some studios that we really liked. So, it felt like – it wasn't like we went and kicked in the studio for two and a half months or anything like that! But, we had a lot of material to record, but we felt like we had enough time to do it all. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/sargent-house/helms-alee-tumescence[/embed] And, to promote the record, you're going out with Russian Circles, which is a really great pairing. How did that tour get set up? Actually, before that record was even going to be put out on Sargent House, when we finished it, we figured, “Let's send it out to a bunch of our buddy bands.” And, we've known those guys for some time and we've done some touring with them in the past, so we just sent them the record and told them what we were doing. When we started talking with Sargent House, Russian Circles were also with those guys, so they were just like, “This is obvious. We'll put out the record and that tour will happen then: it's perfect.” Going back to the recording process: were you guys able to record all 20 songs? Yes, and there are going to be some surrounding releases. There's a split that came out on Brutal Panda with a group called Ladder Devils, so one song ended up there. We did another split with a band from town called Tacos, and that came out. I don't think I'm allowed to talk about the other split – it's not been announced, so I should keep my lid shut. It's more of a split 12-inch, with a band that's more well-known, and a band that we've toured with and really really like, so that one's most exciting, but I won't say anymore than that. Helms Alee is on tour through Thursday, March 20. You can find tour dates and information at their Facebook page.
Dayal Patterson's immense tome, Black metal: Evolution of the Cult, is a book you appreciate more than enjoy. In terms of exhaustive interviews, historical detail, and organization, it's absolutely on point. The organization of Patterson's book is spot-on. Breaking everything down band-by-band, yet keeping everything in a linear timeline, allows the reader to see the evolution of this music from artist to artist. It's also absolutely necessary for the casual metal fan such as myself. While acquainted with black metal's other seminal work, Lords of Chaos (also released by Feral House), I'm by no means well-versed in many of the bands presented here, to say nothing of the myriad name changes and lineup shifts. Name changes, by the way, are not just something which bands experience, but individuals, as well. It's necessary to remember the birth names of these Norweigian, Swedish, German, Austrian, Greek, and Italian musicians, as well as their nom de metal, which in some cases can be more of a mouthful than the umlauts and 'ø's which they replace. The author does an excellent job of picking one descriptor by which to refer each musician, however, allowing the reader to keep everything straight. However, for a book to really succeed, it needs to exist as more than just a codex of names, places, and releases. While a fantastic historical document, Black Metal is certainly lacking in-depth analysis. I appreciate Patterson's desire to stay away from the proselytic leanings of Lords of Chaos, which degenerates into postulation and hyperbole in its latter chapters. However, Black Metal, for all of its exclusive interviews with those whose story this is, lacks in any sort of deeply-probing questions. Follow-up interviews don't appear to have taken place, leaving many of the quotes to stand on their own, lacking any sort of strong tackling on uncomfortable subjects like Nazi imagery. When you have artists using SS lightning bolts, Teutonic crosses, and image-evoking terms like "blitzkrieg," "panzer," and so on, asking the musicians as to why they used such charged imagery would be of utmost importance. The artists go on for pages regarding the use of Satanic and/or ant-Christian images like upside-down crosses and pentagrams, and are more than willing to explain the purpose and anticipated responses, but any discussion of right-wing, racial purity ideology suddenly becomes this personal thing which is being misunderstood by the general public, and they don't want to get into it. Mayhem's Necrobutcher seems to be the only one willing to admit that when "you use symbols like the upside down crosses in the logo, to go a step further would be swastikas and stuff like that," logically saying that if you really want people to think your band is legitimately fucking evil, then Nazism is way worse than Satanism to most people. It's the Sex Pistols all over again -- if you want to raise hackles and the ire of the general populace, swastikas are the way to do it. It's like shorthand for "terrible, world-ruining people." While the bands depicted have their histories presented in a tightly-written manner, it would be nice to have some historical context. The political and/or social statuses of any of the given countries aren't really explored, which doesn't allow the reader to ever develop any sense of what led to this particular approach to metal in the place and time where it appeared. It's a similar case that, while 'zines are mentioned repeatedly, there's never really any discussion with any of the people who made them who weren't in bands. It would've been great to have heard from people within the scene who didn't have bands and releases to maintain. All things considered, however, Patterson's Black Metal does an excellent job of tracing a genre from its earliest days to its modern incarnation. Through first, second, and what might even be a modern third wave, black metal's tropes and beliefs are followed, looking at what really differentiates this subgenre from death, power, or other kinds of metal. If you're a fan of the genre, this is the ultimate guide to the history and evolution of the bands and music, in the words of those who made it happen. It's available now from Feral House.
In what seems to be unanimous agreement from all of the friends who were at Friday night's show with me, High on Fire was one of the loudest fucking concerts most of us have ever seen. Given that this is a crowd of musicians, mostly, that's not a small thing about which to quibble. For as loud as it was, and as much of a concrete box the Granada is, it sounded amazing. Every band was crystal clear, yet ear-splittingly loud. Indeed, though: High on Fire blew some hair back at the Granada. It's always wonderful when a an act's not touring in support of a new album. I mean, yes -- High on Fire released the two live EPs, Spitting Fire volumes 1 and 2, earlier this year, but it's not like they had an album of all-new tunes to flog. This meant they were able to play whatever, and it made for a set full of blazing rock 'n' roll. Setlist Fertile Green Razor Hoof Fury Whip Madness of an Architect Cometh Down Hessian Eyes and Teeth Fireface Rumors of War Baghdad Serums of Liao Slave the Hive Snakes for the Divine [gallery ids="17348,17349,17350,17351,17352,17353"] This show was the third visit for Norway's Kvelertak in the past year, and I can't quite figure out if they live up to the hype to which I've been subjected. The group's three-guitar attack presents a wall of sound, and their drummer knocks out death metal blast beats. Kvelertak have some serious punk rock fury going on, but halfway through their set, I kept getting confused, because it seemed like the rhythm section and singer were one band, while the guitarists were another, and they never quite figured out a way to marry them properly. [gallery ids="17354,17355,17356,17357,17358,17359"] However, Richmond's Windhand completely lived up to the hype. Obviously, I'm a big fan of their latest, Soma, but live, they're just astonishing. When they kicked on their amps and started ther wall of sound for their first song, I was knocked back, literally moved back a couple steps by pure sonic shock. Watching the band get into the groove of their songs was a serious pleasure, and it was a shame to only get to listen for half an hour. Seriously, though -- what a half hour. [gallery ids="17361,17362,17363,17364,17365,17360"]
Windhand's latest full-length, Soma, is their first for Relapse Records. It's a selection of massive tunes that both soar and plumb the depths, and some tracks are monumental works. The group's currently on tour, opening for High on Fire, and they play the Granada in Lawrence on Friday, November 29. We were lucky enough to get guitarist Garrett Morris to answer a few questions for us via e-mail. This is Windhand's second time through the area in as many months. What makes Kansas City and Lawrence so lucky? It's just a coincidence, honestly. We already had the previous U.S. Tour last September booked for months when we got asked to do the High on Fire tour. There's actually a number of cities we're lucky enough to be revisiting. Soma is getting rave reviews across the board. Was the process of making the record as epic as the tracks themselves? We just recorded it ourselves at our leisure. The same way we recorded the first LP, in all honesty. It really didn't feel like we were doing anything any different than normal really. What's involved in recording a track like "Boleskine" -- specifically, how do you track a 31-minute song? It really wasn't any different than the others songs. It's still just a verse, chorus, verse song structure. Honestly, mixing it was more of a challenge. Mainly due to it being all analog. If we got to the end and made a mistake, we had to start the mix all over again from scratch. This is your first full-length with Relapse, although you released a split with Cough earlier this year. When did you decided to go with them as a label? After we recorded the split, we met with them in person and they were interested in doing a full length. It just seemed like the right fit for us. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/relapserecords/orchard[/embed] It seems that the band is attempting to shape or reshape its identity, lately -- you were saying in Spin that you "don't want to get pigeonholed as a 'doom' band," and Dorthia Cottrell, your singer, is quoted as wanting to make sure Windhand is thought of as "a good band instead of a good band with a girl singer." Is there a perception Windhand wants people to have? There's definitely no deliberate attempt to reshape the sound. You're always changing based on life events, etc., so the songs will always reflect where we're at in our lives at that particular moment in time.
Driving Mrs. Satan is a trio of London and Naples-based musicians who've recently released their debut LP, entitled Popscotch. As the title suggests, it's lovely, poppy music. The lyrical content may surprise, however, as each and every song is a reinterpretation of a heavy metal track. From Iron Maiden's "Can I Play With Madness?" to a truly novel take on Anthrax's "Caught In A Mosh," the songs -- as the band's Facebook says -- are heavy metal made easier. Yet, for the songs being stripped of the speed and heaviness, there emerges the root melody and lyricism inherent in these songs oft-derided as meatheaded. The band spoke with us via e-mail about the new album and how Driving Mrs. Satan came together. The band bio is so simple -- that you, Giacomo, rediscovered your love of heavy metal when moving one summer. What's your history as a fan of the genre, and why'd you stop listening? Giacomo Pedicini: Heavy metal was the first music genre I have seriously listened to. It was the year of grace 1988, I first find out the music of Iron Maiden ... and in one shot I bought their entire discography, just after that, I went on listening to Metallica, Slayer, Helloween and much more. It took me less than one week to understand that I wanted to be a musician. I never actually stopped listening to heavy metal, but I opened my musical horizons, and started listening to, and playing, also other kind of music. The emotions of those records return each time the turntable needle goes down on the vinyl. What brought you back? GP: One night I was waiting for a ship to go back home, and I used the time I had to put together a selection of metal albums to listen to during the trip. It was a fantastic night! I hooked up again with the primordial emotions, lulled by a cool summer breeze and the slight sound of the sea. I felt that I had to do something. I had to draw that emotion into music. And I decided to do that staying tied in a strong way with the lyrics and the melodies of the songs I was listening to. How did you all in the band initially meet? GP: Me and Ernesto met a long time ago. We share a strong passion for music and have been playing and touring together with a number of bands over the past 10 years. Ernesto met Claudia in 2007, when she was recording her songs as a songwriter. When we spoke about putting together a band to play re-arranged versions of the heavy metal songs that made our personal history, I thought she would have been the right fit ... we met a few times, made some recordings, and the band was born. There are some striking sonic similarities between Driving Mrs. Satan and Nouvelle Vague -- a bright-voiced woman singing genre-swap cover versions. Where you or are you aware of their recordings, or was this influenced by something else, like Tori Amos doing "Raining Blood"? Claudia Sorvillo: I first heard of Nouvelle Vague one year ago, I was in Paris, and was having my friend listening to our demo, I can't remember if we were listening to I Want Out or Hells Bells, when he said "It has a different taste, but this reminds me of Nouvelle Vague." So no, I was not aware of their recordings when we started. I think in my singing I was influenced over time by a number of singer-songwriters, like Nick Drake, just to say the first name that comes to mind. It's distant in time and we may not seem to share a lot ... but that voice gives me a sense of passion and quiet at the same time. I wanted my voice to sound simple and observing. Narrative. Ernesto Nobili: For me, Nouvelle Vague is the main "ideological" influence of this project. Instead Tori Amos' Raining Blood is barely a cover. It perfectly fits with her aesthetic. GP: I agree with Ernesto. The influence of Nouvelle Vague is mainly ideological. I know very well their first album and I loved it. But we have not thought of someone or something in particular when we were recording the album. Is there a particular method to reinterpreting these songs? I can see that you keep certain recognizable elements of songs, such as "South of Heaven"s opening riff being turned into a piano piece, but what determines how you go about it? GP: The only way is to be honest to the music you are reinterpreting. You have to know it well and love it. EN: We were looking for the very core of the songs. I can't imagine "South of Heaven" without that riff. It's a part of the song, like the lyrics are. We want the songs to be recognized. It wasn't our aim to steal words and write new songs. It's more like classical "variations." And I love Claudia's angelic and sexy voice singing these lyrics: scandalous, ambiguous, funny. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/drivingmrssatan/living-after-midnight[/embed] Has the response from the metal community proper been a good one? EN: Very good, until now. I was afraid of being crucified… CS: Well, the response is strong, for sure, and it's good most of the time, but when you reshape a song that is so different, so famous, and has meant so much for so many people ... of course it cannot be good all the time. People from the metal community are debating over our project, some of them are fond of it, others hate it ... but most people find it interesting ... we've read many "I know I shouldn't like it, but, to be honest, I do" around the web. I think people appreciate good, honest music, whatever the style is. Where do you see the band going from here -- will there be attempts at original music, or do you want to mine the metal genre some more first? EN: Who knows. I just can tell you we all write our own music every day. GP: This is just a starting point. We were able to create our own atmosphere between pop and metal aesthetics. What are the next choices we'll decide later. Surely we will continue to go down deeply in Hell! As someone says..."Mrs. Satan has no boundaries!" CS: We wrote several original songs. We're all musicians and songwriters, so writing original music has never been an issue. Indeed we're currently working at a soundtrack for a movie but things are at the early stage right now. Nevertheless, there are still many, many metal songs we would like to rearrange. We love doing that. It's great fun. There are also many covers of hard rock and metal tunes we did record, but are not included in the album, "Popscotch", and that we're only playing during our live showcase. So yes, there are attempts at original music and yes we're definitely going to mine the metal genre some more. You can find more information about Driving Mrs. Satan at their Facebook page.
[caption id="attachment_16834" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Deafheaven / photo by Randi Sumner[/caption] Deafheaven's newest album, Sunbather, comes out tomorrow via Deathwish. It's a record that Stereogum describes as "expansive, melodic, blinding, textured, dynamic, and moving." For those who've followed the band since their arrival in 2010, the new album will come as no surprise, but for people discovering Deafheaven's music for the first time, it will seem like a revelation, mixing as it does shoegaze, doom, and black metal for a hypnotic listen. We were lucky enough to be able to ask vocalist George Clarke a few questions via e-mail about Sunbather. The opening track to your new album, "Dream House," was referred to by NPR's Lars Gotrich as having "the distant echoes of "Where the Streets Have No Name." Do you feel the U2 comparison an apt one or not? In a sense, yes. We are definite fans of the band and draw many influences from that era. Is it a direct, conscious influence? I'm not entirely sure. But I would definitely agree that the comparison is warranted, especially in the context that Lars was using. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/deathwishinc/deafheaven-sunbather[/embed] Sunbather starts with that nine-minute track. Where do you go after that? Most of our songs are on the longer side only because that's how long we feel they need to be before they feel completed. Sunbather, as a whole, is an enormous piece of ebb and flow so the length of a single song doesn't particularly mean anything to us. The word "epic" gets tossed around a lot in regards to Deafheaven. Do you find this appropriate, or is their another way you'd describe the band's sound? It's a word that writers generally use to describe us as having a large, emotional sound. In that sense, I don't mind it. It's obvious that sort of approach is vital to our sound. The tone of your more recent material -- especially your cover of Mogwai's "Punk Rock / Cody" -- denotes a step away from the double-kick roll on Roads to Judah to a more melodic bent. How does a band meld the melodic instrumentation with your blistering vocals? This band has always had a focus on juxtaposition and while we have ventured into more melodic territories with parts of this album, the key is matching that against the vocal intensity. I find that it is the two opposing directions clashing together that helps make us interesting. The feedback / noise on "Please Remember" almost serves as a point of delineation for Sunbather. Is it a way to divide the album, even if someone's listening to it on CD or digitally? Not necessarily, but with the sequencing, it tends to feel that way. The song itself is made to create a suffocating feeling that falls into a noisy dirge, then releases its tension and melts away. I think it's fitting for the middle of the record. Where did the found audio of the preacher, bus ride, and otherwise in "Windows" come from? It seems almost cinematic, and different from that which comes towards the end of "The Pecan Tree." The song was made to align the notions of a physical 'Hell' against one's personal Hell. The preacher was a field recording taken in downtown San Francisco and it is placed against a drug deal that our guitar player Kerry was involved with. Lastly, what's your tour regimen like? Playing songs like "Vertigo" have to be the musical equivalent of running a marathon, and I wouldn't imagine you go into something like that hungover and tired. Truthfully, if we're hungover, we'll get drunk again to play. A song like Vertigo is hard to place in a set because it's so lengthily and we do usually have a strict set length. We haven't begun to play that song live, but hopefully we will soon. As for the rest of them, they're manageable. Find tour dates and downloads for Deafheaven on their Deathwish page.