Interview with Mac Sabbath manager Mike Odd at the Pitch

Mac Sabbath is the world's only clown-fronted, fast-food themed, Black Sabbath act. There are costumes, a light show and songs, which don't so much glorify fast food as warn of its dangers. It's a strange cross between “Weird Al” Yankovic and Michael Pollan, but it works. The band doesn't do interviews, so we spoke by phone with Mac Sabbath's manager, Mike Odd, about the whole strange affair ahead of Wednesday’s show at the Jackpot.
Read the full interview at the Pitch. Published 9/14/16

August Cine Local at the Pitch

If you've read this week's issue, you're obviously aware there are tons of great local releases out now. And now, if you watch your way through all of these videos, you'll know all about the releases coming out in the next couple of months. Whether you like Keef Mountain's stoner doom, Various Blonde's genre-breaking beats, the heartbreaking pop of Heidi Lynn Gluck, or Berwanger's glam power-pop, there's something to catch your eyes and ears. We even have some classic footage from the Wilmas in this month's Cine Local.
View all the videos at the Pitch. Published 9/1/16

Ghoul Q&A at the Pitch

Thrash-metal maniacs Ghoul hail from Creepsylvania, which might be a state, a country or a collective state of hallucination. The four masked mutant madmen have been wreaking havoc around the world for 15 years, and they kick off their next tour opening for British grindcore band Carcass on Sunday, July 17, at the Granada. That tour also sees the band celebrating Dungeon Bastards, its latest full-length, which comes out at the end of this month on Tankcrimes. The Pitch spoke with Digestor, Ghoul’s guitarist and vocalist, via e-mail about life and death in Creepsylvania, surviving Killbot and more weirdness.
Read the complete Q&A with Ghoul's Digestor at the Pitch. Published on 7/12/16

Halloween Horror Marathon: Deathgasm

poster - deathgasm We were supposed to review Spookies today, but two things conspired against that happening: 1) The copy we were able to get our hands on had audio, but not video and 2) We got a screener of Deathgasm in preparation for an upcoming From & Inspired By podcast. So, given the chance to watch this movie we've been jonesing to see for AGES, we lept at the chance. There's an album by Ghoul called Splatterthrash, and I can't help but feel that portmanteau is what most pefectly sums up the spirit of this New Zealand movie. Sure, there's been "splatstick" forever, going back to the early work of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, and director Jason Lei Howden owes more than a nod or two to those directors (especially to something like Jackson's Dead Alive), but while the gore is definitely played for fun, the main metalhead characters of Brodie and Zakk are rather deadly serious. You've comedic foils in Dion and Giles, but this isn't so much a horror comedy as a horror dramady. You've essentially taken your usual high school drama-comedy, wherein your lead character is an outcast with a small group of loyal friends who must overcome in order to secure their place in the social order, as well as winning the boy or girl -- i.e., every John Hughes film set in Shermer, Illinois. In this case, there's a lot more corpse paint and bullet belts, to say nothing of gallons upon gallons of stage blood, but the basic premise is the same. The soundtrack rips (especially the titular theme by Bulletbelt, which you can hear below). Mondo/Death Waltz is releasing a soundtrack for it soon, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. It's fully death metal in terms of the music, which is refreshing -- it's nice to have a niche represented in a way that demonstrates that this music means something to some people, and isn't just noise. [embed][/embed] And, honestly -- it's fun. There's something heartwarming in the sense of a group of outcasts banding together against first, the forces of assholery in their town and second, the forces of evil which could potentially destroy the world. They treat each other like shit -- or, rather, Zakk's a screaming dickhole whom my wife repeatedly wished horribly, screaming death upom at multimple times during the movie -- but, that's sort of standard teenage behavior, and the ending sort of wraps all of that up nicely. deathgasm brothers in steel The gore is exceedingly wonderful. It's a mix between practical effects and CGI, and works best when the CGI is used to augment the insanely violent deaths suffered by the various demon-infested townspeople. The practical always looks far more realistic than the CGI, with blood splatter never looking quite as effective when rendered by an algorithm, as opposed to the random spray of pumping corn syrup. It's another excellent release from Dark Sky Films, who in the last year have released this, We Are Still Here, and Starry Eyes, which is an amazing run all on its own, to say nothing of House of the Devil, the Hatchet franchise, or Willow Creek. So, yes: Deathgasm is fun as hell, and you should totally go see it. See this with friends, though -- it'll be a blast. It opens this weekend in Kansas City at the Screenland Armour, where it runs Friday, October 9, through Thursday, October 14. [embed][/embed]

Lawrence Field Day Fest 2015, Night Three

lfdf header 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"]

Lawrence Field Day Fest 2015, Night Two

lfdf header 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"]

Marmozets’ Becca Macintyre on the two-way connection between band and fans

[caption id="attachment_18148" align="aligncenter" width="560"]credit Joshua Halling 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." marmozets 01 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. cover - weird and wonderful marmozetsThat'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][/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.

McPadden’s “Heavy Metal Movies” a fun and essential read

book cover - heavy metal moviesI'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.

Helms Alee’s Ben Verellen on the band’s new album and tour

helms alee 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. cover - sleepwalking sailorsYou'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][/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.

Patterson’s “Black Metal” more historically thorough than “Lord of Chaos,” but far less intriguing

book cover - black metalDayal 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.