By Jillian Locke, Pulse Music Editor
In the tradition of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, or the Festival of the Dead, November 1st marks the beginning of the dark half of the year. This is a time of reflection and remembrance for those who have passed. It marks death and rebirth, shorter days and longer nights, and what possibly was one of the BEST Octobers in this young writer’s life!
ROCK AND SHOCK
Why? Let’s see…first, Rock and Shock owned the DCU Center and the Palladium the 10-12th, bringing out celebrities, rock stars, and horror and metal crazed fans as far as the eye could see. In comparison to last year’s convention, the turn-out grew tenfold. And why not, with guests like Tom Savino (FX Master, “Sex Machine” in From Dusk Til Dawn), Chris Sarandon (Princess Bride, Chucky), Daeg Faerch (young Michael Myers from Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob), Zach Galligan (Gremlins), and the one and only Bill Moseley, the grisly, Satanic serial killer Otis Firefly from Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. I wasn’t planning on paying for anyone’s autograph that day ~ but Bill Moseley turned out to be my breaking point. The silver-screen sadist is actually, well, kind of a loveable geek in real life. Brian Bettencourt of Worcester’s metal outfit Beware the Ides piqued my interest with this description: “He has an English degree and looks like a librarian.” Indeed he does! So clearly, I had to get in line, wait for an autograph, and get a picture with the gentlest looking psycho this side of Hollywood. Don’t we make the perfect couple??
Something I did notice about Mr. Moseley was that he looked a lot more muscular on the screen. I figured maybe he just jacked himself up for the Zombie movies, but while doing research for REPO! The Genetic Opera, a rock opera from directors Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich and the producers of Saw, I realized why. Moseley must have shriveled down to portray a much less physically threatening but equally perverted and obscene Luigi Largo in this rock n’ roll cabaret turned full-blown macabre rock opera. The stage is set in the “not so distant future” of the 21st century, in the midst of wide-spread organ failures. Enter GeneCo, an organ donor company that will replace your withered parts…for a price. The gore-tastic rock opera spins a bloody tale of organ subterfuge, supported by a wildly eclectic all-star cast including Anthony Steward Head, Ogre from Skinny Puppy, Paris Hilton (WTF mate?!), Alexa Vega, Sarah Brightman, and a cameo from none other than Joan Jett. REPO! churns and morphs the darkest elements of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Blade Runner slashed with unimaginable operatic carnage. Yoshiki Haysahi co-produced the punk and gothic infused score with Joe Bishara, along with guest musical performances by Clown (Slipknot), Richard Patrick (Filter), Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses), David J (Bauhaus/Love & Rockets), and Melora Creager (Rasputina), to name a few. Premiering on November 7th in select theaters, REPO! The Genetic Opera will shock, horrify, and unabashedly wet the pants of hungry horror enthusiasts, making Sweeney Todd look like a children’s fable. www.repo-opera.com, www.myspace.com/repoopera.
SKELETONWICH VIDEO SHOOT
Ohio’s Skeletonwitch, who are nearing the end of the Blackest of the Black Tour with metal behemoths Moonspell, Winds of Plague, Danzig and Dimmu Borgir, just slashed through the Palladium on October 17th. The metal entourage has just finished their first video for their 2007 Prosthetic Records release Beyond the Permafrost. In a recent press release, guitarist “Scunty D.” Hendrick exclaimed, “Making the video was a killer time! Lots of beer, weapons, and more than 50 pounds of animal intestines; how could we go wrong? I must admit, however, that shooting live footage for 10 hours straight wears you out more than actually playing a real set, resulting in the ‘ultimate bangover.’” Keep reading for my interview with Scunty D. at The Palladium, along with excerpts from the most evil tour this side of 2008!
ROCK THE INK/ALL THAT REMAINS/BEWARE THE IDES
I bombed out of work on Friday, October 24th, to catch the first night of tattoo and metal convention Rock the Ink at the Dunkin’ Donuts center in Providence, R.I. I arrived just in time to catch the last 10 minutes of Worcester hard rock/metal soon-to-be-gods Beware the Ides. Playing to a packed second stage, BTI played the three tracks from their first release as a band, Cast from Anger, and a solid rendition of Mudvayne’s “World So Cold.” The crowd was rabid, and BTI quenched their metal thirst. www,myspace.com/castfromanger.
Next on the agenda: meet up with John, my righteous friend from Prosthetic Records and vocalist for La Habra, CA’s melodic death metal union The Funeral Pyre (www.myspace.com/thefuneralpyre).
We watched the All That Remains performance from the side of the stage, almost backstage, just enough to have a unique perspective of the crowd FREAKING OUT over these New Englanders, who may very well usurp the throne as kings (and queen!) of metalcore for 2008! Jeannie Sagan OWNS her bass, and Phil Labonte weaved and lashed across the stage, pumping the crowd’s proverbial nads as the band unleashed a half hour of older material ~ including “This Calling” ~ and selections ~ including “2 Weeks” and “Chiron” ~ from their new Prosthetic release Overcome. Since I started listening to the 2008 release three weeks ago, it HAS NOT left the CD player in my car (yeah, so what, I don’t have an iPod yet…wanna buy me one??). I had the most radical pleasure of hanging out with John and ATR after the show, and have to say that out of all the bands I’ve hung out with or met, ATR is by far one of the friendliest and most entertaining (guitarist Oli Herbert speaks in metal voice…all the time!) bunch of thrashers ever. All in all, a perfect night of friends and metal. Plan on checking into The Palladium on December 6th as ATR shares the stage with 36 Crazyfists and Gojira as they open for the almighty In Flames. www.myspace.com/allthatremains
The Jagermeister Tour strikes again on 11/14, and this year it’s boasting hard rockers Prospect Hill, Rev Theory, Trapt, and headliners Hinder. Trapt is touring in promotion of their 2008 release Only Through the Pain. Bassist Peter Charell has been with Trapt since its inception in 1997, and feels that this album is a solid progression from 2002′s self-titled platinum album and 2005′s gold album Someone In Control. “We spent more time writing Only Through the Pain. The songs are up to par. We wanted to take our time and write good songs.” They enlisted the help of producer Garth Richardson, with whom they had worked on their first album. “We liked how the first album came out, so we decided to work with him again,” Charell says. Get a sampling of what he’s talking about at www.trapt.com and Trapt’s personal social networking site, www.onlythroughthepain.com. Check back next month as I catch up with Trapt for a live interview at The Palladium on the 14th!
When I spoke with vocalist Cove Reber two weeks ago, Saosin were only a few days into their current tour with Underoath, and mere days away from touching down in Worcester on 10/24. “We haven’t been on tour for 6 months, so we’re still getting into the swing of things. Every show has been sold out so far,” Reber says. Saosin may not have been touring, but they’ve certainly been busy. Their six days of recording at the Hurley Studio was an altogether unique one. Saosin propositioned Hurley Studios with a radical concept: film and broadcast their recording sessions. “We’ve been building a relationship with Hurley for the past couple of years,” Reber says. “We decided to approach them about the idea of using their studios and filming the recording process. Thankfully they were into the idea and facilitated it.” The sessions were streamed live at www.hurley.com/ms/music/saosinstudio/index.cfm, completely raw and uncut.
“The cameras were positioned in the rear of the studio – they were pretty much security cameras. The footage looked really good with high quality audio. It was also great because the fans that watched got to see songs develop. A lot of the writing was filmed, so they got to see the process.” The band released The Grey EP, which offers three of the tracks recorded at the studio, plus a previously unreleased acoustic take on “Come Close.”
But they wanted something even more from airing the sessions. “We hope that the people who watched our recording sessions learned what goes into making a record from an insider’s point of view,” Reber says. “We hope it squashes the taboo that’s built up between fans and musicians. There’s a huge barrier between the fan and the musician.”
As far as production on the April 2009 release goes, Saosin chose two different avenues. They approached Butch Walker for the vocals and guitarist Beau Burchell for the sound. “Beau produced the music portion. He’s a really good engineer and an aspiring producer. Butch Walker is more of a singer/songwriter/rocker guy, so it was good to have an outside ear for the most important thing on an album – the vocals,” Reber explains. So what can an eager Saosin fan expect from the new album? According to Reber, a lot: “We’ve done a good job – we’re really proud of the last record and just wanted to learn and explore things. Our heavier songs are heavier and our softer songs are softer. We’ve tracked 18 songs, and we’ll track more when we get home. Comparing it to other records, it’s up to par.” Saosin’s new EP, along with tour and recording news, can be found at www.myspace.com/saosin.
I was able to catch up with singer/poet/artist/activist Otep Shamaya while she was grocery shopping at home in L.A. so she could have her vegetarian essentials with her on tour. OTEP will be launching their first co-headlining tour with New Jersey metal veterans Ill Nino. The Unite and Conquer Tour kicked off during the last days of October and will run through the end of November with Walls of Jericho and Sister Sin. “Unite and Conquer has a multi-tiered theme,” Shamaya says of the tour name. “We got together and threw around some ideas…it’s a message about being politically active, and it’s also our first headlining tour, so it also represents unity as bands.” As an artist and an activist, Otep must constantly find ways to spread her voice and her message. “The same obstacles exist everywhere, and it’s all about meeting those obstacles head on and learning to overcome them. It takes stamina!” With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the Otep’s gears are turning towards someday forming her own record label. “It’s the artist’s struggle – it’s art and it’s fun, but it’s still a job. You’re allowing a label to own your creative works, and you’ve instantly become commerce – a commodity…creating my own label is part of the long term program. I’d like to be able to provide a place for artists to feel comfortable and creative. I want it to be fair.”
Along with the tour, on Oct. 28th OTEP will be releasing their 2007 Capitol Records release The Ascension on vinyl. “I’m very excited about the vinyl. It’s going to look just like the art work on the album. The amazing thing about vinyl is the sound quality – the tones are much richer.” 2009 holds even more for the furiously driven band, with a European tour and the release of their new DVD. “The DVD contains live footage of the band with interviews. It gives you a perspective of what OTEP really is,” Shamaya says. Check out www.myspace.com/otep and www.otep.com for more details. While you’re at is, also check out www.allshapesandsizes.org for an amazing community of people banning together and creating support for self-esteem and positive attitudes towards body image. OTEP‘s track “Perfectly Flawed” is featured on the site, which includes an on-line community and informative blogs on self-image, self-esteem, and how to make positive lifestyle changes.
BURY YOUR DEAD, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
October 25th saw the last of my intense October string of shows, featuring In This Moment, Bury Your Dead, and Five Finger Death Punch. I arrived just in time for BYD to take the stage. I was particularly interested in this performance because the brutastic, Worcester-based hardcore-submerged-in-metal party-machine had rolled their van in Canada not two months before this show. Everyone made it out with minor injuries, but guitarist and original member Slim paid the hospital an elongated visit. I got in touch with him before the show and he said he’d be there, but wouldn’t be playing. Low and behold, as they lights came up, out comes Slim, aircast on his right foot and all. Along with their new guitarist, Chris Towning, BYD packed the floor and got that crowd off their collective asses better than I’ve seen a band do in a while. BYD is pure, unadulterated fun, and their energy was unrivaled that night; their riffs are hard and their hits are harder. They seriously bounced that crowd. Throw into the mix Slim retrieving a huge bear-head from backstage, which was passed from player to player, and a guest performance from former vocalist Mat Bruso, and you’ve got all the fixin’s for a HAWT performance. Yeah that’s right, hawt. Bruso brought the audience up another notch as he threw himself into the savage crowd, all screaming together, all losing their collective sh*t together. It really was a sight to behold. They ended the set with the chant “Bury your f*ing dead,” and left the crowd full and satisfied (ha, that’s what she said…).
Five Finger Death Punch headlined, and even though I only got to stay for the first song, I grabbed some pretty sweet shots for all of you who missed the show…and as the shots suggest, 5FDP did what they came do to: shred. www.myspace.com/ffdp, www.fivefingerdeathpunch.com
SKELETONWITCH, WINDS OF PLAGUE, MOONSPELL, DIMMU BORGIR, DANZIG
I’ll start this out by saying that I completely missed Skeletonwitch‘s set. I really didn’t think that they would be playing first, but they did, and I never make Friday night shows for the first band. I actually arrived just in time for Moonspell, after which I met the bassist for Skeletonwitch, Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick, at their merch table for our 9pm interview. Scott and I headed backstage at The Palladium and landed in a small, smoky room, where we would spend the next hour talking shop, learning the history behind drummer Derrick “Mullet Chad’ Nau’s nickname, and discussing the fine science of reverse ejaculation (seriously)…during which time I was completely missing Dimmu Borgir‘s performance, which saddened my little black heart. However, the time spent with Skeletonwitch was nothing short of a glorious geek out session amongst some eager and equally passionate metalheads, which is always worth its weight in gold.
I’m going to preface this next section with a small disclaimer. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, ALL of my documents were recently erased from my computer, including the hour interview I conducted and then transcribed with these fine Athens, OH gentlemen. I will also say that this was NOT my doing, but lies on the shoulders of my well-intentioned techy roommate, who was merely trying to save my computer. SO, in light of said tragedy, I’m going to do my best to remember these quotes in their truest form, and at least convey ideas and images, if not EXACT quotes, that will provide you with enlightening and entertaining insight into the minds of the boys behind Beyond the Permafrost, their 2007 Prosthetic Records release.
I was complimenting the press release that I received from Prosthetic prior to the interview, saying how in-depth and involved it was, and how I could really feel what the music would be like through the descriptions. “Yeah, I wrote that,” Hedrick reveals. “We’re an active band. If the record company wants a press release, we say, alright, we can get you that. So I wrote one up,” Hedrick explained. Here’s a little sampling: “Imagine a young Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Exodus slamming beers and cranking up Immortal records at a rager in 1985. Just when you think the keg is killed, Judas Priest joins the party with a fresh case of beer.” This next one is possibly my favorite line: “The members of THE WITCH are bonded by the universal truth, that heavy metal is the law, thereby unleashing the band’s brand of ripping, epic thrash.” And that is exactly what THE WITCH delivers on Beyond the Permafrost, the first of their three releases that was not self-financed.
Then drummer Derrick “Mullet Chad” Nau entered the room, and the conversation slowly headed towards the origins of his nickname and reverse ejaculation, which the boys picked up while camping on the beach in RI (the details are blurry…extremely blurry). Nau even carries around his high school I.D. to show people the sheer epic nature of the mullet he rocked a mere five years ago (I took a picture, but the quality on my camera phone is less than desirable). In this down time, Nau does artwork and creates art for a plethora of band t-shirts, the list of which evades me at the moment, but one I know for sure is Skeletonwitch…clearly…
Vocalist Chance Garnette then joined the party, and had some pretty note-worthy things to say, but I can’t quite recollect any of them at this time, except that they have “all of the ingredients for a new album, we just have to put them together. We’re gotten a lot of mileage out of Beyond the Permafrost – it was released a year ago and we’re still touring for it, which is good, and we don’t want to rush the second album. It’s quality over quantity, and your sophomore release is almost more important than your first major release. I don’t want people hearing the second album and saying, ‘This is the first time I’ve heard you guys.’” I also have a list of “must have” Danzig selections, directly from the mouth of THE WITCH’S vocalist: “Danzig I,” “Danzig II – Lucifuge,” and “Danzig III – How the Gods Kill.”
I got to watch the prince of darkness himself, headliner Danzig, with Garnette, who informed me that THE WITCH watches Danzig every night, and it never gets old. Garnette also filled me in on the monster line-up that is Danzig: Type-O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly, Prong guitarist Tommy Victor, and Samael bassist Mas. A truly epic line-up for a truly epic performance.
And thus my night ended, have spent a glorious hour with Skeletonwitch, a group of fine young thrashers, and then another hour soaking up a metal claw-provoking performance from the metal pumping, darkness enthroned, demon spawn of Satan himself. All hail Danzig!
Now go forth, embrace the ensuing, invaluable darkness, and gorge your face off on Turkey Day!
pics: Bill Mosley and Pulse Music Editor Jillian Locke, Chance Garnette of Skeletonwitch, All That Remains, Saosin, OTEP, Bury Your Dead, Five Finger Death Punch
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