As soon as I met Nick Cageo, I knew he was a reincarnate of Randy Rhoads and Leather from Happy Days. All great things of the 70’s. I met him first while he was playing with BroHammer. (Awesome? Hilarious?) Months later, I was meeting with Rick Ernst, Director of “Get Thrashed”. And I was like, is that Nick Cageo on the cover of the DVD? Then, when Escape, a metal band from Cuba who sold their souls to come to NYC to play with Goatwhore at Vitus, there was Nick again, letting us use his bass amp. Three awesome things in a row. That’s usually all you get. But here is Nick again, rising above the barometer of human coolness playing bass in Mutoid Man. Mutoid Man cures cancer, saves the environment and destroys rich people. Or, I imagine I would feel the same kind of euphoria if any of those things happened as I did when I heard Mutoid Man Saturday night. In all instances, the world is a better place. You can experience this sense of oneness as well, here: Mutoid Man: Bleeder
About two weeks ago, my best friend Michael and I met up at a free concert at South Street Sea Port in NYC. The vintage post 30’s NY crowd was neatly arranged into hot lesbians making out for their own and everyone else’s pleasure and stubbled ink clad men in perfect fitting blue jeans with an array of interchangeable stefanish girlfriends with red red puckered lips and long black fingernails. We are all sinners and I was strutting around with my antique camera that screams, I’m shooting film! I’m the most vintage! in the face of everyone else lugging around their 5d’s.
As all the extras took their place as audience in this mellow drama, I adjusted my light meter, positioned my camera and, action!
But not really. The headlining band took the stage, although “took” might be too strong an action to describe what they were doing. The best thing they had going was the guitar player’s hair cut, (long on the sides, bangs in the front) and, as in most situations, the woman, the drummer, doing all the work, barely visible in the back. Something with distortion and long drawn out, lingery chords and the lead singer said, I mean, sang, some stuff, and it was all very boring.
What’s so important about you? I said, to the band or nobody in particular. And after a couple of songs, we left.
IF we travel back in time to 2006, “Back to Black” hits the United States.
Not what’s so important about you, but “Ms. Winehouse, you are so important.”
There is a space where we all get lost. We begin this journey for different reasons. Those of us without any positive relationship models or control of our hormones possibly took our first steps as adolescents or teenagers. Some may have smacked into this wall, completely unaware, convinced that their relationship to love and romance was infallible.
It’s an awful place. Full of pain and self doubt, suffering and heartache, other girl-women who are prettier than you and have no cellulite, vanilla vodka, American Spirits, and Amy Winehouse Songs.
It didn’t matter that she was 10 years younger than me, this skinny little bitch was belting out shit from I don’t know what, and what? I knew exactly what she was talking about and she took my lack of self-control and low self-esteem and made it, well, she made it sexy. All my indiscretions, all my indecipherables, all my indefensible actions… she made them cool.
I embraced my inner Amy Winehouse and wore my darkness like a badge of fucking honor, like anyone who ever had their heartbroken and smashed to pieces did post-2006. Her songs were a weapon to fight off the darkness, a tool you could use to begin to climb yourself out.
And I feel like we all drink a little too much to try and cushion the blow when we somehow fall, stumble, careen into love with an unwitting rival who can’t or won’t reciprocate our misguided advances, right?
Except, on my way out of the darkness I could graduate from my inner Amy Winehouse and evolve, slowly, finding strength in my inner Mallory Knox, and then solace in my inner PJ Harvey, until I reached the light and could see myself again.
It’s easy to say Amy didn’t like what she saw when she found herself again, but I can’t help but think about some mitigating circumstances, about some meddlesome parties who maybe wouldn’t give her the right mirrors so she could see herself as the light of the sun that she was.
Manic and hungry, she was assaulted by an unforgiving media, comprised of unevolved and unvisionary spokespeople against anything useful or pretty who made easy jabs at a young girl who was really, a prodigy, and had a problem with drugs.
Probably the worst thing is to watch someone you love be consumed by drugs. I can’t imagine what this time means to her family and friends and fans. Addicts are the only ones who can control themselves and get sober. But sometimes it helps when someone is shining a light into the darkness and giving you some direction so you can figure how to get the fuck out.
The media who now lament her passing, who as recently as Belgrade masked petty opportunistic gossip for music news, relished her in her self destruction, needed Amy sprawled on the ground bleeding from her fingers and starving from her belly so they could justify their existence.
And I can’t help but think whenever something was posted on youtube or with every comment on late night comedy disparaging this young woman who was doing something truly amazing, who was shining a light in our darkness, they were looking at all of us, right in the eyes, asking, “What’s so important about you?”
Earnest, authentic hard core music, for me, speaks to the part of us that feels good when we say, Fuck you. Or Fuck off. Or fuck that. ShitKill is all of the above and it feels great. Listening to their self titled, self-distributed CD, I feel confident that I could throw a chair through a Starbucks Window while beating up a bunch of nazi skins with one hand. There is something serious in how Damien Moffit (drums) and Josh Musto (vocals and guitar) communicate musically; it’s tight, it’s threatening, and considering they’re all under 21 years old, it’s only going to get sicker, heavier, faster, darker. Joined by Danny Chpatchev on guitar and Karina Rykman on bass, everyone who makes Shitkill, angry; the media, religion, God, the government, rules, and maybe even you, better watch out.
I had a vision of blasting ShitKill on 20th and 6th while burning Donald Trump in effigy, and our rock and roll church was reborn out of the ashes of naked consumerism. All of our holy sites came back, CBGB’s, the Roxy…read this interview to find out why. Oh, and fuck you.
TNL: Where did ShitKill come from? Did you all meet at THOR (Tomato’s House of Rock)?
Josh: Damien and I went to school together from 4th grade on. We had a strong bond over bands like Slayer and System of a Down…and then we played in a couple bands together in 8th grade that didn’t get too serious. We all got together at Smash Studios, it started out with 8 people. Five of us were on guitar…
Damien They were people we kind of knew from high school, like “Hey you guys can sort of play instruments, right?”
Josh: One by one they each sort of dropped off or we kicked them out and weeded it down to four. We wrote a bunch of terrible, terrible music, and then the songs started getting better and we figured out what we were doing. Danny actually wrote our first riff.
Rykman: I remember that very clearly.
Josh: We kept coming up with songs, they started out kinda silly. We had a tune called “Hot Dog Man.” That was pretty good.
Danny: A little bit peculiar.
Josh: We got our shit together, a little bit. Before that, I started going to the School of Rock, in 2007. I was 13, that’s where we met Tomato, who is now our manager. That’s where I met Danny. ShitKill started in 2009.
Danny: At Guns vs. Motley Crue. *
*Shows at THOR organized around a theme so students could perform covers live.
Josh: The first time I was ever on stage, I wore this really long sleeved shirt. I didn’t realize that was a rock violation and it muted out my strings when I tried to do finger tapping. It was a nightmare.
Damien: I was there to support you. I was the School of Rock supporter.
Josh: We started rehearsing and rocking. Our first gig was somewhere in Hudson, New York at an open mic night at a bar and it was just me and Damien. We played 2 SOD covers and our song “Goatrape” that we don’t play anymore.
We played on a float going around a Flag Day parade in Hudson and I think we scared the shit out of everybody there. I think we had 2 songs.
Damien: Yeah, we were still playing covers. We played Master of Puppets –
TNL: Are you guys particularly close to Flag Day? Is that a very important holiday for ShitKill?
Damien: My dad used to live there. I think he thought it would be funny to have this metal band being rolled around.
Josh: It was a bunch of patriotic guys with the hats and the flags and then us.
Damien: Playing lyric-less Metallica. We didn’t have a mic. We were looping the songs. We thought the float was just going to go the whole time. But there were stops and slowing down.
Josh: Us falling off the thing. We started doing that. Karina was our first booking agent. She booked us a whole bunch of shows at Don Hill’s.
TNL: No way! How old were you when you were booking at Don Hills?
Rykman: At the time I was booking ShitKill, I was 15, 16? That was fun. I knew some people at Don Hills, I was in a band called “False Arrest” that played several shows there when we were 13 or 14 years old. And I knew how to hustle the system which was, ‘Oh yeah, we can draw 60 people on a Sunday night.’
Josh: We did three of those shows in 2009/2010 before the place shut down and kinda learned how to fuck up really badly and recover and play. Not to have a guitar with a Floyd Rose cause it will break, and, always bring back up. We learned a lot from playing there.
Around the same time, THOR (Tomato’s House of Rock) started, and Tomato invited us there. We started rocking together, we recorded a bunch of Shitkill songs over the summer and did and EP with him. Tomato started getting us opening slots. We opened up for Paul Di’anno of Iron Maiden at BB Kings, we opened up for Anvil at Highline Ballroom. We played with Possessed and Six Feet Under and Twelve Foot Ninja. Tomato, our manager, has been awesome.
Damien: He’s like our “not douche bag” manager. You take a manager, and you take out the parts that make you hate your manager, and there’s Tomato.
Josh: He helps boost morale a lot of times when we need it. He’s got the vision and he’s really in it with us. I see a lot of bands who don’t have someone like that and I feel very lucky we do.
TNL Is it difficult with being under age? I went to an all ages ShitKill show at Hippie Cafe and it was packed.
Josh: There have been a couple of shows where nobody showed up because the shows were 21 and over and we didn’t know anybody 21 and over. The kind of shows we’ve been playing have been opening slots at bigger shows that can be all ages, so it hasn’t been that much of a problem. The fact that most of these venues are 21+ like Mercury Lounge and beyond, every bar, we have played at some of them. It really has a negative effect of the metal scene because kids are the most powerful market obviously. And if kids can’t get in, what’s the point?
Damien: There’s countless shows of ours where I’m inviting people in our building and other adults that I know and they’re literally like, ‘I’m an adult, I have work in the morning! It’s past 7 pm and my kid’s gotta go to bed.’ Its’ shocking how much of the scene really is teenagers and young adults.
Josh: There are so many kids in the city and you see them at Mastodon shows and Gojira shows, but then they can’t go see local shows at Mercury lounge or Fontana’s or Trash bar, and those are great venues but the fact that the law is so strict in NYC, has a negative impact on the scene because everyone’s afraid of getting arrested.
TNL: Right, there are all these strange rules now, you can’t crowd surf… on the one hand, I guess I can see it, but on the other hand that’s so weird that they’re going to legislate how you rock out.
Josh: It’s so not rock and roll.
TNL: I was your age when I was listening to the music that you’re playing now. I didn’t realize that metal had this kind of staying power or that it would be attractive to young people 20 years later. Just because I grew up with it, I see it as older people music. So when you talk about Slayer, I wasn’t even 10 when Slayer came out, so it’s wild to hear how they influenced you. What was your attraction to metal?
Josh: The first metal band I liked was System of a Down which was Damien’s fault. He pulled me over during soccer practice with a cd player in 5th grade. He was like “Dude, you gotta hear this and he played “Cigaro” and I never heard someone say the word “cock” in a song before. And I was like “Holy Shit!”
Danny: For me it evolved from other things. Avenged 7 Fold was sort of like a gate way for me. From then on, I moved into Slipknot and Pantera. When I first heard Slayer, I didn’t really like them, I was like this is too much. It’s gradual, You start appreciating heavy stuff, heavier stuff. There was a time I didn’t want to listen to Nirvana, I was like, “this isn’t heavy, I don’t want to listen to this shit.” You start loosening up, and you realize, this is good, this isn’t really that good. In terms of just style and originality.
Damien: I had a weird and diverse musical upbringing. My mom was into 70’s airy, spacey funky music. I was always hanging out with my dad while he was lifting in his bedroom and I grew up listening to Helmet and Black Sabbath, weird cool crazy metal music. I can see it: in the living room it’s my mom’s music, in the bedroom, it’s crazy metal music. Something about going back and forth, I can like what ever I want.
But playing metal music, it has a lot to do with me playing drums. The drums are this crazy instrument where you just hit shit. That’s what metal does, it hits you. You hear a riff and you’re like, Holy shit I can feel that.
Karina: The power and the energy. I play in several bands, but ShitKill is the most fun because you get to attack your instrument, and just go fucking nuts on stage. I love that.
It’s not that I only listen to metal, I listen to a whole bunch of stuff. I was born in ’93, and I was a conscious human in the 2000’s and being a conscious human in the 2000’s and not in the midst of punk when it was big or not in the midst of thrash metal when it was big, it has allowed me to draw influence from all kinds of shit. Yeah, I listen to Dinosaur JR, and I listen to Slayer, and I listen to Black Flag, but I also listen to Donna Summer and Ween and the Allman brothers without being bound to one thing,
Danny: Just appreciating music-
Karina: I fucking love heavy metal, if that was the only thing I listened to I wouldn’t appreciate it, I like contrast.
Josh: There are so many bands that are so derivative of 3 bands, everyone’s a Pantera clone or a Lamb of God clone, I think it’s very important for us to come at it from a much more musical perspective.
Karina: You can always tell, especially with a metal band that has super limited influence, they’re kind of trapped almost and don’t have any ideas that come from any where else.
Josh: We still rip off metal bands, it’s just harder to tell.
Karina: If I was alive in the summer of ‘69 and I was only listening to Donovan and super hippied out shit… then you get more into a box. It’s kind of cool to be making music and thinking about music now after all that shit has happened, so you can draw on different genres.
TNL: When I was growing up the metal scene was the dominant thing, Metallica came out…everybody I talk to, no matter where they’re from, they’re like “and then I heard ‘Blackened’ and my life was changed forever.” So my generation had a definitive movement. Now, looking at the music scene there is nothing I see as the defining trend. I was in High School when PE came out and that was so ground breaking.
Karina: We get to pick and choose from a huge scope of great music, I remember where I was when I heard Master of Puppets for the first time, I remember where I was when I heard Licensed to Ill for the first time, 2 very different things, but I love them both.
TNL: When I was working on UnBlock the Rock, I always wanted to have a female presence on stage, and it was always you and Jennifer Hernandez of Escape. In New York City! And then I met Jessica Pimental of Alkehine’s Gun who wanted to participate but she was so busy. So there were 3 women that I could find in NYC who knew how to play metal. Was that ever intimidating or scary to you, the metal scene being so male dominated?
Karina : To be straight with you I had very few female friends my age, I only had older female friends, and I continue to live that way. So to me, whether I was playing music with dudes or just hanging out, it was kind of just the people I was hanging out with. The whole reason I started playing in the first place was my friend Bobby during 8th grade recess threw a guitar in my hands and taught me how to play. I was like ‘Holy shit, I can do this? Let’s do this!’ I started playing punk cause it’s easy to play and just kept going. I recently heard someone say, ‘I’m not a woman in music, I’m a musician in music,’ I kind of dug that. I’m just trying to play like every body else is, and trying to do a great job.
TNL: So, ShitKill comes together in 2009, tell us about the name.
Damien: It was in Hudson NY where my dad lived at the time and it was just me and Josh going to do an open mic.
Josh: We didn’t have a name, I think your dad put us down as “Children of Metal”. We had a whole bunch of terrible names, like “Blind Justice.” We were driving up and looking at these signs, Fishkill and Sawkill, and Catskill, and you know what? Shitkill, just for the day, wouldn’t that be funny?
A lot of people we know tried to get us to change the name because they said no one would book us, but people are still booking us still.
TNL: Has it been an issue if you’re advertising a show on SOU and they can’t say your name on the air?
Danny: We had that one show in Long island and they listed us as Scrumkil.
Josh: At this point, it’s got to be more good for us than harm.
Damien: Even if we were on some talk show, it’s just got to be funny enough.
Danny: Because as soon as you say the name, people always ask, “Oh, so what do you play and how did you come up with that name?”
Josh: It’s an instant conversation everytime.
TNL: So what are your aspirations?
Josh: We want to play loud rock and roll music for a lot of people a lot of the time.
Damien: The aspiration is to share the craziness and the fun. Hopefully there’s enough money involved to stay alive. That would be a nice feature.
Josh: I assume I’m going to be eating ramen noodles for the rest of my life and I’ve made peace with that.
Me: After you opened for EHG the other night, Jimmy Bowers told you your future was bright. The music you played that night sound much more hard core than the music on your cd, is that a direction you’re evolving in?
Josh: I’ve been getting into a lot more hard core music, we’re kind of drifting a little bit, we’re finding out own thing.
Danny: It’s also the last sequence of shows we’ve been playing.
Josh: Metal played with that real disgusting evil raw energy, that’s why Slayer was so great, because they were into Minor Threat and Black Flag and Dead Kennedys. To me, that’s what makes it real.
TNL: Was there a moment where you were like, this is it, this is what I want to do!
Damien: When we played in the THOR show at the Highline Ball room, and we were introduced…normally, clapping and screaming is next but that was the first time it all blended together into this roar. Hearing that sound, maybe that wasn’t the moment, but hearing that sound was, it was great.
Josh: Everytime you get on stage, whether there are 3 people or 500 people, getting up there and putting my foot up on the amp and getting my sound and screaming in the mic, I’m more comfortable there than any place in the world and I can’t imagine a scenario for my life where I don’t try to do that everyday. I don’t know if there was a moment I decided that, I just knew.
Danny: It’s always the most recent amazing thing that we do, whether that’s a show or a new song we wrote, it grows on top of what we already have. That keeps you going. There’s so many other things that I do, music is just not something I’m willing to give up.
Rykman: Going back to the H20 show at the Gramercy, and we shared backline with everyone and we had the entire stage. I hadn’t felt that feeling of being able to run around and occupy the stage…it just felt so fucking good. And the DRI show recently, a couple of songs I looked up and the place was crazy and people were going fucking bananas…
Danny: there were moments during DRI where I would reach out and shake hands with people I didn’t know, it was crazy
Josh: A guy came up to me at a ramen joint on 52nd and he was like, “Hey Shitkill, you guys were awesome! Just the fact that people know our name, that’s kind of amazing to me.”
Catch ShitKill July 13, 2014 at The Emporium in Patchoque NY, opening up for Coldsteel!
More info: www.shitkill.com
I was initially blown away by Jon Lane when Bröhammer played a benefit at the Trash Bar in Brooklyn for UnBlock the Rock, a campaign for Cuban metal. Years later, I would meet Kyle, knower of all things metal in Brooklyn, at an Eyehategod show who said, “If you liked Bröhammer, you’ll love Godmaker.” Lo and behold, there was Lane once again, the brains and the beats behind the emerging band Godmaker. Friday the 13th brought me good luck and I got to skype down with Andrew Archey (bass) and Jon Lane (drums) and their dog to talk about their place in the Brooklyn metal scene.
TNL: How was Godmaker born?
Jon Lane: I was playing in Bröhammer and I was in Crows on Vultures and they were both fun, they were all people I loved, but we weren’t playing the music that I was really wanting to, music that I felt like was me, so I sort of hashed out an idea in my head and there was a cute little door girl who worked at Guitar Center who kept trying to talk to me about music, who turned out to be Andrew Archey…
Archey: He’s not lying.
Lane: Seriously, he had amazing girl hair and a chin strap, it was fantastic.This kid who we worked with pulled us together to jam with him for some Lamb of God-y, not horrible, but very generic-y metal stuff, at Ultrasound, and it was just very obvious watching us that the only thing happening in that room was me and Archey jamming together. So, it started this long agonizing process of trying to put this band together.
TNL: You get the sense, watching Godmaker on stage, that what makes you so tight on stage exists off stage. How did you guys find each other?
Lane: After a year, our friend Jess who heard about what we were doing, introduced us to Pete (Ross, vocals), and the first time I hung out with him, he was talking about getting a hamburger tattoo, he was wearing a Floor shirt and a Godflesh hoodie. And I was like “This guy’s ok, we’ll talk to him.”
By the end of the first practice we knew he was the guy. A couple of practices later he came out with the main riff of “Megolith”, and I told him he no longer had the option of considering not being in our band at any time.
I had a random conversation with Chris (Strait, guitar) with whom I had been in a hardcore band, a very techy, mathy, cathartic hardcore band, in Kansas for many years. I hadn’t even considered him as an option because it was so far from what we had been doing. He told me he was going to move to LA and be in his friend’s band and play bass. I was like “Dude, you’re not a bass player, I don’t want to be a dick but you don’t waste hands like that on bass.”
Archey: I’m just going to pretend you don’t exist for the rest of the night.
Lane: I get that a lot. I was like “Dude if you’re talking about moving across the country to be in a band…A. fuck LA, B. our band’s better.” He responded with, Is this the band that’s “crushingly destructive, and very 70’s”? We moved him in on St. Patty’s Day.
TNL: Let’s talk about Bröhammer for a second, that was such an incredible line up of musicians, Nick Cageo who is now in Mutoid Man, James Danzo who’s in Deceased…
Lane: That band started as a joke. Which is why it’s pronounced, “Brew Hammer”. It was originally me and Nick (Cageo), and Jeff. Jeff was already playing in Vermefug, Nick was playing in various bands around town, we worked with this guy Pete Macy (Early man), a giant sweetheart and ridiculous guitar player.
BroHammer was the original joke name, and then one of them, I forget who modified it. They were like “Dude, we don’t hammer bro’s, we hammer brews!” Genius. And then Joe Silver joined the band, and we’re like, Oh, this guy’s insanely talented. We conned James Danzo from Vermefug to jump in and suddenly it was a real band and we didn’t know what to do with it, which was a recurring theme.
TNL: Archey, where did you come from musically?
Archey: In the interim of us trying to figure out band members, I was just doing random hired shows, which caught me for about 6 months playing in a goth synth rock band. Which is a completely different story for a completely different time.
Lane: He or we are all lucky enough that he grew up in a family who knew the music industry pretty well and had a really vast catalog, like Archey knows shit about Kansas bands that I know people from Kansas don’t know.
TNL: How and when did you start playing drums? How and when did you start playing bass?
Lane: I started playing drums before Andrew Archey was born. That’s not a joke. My brother was into music for like a month a half when he was a kid which was just long enough to bring home “And Justice For All”. By the time “Blackened” was over, I knew like 3 things: This is my new favorite band, I have to be a musician and I have to play the drums, get me lessons right fucking now.
With mild dry spells involving college –
Archey: What’s that?
Lane: I’ve been going for 25 years.
Archey: I started playing bass at about 9 years old. The thing is my dad used to work for Gibson guitars. I grew up in their office around instruments all day.
My brother started playing drums around the same time. All the bands I played with in NJ were with my younger brother, who is now off doing things I want to be doing instead of you know, working to pay my rent,
I had a bizarre upbringing ‘cause I was kind of exposed to just about everything. I would learn random rock and punk songs and all that kind of shit in the midst of taking lessons. Toward the end I was learning old Motown tracks and I think that’s where became not as white as I am or appear to be and I actually grew a bit of a pocket, which seems to be a little too deep every time we jam.
That’s about it. I wish I had something glorious . I could say I played tambourine when I was 5 for Hootie.
Lane: Let’s not gloss over that.
TNL: I think that ‘s crucial, that should be in the liner notes.
Lane: I’m looking at the tambourine right now.
Archey: Dude still remembers me, I don’t remember being up there.
Lane: How could you not remember that?
Archey: Would you want to remember that?
TNL: NYC is the place where it seems some people make it really easily, because they have certain connections. For bands who are just really trying and really talented and really amazing, is it much more difficult these days to break in?
Archey: There are definitely bands that happen to be in the right place at the right time, they were where they needed to be to be looked at by somebody. For everyone else it’s never not a struggle to get noticed, especially out here, because the metal scene out here has grown so much and has become so diverse. You definitely have to find ways to stand out, but you definitely have to work your ass off. You have to play and bring it every time you play a show find ways to separate yourself from everyone else.
It is difficult now because you have so many ways to absorb media, you have Youtube, you have Bandcamp, you have Facebook which links to all of the above, and there’s a million and a half record labels now, kids are starting them in their fucking basement. We want our ep out, it ‘s just that finding the right way so that it’s exposed to as many humans as possible.
TNL: Making sure it got out there and it’s distributed, more than before, artists have to be their own distributors, their own agents…
Archey: I know people who’ve done the whole DIY route and had great success with it, because they don’t have to pay anybody. You’re your own boss. Yeah it takes a lot more work to get it done with the way you can absorb media now, it makes it a lot easier for DIY bands to have a further reach because there’s so many outlets, it’s how you use them.
TNL: But it’s time consuming, it takes time to post on FaceBook, it takes time to tweet, doesn’t that take away from your time to rehearse?
Archey: Between that and… keeping a roof over our heads, takes precedence, I kinda wish it didn’t, unfortunately money still rules 90% of our lives.
Lane: All of us work full time. Chris has two jobs, we’re working 40 to 50 hours a week.
Archey: Pete’s got a big boy job.
Lane: At the same time, Archey and I are just fucking waiting for the day when we shove all our shit into a storage unit and get the fuck out of town and tour. That’s kind of the goal.
TNL: How do you guys feel, as part of the metal community in BK, about this huge gentrification going on?
Archey: Ok, it’s pushing us out of the expensive neighborhoods, that used to be cheap, but with that it does expand places for us to play. The Acheoron is still in a fairly desolate area-
Lane: It still costs a fuck ton of money to live over there.
Archey: My biggest joy about being out here is that the metal scene is pretty much the biggest brotherhood of friends that I ever had. When I played in NJ, everybody hated each other, nobody liked each other, you had maybe one band you were friends with…out here we all hang out together, are possibly in two to three side projects together, hang out at each other’s houses, throw parties…
Lane: I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, it was a tight little group, a handful of bands that were pretty successful. I’ll still rock a “Coalesce” t-shirt, I’m actually wearing an “Esoteric” shirt now that I look. It was a very positive scene, when I moved out here I never expected to find that again.
Saint Vitus to me is what the Bottleneck was in Lawrence, it has such a familiar vibe where you just walk in and know everybody, and there’s so many familiar faces, it’s like that everywhere.
TNL: It is very communal, I’m new to that scene but already I saw like 10 people I knew at your show the other night (Grand Victory, June 2, 2014). At the show, moreso than before, live Godmaker sounded like if the Allman Brother’s went really heavy. There’s such a country influence, something that seperates you from everyone else.
Lane: I wouldn’t use the word country. A thing that’s really important for me is swing. I need music to have a little swagger to it, I hate that teenage hip hop fans have ruined that word, I need that.
TNL: It’s not country perse, but if I heard the music and someone told me half the band is from Kansas, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Lane: What’s funny is that zero percent of that is Chris’ fault as of yet. Pete writes some pretty fucking redneck riffs now and then. There’s a song that will be on the next record that the first time Pete played the riff, I was like, “No, no. That’s awesome but you have finally done it, you have finally written a riff that is too hill billy I can’t do it.” I then walked around with that riff stuck in my head for an entire week and figured out a way to make it work and thought, Ok now, now we’re going to do that. I’m insisting that we call that song “Purple Drank”, so you’ll know it. But Kansas isn’t the South.
TNL: The south isn’t country either, I think blues is more the south…
Archey: There’s a lot of that with us too.
Lane: My friend Jeremy and I had a hard core band when I was back in Kansas. We both wanted a band that created this atmosphere that when we were on stage… I’m a total priss about my gear, because I was a po’ kid and never had nice shit, and spent a lot of money on my shit, but my goal in that band was: “I want this band to make me want to break everything on this stage that belongs to me and fucking smile while I’m doing it.”
I need that. And Godmaker does that times ten. I’ve never put so much into a band, and I’ve never gotten nearly as much out. We haven’t really done that much with it yet, but every time we’re on stage…
Archey: I don’t even think she saw Pete shake his ass yet
Lane: When Pete starts shaking his ass on stage it’s kind of the best thing ever.
TNL: I think I’m afraid to see that. That idea kind of terrifies me.
Lane: It’s wonderful.
TNL How did you come up with the name?
Lane: We spent an awful long time trying to find a name that was as big as we wanted the sound of this band to be. It took us forever. I remember stumbling over the name Kingmaker, and thinking that’s good, I need something bigger than that. Wait a minute, google search, google search, no one has used that yet!
Archey: Pete actually suggested Pink Disaster.
Lane: Don’t look into that.
TNL: Tell me about the new EP coming out.
Lane: Well it’s us, so it’s four songs and it’s about 33 minutes. It’s kind of the “Hi, we’re Godmaker thing.” It’s fully done, it’s fully mastered, we’ve got cover art by Joe Silver, which is fucking ridiculous, as you would probably expect if you’ve seen our shirts which is also his.
TNL: If you were forced to label this record, if you were forced to qualify your music, categorize your music, how would you pitch it to someone, what genre would you put it in?
Lane: Very fucking loud. I always thought the best bands that don’t know how to describe themselves are usually the best ones because they’re usually not aiming for a thing. Ours has always been about no boundaries, it’s always going to get weirder.
TNL: That’s the point right? To keep pushing yourself, and to not do the same thing over and over again.
Lane: People will lob stoner and doom and there are definitely even prog aspects to it, which I don’t like to use because then everyone puts on their glasses and starts counting beats…
Archey: I kind of like to keep it as “metal”, the whole subgenre kind of annoys me to an extent because it confuses 90% of the people who don’t know what it is. They’re like what’s stoner metal? What’s prog metal?There are parts that are all over the place and touch a lot of different aspects in different subgenres and quite honestly, there’s a lot of straight up rock shit going on.
Lane: We’re a fucking band, you know?
For more info on Godmaker: facebook.com/godmakerbk.
I want to place my palms on Mike Williams’ chest and ask a question because I know he will tell me the truth. He is wearing a Ouija board shirt, hanging out in the green (red) room of Club Europa before the show Saturday night. Mike Williams is the truest of the true, you know this intuitively when you see EHG live. There is no fucking around. There is plenty of fucking around.
Eyehategod rocks. Literally. Drummer Aaron Hill’s pounding announces the beginning of the show and the band begins to sway, forward and back, as though in a trance, summoning? Exhuming? Doing whatever it is they do before bringing us, the audience, where we need to go. It’s a meditation, a private ritual we witness. It reminds me somehow of the ascension of a roller coaster; looking straight up into the sky with the anticipation of careening straight down with your hands up.
Jimmy Bower is wearing a t-shirt, on the back it says “We owe you nothing.” They give us everything on stage, everything is up for grabs, for us to take and annihilate.
Eyehategod’s self-titled release on Housecore Records is the insides of Charles Bukowski, including his obliterated liver and sad and genius brain, reconfigured as a collection of punk rock sludge metal.
I was introduced to EHG by David Peisner, a writer who has written for, among others, Rolling Stone and SPIN. David and I collaborated on UnBlock the Rock, a campaign to bring Cuban metal to the United States back in March of 2013. To raise funds for airfare and visas, etc we put together a compilation, “The Red Album” including “International Narcotic” by Eye Hate God solicited by David. Which begins like this:
“They take the most holy man they got, you dig? And treat him as worse as they can, degrading, drag him through all kinds of shit, spit on him, cuss him, just do everything and then turn around and go to church and worship him on Sunday. And think you’re gonna get away with it….Don’t work that way.”
I email Mike, Is that you.
That’s Charlie Manson, he writes back.
Eyehategod’s self-titled release on Housecore Records is what punching someone in the face sounds like. And/or fucking.
Only EHG can do what they’re doing. Can play the music they’re playing. The heavily textured and complex wall of noise that is EHG sounds like mental illness, sounds like drug addiction, sounds like the inside of a prison cell. Sounds like a criminal record.
Eyehategod’s self-titled release on Housecore Records is finally here.
In November 2013, I was recovering surely but slowly from a long bout of depression where I did not leave the house. Depression is debilitating, mentally and physically, and sometimes I just could not open the door. With the help of some meds and an incredible support network, I could face the world again. The first place I went was The Acheron in Brooklyn, to see EHG perform for the first time.
I suppose a cousin of depression is anxiety and I was anxious about being around other people. I was anxious to be out. There is always a moment where I am wishing there is a flash flood or a regional earthquake that ruins everything and everything is canceled so I can justify staying inside. Thankfully The Acheron is not a douchy rock club. Thankfully the people who go there just love metal.
Before EHG, I position myself at the front of the stage, where I meet Kyle, knower of all things metal in Brooklyn. I am sandwiched in between him and another guy who is a metal afficionado. “Have you seen them before?” Kyle asks. “No, this is my first time.” Kyle exchanges knowing glances with the other dude, smiling. “I love seeing people at an EHG show for the first time,” the other dude says and then Kyle launches into a quick history of the band. I still don’t know what to expect. I’ve been going to shows all my life. I’ve had my share of black eyes and broken toes. Why are they smiling?
EHG takes the stage a couple of minutes later, and I am submersed in elbows and sneaker heels almost immediately. I am still shooting but nervous for my flash which lands at my feet. I am still shooting but nervous for me because now I am old and I smoked for a long time and took Depovera forever, and am a serious candidate for osteoporosis. I seek refuge, trying to navigate my way to the outer circumference of the crowd, but The Acheron is “intimate” so the crowd is dense. I make my way into the bathroom to investigate my flash. Not only is my flash ok, I am better too.
I am reborn.
Eyehategod’s self-titled release on Housecore Records is everything we’ve been waiting for.
As of June 10, 2014 EHG is all over Billboard, cracking the Top 200, and as number 7 on the Tastemaker chart right under Michael Jackson. A review of their show on Saturday was written up passionately by Ben Ratliffe for the New York Times. Their future is bright, it only took 26 years and the tenacity to continue after the death of drummer and founder Joey LaCaze last year. (LaCaze is the drummer on the album). There is no question where EHG is headed, although I’m not quite sure how much redemption and destruction they’ll leave in their wake.
Eyehategod’s self-titled release on Housecore Records is 1234567890 goodbye.
It’s almost impossible to reconcile the sweetness of Pete Ross with his severe on stage presence as the lead singer for Godmaker. As they’re loading out of their rehearsal space, Pete says, “Tracey, do you want to see my new guitar?” He lovingly takes it out of his case and presents it like a first time father presents a new born. A little later we’re talking about all the events in his life that led him to Godmaker: Laguardia, Julliard, a hard core tour . “I was kicked out of my last band,” he tells me. “For drugs. This summer I’ll be sober for a year.” I’m kind of thrown by his openness, his willingness to be so vulnerable so immediately. Later, when Godmaker hits the stage, I realize it’s the same thing he forces from the audience; there is no small talk, it’s an immediate moment of truth.
Bassist Andrew Archey is covered in tattoos and recovering from a particularly social weekend packing t-shirts to bring to the show. This band is ambitious, they have every size in three different styles. While Jon Lane, one of the most powerful drummers on the east coast, breaks down his kit at the practice spot, they banter back and forth like brothers, and there is something so familial about it, it’s hard to believe they didn’t grow up in the same house. Archey is from Edison, NJ and Lane is from Lawrence, Kansas.
Chris Strait, Godmaker’s guitar player, also from Kansas, pulls up in a spray painted Kombucha Brooklyn van, exuding health and wholesomeness. And there is something wholesome about Godmaker. Live, they have devised a way to find every empty particle of space and fill it with immediate noise. Every molecule is a hypnotic explosion. If it’s not love at first sight, you can’t not like this band. They’ve taken everything that’s great about sludge metal and made it their own, but right when you think it’s going to get even heavier, you’re being lured toward some country. Cool country. Country you can smoke blunts to at a friend’s barbecue in their backyard on the 4th of July kind of country. Actually out in the country type country. Kansas type country.
There is something holy about this band. Something about their music will restore your faith in the power of metal. Come and be healed.
June 10, 2014 at Grand Victory, 245 Grand St. Brooklyn. More info about Godmaker here: https://www.facebook.com/godmakerbk
After the Vulcan show at the Blue Note, now, almost a month ago, I asked you “If I wrote you a letter about what I was thinking while Vulcan was playing would you read it?” You looked at me with the same earnesty I asked, Yes, you said, yes.
At that champagne and vodka and throbbing explosive flower pussy 3 am moment, everything I had to say was pulsing on the surface of my skin, fresh from the experience of live Vulcan but I was tired and it was loud.
First, know this: in January of 2010 when you came to perform in Cuba, when we saw each other. I was there, as you know, living in a budget hotel in Havana during a cold winter I had not prepared for. The shower in my room only had cold water, and when I went down to the front desk to ask if I could switch rooms, they would accompany me back up to my room, run the shower for like 10 minutes until it got a little less cold, and tell me it was hot.
I was into my 6th month of filming “They Will Be Heard” and trying to adjust to a daily existence of documenting a metal band within the context of not understanding anything. Not just the language, but why things were the way they were. Why cold was hot. Why free was not.
There was also a strange and difficult relationship with Escape, for me, as a first time director who had personal relationships with the band, trying to reconcile what my relationship as someone from a country where not having hot water in the middle of winter was something new.
I’m trying to condense a lot of what I was feeling and experiencing at that time, where general frustration was no longer something I experienced every now and then and could step back from, but it became part of my personality, it was how I woke up each morning and greeted the day. Escape could not understand this. They never expected things to get better, so they were never frustrated. I was unable to do that. I always wanted things to be better. For everyone.
On that morning when I met you and Jenny and Josefina at the hotel in Havana, and you were so happy, I realized I had forgotten to smile. And you just being there, arms open, “Traceeeeey!” So much weight was taken from me, I physically felt lighter. Without even knowing you taught me in that moment that it’s almost always in reach to be happy. It’s almost always easier to be happy. And I want you to know how powerful that was, your smile.
On March 18th, 2014, in NYC, I arrived with Jenny and Edgar at The Blue Note, and we were sat in an awkward spot until Jenny recognized a friend and who invited us to join them. I was sat up front, almost up against the stage. I had my camera, but when you shoot you immediately become an observer, a witness. I made the choice to become a participant in the performance, to allow myself to become mesmerized by each moment and not step outside what was happening. Yet each piece was compelling me to act, to be, to exist. I could not stop my mind from racing, trying to explain this music, these songs to someone else, what would I say? Over and over again, I thought, How did they know to get together and do that? Hearing Vulcan is hearing a battle cry, a spiritual, a message from our ancestors, something holy and sacrosanct, a ritual that involves fire and rebirth.
I woke up this morning to find the Blood Moon tonight. It was 3 am, and I didn’t want to roam the city streets by myself with my camera so I jumped into a taxi with an Egyptian taxi driver, Hamada. We drove around Jersey City, trying to find the light, trying to find the moon. The moon was no where to be found. “Maybe you come back earlier tomorrow night and you find it,” he told me. I got home and put on some coffee, thinking I would try again. But this letter was fighting me. It was insisting I let you know this now.
In my life, I decide to do something and I do it. This documentary, like everything Cuban, is unnecessarily complicated and taking too long.
When I began making “They Will Be Heard,” I believed with all my heart it would be completed and be successful. That I would be completed and successful. That if I followed my dream and was determined and committed that the “right people would show up at the right time.” That the “universe would conspire to help me.” I have learned, trying to finish this film, that belief and universe and the secret is all bullshit. The “law of attraction” works for people who are well connected or have awesome hair. I’ve learned over the last four years, not without a great deal of pain and sadness, which I suppose accompanies every transformation, that there is no special force outside of us, no level of energy that brings us material well being, no special thinking that brings us success. What there is, happily, is people. What’s made the last four years tolerable is the incredible support of my friends and family.
The best thing about the last four years is that it’s over and I heard the performance of Vulcan as both a goodbye to that era in my life and a hello to what is about to come. The music that isn’t a magic coming out of thin air, but a magic coming from the hearts and blood life and fingers and breath of who we all are. Vulcan isn’t born from a mystery, it is the story of what we know to be true, scientific and full of faith.
There was a Vulcan piece, in the beginning, that reminded me so much of when I was 8 years old. Our living room was small, there was a record player and the speakers were placed on top and below the record player. During the day, when my mother didn’t work, she would play Olivia Newton John or Linda Ronstadt or the soundtrack to Star Wars and she had a million things to do. I would grab on to her legs like they were an old lover and she would let me dance there. Listening to Vulcan at the Blue Note that night brought me exactly there. To where I knew I was safe, to where I was hearing what I was ready for, but there, in the back of my dreams, the sounds of what was to come. That is Vulcan.
Love you always,
When I think about Doc Coyle, the phrase, “Tall glass of water ” comes to mind. Or “towering mass of yummy.” A beneficiary of the sexual revolution and primary and secondary waves of feminism, it’s almost ok to objectify Doc and his dreamy dreaminess. Except, lucky us, Doc is so much more.
I’m listening to “Do You Know Who I Am?” by Vagus Nerve, Doc’s latest musical endeavor that’s taking him out to the City of Angels this spring. Half way through I’ve lost track of time. The complexity of the song, the melodies that seem at odds with each other until they reconcile and play very nice together… “Do You Know Who I Am?” posits as many fronts as Doc does himself, it’s not a question, it’s a declaration.
The following interview took place at my kitchen table on January 23rd, 2014 in Jersey City. It was a discussion more than anything, the way Doc conducts all his interviews, pouring himself out into the world, saying what we’re all thinking but too afraid to say, standing in his own truth.
My parents never got married. My dad is white, my mother’s black. My parents lived together til I was like five. We lived on Sanford St (in New Brunswick, NJ-ed note) and then we lived in a place called Simplex Avenue. My parents split up when I was in the 1st grade, or something like that, so I don’t really have a recollection of my parents being together. And the memories I do have, they were arguing like crazy, BAD. Horrible arguments. So my dad moved out and got an apartment on Livingston Ave.
Me and my brother would go there for a few days. Our mom had a house… based on our mother not being responsible, sometimes there wouldn’t be enough food, sometimes the lights would be cut out, there’d be no heat. She just wasn’t that responsible. Eventually we went to go live with my dad, I lived with him til I was 15 or 16 years old. I ended up living with my grandparents in Piscataway to go to this private school, Gil St. Bernard. It was the complete opposite, I went from total lower class, black/white urban environment to very wealthy, very white, very small, prestigious private school. But it was super liberal, laid back.
My grandfather was one of the most important and impressive black men in the area during that time. He was the first black real estate agent in Middlesex County. He made a lot of money, he lost a lot of money, he was really respected, he accomplished a lot. He was interested in a lot of things, he would referee basket ball games, and he would sing in church. He would referee games at that school, he basically did some wrangling and pulled some strings and got us in on a scholarship. We still had to get accepted but who knows? Maybe we weren’t that bright. Maybe there was a quota, I don’t know.
I was 15 when we (God Forbid) got together. We kind of started jamming by accident, we started writing original songs because we didn’t know enough covers. The first show ever we played was at The Court Tavern. We were called Manifest Destiny. It was the first time I was in a bar. The smoke affected me so much I had bronchitis the next day.
We played and I was like, “Dad, what did you think?” He said, “You were out of tune.” My dad was a piano player. He couldn’t say, “Great job!” No, “You’re out of tune. Get in tune.”
We recorded 2 demos as Manifest Destiny that we never put out. They just weren’t that good, so we sat on them. Then we changed the band name to Insolubrious, it was a bad band name. But as a band we got, “Ok, this is not that terrible. This is actually pretty good.”
Eventually we got our bass player, John Outcalt, and everyone just got a lot better and we recorded “Out of Misery”. It was a demo we put out on tape, we started playing locally and got a nice little buzz. Our friend, Brian, who worked at a record store, Vintage Vinyl, was like, “Yo, what do you think about putting out your demo as an ep/cd?” We were like, “Cool.” And we put it out. We did some big local shows, we got some airplay on WSOU, people were passing around our demo, but we still couldn’t draw people.
We started hanging out in the hard core scene. There were people there who liked listening to heavy music and no one’s paying to play. We thought, “Our band is better than this band, our band is better than that band, if we could actually start playing in front of these people, we think they would like what we do.”
Honestly I think we were just around enough and met enough people that eventually “no’s” started becoming “yes’es”. We were just persistent. We’d just keep bothering the same people. Any place that would let us play, we would just go and play. This guy in Pennsylvania got a garage? We would call up, “Does he have a show? Can we play?” Most of the time no, other times yes. You’d get a yes, you’d go down there and maybe there were only 10 people, but one of the guys that’s there is in a band. You meet him, you get his number, you stay in touch, then it’s like, “We’ll get you on a show out here.”
We were pen pals with Mike D, who’s in Killswitch Engage now but at the time he was in Overcast, Back then a lot of guys in bands would have their cd with an address so you would send your demo to the band. He actually wrote us back, a hand written letter, “This is really cool, I really like this,“ things like that. I remember we played with Lamb of God when they were called Burn The Priest in a garage. We gave them our first cd and they gave us their Burn the Priest cd and we’ve been friends ever since.
We played with Everytime I Die in a book store in Syracuse, NY. We met them, they played their cd they were working on and we just became friends, fast forward 6 years later we were playing Ozfest together. It was definitely a different time, I don’t know if it’s that communal today among young bands.
We did “Out of Misery” and the same guy who put it out said, “I think it’s time to put out a full length album. We ended up doing “Reject the Sickness” with Steve Evans, the producer for Metalcore Records and he just to happened to work really close, at Tracks East. We had gotten a lot better, the material was way better, and he made us play way better than we were. And the record just sounded incredible, musically it was really cool, it didn’t sound like anything else that much, we knew who our influences were, but to a lot of people it was fresh.
Evans and Alan Douches, the guy who mastered “Reject the Sickness”. sent it to Century Media for us because they thought it was really good and that’s always a good sign. Literally I got a call from Tom B who was A&R from Century Media. That NEVER happens. Labels never call people without a multi-month/year long deliberation process of watching the band live and working on their songs and development. I think that gives you an idea of how strong the record was and how much it stood out. It was about a year from when we had the conversation to when we had to sign because of contracts and everything. And that basically changed everything.
Because we had a record deal we had a manager, because we had a manager, we had a tour, because we had a label we could have a bigger record budget. Once all that started happened, everyone quit their jobs and moved home with their parents and just went for it.
We came out in an awkward era, we didn’t come out early enough where everybody just made a lot of money being in a band making record deals. But we didn’t come out late enough where we were prepared for the new way of how things were going to be. If you came out in mid 2000, you basically understood the new way; that you had to promote, the new way you had to tour…we came, we had some decent success, and had some good footing and then everything changed, and not just for us.
It was easier if you were already really big and you had a good team with a really good manager and a good label and really basically doing the work to kind of convert to “music 2.0”, whereas the band just makes records, they tour, and everyone else is handling the promotional side, the marketing side, if you were doing it yourself and didn’t have a great aptitude for evolution…I think a lot of bands struggled with that transition.
I left God Forbid in August of 2013. I think I went through, what is that? Post-pardem depression?
I was working on this original project and a cover band project, but things weren’t moving at the pace I wanted things to happen. I took this gig with UnEarth, and the tour ended up getting cancelled.
God Forbid ended and whatever my “new thing” was going to be didn’t develop. I was single for a long time, my immediate family is not really what I think of when I think of a wholesome family environment, it’s just made me think about all these elemental parts of life that I didn’t really have, that I think are important. It’s the reason why people go to church, it’s the reason why people have children, because people want to feel a part of something and I wasn’t a part of something.
I did the same shit for 10 years. My band was everything. I wrote, toured, came home, wrote, toured, hung out with my bro. That was it. Then my brother left the band, my girlfriend broke up with me. Then my grandmother passed away. I was living with my grandmother, so it was like this cocoon where life was set in stone: This is where I live, here’s my band, here’ s my bro, here’s my girlfriend. Basically everything was gone, one after the other and I didn’t have feet to stand on.
One thing that should be stated, me and my brother had a very codependent relationship. More so on my end. I didn’t make a lot of friends when I was younger. I didn’t have a lot of my own friends. Because basically, my brother was my best friend. We did everything together.
When I was thirty years old, I was trying to develop friend-making skills. (laughing) And that’s really weird. It’s not common. I don’t have a normal learning curve for development. Sometimes I have to let myself be that because I beat myself up a lot thinking about being behind the ball about certain things. It’s a societal pressure. There’s all this stuff you supposed to be doing: you should have a kid if you’re this age, you should be married if you’re this age.
That weighs in on you. Because people look at you and think, “Oh, you’re a little, hmmmm?” That’s tough for everybody. But that’s the risk you run of being in a band and “going for it”. Like, I’m going to mortgage everything on this, if it doesn’t work out, I’m going to be 10 years behind everyone else in terms of doing normal stuff.
If the band was more successful, and I could buy a house with the money I was making from the band, then I’d be less behind the curve. It’s not like money is the most important thing but money does help you attain the essential amenities of “the adult” standard.
Vagus Nerve, is actually the biggest nerve in your body that connects your brain to the rest of the nervous system. Me and Ravi Orr, the singer, met through a friend of a friend, started working on material sending traces back and forth, he lives out in Pennsylvania, so the distance always been an issue, as far as getting it going. This past year, we started putting a band together got some really good players but the guitar player was playing in another band, he’s really busy, so it’s been kind of difficult but both me and Ravi are both moving to California.
At the end of the day, you have to take risks. You have to see what else it out there. I if don’t do it now, I’ll probably regret it for the rest of my life. The only reason I was going to stay here was for Vagus Nerve, and me and Ravi had a discussion he & his wife want to move out there too. I’m going to LA because I think there’s more opportunity for a guy like me out there. It’s not zero. It’s zero right now. Zero degrees, zero opportunities, zero chances of going surfing right now.
Ever since I’ve been on my own, things have been consistently getting better. I’ve never done this before, and it’s scary the first time, you think, “Will I be able to eat?” So this is the next challenge. Can I go somewhere and actually make something of myself?