Thursday, July 30, 2009

San Francisco Bay-Area's many groundbreaking bands

Hey there Dig. Just wanted to say how much I love earache's output over the years and never failing in over all quality and in earache's search for forward thinking bands.

I was curious of what you thought about the bay area (northern California) scene.

Just curious to see which bands were of note to you back then (i guess besides the heavy hitters like Metallica, Testament, Death Angel, Neurosis, etc.)and if any are noteworthy now. It always seems like the bay area is always on the verge of breaking through but usually just caves in on itself every 4-5 years. Would love to hear your thoughts man. Cheers.

Answer: Well as you say, the San Francisco Bay-Area of California has thrown up way more than its fair share of groundbreaking bands.I've only visited the place once, which is kind of ridiculous given its importance in the history of music, I say music, because there is a lot more to the Bay-Area than Exodus/Metallica and the birthplace of Thrash Metal.

The city is certainly one of the strangest in America, as its geographically a peninsula, connected to the mainland by the Golden Gate bridge.I think it's this feature which led to the place becoming a hot-bed of the intelligensia and the reason for the extremely liberal views which permeate the town.To a Brit like me, its the nearest thing to a UK type town, it seemed packed with universities everywhere and every bar or club was heaving with students.I might be wrong but I don't think the place even has a mall.The traditional, blue-collar America is a mere 4 miles away across the water, but it might as well be another planet.Its much like Liverpool is here.

Likewise, San Francisco bands are quirky, many are politicised in some way, and all seek to fashion their own unique sound, they somehow seem immune from following any trends sweeping the rest of America.In the 60's the Hippy movement originated on the streets of SF-The Grateful Dead becoming the scene's most visible band.Aging hippies still congregate on the corner of Haight-Asbury to this day amongst the head-shops and tacky merchandise stalls set up for tourists.

Personally, the scene which got me aware of SF and its bands was the highly political Hardcore punk scene. One of the greatest SF bands ever was Dead Kennedys- allied to the Maximum Rock N Roll magazine crew, originating out of Berkeley, these were the guys who- quite literally- formed my musical education. I used to write scene reports for MRR,so would regularly trade records with Jello Biafra, Tim Yohannon and Jeff Bale - these guys knew their stuff about US punk, and were gracious enough to pass on their wisdom to me.But when I started to send them UK DIY metallised punk 45's in return, they suddenly stopped writing back.Oops, I guess it offended their punk credentials.

Another of the greatest SF bands ever is Faith No More- again, their quirky take on alternative/ metal and refusal to compromise was their calling card.This allied to Mike Patton's stellar voice led to them becoming world-famous. Faith No More - especially Mike, Jim and Billy- were all fans of the Earache extreme bands, and the guys would often drop by our office when playing Nottingham's Rock City club to pick up the latest Godflesh or Napalm Death disc for listening on the road.Other well known bands originating from the Bay include Green Day, Deftones and Machine Head.

Pioneering SF Bands which deserve honourable mentions are early 80's HC/Crossover act Attitude Adjustment and from the thrash-era - Possessed.This Thrash band arguably created the Death Metal genre (along with Chuck Schuldiner's Death) by adding extra deathy vocals and excessive speed and deadly subject matter to the genre.The Possessed song "Burning in Hell" was an early blueprint for the entire Death Metal genre which followed, in my opinion, as well as the song called simply "Death Metal".Bad luck dogged the band so they never got the accolades they deserve.

Not many people know that Black Metal in USA has its origins and roots in SF. The reason for my visit in the late 90s was to meet up with a fellow Brit named Paul Thind, who had emigrated there as a kid. His parents had left UK to run a traditional English 'fish and chip' shop in the Bay area.His label Necropolis was the very first to release Norwegian and US black metal bands in America.The guy was simply a fan who could'nt handle the business side of things when the popularity of the scene exploded,so the label folded. Looking back, his output now looks like a whos-who of prime Norwegian and US Black Metal, and Necropolis' part in the folklore and history of USBM is sealed.

As for current bands- I have no clue- maybe the blogonauts who are reading this can give me some tips of current bands who are spearheading the SF scene in 2009?

Heres POSSESSED back in 87

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Multi-genre, one man band extraordinaire - BEELZEBUL

Question: I understand that Toxic Holocaust took quite a while to get signed. As a one man band, Joel Grind had to do a lot of the work himself. I am also a one man band, what do I have to do? I am 100% confident I have a bit more talent... From:

Answer: Sean dude- you have caused a bit of a stir here with your question, its a topic that crops up regularly, because I'm not a big advocate of the one-man-band scenario anymore-even if Earache has signed many artists in the past who were soloists, they were mostly making electronic music.Previous postings on this subject HERE.

As for your band(s) I've checked out the website where I see you have not only a metal band but also showcase material from your Classical, Punk, Pop and Dance acts too - thats a tad ambitious for one fella to undertake, maybe? Even seasoned, professional musicians can spend a lifetime trying to master the art involved in one specific genre- and here you are attempting to command five styles at once, its a common mistake made by the amateur to think that because you have mastered a few flashy guitar techniques, Beethoven is your next level.Sorry to burst your bubble but playing real music is not like a video game.

I also checked out the MySpace where the tarot meets baroque metal you are spearheading gets an airing.You certainly revel in this multi-genre approach, dude, I'll give you that.

Its true that Joel Grind's early works were one-man-band efforts, but personally, I really did not like them.In recent years he has formed a real band around him, and is now taking Toxic Holocaust to the next level.

Your philosophical ideas are well researched and from the heart, but in all honesty the one-man-band style is not the best to convey them I feel.Its just not potent, musically, when you play each instrument seperately- they just don't gel or appear cohesive to the listener.

It's more important to master the technique of millisecond timing as it is the flashier guitar moves, because with great timing comes that all-important extra power.Subtle changes to the timing- ie playing either just ahead or just behind the main beat is what gives the best music, be it metal, classical or whatever its groove and swing.Your timings are simply too wayward to even be effective.

But I wish you good fortune with your -numerous- projects.

The Ask Earache blogonauts can check out your highly unique tarot-meets-baroque-metal-hybrid song "The Dark Dao" clip here:

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Early HC bands- Patareni/ Larm/ Fear Of God/ Filthy Christians

Question: Sorry to bombard with a whole host of questions but here goes...

1. Over the past couple of weeks, I\'ve been getting more into the Croatian grind band Patareni and wondered if you were even a fan of them or ever had any contact with them? Presumably, the Iron Curtain and the then on-going conflict hindered your ability to contact or meet them. I know that Seth Putnam was a MASSIVE fan of them and just wondered if you had any opinion on them?

2. Did you go see Larm in Brighton? I know Barney from ND is a huge Larm fan and they seem to have been hovering about with the British bands at the time?

3. I was reading an interview with Erich Keller of Fear of God, who stated that Earache had tabled an offer to release his stuff and swiftly got rejected. Can you shed any light on this?

4. A few people have complained about their copies of Nailed by Filthy Christians stopping working. Will you ever get round to compiling Nailed and the Split EP with G-ANX, and putting them and the demos on as extras to Mean for a full discography release? Are the CDs still readily available? Do you still stock them? From:

Answer: PATARENI? Who? I can honestly say today is the very first time I've heard of the band which is a bit pathetic given their internet reputation.I read your question and so had to do a bit of research. The Wiki on the band says they were one of the earliest grind bands with releases dating back to 1983.Errr, sorry, but I don't remember that! Thats a bit of wishful thinking created by somebody because personally speaking, I reckon grindcore as a style did not exist until Napalm Death created it and single-handedly popularised it on their Scum debut, in 1987. Before this groundbreaking release there were a select few speedy HC bands- DRI and SEIGE in the USA and LARM (pictured above) in Holland were most well known, plus our own HERESY in UK. Canada's NEOS, MOB 47 from Sweden or even UK's RUDIMENTARY PENI might be considered the precursors to the development of the short, fast intense sound.All were essentially HC punk bands coming from that scene.

None of the aforementioned bands had the heavy down-tuned metallised riffs mixed with the insanely fast drum speeds though. It was this down-tuned metallised guitar sound and gutteral vocals that characterised the early Earache Grindcore acts.Without that you were simply a generic (for the time) if speedy Hardcore band. Aswell as being heavier sounding, Napalm Death were also faster than all the others also. To obsessive observers of the HC scene like myself at the time, the band were playing some seriously 'new level' shit, they were a league above the rest in terms of intensity of performance, both live and on record, this is pretty much what made them the pioneers.

I agree, there was undoubtedly a thriving early-mid 80s European HC scene consisting of mid-paced politically minded DIY Hardcore punk bands: Negazione, Wretched and many more were my faves.Even then a select few decided to up the velocity, write shorter songs and up the intelligence factor in the lyrics.I considered the likes of Larm and Fear of God as those kinda bands-they were more influential on the coming power violence scene, to me, they were'nt metallised enough to be grindcore.

Check out my Spotify playlist- GRINDCORE CLASSICS

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

DEICIDE- "The Great Lance" mystery track on Till Death... CD

Question: On websites such as and even Wikipedia for the Deicide album \"till death do us part\" it says that there is a deluxe version with a bonus track called \"The Great Lance\". I\'ve never been able to find such a version with said bonus track. So my question is does such a version of the CD even exist or is it just internet misinformation? From:

Answer: Thats the first we've heard of it..we have no clue what you are talking about dude! So we checked the websites you mentioned- like and we see the mystery extra song called "The Great Lance" is mentioned on that page. Likewise the bands own wikipedia entry has this song listed as a bonus on the album. Its bogus, not bonus.

Its a total mystery how such blatantly wrong info can be posted as facts.I guess you are right to be sceptical about internet info, many of the wikis I come across to do with our own bands are 95% accurate but also contain an obvious glaring error or two, they might be put there to trap the unwary. I speculate that some fan made an upload of the album to torrents or rapidnazi or megauploadnazi and for a joke added an extra song to his upload. So many folks get their info from torrents that they become the official standard release to many fans, it seems.

What is absolutely scary though is if you type in "Deicide the Great lance" into Google.It returns dozens of pages with listings including this mystery track- some even claim to print the lyrics. Which is truly bizarre.

We cannot explain it.I just reckon some joker is laughing their head off at the way this so-called bonus track listing has spread all over the web.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Earache- 10 years ahead of its time?

Question: This kind of relates to the pendulum question, how does it feel as a label always being too early to the party? by this i mean an earache band will come out with a sound and often then a decade later an often diluted version of said band makes it big. Of the two years ive been to download festival ive noticed this for example this year it was pendulum reminding me of pitchshifter and the first time i went a few years ago there was wolfmother who obviously have loads in common with sleep, theres also countless dubstep producers out there who owe their living to mick harris and nick bullen. Im curious does it fill you with pride with the feeling of you were right or do you wish you were around when the genre makes it big as obviously earache is a business. From:

Answer: Yes, I have actually been told this a few times by my peers in the music industry- and I have mixed feelings about it to be honest. It's a compliment to be known as 'ahead of the trend' on one hand, but we do regret missing out on the huge sales potential when the music finally acheives a 'mass-appeal' level. We can't have it both ways I guess.

The two bands you mention- Pitch Shifter and Sleep - were both snapped up by major record companies for big money deals in the 90's, bailing on their contracts with Earache in the process, as it happens. I guess some A&R guy at the major labels had a clue those bands were breaking new ground, it did not go unnoticed at the time. Pitch Shifter did have a few minor hits, but Sleep imploded before the major label album was released.

Its the sheep-like mentality of music fans which turns out to the problem, their conservative tastes dictate that its a least 10 years before radical sounds are accepted as OK, then they all buy into it en-masse, following the herd. Its normal crowd behaviour, and without being smug, we're Ok with being ahead of the curve.

We are absolute music nerds at Earache- we debate bands and upcoming trends all the time at work, and even after work hours aswell.Such nerd-like behaviour is not always welcomed by the average fan. One time after work we got into a discussion with a dude from a local Death Metal band about his favourite band, Cannibal Corpse- he was wearing the T- shirt at the time.So we got some beers at the bar and proceeded to debate their various line ups, the pros and con's of the albums, and the production job done on each.The dude got up and walked away saying were we dickheads. Oh well, turns out he merely 'liked' the band - and couldn't handle our full analysis of their career. I don't blame him actually, I only mention it to show that we are far from casual fans here.

Regarding SCORN - Heres a Spotify Playlist of some of my fave bass-quaking dubstep. Open the application SPOTIFY (Not in USA yet, sadly) and click this PLAYLIST. Scorn from 12 years ago (Twitcher) sounds exactly the same as contemporary Dub Step like La Roux's amazing Skream remix, isn't that remarkable?
SCORN 1997


Friday, July 03, 2009

Pitch Shifter were the Pendulum of the 90's

Question: do you think pitchshifter could have been bigger than they were? im wondering as pendulum are sounding mightly similer sure with added empthisis on the dnb elements but alot of the other elements are there. Interestingly pendulum also namedrop the berzerker when describing the more extreme influences on their sound. From:

Answer: There is no mistaking the fact that Pitch Shifter in the 90s were pretty much the same type of 'Rock meets Drum N Bass' type of band as Pendulum are now. Pendulum are extremely huge, having had the good fortune to be picked by The Prodigy to remix them.I saw a bit of Pendulum at Download festival and I actually thought the same thing- this could have been Pitch Shifter a decade beforehand, the similarity is remarkable.

Pitch Shifter's problem, aside from existing a decade too soon, was the beats were more Industrialised, more mechanical, the likes of Prodigy and Pendulum have a more dancefloor groove and beats that kick aswell as swing. PSI was a confrontational, attacking sound which spilled over into the accompanying lyrics and vocals, while Pendulum is a much more laid back groove which is designed to make you dance, its a Pop group actually, Pitch Shifter is a Rock act- there is a world of difference.

I can see a reunited Pitch Shifter, if they are smart, which they are, somehow diluting their sound, adding more dancefloor friendly grooves,adding big-ass quaking basslines, and less harsh vocals, and they could re-emerge on the festival circuit to great acclaim, and huge crowds.It could be a year or two, but the similarity to Pendulum is uncanny.

See the two bands in action for proof: