Thursday, August 29, 2013

REVIEW: DEUIL - ACCEPTANCE/REBUILD


I’m not sure what the opening chanting means, but it’s the perfect chilling start to this massively heavy, compelling, occasionally terrifying, but ultimately uplifting release from the Li├Ęge, Belgium doom crew Deuil. I’m quite proud to say that my seven years of French classes paid off and I actually knew this band’s name translated to “mourning” before reading it in their bio, and their sound is absolutely fit for a post-funeral meltdown and subsequent recovery.

Acceptance/Rebuild is a sprawling two-track assault on the senses that builds from the aforementioned moaning/chanting to droning sludge that hypnotizes its prey into submission before tearing out its jugular. “Acceptance” drifts into a nebula of fuzzy feedback and star dust before plummeting back to Earth with an unexpectedly uplifting blast of noisy black metal. It’s a song that toys with dynamics and is in constant motion, not settling for the glacial crawl of run-of-the-mill doom. The seventeen minutes feel like an emotional expedition, with tension and release expertly utilized to invoke conflict, obstacles, triumph, failure, and despite it all, hope.

“Rebuild” commences again with mysterious chanting and harsher feedback and easing into chiming, haunting melodies against a droning wall of sound like the hum of an industrial metropolis. The drum blasts in this song feel a little more forced as the rest of the music doesn’t swell and build as much as it minorly changes direction, like a new bird taking lead as a flock heads south. The last 2 minutes pound the ground with a huge doom riff that accounts for the most traditionally heavy moments of the album. Still, there’s a sense of at least bittersweet hope in this album that isn’t found on most releases exploring the dark space between doom and atmospheric black metal, let alone one named after the grieving process.

While the hoarse vocals don’t add much to the music besides an intonation of anger, the drumming is excellently executed and the band creates a world that is vast and layered with mystery and complex emotional resonance. This is a fantastic debut album that joins titans like Lesbian, Tree of Sores, and Usnea; all bands who’ve elevated the songcraft of long-form doom-oriented music into something even more challenging, exciting, and diverse. Despite their name, I promise you will not mourn the 27 minutes spent listening to this album.

Listen to Acceptance/Rebuild over on Bandcamp now, available as a “name your price” download from Lost Pilgrim Records: http://lostpilgrimsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/acceptance-rebuild

And follow them on Facebook for updates on their vinyl and casette releases:  https://www.facebook.com/wearedeuil

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TOUR ALERT: SHROUD EATER - SEPTEMBER 2013


So while working preemptively on my Decibel Magazine Top 40 Albums of the Year list I realized that even in a very solid year for heavy music a few releases stand out as heavyweight contenders. And Dead Ends, the latest album from Miami’s Shroud Eater, is the sort of record that could uppercut someone’s head into gory confetti and then paste it back together with care. With crushing riffs and eerie beauty, it’s one of the few 2013 releases I encourage ANYONE who likes rock music to check out and support. And now, if you live in the southeastern portion of this country you may have the chance to see this fantastic band live. The tour information and dates are as follows:

SHROUD EATER is excited to announce a Southern tour September 5-10, taking them to Little Rock, AR for a performance on the Mutants of the Monster Fest III. The band is touring in support of their highly  acclaimed 2013 EP DEAD ENDS, out on The Path Less Traveled Records and Primitive Violence Records and Visual.

SEPTEMBER 2013 TOUR DATES:
Thursday 9/5/13 MIAMI, FL @ Churchills Pub
Friday 9/6/13 ATLANTA, GA @ The Masquerade (Purgatory)
Saturday 9/7/13 NASHVILLE, TN @ The Owl Farm
Sunday 9/8/13 LITTLE ROCK, AK @ Mutants of the Monster Fest III
Monday 9/9/13 BIRMINGHAM, AL @ The High Note
Tuesday 9/10/13 JACKSONVILLE, FL @ Warehouse 818

"Gritty, hefty, and impressive." - HEAVY Music Magazine, (Australia)
"A viscous, plunging record full of unexpected surges and explosions" - Exclaim!, 2013
"Grimy, powerful, explosive ..." - MeatMeadMetal
"DEAD ENDS is a coloss, the sound is monolithic." - Metal Bandcamp, 2013
"The hooks and rhythms in this are excellent." - Heavy Metal About.com, 2013

I’m bummed that I’m going to miss this tour with a trip to Atlanta two weeks after the above tour date, especially since Shroud Eater’s set will likely leave the city in ruins. I expect Atlanta to be leveled and overrun with nomadic cannibals and blood-thirsty birds scavenging human flesh when I arrive. If you have to drive miles and states out of the way to see one of these shows, do it.

And also go check out Dead Ends here, available for only $5: http://shroudeater.bandcamp.com/releases

Saturday, August 24, 2013

RIP: JOEY LaCAZE


Last night I was informed with great sadness that Joey LaCaze, drummer for Eyehategod and Outlaw Order, passed away. In the coming days details will undoubtedly be released, but none of it matters more than this: He was a massively talented performer whose contributions were crucial in making Eyehategod one of the most influential bands in the realm of heavy music.

I first purchased Take as Needed for Pain when I was a high school freshman, drawn to the bizarre album imagery of mangled dental work and fake limbs as well as sensational titles that made me feel like Eyehategod may be some of the most dangerous dudes in the world. I was a dirt-poor teen at the end of the 90s with shitty dial-up internet and the information I had about the band was marginal, which just added to their “wanted poster” mystique. Still, at that age I was definitely in the “fast is good, faster is better” mindset, so Eyehategod’s revolutionary sludge wasn’t greeted that warmly upon my first listen. I spent the next few years committing irreparable damage to my spine while headbanging to Slayer’s Undisputed Attitude and early Napalm Death.

When I boxed up my CDs for my first trek to college I found my lone Eyehategod album, dusted it off, and played it during the long drive through a gray smear of small towns in central New York. I was ashamed at how long it had taken me to discover just how god damn catchy they were, how brilliantly they disguised bluesy rock’n’roll with gutter grime, whiskey-shredded vocals, and a sharp sense of self-consciously transgressive humor I failed to recognize upon first listen.

Drummers are often the unheralded backbone of a band, the heard but mostly unseen force providing the momentum, but tucked back in the shadows. And while I never had the pleasure of saying more than “great show” to him to find out for sure, Joey LaCaze did not seem like a person who minded the shadows, as long as the music he helped make threatened to punch holes in the venue’s roof and walls. He was a band drummer through and through, and despite considerable skill he was never a distraction, never a guy who propped up his ego as a musician with flourishes and technical excess. He played outlaw doom with swagger and busted-lip punk energy that suited the song and filled it with life. He took great songs and helped make them legendary.

For all their supposed bleakness, the arrests and addiction and hometown tragedy, I’ve rarely seen guys have as much fun playing live. I’m thankful for finding that dusty CD in my old bedroom, I’m thankful for each time I saw Eyehategod play with Joey LaCaze reliably sitting behind that kit, and I’m thankful for every time I banged my head to one of his cymbal crashes. I plan on spending the day honoring him the same way I think most of us in the metal community will: Listening to the records he helped create at frightening volume levels.

R.I.P.

Friday, August 23, 2013

UNSOBER REVIEW: JOY DIVISION - UNKNOWN PLEASURES

Kung Fu Breakfast, the phenomenal DIY art zine, is set to release their Joy Division-themed issue (titled “Your Confusion, My Illusion”) over the next week, and as a regular contributor who has never listened to a full Joy Division album I thought this would be a good opportunity to intoxicate myself and write notes on the experience as my submission. Here are the resulting unedited notes on each track of Unknown Pleasures:


It’s close to midnight and I’m on an unmade bed. Sobriety is not within spitting distance. I’ve asked a few people for Joy Division album recommendations, but I think it’s most fitting to follow the suggestion of Kung Fu Breakfast’s EIC Jay Kantor: Unknown Pleasures. Still, thanks to Val over at Duff’s Bar for suggesting Still.

Disorder – This bass guitar’s sound is the happiest I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Guitarist sometimes sounds like he started playing because his step-father gave him a guitar last Christmas and he’s forced to take lessons. Background effects that sound like someone got mega points in a pinball machine. Singer sounds like the mumbling guy from your job when he goes out for karaoke. I like the part where he said “feeling” a bunch of times.

Day of the Lords – Sounds like he talked about shit on a wall, I’m like 41% sure. Need to look up lyrics later. Sort of a Birthday Party vibe, if they wanted people to mope-dance to their music, instead of shower yourself in garbage and spazz out and break the neighbor’s window with a ball-peen hammer. I wonder how many people have named their penis “The Ball Peen Hammer.” I like this song, definitely like Nick Cave singing, if he wasn’t allergic to the correct pitch.

Candidate – For two seconds I thought “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith came on. Then the drum sounded like it was in a cavern full of bats. And then a sad vampire started singing from the darkest corner of the cavern. And then the guitarist tried imitating the sounds of a cat crying with the strings. And then Les Claypool played after swallowing a bunch of Tylenol PM with an absinthe chaser. I could see people thinking this song is sexy. Some people, and some fruit bats.

Insight – Atmospherics. I wanna know how many takes it took to make the space-orangutan vocal sound in the background. LASER FIGHT. Just imagined a 3 hour space western in the span of thirty seconds. The bad guy wins. I do remember when I was young, Mr. Curtis. I was smaller, laughed at Mary Poppins for reasons I couldn’t explain, and I had a Puerto Rican friend named Sebastian. We wrote a play together about a troll who owned a trolley line. TROLLey.

New Dawn Fades – No lie, the bassist is propping up this album. That bass sound is fat and sassy and probably gives great hugs and has a day’s worth of jokes. You wanna buy this bass sound a beer and ask it about its kids, except this time you’re actually interested, unlike when you ask your old friends. I’m digging this song. I will definitely make out with my girlfriend to this with some black coconut incense burning in the background.

She’s Lost Control – Whenever the vocals fade I think I hear this robotic murmur beneath the echoing claves. Not sure if I was imagining that. Perhaps the victor of the laser fight? Robotic outlaw with an eyepatch and smokes heinous cigars. Nice, this song has a little attitude. The guitars are rocking, the bass is rolling, the drums are stuck on repeat, like Punxsutawney in Groundhog’s Day. But overall, made me happy.

Shadowplay – It’s cymbal day, all day, here at the CymbalMan Bargain Store. I get the feeling again that this guitarist gets applause at his high school talent show with these quasi-solos, but it’s mostly polite and his parents still clap harder than his girlfriend, who wouldn’t know a smile if she tripped over it. I think I heard the sort of sound effect old radio teleplays used, where some bald spectacled man with a bow-tie would just wiggle some sheet metal as a thunder crash.

Wilderness – In the background there’s a song I could see a grunge band covering, in the foreground a butt wiggling extravaganza. Might have just heard “the blood of Christ on his skin,” which makes me wonder if the guy who stabbed Jesus during his crucifixion was paid well for that sort of work. There must have been a lot of people mad at him. Actions have consequences, I guess. You can learn that from The Bible, or Breaking Bad, if you’re not much of a reader, like me.

Interzone – I’m digging this dusty rock’n’roll vibe. Reminds me of a Nashville Pussy song actually, if they swapped their vocalist for a guy who was raised on David Bowie instead of Ted Nugent. I could also see Rob Zombie liking this song, and combing Sheri Moon’s hair to it while whispering the lyrics to “Dragula” in her ear like secret poetry.

I Remember Nothing – Seriously just dodged like a bullet was fired through my window at me. Terrifying sound effect. Good job, foley guy. “We were strangers,” he says. I’m gonna guess right now that it doesn’t end up with them moving on from strangers to rival book-store owners to reluctant lovers? There’s a chance this song is about a man with a romantic relationship with his family’s heirloom rocking chair, and when someone finds out the immense shame creates such intense inner-conflict that he tears the chair to shreds, then uses the chair parts to break every mirror so he doesn’t have to look at himself. Or maybe it’s not about that at all.

(Editor’s Note: Unsurprisingly, this piece was not accepted into the Joy Division theme issue of Kung Fu Breakfast. Instead, one of my poems will appear in its place.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

REVIEW: NO FEALTY - IN THE SHADOW OF THE MONOLITH


Some band names require no exploration. Death, or Grave, for instance. Standard death metal band names obsessed with mortality. For No Fealty, a political hardcore crust/grind band from Copenhagen, I admittedly had to do a little research. It turns out “fealty” has the following definition: The fidelity, or an oath of loyalty, of a vassal or feudal tenant to their lord. So it’s safe to say that in No Fealty’s world, if you’re one of the 1% you better watch your privileged ass. Combine that with the (awesomely) disturbing cover, and there’s enough fury here to inspire god to eat his cherubs.

Leaning a bit more on the grind side of the spectrum than traditional hardcore punk, No Fealty peel through twelve tracks in about 25+ minutes on In the Shadow of the Monolith. The album title would be perfect for a classic doom album by Candlemass, but it’s just as poignant here, referencing the nearly unfathomable amount of tyranny and oppression we face (and often ignore) daily. Well, this is one album that’s impossible to ignore. Beginning with the pissed-off stomp of “Deprivation,” the album slams ahead like the first furious charge of a rioting crowd. There are plenty of surprises and enlightened moments of texture here, with the thrashy groove of “Strict Seawater Diet” and the chilling, cold-blooded sludge of “Discomposure” being especially memorable. And of course there are the burners that rage forward at a thousand miles an hour, destroying everything casting a shadow; “Animalism” bares its teeth with prominent bass work, “Savior” takes a jab at D-beat punk with Ramming Speed’s intensity, and “Rabies God” closes the album like a smear of blood on a church’s front door.

There are a few choices that don’t work for me, like the momentum-killing audio clips and spacey atmospherics of “The Emperor is Laughing (While You are Making Plans),” and a queasy bridge riff (around 2:15) in “Feed the Leviathan,” but these are minor complaints compared to the overall unruly energy and DIY, buzzsaw-guitar aesthetic the album successfully captures. When No Fealty employs gang vocals (like in “Damnant Quod Non Intelligunt” and “Deprivation”), that manic approach translates even further to a unified voice of unrest and anger. In the Shadow of the Monolith may not be totally revolutionary in style and execution, but it’s definitely the soundtrack of a rebellion. Combining the blazing speed of Weekend Nachos with the political sludgy, hardcore punk of Ravage Ritual, there’s plenty to look forward to in No Fealty’s future, even if humanity’s future doesn’t seem quite as bright.

Listen to In the Shadow of the Monolith, available now as a “name your price” download over at Bandcamp:  http://nofealty.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-shadow-of-the-monolith

And check them out on Facebook for news, including their account of their recent record release show:  https://www.facebook.com/nofealty



Friday, August 9, 2013

REVIEW: GOZU - THE FURY OF A PATIENT MAN


After recently catching Gozu at The Eye of the Stoned Goat festival at The Acheron, Small Stone Recordings were nice enough to send me their most recent album, The Fury of a Patient Man. Let me  be the first to tell you, an album title has seldom fit an album’s sound so well. Mixing explosive metallic riffs with the buzzed fuzz of stoner rock and one of the smoothest croons in loud rock, Gozu’s music absolutely sounds like a guy who’s most often composed finally unleashing his demons and frustrations. Luckily, the result isn’t a crime spree, but a collection of catchy hooks that walks that fine line between melody and aggression with grace and confidence.

“Bald Bull” features the croon I just mentioned, a weapon provided by Marc Gaffney, that approaches falsetto without ever seeming shrill. It’s the epitome of cool, and he helms the album with a rare quiet swagger. This song is the perfect introduction to Gozu’s brand of crunchy rock and captures their style in three and a half minutes that invoke both Fu Manchu and Eagles of Death Metal while remaining a totally separate, unique entity. The album is full of memorable cuts that use pop sensibility while never feeling formulaic. “Charles Bronson Pinchot” blasts with some of the heaviest moments on the album, and even dips into psychobilly (think: Reverend Horton Heat’s “Galaxy 5000”), “Traci Lords” delivers soaring guitars (provided by Gaffney and Doug Sherman) that crash into a haunting stretch of headbanging-inspiring distortion, and “Ghost Wipe” charges ahead with the unpredictable energy of Tomahawk, just amplified one hundred time louder.

There are a few promising songs that have moments of brilliance but don’t fully click: “Disco Related Injury,” besides being my favorite song title in a long god damn while, wastes some killer opening and bridge stoner riffs with a weak chorus, and despite the fun clap-along percussion of “Salty Thumb,” the song never kicks into the next gear. The wild-card on this album is the 23+ minute closer, “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” which rides its riffs like a wave and uses Barry Spillberg’s excellent drumming to escalate the potentially patience-testing song to an experience like a pleasant psychedelic trip on a beach after eating some exotic cactus meat. The song’s extended length is a risk that definitely pays off.

The Fury of a Patient Man is a versatile, dynamic release that displays significant songwriting ability and remains accessible while never betraying its roots as a heavy rock album. Gozu can groove with the likes of Acrimony and Queens of the Stone Age, who also took the foundations of stoner rock and injected the sort of personality and vitality that resulted in landmark albums for the genre. Gozu are absolutely worth your time and attention, and despite crafting songs with super-charged distortion and muscular riffs they’re never less than approachable. It’s the sort of music that acts like a gateway drug to welcome reluctant listeners to heavy music. Also, Gozu might be the band I would most like to watch a movie marathon with, starting with Escape From New York, then Serial Mom, followed by their namesake, and ending with something on the grand scale of the Bronson-starring Once Upon a Time in the West, to match their grandiose closing song. Their movie taste almost matches their musical talent, and that’s high praise from an elitist film school prick like me.

Check out The Fury of a Patient Man on Bandcamp here and purchase it for $10:  http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/the-fury-of-a-patient-man

Also, check out Small Stone for more awesome releases. They’re conveniently having a sale with selected $5 CDs right now, so load up on some good stuff:  http://www.smallstone.com/

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

GUEST REVIEW: NAILS - ABANDON ALL LIFE


Continuing our series of metal reviews by non-metal fans, Mister Growl welcomes back guest reviewer Shane Frasier, Acquired Taste Booking owner and creator of the Behemoth Music Festival (a series of concerts in Upstate New York that recently reached down into Brooklyn). He has also been a member of roughly seven thousand bands, ranging from hardcore punk (Daytime Soiree) to electronic/dance music (Mr. Owl) to eccentric insanity (The Lanky Mofos and The Bumblebees). He was nice enough to accept our invitation and review Nails’ newest album Abandon All Life:

“Every now and then, I need a reminder that life isn't so boring. That something out there, maybe lurking in the shadows, is ready to kick my ass and give me a much needed wake up call. I think I may have found that special something with Nails’ album, Abandon All Life.

Nails combine their love for death metal and grindcore to make a sound I'd liken to a bunch of cannons going off. A bunch of really angry cannons being fired off by a really angry singer. With "Tyrant" and "Abandon All Life,” these guys are able to express everything and anything they need to in only a minute’s time, creating just enough havoc to ensure we don't die from its brutality. "No Surrender" continues this trend of ear-numbing madness, double bass-pedaling itself into your heart with a relentless barrage of metal and fear.

“Wide Open Wound,” which plays more like a traditional death metal song, never succumbs to its similarities, giving me a deeper sense of appreciation of Nails. It's easy to get lost among all the similarities bands possess today, although I believe it is less prevalent in the metal world, but it's nice to know these guys don't play to be like everyone else.

“Suum Cuique,” which clocks in at over 5 minutes (Whhhhhaaaatttt?), proves these guys could become an epic doom metal band at any moment. That's a testament to how much work these guys put into their sound, which, for some, may not be as noticeable as it was to me.

When I told Mr. Growl that I'd like to review something 'brutal' he sent me this. And, uh, yeah, I'd say that's an understatement. Nails are quick and relentless, like a tornado of fists to the face. The album is over before you know it, even with a song like "Suum Cuique" to end the album. If you feel the need to have your bland world rocked, I'd recommend listening to Abandon All Life today.

(Editor’s note: I would have opted for a “sharknado” of fists and dorsal fins.)

Many thanks to Shane for covering this release, and we seem to have some momentum with TWO positive guest reviews in a row. Note to self: Send Shane all crusty grind/d-beat releases we need reviewed.

Stream Abandon All Life over here at Bandcamp and buy it for a well-spent $7.99:  http://nailssl.bandcamp.com/releases

Thursday, August 1, 2013

INTERVIEW: JEAN SAIZ of SHROUD EATER


I reviewed Shroud Eater’s album Dead Ends recently and had a number of adoring things to say, but none more revealing than this: I was undertaking the daunting task of preparing my end-of-year top 40 list for Decibel Magazine (half a year ahead, because I’m an obsessive creep), and Dead Ends is right up there battling in the top 5. Their massively catchy yet crushingly heavy psychedelic sludge deserves all the superlatives it receives. Plus, the band name is nothing less than bad-ass; a “shroud eater” was a type of vampire thought to bite through the burial cloak and rise from the dead to terrorize and spread disease, so during burials the suspected vampire would have a brick placed in their mouth between their jaws.

I was able to catch up with Shroud Eater guitarist and co-vocalist Jean Saiz and ask a few questions about Dead Ends, her own visual artwork, and shady motel rooms. Read on for possible murder scenes and more:

Mister Growl: What was the songwriting process for Dead Ends, and did it differ from the process of ThunderNoise?

Jean: With our first album, ThunderNoise, Janette and myself had a bulk of songs already written from the purgatory-like state of not being in a slowly disintegrating band. When Felipe joined us and we formed Shroud Eater, there was an adjustment period for all of us, just getting used to new musical influences and directions and so we just went with it. The result, in retrospect, is a little scattered and lacked a definitive focus. For Dead Ends, we had written on our whiteboard “MORE MOOD, MORE GROOVE,” as the overall feel for the record. When we started writing the songs, I would practice at home with Janette on our acoustics. Then I’d go over to Felipe and show him the songs acoustically, and he had a hand-held drum where he would figure out his tempos and basic beats. The idea was to strip all the superfluous stuff out, and just get to the core of whatever worked best for the spirit of the song and where it was guiding us. We worked like this for a bit, and when we finally took the songs to our warehouse and plugged in, there were parts where it was like, “This riff or fill or guitar lick or whatever is okay, but it’s extra. Let’s take it out and make the song stronger.” So we did a lot of pre-production in that sense but the three of us are pleased with the result. Dead Ends is a much more honed-in attack in general than ThunderNoise.

Mister Growl: When it comes to lyrics, what is your writing approach and do you have a song whose words remain your favorite?

Jean: Writing comes in bursts to me, and Janette as well. I’m influenced usually by something that pisses me off (this happens often). I like to read books a lot, fiction, philosophy, poetry, esoteric stuff … it all comes into play somehow. I have at least three separate notebooks -- one for lyrics/song ideas, another for my sketches, another one for random thoughts and observations on the world -- so when I sit down to put words to a song, usually it’s combining things I’ve written at various points and various books into one somewhat cohesive structure. I think “Sudden Plague” (which actually Janette wrote) has one of my favorite lines, which goes: “Heavy head has been mislead - Treading faster as we go, echoes fade and silence grows, casting demons as we lay, a tangled deed a sudden plague.” The song is about being torn in multiple directions, people deceiving you under the pretense of guiding you, and how those decisions eventually bear upon you in a negative way. We were going through a shitty year and I just really love how well she penned it.

Mister Growl: You've mentioned before that Matt Pike was a huge musical inspiration for you. What's the key to working on a serious Pike bellow as a vocalist?

Jean:
20% Whiskey drinking.
20% Green smoking.
20% Barking/yelling at my dogs.
40% Screaming angrily at terrible Miami drivers.

Mister Growl: Between the artistic presentation of each releases and the lyrical imagery of the songs, Shroud Eater's music seems perfect for the music video format. Any plans to shoot one in the future?

Jean: YES! Well, there’s definitely a lot of ideas. That’s a big problem for us; lots of ideas, not much time/money to execute. The songs have a mood and a bit of a story behind them, and on my list of “Shit to Stress Over”, storyboarding a video is somewhere in the middle. Janette has tons of ideas too, although her ideas involve some sort of choreographed dancing. In my head, I see a video that is somewhere between David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, and Quentin Tarantino. In other words: Dark, weird, and bad-ass. It would definitely involve some witchery, perhaps some fast cars, and maybe a little bit of booty dancing. We’re from Miami, after all.

Mister Growl: In a past interview you mentioned (bassist/co-vocalist) Janette was hounding you to start a website promoting your graphic design and illustration work. Do you have an online portfolio now, and if not, do I have permission to hound you about it as well?

Jean: HA! Yes, actually I am currently doing three things: writing my answers to this interview, eating my lunch, and working on the Primitive Violence website! In the past year, well with the release of Dead Ends, I started a record label focusing on cassette releases with cool, limited edition packaging. The first release was Shroud Eater, and the second release (another fantastic Miami band, Orbweaver) is coming up this Friday, August 2nd (pedal to the metal!). So, in the interest of maintaining my sanity, I decided to combine the cassette label with my illustration and design work, so I am now the happy, stressed, and a little frazzled founder of Primitive Violence Records & Visual. Music and art/design are so interwoven to me that it just made sense to combine the two into one entity. For the time being, the visual aspect of the site serves as a portfolio but I plan to do prints and artwork under the name, and the more the music reaches people, so does my artwork and vice versa. I’m not sure if it makes sense outside of my head but this is what I’m working with.

Mister Growl: You had some trouble with your van during a recent tour, a problem that plagues pretty much every hard-working band somewhere along the road. Just wondering if you could mention the history of your uncooperative van and other obstacles bands face on the road.

Jean: Ah, Big Red has always been a trooper. On our last tour, we had taken her in for servicing since we would be on the road for two weeks. Well, serviced she was and goddamn did I pay for it. By the time we rolled into Philly, we noticed Red was driving funny, and though she tried to get us to safe harbor, she died on an empty intersection at 3 AM a few blocks from Kung Fu Necktie. Red’s always been good to us and although we spent a grueling 2 days missing shows, we were back on the road and she was driving fine. Van problems are definitely an issue, as is not getting paid, or a show not getting promoted, or playing to no one at a bar, or band/venue/sound people flying off the handle, or a local (and only opening) band cancelling on you last minute. We experienced ALL of those things last tour, but it’s something that as a DIY band you have to come to expect. You have good shows, you have great shows, you have shitty shows, you have shows where you question why you’re spending another decade of your life doing this shit... It comes with the territory, and at the end of the day, it’s just fucking fun to do this. Plain and simple.

Mister Growl: What was the craziest/strangest story from touring the past year?

Jean: Well, it’s not particularly crazy, but the first night of our last tour, we played in Savannah and needed a safe place to crash. We ended up driving a bit and grabbed a super cheap hotel. When inside, it looked alright, but then our tourmates Holly Hunt noticed the box spring on their mattress had a curiously large type of red stain. We looked at our mattress, and there was also a curiously large type of red stain- did we stay in a Double-Murder-Motel-Room??? Possibly. When Janette (who found the hotel) read the Yelp reviews the next morning, it was a litany of “DON’T STAY HERE. SHUT THIS PLACE DOWN. ONLY STAY FOR A GAY HOOKUP OR DRUGS” and stuff like that. We were happy we made it out in one piece and all our gear was safe.

Mister Growl: What's the Miami music scene like these days?

Jean: The scene here is thriving. There’s not a unified scene really of sludge/doom bands like other places in the states, but there are a handful of bands and most people are very supportive of each other. We are fortunate that for the past few years, more and more bigger name bands have been making the trek all the way down to Miami, which has certainly been great for the scene here, whether you’re into punk, grind, metal, doom or what have you. Things are pretty cool right now.

Mister Growl: What's up next for Shroud Eater?

Jean: Well in a few days we are doing another little regional tour through Florida with our friends in Orbweaver and Hollow Leg. Both bands have new albums out and are quite good. After this little tour, August remains relatively quiet and then we are taking off again the first week of September. We are SUPER excited to be playing Mutants of the Monster Fest III, a great festival put together by C.T. from Rwake. We are playing on Sunday so we have a tour booked there and back. We’ve been working on new material, and between my work schedule, Janette’s work schedule, and her other band, we have a ton of riffs and arrangements but only a handful of it is really solid right now. We are working towards tightening up our new songs and making plans to record a full length. Nothing is set in stone but there are a lot of ideas percolating, lots of stuff in the ether that just needs to materialize. We work slowly, we take our time, but slow and steady wins the race.

Many thanks to Jean for her time, and interrupting her lunch for us Growlers. If you haven’t listened to Dead Ends then hop off whatever horse you’re riding and listen to this mean piece of business over here, also available as a $5 download at Bandcamp:  http://shroudeater.bandcamp.com/releases