Friday, January 30, 2015

Grant's Tomb - Waxing Poetic: Beyond The Making Of The CARE EP

You all know someone like this. They sit at home, at coffee shops, on the toilet, with their phones, tablets or computers, reposting and sharing memes, petitions, and edgy blogs all in the name of the unholy social media god Activism. Comfortably in their pressed shirts or sweatpants, it doesn’t matter, you all know someone like this: Spreading fear, misinformation and flat out lies. It’s a social pandemic, especially among my generation (the so-called “Millennials”), its rallying cry a hash-tag. You saw it with the Occupy movement; a movement that any honest person would recognize amounted to less than a bowel in the grand scheme of things. It’s a way for them to say “I’m doing something about injustice!” without actually doing anything.

I’ve never been a huge fan of overtly political music, mostly because none of it aligned with my own views, but mainly because those kinds of bands always became a caricature of themselves. When Rage Against the Machine espouses the evils of capitalism, but turns around and sells a box set for over $100.00, you have to stop and go “huh, something isn’t adding up here.”  

Before we even had a drummer, Joe and I would spend a lot of our Friday nights working on music together. One song that he brought to the table early on was a fast and short slab of punk rock that cut out all of the filler found in modern hardcore. In its initial stages, the song barely broke the minute mark. As the song progressed and we had more band members in on the writing sessions, it extended out to just over 2 minutes. A perfect length if there ever was one. 

When picking song titles, I never tried to take things too seriously and have fun with it. Some of our previous working titles have included such gems as “Tacocat is Tacocat” and “False Meat,” but with this one, I knew I wanted to make a statement, even if we didn’t have any lyrics written for the song. 

There is an individual that members of our band, myself included, have had dealings with over the years. I believe deep down that this person has a good heart, but at the end of the day the first paragraph in this entry sums up their use of social media. Things like Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, and YouTube are all great tools. They allow the sharing of ideas and thoughts to happen freely and instantaneously, but they can also be abused. This person was an abuser and they would viciously attack anyone who didn’t agree with them. Instead of being able to articulate a single thought, they resorted to personal attacks. Ad hominem much? We agreed on the title “Armchair Activist.”

Panthallasa at House of Bricks in June of 2014 Photo by Bigfoot Diaries
 (Click to enlarge)

I’m sure I had heard that phrase somewhere else before, but I couldn’t tell you where. It’s a direct title and it leaves its meaning up to no question: someone who sits in a chair and talks about all of the problems in the world, how they should or could be fixed, but doesn’t actually do anything about it. The music fits the title perfectly. From the start, the song kicks into high gear and is really a testament to the speed and dexterity of Joe’s playing ability. 

I’ve stated before what an awful guitar player I am, well maybe not awful, but certainly not the greatest. This song is fast, I can’t stress that enough, and while I can’t tell you the exact bpm, I can tell you that when we went to record the song I wasn’t comfortable actually playing the rhythm track on it. The great thing about playing in a band with such talented musicians is we always have a contingency plan in place. Dan, our bassist, graciously stepped up to the task and recorded both the rhythm guitar and the bass tracks on this tune. This wouldn’t hinder us however; I had actually been using my down time from playing the song to incorporate electronics into the song. For my part, I wanted to add in sounds that would keep the song on edge and almost uncomfortable. I used a white noise filter and something resembling air raid sirens as well as a bass synth to keep the song menacing without overpowering the strings. 

Our drummer Shane is a gift that keeps giving. Not only is he one of the greatest drummers I’ve ever heard locally, but he’s (and he’d probably laugh this off) an extremely poetic lyricist. He nailed the theme of the song perfectly with the lyrics. He captured the sarcasm and “holier than thou” attitude that I was looking for. I’m sure Matt may have rephrased some sections of the song, but they remained largely untouched.

Shane Mills is a gift that keeps on giving. Photo by Bigfoot Diaries
“Armchair” is a real barn burner and its one of my favorite tracks to go back and listen to. Our producer, Griffin, added in the guitar noises/feedback to bridge it to the next song…

Sequencing any release is an under-appreciated part of putting something together. Forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but an improperly sequenced album or ep can be disastrous for the listener. For the kind of music we play, front loading an album (or in this case ep) with the heavier or louder songs would leave the listener winded by the time they got to the more subdued and softer tunes. The opposite is also true; by putting the more melodic leaning songs up front, it could potentially lull the listener to sleep when the primary goal should be to have them actively listening and enjoying the music. 

In the 11th hour before we went to record I sprung a new song on the guys that I really wanted to include on this release, however I knew it was going to increase the recording budget and add more stress on the guys by them having to learn a new song with less than a month to go before tracking started. The guys were gracious enough, agreeing to add it to the recording. 

The song itself was written in a single afternoon, on a hot Sunday in August. I had some free time that afternoon after church and I jammed through it without over thinking a single part of it. I’ve always felt that the best songs capture an intense moment of passion, be it guilt, love, anger, fear or even sorrow and I’ve tried to convey whatever emotion it is I am feeling into my writing. It’s another fast punk rock anthem that has very sludgy ending. I had several ideas for the title, but in keeping with the spirit of not over thinking things, I opened up a search engine and typed in random words eventually landing on something called a “Skinwalker.” 

I’m an avid fan of the horror fiction genre, be it video games like Silent Hill, the original Resident Evil or movies like Dawn of the Dead or The Thing, something about it gets my adrenalin pumping. Skinwalkers primarily show up in Native American folklore and there was even a case of a lawyer suing someone accused of being one. I didn’t want the title to be directly influential on the lyrics, and instead went with “Skinwalk and Rupture.” It leaves a bit of mystery and ambiguity to the title of the song and also serves as a break between the two very distinct sections of the piece.

Guitarist Joe Curry: Photo by the Bigfoot Diaries

Lyrically the song is a continuation of “Armchair,” but on a broader level. The line “Can you form your own opinion without parroting everything you read” is the greatest indictment of my generation; even I’m guilty of it at times. Matt actually flipped the lyrics around between the bridge and the chorus to fit the song better, it kept the message intact which was pretty cool. 

Something that I feel is missing in punk rock, hardcore and metal is music with substance. We’ve made a conscious decision to never push a message on our listeners, but instead to have them question themselves. Why do you believe what you believe? Is it because they were your family’s values or your own? And if these beliefs are yours, do you hold them sacred or just when it suits your own needs and desires?

By Grant Peter


Panthallasa is having it's EP Release Party on Valentine's Day at the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines. It's a 5:00 show and will include The Maw and Creation Complex. $10 gets you in the door plus a copy of the EP.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Five Question's With... Ben Crew of In Defence

In Defence from Minneapolis will be bringing their tooth chippin' style of DIY thrash punk to the Underground Rock Shop on Tuesday, February 3rd. This early show (doors at 5:00) will be a great opportunity to get out and relieve some of that pent up winter stress.

While they like to joke that they are rip-off artists, In Defence purely does things like nobody else. Other bands eat pizza... In Defence prefers tacos. Other bands fear the law... In Defence thinks The Police are rad. (Well, technically they are referring to the band, The Police.) Other bands encourage moshing, In Defence coaches the the circle pit method. Most bands spell "Defense" with an "S"... In Defence uses a "C."

The show on Tuesday night promises to be a night to remember, and frankly, the kick in the teeth that Des Moines severely needs. Other acts on the bill are Ghostbusters, Nancy Grace Death Squad, Dark Mirror and Traffic Death.

I was able to chat with Ben Crew - the man in front of the band - and ask him a few questions.

Do you believe in the mental trick of spoon bending?

Yes. I believe in the power of the mind and the power we have to bend spoons and shape our reality. This is a very deep subject. I'm surprised you started out by asking it. If I took time to elaborate I'd never get to the other questions so I'm gonna move on now. But we can talk meta physics and perceptions of reality later.

Rumor has it that you gave Fat Mike a tattoo once?

Um... I think you've might have heard several  different stories.... I was on tour with Dillinger Four and NOFX. The guitar tech for NOFX had a tattoo gun and gave me a tattoo at the last day of the tour. I am also in the NOFX video for "Seeing Double At The Triple Rock" but that has nothing to do with tattoos... but one time In Defence played a tattoo parlor in Texas. It was wild. I ended up naked. This guitar tech dude whipped my ass with a studded belt. It bled. He was so amazed that I took it like a bad-ass that he made me give him a tattoo right there at the shop. I should let you know I'm not a tattoo artist. I never gave a tattoo before or since. But it sounds cooler to tell people I gave Fat Mike a tattoo so lets keep spreading that rumor.

Tattoo given by Ben Crew to Guitar tech dude

Tell me another punk rock story.

Oh shit... There are so many but now that you asked my mind is blank. Oh... I made out with the singer from GWAR once! We'll... We kissed... ok I kissed him...  but he wanted me to. Ok it's really not that exciting. In Defence was playing a show in Richmond. Gwar lives there. I was told that they might be at the show but I didn't know anybody or what they looked like with out their costumes. So I was getting nervous. I didn't know what to do. I'm like if Gwar is here and everybody else here has seen Gwar and Municipal Waste and Lamb of God and all these other awesome bands from Richmond there is no way in hell we are gonna impress anyone. Cuz once you get to taste the best everything else just tastes bland ya know?! So I'm like ok fuck this! My new goal is to make these people unimpressed as fuck. I want to underwhelm the shit out of these people. I want them to leave and go "that was terrible... the worst show I've ever seen... wow that band stinks". So I get up on stage as we are about to play and start taking off my clothes. Not in a sexy way.  Kinda like the way an out of shape depressed middle aged man would... Then I start talking to the audience about how depressed I am. How my life was a failure. How I had no real family and this band was just a way for me to try and get some attention. Try to get someone to love me.... I was really trying to weird these people out. Then a voice rang out from the audience "I'll love you!" So I walked into the crowd and started kissing him. He came up to me after we got done and introduced himself as Dave Brockie (Orderus Urungus) lead singer for the band Gwar. He was like "our bands should tour together sometime! I think it would be fun."

What's the most interesting experience you have ever had that involved a cop?

The most interesting experience I've had with a cop was when In Defence was playing a house show in Kansas City. The police came to shut it down. Then somebody gave them a copy of our record and told them we had a song called "The Police Are Fucking Rad!" and they were like "we'll I guess we can let you guys play". So they left and show was raging!

If music didn't exist, what would you be doing?

Sitting on the couch watching the TV show  "Its Always Sunny"  over and over and over again.

I wanna live to be 100. Got any advice for me?

I have no clue. I just turned 40 this year but I still feel like a kid inside and I do stupid shit a teenager would do just cuz it's fun. My mom died when I was 13 years old. I learned at a young age you never know how long you got so you gotta make what you got count! Apparently I just do stupid shit. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Chattanooga's STRUNG LIKE A HORSE To Release "FREE" Album

After a few years mesmerizing countless audiences on the road with a unique brand of gypsy punk inspired bluegrass music Strung Like a Horse are proud to announce their first full length studio album, “FREE.”  

The band is employing kickstarter, a crowd-funding site to raise the funds to properly release and duplicate their latest work. To help spread the word they are releasing a zany and captivating rib-tickling video folks are bound to watch over and over. At press time, they have received almost 2/3 of the amount they need. 

The two previous releases from the band, “Live at Lindsay Street,” and “Glad,” have been well received both in the US and in Europe.  In their new work, Strung Like a Horse has chosen to expand their palate and explore more diverse soundscapes.  For example the title track “FREE” is a bouncing melodic anthem with a nostalgic feel, while “Trailer Park Astronaut”  is a slow bizarre ballad.

Strung Like a Horse (Press Photo)
Current fans will identify with the fast-paced violent humor in “Prequel” and “Horizontal,” and the slightly naughty swing tune “Dangly Bits.” All in all, “FREE” is a well-paced album with world wide appeal and a bargain at any price.


Strung Like A Horse Official

Strung Like A Horse on Facebook

Strung Like A Horse on Twitter

Sunday, January 18, 2015

UK Band Astronauts to Release "In My Direction" on January 19

Those Brits and their silly one man psychedelic bands!

The Bevis Frond fooled me for years into thinking that they were a five piece outfit - a fact I'm not ashamed to admit. After all, if a band sounds like a multiple unit ensemble, why would one assume otherwise?

Dan Carney, aka Astronauts
The same can be said for Astronauts, or Dan Carney as he is also known as in the London music scene. He enjoyed a fruitful 2014 with the release of his debut single "Skydive" which hit No. 3 on the Hype Machine, gathering 150,000 hits in a week via his Soundcloud page. This set the table for the well-received debut album 'Hollow Ponds', and the recent mini-collection of extras, the 'Four Songs EP', which made the UK iTunes homepage in its first week of release.

The year ended with his song "Flame Exchange" being used to soundtrack the popular French TV program Rendez-Vous En Terre Inconnue, to an estimated audience of six million.

Now, Astronauts is set to release a new single, "In My Direction" on January 19th. This haunting melodic demon plays like the backdrop to a dream, with whimsical dwellings of folk and and pop swirling around Carney's respired vocals.

"In My Direction" is embedded with a remix of the ‘Hollow Ponds’ track "Everything’s A System, Everything’s A Sign" written by Kieran Mahon, an ambient composer and a long time friend of Dan's. It tiptoes in subtlety, never formally announcing it's presence - yet it's obviously there, if only in glimpses.

The video features Armenian actor Andranik Lavchyan and was created by Manana Films (also Armenian), after contacting Dan earlier this year about doing a collaboration. In it, Lavchyan looms in a ridiculous manner, skirting around the capital Yerevan, appearing rhythmic but strange to those he encounters. It's very cleverly made and it captures a deep European feel.

The single has collected over 3,000 hits on Youtube, despite not being formally released. It's safe to say that 2015 is primed to be another great year for Astronauts. The sky is the limit.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Music Legend Kim Fowley Dead at 75

Kim Fowley died yesterday in West Hollywood, California after a long battle with bladder cancer. He was 75 years old. As a record producer, he is perhaps best known for the work he did with the Runaways, an all-female band from the early '70 that launched the careers of Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Cherie Curie.

Fowley kept the world up to date about the condition of his health via posts on his personal Facebook page. That page is now blank. Sadly, he was recently married, to Kara Wright. We will post more info as we learn more. RIP. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Des Moines Skywalk Mystery: When Exactly Did The Who Play Vets Auditorium?

Out here in the fields, we fight for what's real... 

The Who played a historic concert in Des Moines sometime during the '70s but there seems to be some confusion as to when it actually happened. 

The concert is noteworthy for a variety of reasons. 13,534 fans paid to see this iconic show which goes down as the biggest crowd to attend an event at Vets. Also, an equipment failure stopped the show cold in it's tracks for about 20 minutes, and The Who had to retreat to their dressing rooms while things got patched back together. It's also been said that The Who themselves came out after the show and greeted those who remained at the front of the stage.

The Who in Des Moines (Photo by Brad Harvey)
(Click to enlarge)

Brad Harvey was a sophomore at Drake in '75 and he and three friends - one from Chicago, as Chicago's show was sold out - attended the concert together in Des Moines.

"The official word was that Entwistle's amps blew out and the show was interrupted for about 20 minutes while repairs were made," Harvey recalls, referring to The Who's bass player. "When they came back onstage they said they would continue with the complete show but they didn't do the usual section from Quadrophenia."

Doug Diaz, who also attended the concert remembers Keith Moon saying that the failure of Entwistle's rig "probably blew out the whole town."

One can only assume that Des Moines, Iowa seemed like a small town to a band like The Who in 1975. And as loud as they were known for playing, it's not hard to imagine their sound carrying all the way to Valley Junction. The fact that John Entwistle blew his amp out might not be so unique. It probably happened often on the 1975 tour, but it is cool that it happened at Vets Auditorium, which has become a pillar of rock and roll history.

A placard in the skywalk commemorates the night The Who played
although the date appears to be wrong. (Click to enlarge)
Currently on the west side of the building where the Auditorium meets the skywalk, there is a placard on the wall that describes the evening. It goes into small detail about the equipment failure and the size of the crowd. What is confusing is the date on the placard, which says that the concert occurred on December 2, 1977. There is no other record of The Who playing anywhere in Iowa in '77.

According to Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958-1978 (Written by Andy Neill and Matt Kent) the band played at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, on December 2nd, 1975. It's easy to see where the mistake is - the person who designed the placard simply got the year wrong.

However, the confusion doesn't end there. In a timeline constructed by The Des Moines Register in 2005 of concerts that occurred at "The Barn," as Vets came to be known due to it's barn-like shape, it lists The Who playing in 1975, but on December 1st.

Ticket display in the skywalk.
(Click to enlarge)
This date is backed up by a giant ticket display that in on the wall just a few steps south of the (old) main entrance to Vets in the skywalk where the placards are. 

The wall is filled with replicas of ticket stubs of concerts that took place at Vets. There is one ticket stub from the concert in question, but it is cut-off and we are unable to see it in it's entirety. However a "1" is clearlt visible, as well as "1975." In other words, the ticket stub replica emulates the same date as the Des Moines Register article (December 1, 1975.)

Now that everybody is thoroughly confused, it gets even more complicated. The website has The Who playing a concert at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium on December 2nd, 1975, which essentially brings us full circle. I think it is safe to say that the concert occurred in '75, but on which date - December 1st, or 2nd?

A partial ticket replica on display in the skywalk.
(Click to enlarge)

So yeah. Confused yet? 

To recap, here is what we just covered:

The placard at the old entrance of Vets has The Who playing on December 2, 1977.

The book, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who has the band playing at Vets on December 2nd, 1975.

The timeline supplied by The Des Moines Register lists the Who as having had played on December 1, 1975, as does the replica ticket on display in the skywalk. records the concert as taking place on December 2, 1975.

I guess until an actual bona-fide ticket stub appears, we should just assume that the concert happened at some point in early December of '75. I'm leaning towards the 2nd, because it seems to me that a published book would have it's facts straight, and this date is "verified" by the setlists website. It should also be noted that other tickets on the skywalk replica display have inconsistencies, such as the misspelling of band names, etc. Maybe accuracy wasn't high on the list of things they were looking for when they hired the display makers.

Other ticket replicas have inconsistencies as well, such as misspelled words.
Molly Hatchet is clearly spelled wrong. Another has Loverboy as two words.

We do know that a helluva concert occurred at Vets Auditorium featuring The Who. It drew a record sized crowd and experienced an unexpected break, and for those who hung around long enough afterward perhaps even a chance to meet the legendary band.

Brad Harvey wonders if this event made a lasting impact on The Who. "They never came back to Vets after that, he states. "They did play at Hilton Coliseum in Ames and the Unidome in Cedar Falls."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Book Review: Every Night's a Saturday Night by Bobby Keys

My life has been unrehearsed as a hiccup. - Bobby Keys, in Every Night's A Saturday Night.

With the death of Bobby Keys on December 2nd of last year, I was moved to read his autobiography, Every Night's A Saturday Night. It's the first book I've read in a long time that kept me awake all night because I couldn't put it down.

In it, Keys tells the story of his amazing life and his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time  - an act he acknowledges happened often throughout his life.

From having an aunt who lived across the street from Buddy Holly while he was growing up in Lubbock, Texas in the late '50 to the contacts he made that created interludes with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, B.B. King, and others in the '60s, Bobby Keys has experienced quite a journey. His collaborations with Delaney and Bonnie eventually led to the time he put in with the Rolling Stones during the '70s (and beyond) which is what he is most known for. Bobby Keys makes the statement that if you talk to one musician you will be told about two other musicians, and he made his living by connecting potential dots and creating an uncanny chain of events.

Not many musicians can say that they started out at rock and roll ground zero  - and were able to maintain a career that spotlighted them among the most iconic figures in music history. Keys himself compares his life to that of Forest Gump's, and reading the book, you begin to wonder if Keys himself is in disbelief as he recants his life story. Not that his stories are unbelievable - I have no doubt that they are true - but you get the sense that as he tells his story, he begins to wonder if he hasn't lived the life of a movie character.

Obviously his tenure with the Stones lasted the longest and it's what he is most known for. But to have had the experience of watching Buddy Holly play in his garage, and to have the chance to live and/or tour with the likes of King Curtis, Duane Eddy, Fats Domino, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, and Joe Cocker... well damn. What needs to be said? It's amazing that this book is only 266 pages long and not 2660 pages.

Photo from the book: Bobby during the recording
of Exile on Main Street, in France, 1971. 

His book is a tell-all rock and roll adventure that doesn't waste time with boring details of childhood. Keys gets right to the meat and potatoes. Shamelessly, he wastes no time telling his stories and he doesn't flinch when it comes to naming names, especially in association to the illegal drugs that were prevalent during the golden age of rock and roll.

For instance Keys mentions Dan Aykroyd only once in the book in reference to a gig he was playing with the New Barbarians: "We were introduced onstage by Dan Aykroyd," he wrote, "a guy who's always got good pot. He's a big, big pot head."

More so, he relented stories of the times he hung with Keith Richards which surprisingly weren't as scathing as one might imagine. While it's assumed that Keith Richards prefers the hard stuff, Keys doesn't bring it up very often in Saturday Night. The portrait he paints of Richards is that of a hard working, heavy drinking gentleman who enjoys smoking a lot of weed. Heroin and cocaine are brought up occasionally in the book, but mostly it's in reference to his own use, not that of the other Stones. He does however provide a rare glimpse at what life was like on the road with the world's greatest rock band, and while it got crazy at times - and there are great, hilarious stories - it was mostly run as a strict corporate enterprise.  

As I said, Keys goes into detail about his own drug use and especially heroin and the derailment it caused him. It eventually led him to quitting the Stones during the late '70s, and it was Keith who tried to persuade him to stay. Keith said point blankly, "Nobody quits the Stones!" In Saturday Night, Keys claims that he is the only person who quit the Stones and was was eventually let back onboard. But of course it came at a cost. While Keith welcomed him back with open arms, Mick never really seemed to forgive him for leaving.

Every Night's A Saturday Night is a great read for fans of the Rolling Stones, rock and roll historians, or anyone who likes a fun, candid, honest read. It also contains rare photographs that seem to have appeared exclusively for this book. Keys comes off as boastful at times, but humble and apologetic at others. Mostly he seems genuinely gracious for the life that he has been able to live and for the amazing people who helped carry him through it. 

My only regret is that I waited until his death to read it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Story Behind The Song: "Have You Got It Yet?" By Pink Floyd

Imagine being taught a new song only to have it be ever changing, so that just when you think you have it learned, the person teaching you the song comes in and changes virtually everything you've just been taught about it.

That's exactly what happened in early 1968 right around the time David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd. Gilmour had been a friend of Syd Barrett since childhood, and had become very aware of Barrett's progression into a hermetic lifestyle. While once a prolific songwriter and composer, Barrett had become completely indulgent on LSD and his status within the band was quickly diminishing. It got to a point where IF Barrett would show up at a gig, he'd wander around the stage, only occasionally picking up a guitar and being a part of the group. He became a sideshow, which the audiences loved, but the band began to resent it.

Appearing with Pink Floyd on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, Barrett became terse while answering questions, coming off as rude. As a guest on Pat Boone's show, he ignored questions all together and just offered a mute stare into the camera lens, refusing to say anything at all. Nick Mason later said, "Syd wasn't into moving his lips that day."

The other band members eventually had enough of Barrett's antics and, in January of 1968, when Roger Waters was driving on the way to a show at Southampton University, the band elected not to pick Barrett up. 

One person in the car said, "Shall we pick Syd up?" and another said, "Let's not bother." Up until then, Barrett had been the primary composer of the band's material, and the initial plan was to keep him in the group as a non-touring member - as The Beach Boys had done with Brian Wilson - but this soon proved to be impractical. Gilmour subsequently became a full-time member of the band, replacing Barrett on guitar and vocals.

The Mad Hatter got the last laugh however. According to Waters, Barrett came into what would be their last rehearsal session together with a new song. He was calling it, "Have You Got It Yet?,"  and the first couple times they ran through it, it seemed simple enough. Soon the band realized that the song wasn't simple at all - Barrett would change the melody and the arrangement constantly with each new practice run - slightly at first, but more and more each time they played it. Barrett would play it again for them, with the capricious structure changes, and each time he would ask, "Have you got it yet?"

Of course, the band never did quite get it, as they were chasing the proverbial carrot on the string. Eventually they realized that they had become victims of Barrett's eccentric sense of humor. In fact Waters stated, in an interview for The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story, that upon realizing Barrett was deliberately making the tune impossible to learn, he put down his bass guitar, left the room, and never attempted to play with Barrett again. Waters had called it "a real act of mad genius".

The song was never recorded by Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Meanwhile, In A Sleepy Bedroom On New Years Day...

The first memorable thing I did in 2015 was, I broke a tooth.

Lucky me.

I woke up after sleeping in, grabbed a protein bar and bit into it. The tooth broke off on impact and fell out of my mouth. I heard it as it hit the wooden floor. It had been damaged for some time, and was becoming a serious nuisance. I knew it was cracked, but I wasn't sure how badly. I guess I found out.

For now, I'll be eating handfuls of ibuprofen to curb the pain. I realize that eventually I will have to seek out a dentist. Meanwhile I am going to enjoy some tooth-chipping thrash metal.

In Defence will be play the Underground Rock Shop sometime in early February. Stay tuned.


In Defence on Facebook

Thursday, January 1, 2015

On Christmas Day Panthallasa Releases First Single, "Skinwalk and Rupture."

On Christmas day, Panthallasa released "Skinwalk and Rupture," the first single from their highly anticipated EP, "Care."

"Care" will be available on February 14 as Panthallasa headlines an event at the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines. $10 will get you in the door plus a free copy of the new EP. The Maw and The Creation Complex will also perform.


Facebook event page

Grant's Tomb: Panthallasa and The Nerve Wrecking Process of Recording

Recording is nerve wrecking. It’s one thing to bash through a song during rehearsal, but to actually sit there with an engineer or producer while you fumble through your parts can be extremely embarrassing.

When it came time to record our first demos, on the advice of Brad West from Heartland/ex-They Will Repent, I sought out Griffin Landa who owns and operates The Establishment Recording Studios. I’d known of Griffin with his prior time playing in Too Pure to Die, and currently Shut In (also featuring one of my favorite vocalists, Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain) and IVA, but I’d never actually met him. I had no idea what kind of a person he was or how he ran things.

Admittedly, I am not the greatest guitar player, not by a long shot. Other than our drummer, I’m probably the least qualified to even be holding a guitar in the band (both my vocalist and bassist actually went to school to learn and play classical guitar), but I had at least learned my way around the instrument enough to know what I was doing.

So, here we were, going to recording with a guy who has toured across the States (and most likely outside of the U.S.), produced and engineered several local and regional bands and I had to play in front of him, a guy who has seen the best of the best play their instruments. To a click. The click is the mortal enemy of any person who can’t count, and I cannot. The running joke is that when I bring a riff to rehearsal, I’m the one who asks everyone else what time signature it’s in.  Fortunately for us, myself especially, Griffin is one of the easiest going people you’ll ever meet. Never a harsh or condescending word left his mouth during the initial recording sessions for the first three songs. It had been such a positive experience we knew he was definitely the guy to do our first official release.

Matthew Burkett of Panthallasa (Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
I’ve always had an affinity for electronic music, industrial especially. I still remember the first time I heard “Adios” by KMFDM and the chills it gave me with the swirling electronics and machine like guitar riffage. We have three guitars players in the band, including our vocalist, and from the first rehearsals I made it clear I wanted to incorporate some form of electronics into our brand of aggressive music. I wanted to add texture to a genre that in my mind had gone stale by relying too heavily on drop tunings and mindless chugging.

We had been jamming a song since our first rehearsals as a full band that was far different from anything else we were doing, it had more in common with Nine Inch Nails or Massive Attack than it did the obvious Botch or Deftones worshiping the other songs had, but when we first started playing it we weren’t entirely sure it would actually be recorded in a studio. It started randomly enough one rehearsal, I had been messing around with electronic drum software on my laptop that I was running through a bass amp and our vocalist, Matt, started playing these two chords on his guitar with the reverb on his amp cranked all the way up. It was an extremely haunting melody. After Joe, our other guitarist, added his part and the live drums came in, I switched over to an organ snyth using the same software to avoid having too much percussive sounds going on and muddying up the tune. The first few runs of the song stretched out to about 10 minutes oddly enough…it was just so hypnotic and catchy.

Joe Curry of Panthallasa (Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
For shows we managed to cut it down to just over five minutes and used it as our opener to draw people to the front before we pulled a one-eighty and starting playing our noisy tunes, however we still didn’t have lyrics or a title. As a joke (you’ll notice how this becomes a recurring theme), I suggested we call the song “Closer” because we played it as our opener. The title stuck.

When the song is played live, the electronic drum intro that I play is completely live. I should probably explain: I’m physically pressing down on the pad to trigger the sounds for each and every bar of the phrase instead of looping them or playing a pre-recorded sample. It’s kind of a backwards approach, but every time I’ve tried looping it or triggering a sample, something gets lost in the translation of the part.

Recording the song proved to be a lot less complicated than I initially anticipated. The actual drum phrase was played twice and then looped for the rest of its respective part in the song. The next section of the song features a slight guitar break before the main chorus kicks in. For that section, Joe, Matt and I are all playing guitar. I used a Boss OC-3 octave pedal to add more texture and thickness to it. All in all, I probably only play guitar on that  song for around 10-15 seconds, other than that it’s all Joe and Matt (Matt even plays the incredibly tasty lead towards the end). Dan nailed his bass line for the song, its silky smooth and has a very R&B flow to it. Just what the doctor ordered. If a remix of this track were ever to be attempted (hint hint), I’d direct the primary focus to be on his lines. My favorite part of the song however occurs within the last few seconds. Our drummer, Shane, starts an incredibly on top of the beat snare pattern that just grooves. It is so fun to listen to and the space that Griffin utilizes for recording works perfectly to capture Shane’s drum sounds.

I can’t comment on the lyrics because I didn’t write them, that credit would have to go to Joe. I do know they are probably the most personal lyrics you’ll find in a Panthallasa song. I’ve always tried to stay away from overtly personal lyrics when I write, but sincerely admire people who write them and make them work. Most of Matt’s vocal melody was already in place during the first jam sessions for the track, including the “GO!” to signify the guitar break.

Daniel Powell of Panthallasa (Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
“Closer” is kind of an oddball for us, not only for the reasons stated above, but stylistically more so and depending on who we are playing with we may not even play it in our set live. I loathe to try and classify us as this or that genre (I’ve heard everything from progressive rock, to post-metal, to hardcore, whereas I just prefer the word “aggressive”), but if you’re going to play with other bands, you need to have some common themes musically. Most of our songs fit comfortably in the hardcore/metal realm, but not “Closer.” It’s very melodic and has a distinct industrial or electronica rock sound. We chose it to open the EP for the same reasons we typically open our set with it, it’s the perfect song to grab the listeners attention and draw them in, almost lull them into a trance.

- Text written by Grant Peter 


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