Chuk Fowler Memorial Celebration Show H-D Tribute

Photo: Justin Steele

It’s been two years since Chuk Fowler passed away, and to celebrate his life the V Club is hosting a memorial celebration show Saturday night. The Herald-Dispatch approached a few of those who knew him best to share stories and talk about the singer, musician, artist, joker, but most importantly, friend.

It was on a Monday six years ago when I met Chuk for the very first time. I was a bartender at Echo, the bar that would later become The Ale House, and Chuk was the DJ for Doom Room, a weekly event that consisted of cheap booze, heavy music, and a rowdy good time.

We became acquainted over Mickey’s and shots of whiskey. As I went to grab another for him, I felt a small glass explosion at my feet from the grenade-shaped bottle. I knew exactly who did it, and jokingly shook the baseball bat that was kept behind the bar in his face as profanities were expressed. He laughed at me and we were friends ever since.

We went on to be roommates, and even fought like brother and sister from time to time, but I’ve never had a more unique or staunch friend. I’ll still randomly run into a stranger every once in a while who recognizes him from my stories. He made a lasting impression on anyone he met. A truly larger-than-life kind of person.

--- Melanie Dawn Walker

I guess one thing I could say is Chuk lived very much on the edge. What I mean by that is, he had no problem saying and doing whatever he wanted just to get a laugh/shock/angry feeling out of people. Things normal people wouldn’t do because they saw it as very much socially unacceptable, he did with no shame. Pretty honest and real trait if you ask me.

It reminds me of when he lived in a small cottage style house behind Tat-Nice. His landlord at one point told Chuk he was going to raise the rent and Chuk could either pay it or move. No room for debate. Chuk decided to move and it was a decision all the rest of us being friends of his told him he should make.

He decided to have one last party there. Plenty of friends and liquor and of course a keg of beer. Great time, and of course as the night got later and later and people would filter out. There were about four or six of us left. We got rowdy and started smashing glass on the sidewalk in his yard and the parking lot in front of his house. Took one of the living room chairs and threw it in a tree. Broke the hammock. Playing Slayer as loud as we could and screaming as loud as we could -- at 5 in the morning.

Some of the details are fuzzy as this was seven or so years ago and we partied a lot back then. However, the cops arrived at around 6:30 a.m. They didn’t say much, but “What the hell is wrong with you guys?!” with a look of shock on their faces as they saw all the destruction and chaos around them. Pretty sure something was on fire too.

All they did was tell us to clean it up and go inside -- and I swear we didn’t get arrested cause they wanted to get as far away from us as possible.

--- Matt Pauley

I first met Chuk in 1996, I was 14. I met him his usual way around that time, he grabbed me and began to dry hump me while his bellowing machine laugh was shared with the other elder punx as he did his signature bridge of the nose finger blast, a sure sign he was amused.

During the rest of the 90’s I frequented his various apartments around downtown Huntington hanging out and when I wasn’t skateboarding. Playing music and going to concerts together well into the 00’s, he was the cool big brother I didn’t have but always wanted. I think he filled that role for many people too. He was kind of a misfit magnet.

His peaceful aura and ability to listen, actually listen, and return a unique perspective was a part of his sincerity. He was always sincere, or insincere, either way it was very apparent. All our friends parents loved him and a few of them grocery shopped specifically for him too! My mom lovingly called him “Grape Juice.” His charisma combined with a natural gift of gab and life experience was a very key element in how closely people felt to him. I’d say dozens of people (probably more) considered him a best friend and confidant.

I have many, many great memories to share but I think something a lot of folks don’t know about him, besides his great visual talent and excellent penmanship, is that he lived in Las Vegas for a short time. He and some friends drove out to visit while I was living there and he decided to stay. We walked almost everywhere doing the casino hospitality thing so he inevitably lost around 50 pounds instantly despite us crushing those infamous buffets on the regular. He took up residency at a busted down motel in the Old Freemont district for $100 a week, this place was grimy. Within three days he had a black market phone sales gig and was the singer for a classic rock band. Half Ozzy, half Biggie, 100% amazing.

--- Kris Hillen

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to write about Chuk. There is just so much I can think of. To encompass everything about him -- his incredible brimming-with-life personality, his genuine friendship, incredible talent for writing and music -- would take a novel, easily.

I first met Chuk in passing at an all-ages gig in Charleston around 2000 or 2001. He had come down for the show, which if memory serves with either the Wartime Criminals or Human Racist. He was rocking out to all the bands and getting along with everyone, like he always did.

Fast forward quite a few years to Huntington. My band had broken up and I had begun attending Chuk’s Doom Room DJ nights, which jumped back and forth from Shamrock’s to the V Club, to I believe Club Echo? He was playing all this incredible music and turned me onto a lot of the doom and stoner stuff I listen to now. The first time I heard Torche, Harvey Milk or Big Business was thanks to Chuk.

He told me he wanted to start a heavy project. Asked me if I wanted to drum in it. I asked what he wanted to call it. “Wizards of Ghetto Mountain.” I immediately accepted and began one of the more exciting musical projects I can count among those I have worked on.

Along with Luke Belville, Garrett Babb, Matthew Walters, and Greg Gilbert, we wrote some really great stuff, always with Chuk at the forefront lyrically, and with plenty of ideas for riffs and rhythms. Chuk was the driving creative force. We all chipped in, but we had day jobs, other things going on. I don’t think he ever stopped thinking about the music.

Chuk was a wordsmith. An amazing musician. He played guitar upside down and left-handed. I still can’t wrap my mind around that, but I guess that’s how he learned. Still boggles to think about it.

I count myself among the incredibly lucky folk who got to know him through music, art, and his ability to craft words. He was also, as many can attest, a joker of the highest order. Whether it was partying, writing music, or just chilling on his porch drinking a beer, being able to spend time with and get to know Chuk is a gift from the universe I will always treasure.

Ride the frequencies aligned, brother. See you in the ether.

--- Bob Morris

I first met Chuk Fowler at Punk Rock movie night back in 2003. I have no idea what movie we watched that night but I remember the exact moment I became friends with Chuk: the moment I met him.

Chuk had this huge personality that seemed to creep inside you and made you a part of him whether you wanted it or not. To me being friends with Chuk was a privilege and I would have done anything for the guy. I even bought a van so we could go on adventures together since he couldn’t fit in my tiny car.

I want people to know Chuk as I knew him and that’s why Chris Woodall and I are making our comic, Chuk: Dawn of the Defiler.

I know Chuk is drifting through space right now with an iPod full of Black Sabbath in one hand and a big hunk of the moon in the other laughing at me for being sappy and crying as I write this. “Crumple.”

--- Justin Steele

I had the pleasure of getting to know Chuk and the other members of Wizards of Ghetto Mountain back after I had started doing flyers for the V Club. I did some flyers featuring them, then they asked me to take some photos of them in front of my Hunter S. Thompson mural, and after that we started becoming friends.

Chuk was one of those immediately likeable people. He wasn’t afraid to talk to anybody about anything and he usually used humor as the great equalizer. He had the ability to get anybody to laugh about the crudest/grossest things, riffing jokes into hilariously dark places, and he was usually the one laughing the loudest.

Not only was Chuk a hilarious, imaginative, and intelligent human, he was also a talented musician who could sing, play the guitar, and the drums. He was a huge fan of music in general, and loved making it as much as he loved listening to it.

A formidable front man in Wizards of Ghetto Mountain (among others), a rapper under the name of DJ Gilbert Grape’s Mom, and even I was lucky enough to jam with him (and Garrett, Luke, and Blair) for the summer of 2012 in our project “Siege Perilous” in which he played drums. We all mainly just hung out and made mighty space jams, which none of us could remember from week to week. Chuk would always say “Alright, I’m gonna do some big Dale Crover s*** on this” and then he would just go into disco beats. His sense of humor definitely spilled over into his musical endeavors. The project never did get to play out live, but I am eternally grateful to have those experiences.

In the large scheme of things, we weren’t really friends that long and I know I didn’t know him as well as others did, but I truly loved that dude. He just made you feel better when you were around him. Frowning was impossible. Before he passed, I didn’t get to see him for a while, but I heard he was doing well, trying to go back to school and recording a rap album. He genuinely seemed excited for the future.

My last experience with him was one day I was walking down 8th Street in Huntington. I was walking about 20 steps behind this unassuming middle age lady and all of a sudden I hear someone yell (over my earbuds, mind you) “SEX DOLPHIIIIIN!” from a moving car. I immediately knew who it was and looked up to this woman looking at me very awkwardly on the sidewalk. All I could do was cackle and keep on walking.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to see him again after that, but strangely enough this was the perfect coda to our friendship.

--- Jimbo Valentine

I couldn’t exactly pinpoint where I first met Chuk. What I am certain of is at that time we were both human versions of the film “Runaway Train.” It was whatever, whenever, wherever 24/7. We bonded over a shared love of the absurd as well as various intoxicants. Things were more innocent back then. The false safety blanket of youthful naiveté. The idea of immortality that comes with young age.

Chuk was a mountain of a man but it was his personality that made him truly larger than life. His sense of humor, that barreling laughter, his warmth and true blue heart emanated from him a way that could only make you wanna love the guy. He affected so many through those attributes. Being at his memorial was literally like being at a rock concert. I have never seen so many people come out to pay their respects and I’ve been to more funeral homes than I care to count. They were there because of his warmth. They had been touched. All of them and for only the best reasons.

I do remember the last time I saw Chuk. He and Melanie came to visit me at this old, super f***ed up house I lived in. we spent a large portion of the evening drinking beers and discussing a music video I was set to direct for his project DJ Gilbert Grape’s Mom. A week later he was gone. I was at a friend’s house playing music when we stopped for a break. I picked up my phone and was worried when I had received some 40 odd text and/or missed calls. The news hit me hard and I only remember feeling numb and shaky.

The void he left is as big as his personality was and he won’t be missed as long as he isn’t forgotten. So, there is no worry as to forget Chuk is a true impossibility.

Rest easy, brother and don’t drink all the beer before I get there.

--- Christopher Lusher

Writing from the place I still consider you the most, my love, an empty subway station at 1 in the morning half lit on wine I can’t afford. Sometimes I still feel pangs of guilt for staying here in the city you once told me not to move to -- “I can’t protect you there, and I don’t f*****g like it.”

Remember the times we drank dollar beers and rot-gut whiskey in the Pig and filled the jukebox with Kyuss and Fiona Apple, only keeping ourselves from getting kicked out by throwing on some Sabbath hits? That’s what we did together. We held hands and let ourselves cry when it hurt, then we’d bang our heads in communal forgetfulness and celebrate the moments we had that weren’t steeped in worry and fear.

I’m sorry for the times we fought over dumb stuff, like me being too boy-crazy or you messing around with girls I thought were trouble. I’m sorry I told you to quit screwing around and get your life together, but I’m more sorry that I didn’t get to hug you so hard when you went back to school. I was, and am, so proud of you and what you were and could have been.

I’m not sorry the last time I saw you was while I was wearing King Diamond corpse paint, but the last text I ever got from you was “I’m listening to King Diamond and wish you were!” so I guess it was fitting after all.

I miss you every single day, I tell everyone I can about how wonderful you were, and I’m happy that even in death, you’re the phoenix I knew you were. I hope someday when I walk into a sleazy bar in Valhalla, you run over and pick me up and shake me like a rag doll again.

Yours truly with the heaviest heart forever,


--- Kelsey Zimmerman

Chuk Fowler Memorial Celebration Show
w/Sangoma, Horseburner, Dinosaur Burps, Sweatband
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24
COST: $7
INFO: www.vclublive.com


This Love: Phil Anselmo talks about his life in, and love for, metal

Photo: Rob Fenn
Philip H. Anselmo (Pantera/Down/Superjoint) took nearly an hour of his time on his birthday to spend it on the phone for an interview, in advance of bringing Superjoint to The V Club Sunday for a stop on the It Takes Guts Tour, with guests King ParrotChild Bite, and Byzantine.
Listening to him talk passionately about being in a band, his love for metal, running a label, and just making friends, well, what he had to say was his gift to the fans, the bands he helps at Housecore Records, and bands in general.
Here is the interview in its entirety.

Reposted/expanded/unedited from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch interview

WVRockscene: Today is your 47th birthday – you doing anything special or get any cool presents?

Phil Anselmo: Yeah, I’m sitting at home on my lazy ass, and I’m not doing jack shit. I’m takin’ a break, and that’s the best present I got.

WVRockscene: It’s been a long time, how excited are you to take Superjoint back out on the road for this “It Takes Guts” tour with King Parrot and Child Bite?

Anselmo: It’s gonna be awesome, man. You take the group of guys in Superjoint, you mix ‘em liberally with, fuckin’, King Parrot and Child Bite? (laughs) It’s bound to be a kickass fuckin’ time. I love all those guys, and it’s gonna be great.

WVRockscene: Superjoint just played its first ever European show, at Hellfest, how did that go, and how busy have you personally been in 2015?

Anselmo: Well, it seems like I do something every year. The year before that, [Phil Anselmo and] the Illegals played, a year before that, Down played; they’d had a cancellation, where Clutch had to pull out due to a death in the family, so we filled their spot.

This Hellfest gig was excellent, dude. It was really fun. But, I will say that, it was our second show in over a decade, so, it was a pretty damn big stage. Like I told the guys after the gig: the chemistry is still there, we just need a few shows under our belt, and then I think we’ll be just fine.

One of the reasons I started Superjoint to begin with, was to get back into the intimate rooms and clubs, just to have that feel again. So, I think bringing these songs into small clubs again, the shit’s gonna feel good, it’s gonna be alright.

As far as 2015, I’ve been strapped in this cave called the studio, since January, hashing out all kinds of stuff, mixing records for [Housecore], for the future, and Jesus, man, just writing all kinds of stuff. Matter of fact, one of the records we mixed came out today, the Author and Punisher album. That was a trip to work on, very freaky. Really a different type of production there. A very talented man, Tristan Shone, the man behind all these machines.

But, um, just writing new Illegals, practicing with Superjoint, writing new Superjoint. I did a couple under the radar projects that will probably see the light of day, I don’t know, it’ll come out in the wash. Fuck, what else? Down gigs, I’ve done a handful, more in August, but really, mostly, it’s just a bunch of studio work, man. Just keeping busy, you know? Keeping my fucking eyes peeled. Gearing up for year three of the Housecore Horror Film Festival, which is always very trying in the early stages, but right now we got a fantastic team around us, and they’re kicking a whole shitload of ass while the rest of us work back out on the road.

WVRockscene: Running Housecore Records, in this digital age, there are pros and cons. In a recent interview, Fat Mike of NOFX talked about running Fat Wreck Chords, and exposing and helping out bands he likes, but said it almost feels like the thrill is gone, or at least the immediacy of the Internet and all these bands at your fingertips takes something away from the experience of finding out about new bands at shows. Being now 47-years old, being old enough to remember the pre-Internet days, how do you see your role at Housecore?

Anselmo: You pretty much laid out the foundation for it all in your description. There are pros and cons. There are differences between today and pre-Internet, and all that shit, you know, the good old days, of having, you know, early 80’s, and well into the 90’s, being a music fan, and actually having to get off your ass and chase music down, whether it be demos, or just checking weekly in the underground music section, just to see what’s out there, reading fanzines, shit like that.

It’s completely different today, where basically, running a label is a big time labor of love. Records are stolen left and right, by everybody. And, for musicians, and I can definitely speak for musicians, you know, we know that in order to make a fuckin’ buck these days, you gotta get off your ass and get out there and hump it, and play fucking shows. We get that.

That’s why, with Housecore, we look for those bands that are lifers, that are willing to get in a fucking van and hump it for a while. You know – get out there and tour! Play for people, and take risks! Because, right now, your paycheck ain’t comin’ from album sales, physical sales, anymore. People talk about vinyl making a comeback and all that shit, and to a certain degree, it’s true. We believe in it. We do vinyl everything. Am I blown away by the sales of it? Not really. But I do see the interest, and it’s interesting that people are wanting to have this physical copy of anything at all in their hands today.

And, I’m not going to distinguish between what I think a real music fan is, you know? Someone who actually buys a record and supports the bands that they like, or people who steal music and still love the music but will come out to a show and buy a t-shirt. You know, that’s a tough water to navigate for me. Of course, I’d definitely prefer that people buy every album that they fucking goddamn well have stolen (laughs).

Because, I’m gonna tell you what, there’s eventually, well, you reap what you sow. This movement of stealing music is going to backfire bigtime on people, and in ways that they’re not prepared for. And I can’t wait for that day. I’m not gonna give away any secrets, but I will say that day is comin’.

Also, when you do something like this, the way I think about things, it’s like, heavy metal, and extreme music, really, has been so kind to me my entire fuckin’ life. I’ve had a lot of success through hard work and have made great fans – without the fans, you’re zero. So, you know, I think it’s very natural to want to give back, and help out up and coming bands I do like, and let it be known that they definitely have my stamp of approval, and I got their backs.

Even non-Housecore bands, like the guys in Portal, or Deathspell Omega, you know, extreme bands that I have complete respect for, outside of the bands on my label, I’m gonna support ‘em, you know? Because I like ‘em and I think they’re worth the time and definitely worth the effort of listening to, because you hear something new every time you listen to it. These are bands that are very much lasting to me, you know?

I find great inspiration in all places; of course, everything from The Beatles to Black Sabbath, to Merciful Fate, to Slayer to Morbid Angel, and the young innovators within sub-genres, and I’ve already mentioned two of ‘em, Portal and Deathspell Omega, they’re different genres, but still innovators nonetheless.

I don’t know. I’m a fan, man. I’m a music fan through and through. Fuck it, it’s what I know best, next to boxing and horror movies. And, at 47, I don’t think I’m gonna be challenging for the heavyweight title anytime soon. So, I think I’ll stick to discussing horror films, discussing boxing, and I’m gonna continue to keep making music, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
WVRockscene: You’ve mentioned how kind metal and extreme music has been to you over the years. Looking back on the nearly 30 years that have passed since you were brought into Pantera, how, given how hard you’ve worked, and you mentioned that, how lucky do you feel looking back at that one break, that has given you this life?
Anselmo: Well, that’s a pretty broad stroke. But, straight to the point, I feel extremely blessed, you know? Not everybody gets as lucky as I got. Right now I’m a free agent. That’s how I view myself these days. I can do pretty much anything I fuckin’ wanna do. There’s no strict schedule. There ain’t no one gonna get me out there with six straight months of touring, or shit like that. No fuckin’ way.
I’ve literally broke my fuckin’ back, literally ripped my knees apart, I’ve destroyed the skeleton inside my skin for this shit called extreme music. And there’s no regrets, except for the everyday, chronic pain I feel from the abuse, I guess, of just being on that fuckin’ stage my entire life. But you just deal with it, you know? There’s pain that goes around the entire world. Fuck it. Mine ain’t any more significant than anyone else’s.
But I feel very, very blessed, and the fact that I can put together a project and can see even a small contingency of people enjoy what I do? That’s a blessing. When I look at other contemporaries, or people before me, even, and you listen to their voices, and they have this distinct voice, and you know it’s them when you hear it, I think that’s a sign of success. And I think I’ve got that quality of voice, that when people hear it, they’re like, ‘Fuck, that’s Anselmo!’
However, there’s a lot of stuff I haven’t released that is very different than most people would be used to, to a certain degree. Eventually, when I go and release everything it’s gonna trup some people out, and let ‘em realize that, um, I’m a diverse motherfucker, and not just heavy metal music, or hardcore music. I think heavy music doesn’t need distorted guitars and shit like that. There’s all sorts of heavy music out there. Some classical music is heavy as fuck. I’ve tried to touch on those, and bands that have influenced me over the years, and you still want that heavy edge, whether it’s the lyrics, or just the atmosphere or the tonality, depending on the project.
WVRockscene: Musicians and artists talk about the catharsis of writing and/or performing. Given the pain you’ve endured physically and emotionally, over the years what kind of solace has writing lyrics offered you?
Anselmo: The world is large. Topics are many. There’s more out there than religion. There’s more out there than politics, and there’s more out there than social statements. Case in point: on my first solo record, most of it was about me going fucking bananas in my own fuckin’ bedroom. I wanted to write about something that was one hundred thousand percent real, and not just supposition.

Like, Satanism, or nationalism, or politics. There are all kinds of bands that have done that, and done it better than me, you know? Fuck it. Why should I fuck with it? Plus, half of it is fake anyway, the religious part, if you ask me. It’s like ‘Ehh,’ (sighs disgustedly) – it’s boring, you know? Can you play your instrument? That would be nice.
But either way, writing lyrics, some shit I’ve written in the past, I hate it of course. It sucks. But to someone else, it may be the best thing they like about my style. Lyrics are for everybody, and when I say that, when I write lyrics, definitely don’t try to zero in on one particular topic, really, for one song. It’s all about the song and the flow of the song: what would give that song its own personality? Its own train of strength to make that song the best song possible. But I love to leave that bit of room in there, open for interpretation.

Take a song like “This Love” by Pantera: that could mean a million things to a million different people, and that’s fantastic. That’s how I prefer it.

So, lyrics, like I say: ehh, love ‘em, hate ‘em, take ‘em, leave ‘em, to some people it’s great, to some it’s hogwash, so guess what? You can’t please everybody all the time, so fuck it, you may as well write what you feel like writing.

WVRockscene: In your interview with Graffiti Magazine, you talked about your enduring friendship with Superjoint bandmate Jimmy Bower. How special is it to have Superjoint back and share this experience with your good friend, after all these years?

Anselmo: Considering how deep we were both – and you have to lump Kevin Bond in there – there was a great contingency of my old friends who lived on the edge, so to speak. The mere fact that we’re all alive makes me glorious and deliriously happy. And the mere fact that we’ve learned our lessons and came back from it stronger than ever, and, can cope, and, can talk and be comfortable with one another, is priceless.

Because, a great case in point would be, uh, Pantera. What broke Pantera was lack of communication. I was guilty of it. They were guilty of it. Both sides were guilty of it. And, bingo, sure enough, we broke up and ended up on bad terms. And we ain’t the first band, and we ain’t gonna be the last band that happens to.

So, any advice I would give to up and comers, would be speak freely, you know? And the guys that can’t take criticism, probably shouldn’t be there to begin with. It’s best learning that early in the game than later in the fucking game, down the road, and you have to tell somebody “You’re not pulling your fucking weight,” and he becomes a crybaby, and wants to quit and go home, and you’re stuck out there with your fucking thumb up your ass.

Be up front right off the bat. Speak your mind right off the bat. Talk it out like human beings are able to, you know? We have this fantastic gift as humans called reason. We should all be able to sit down and hash things out, civilly and democratically, and with the ability to, and, I hate this word, compromise.

Because, if you’re doing something that is, I guess, stepping on the toes of one of your bandmates, or upsetting them in some weird way that you’re not aware of, and they let you know about it, you gotta have part of your heart where you say, “Oh, holy shit! Pardon me, sir, it won’t happen again,” and move on. It’s like, you gotta have that open mind.

Fuck it, man. I think being straight with each other is fantastic, and I think that’s something that me, and Jimmy, and Kevin, and, look here man, the very brutal honesty of all of this is, I got a 25-year old drummer, little “Blue” Jose Manuel Gonzalez, he might be the most mature fuckin’ guy I’ve met. (laughs) He’s bone sober and has a good head on his shoulders. He’s a father, and he’s got his priorities right. And I can’t say enough about Steve [Taylor] my bass player. He’s a hard worker, and he’s a damn good songwriter, and a great musician.

The group, you know, we get along very well. It’s stunning. The same can be said about Down. Like a lot of bands, you go through lineup changes, and stuff like that, different, uh, chapters in life, shit like that. You gotta respect that, and if you wanna keep the band going, that’s up to the band, and it’s up to you, individually, as well.

But, if you find the right guys to fill some hefty shoes, then, not only are you lucky, but you also probably reignited the band’s energy level, you know, with the infusion of new guys and new influences.

WVRockscene: Whether it’s Superjoint losing a decade to internal disputes, or Pantera/Dimebag/metal fans being robbed due to an unspeakable evil, do you feel like you’ve lost time or you have been robbed of something you love?

Anselmo: No, I don’t think I’ve lost time. I’m the kind of person, I will take the time to mourn the loss of a fallen comrade. But, I’ll also remember that fallen comrade would’ve wanted me to continue on, and keep fightin’. Keep on puttin’ those fuckin’ feet forward and movin’ forward. And, I’m a forward movin’ motherfucker.

So, really, when Pantera ended, for me, it was probably time we needed a break, anyway. If Dimebag was alive, do I think Pantera would’ve continued? Absolutely. I think we would’ve put our differences aside a long time ago, and continued on for as long as we felt like it.

I can say the same thing about Superjoint. When we broke up and called it a day, it was time. I was exhausted, man. I was dealing with Dimebag’s death. I needed a fucking break. I needed back surgery. I needed knee surgery. I needed to get my brain back together. I needed all kinds of shit; therapy, mentally and physically, you know?

When you do that, it makes you a better person, in one way or another. I would never call that lost time. I would call that recharging the battery for the next chapter in life. So, no, I don’t feel like it’s lost time. I feel like it’s life. And, I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to lose somebody dear, and close, in my life.
Hopefully (pauses) – hey, it’s gonna happen to everybody, whether it be a parent, a brother or a sister, or a best friend, you’re gonna lose somebody along the way. I just hope that people can remember, that, you know, life does still go on, and, there are ways to cope.
You might not understand, you know, all the mysteries of life, but does anybody have all the fuckin’ answers? No, they don’t. Not everybody has all the perfect fuckin’ answers to life. Human beings are very complex creatures, and everybody sees the world a different way, you know? Everybody wants different things out of life.
There’s a lot of variables there, and there’s no way one person can sum it up perfectly, unless, uh, there ain’t no way anybody can sum it up perfectly, unless you just want to say “Live and let live,” and we’ve seen that before, and does it work? No, it doesn’t, because people have different ideas of what live and let live is on top of that shit. (laughs hard)
So, you know, I say do your fuckin’ best. That’s what I say. Do your goddamn best, today, to better yourself, to better the people around you. Take care of your own. Fuck, always be open to makin’ new friendships, and listening to people, and trying to understand instead of combat immediately if it doesn’t jive with what you’ve been thinkin’, you know?
Because, there’s a lot of different ways to look at things. There’s a lot of very intelligent people out there, way more so than myself, that I find very interesting, and I’ve learned from. Hopefully a little bit every day. That’s my thing: just do your best you can today and tomorrow and next week, next month, and next year. Fuck it.

WVRockscene: Looking back on all these years, how special has it been to not only share being in a band with your friends, but meeting and sharing it with your fans? To be able to bring Superjoint, like you said, into these smaller more intimate venues?
Anselmo: I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. I look forward to meeting people, man. The fans, I find that, I learn something from them. When fans get past the fact that, this rock and roll guy they have enjoyed for many years, then they realize I’m pretty much a just a regular guy, and we have similar tastes and shit.
Dude, I’m easy to please: for me, it’s music, boxing and horror movies. Great, let’s start talkin’. You know, I can learn about a new band, fighters, movies, anything, out of meeting new people, and being open with the audience.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the term rock star, unless it really applies. And, it’s normally a pretty negative connotation when I use it, at best. The way I feel, man, I just feel like a music fan, myself. That’s how I’d prefer to be seen, whether people want to put me on this oddball pedestal or not. I think, once you meet me, you would probably, you know, just consider me a damn fun, damn fine acquaintance.
That would be a lot better for me. (laughs) If you meet somebody one time, and you have a conversation with them, you can still enjoy their fuckin’ music and whatnot, just realize some of us are really just down to Earth motherfuckers.
Man, I could go into the truth of it all. Like, some of the nicest people I’ve ever fuckin’ met, you know, would be Black Sabbath, Ronnie Dio included – maybe one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my life.
So, are they stars? Fuckin’ Black Sabbath? Hell yes they are, in their own way. But are they rock stars? They most certainly, uh, don’t conduct themselves with this air of being untouchable or unapproachable.
They’re some of the nicest people. The truth is, they’re some of the people I like to model myself after, instead of, the dicks in this business? Yeah, they exist, for sure.

--- Superjoint performs Sunday, July 19 at The V Club in Huntington with special guests King Parrot, Child Bite, and Byzantine.


Q&A w/Molly Mess of Some Kind Of Nightmare

Ohio natives Molly and Chy Mess, who front the San Diego-based punk band Some Kind Of Nightmare may have had to cancel their show at The Empty Glass Wednesday due to not having a drummer, but that will not stop us from running this fun, fact-filled Q&A. Hopefully they come back to West Virginia soon and we can run this feature in print and get paid for it. Who knows?

“…We’re still without a drummer so we had to cancel on our end. We’re very disappointed in this as we’ve never been to Charleston,” Molly, the singer-bassist said over email. While the band has found a drummer for a show in Indianapolis for its Never Gonna Stop Tour, not having a drummer and keeping her band going with her husband, Chy, is no big deal compared to the fight Molly may end up fighting: breast cancer.


Molly Mess: The Never Gonna Stop Tour was really good and really harsh at the same time. It was good because we got to see a lot of our friends across the country again. Booking the tour started getting easier. But it was extremely difficult because we were touring in a ‘76 Ford Econoline so we were breaking down every day. Then we inherited a ‘94 dodge ram b250. Then we had fuel pump issues with that van. So we changed the name of the tour because we felt it was cursed hahaha.

We were able to take my 16-year old sister on the road with us for about a week. That was really awesome! We also got to play with our friends from Berlin called The Fever. That was great seeing them.


Molly: Rancid and The Sex Pistols were a major influence on my life. Rancid’s album “Let’s Go” changed my life. Chy and I both came from broken homes, as it always goes. I had never heard anything so uplifting. It gave me a sense of self-worth. Chy’s album was Rancid's “…And Out Come The Wolves.”

Chy and I are actually both originally from Ohio. We met in middle school and started dating when we were 17. We were both looking for a punk to be with. In the small towns that we grew up in, punk was an extremely rare thing. We were both so passionate about it. We became inseparable. About two and a half years into the relationship, we formed Some Kind of Nightmare.

Molly: Mess Fest was incredible. It really meant a lot to see so many people, friends and strangers, showing support. It was really appreciated that our friend Kevin Stokes filled in for drums. It was a little difficult that we didn’t have our own drummer. It was somewhat difficult having the focus on the health issue. It was easier when we were on the road because we kept so busy that the health issue was more in the back of my mind rather than being the main focus. We’re so grateful for our friend Reed (a cancer survivor) and his band AboveRepute for putting this benefit show together for Chy and I.


Molly: The health situation right now is testing to see if it is breast cancer. I have a tumor in my left breast and an unidentified lump in my lymph node area under my right arm. At this time we do not know if either issue is cancerous. I just made an appointment today to get a mammogram and an ultrasound for testing. The not knowing has been terrifying.

Unfortunately the process has been slow. First you have to get a referral. Then you have to set up an appointment for a mammogram and an ultrasound. Then depending on the results, you have to set up an appointment for a biopsy. A very slow process.


Molly: Ah the drummers! We’re still trying to figure out our drummer situation. We live on the road, so it is very difficult to find someone to commit that is in a healthy state of mind, to put it politely. We’re a bit bitter right now, because Chy and I invest money into drummers who bail on us. Today we bought a drum machine. Hahaha so we won’t have to keep canceling shows because people back out and bail on us.


Molly: I started out singing. We wanted to take the band and explore California. So we packed everything we could in a two door Hyundai Accent and moved to San Jose. The other band members stayed behind. We stayed in San Jose for about a year then wanted to explore Southern California. San Diego became our new home and the band really started cutting our teeth.

In 2011 we did our first tour up and down the coastline. I became sick of constant changing members. It was very difficult to get members to tour, so I picked up the bass and learned to play and sing. In 2012, we did a two-week tour from San Diego to New York and back with a wonderful drummer named Phil Cullin. Then a few months later, Chy asked me why we came back from tour? He then said we’d quit our jobs and leave our home and do a year on the road. In 2013 that’s what we did.

--- Check out Some Kind Of Nightmare on Facebook and Bandcamp


Divine Intervention: Chris Ojeda leads Byzantine into new era with “To Release Is To Resolve”

Photo: Courtney Bell

Charleston-based progressive groove metal band Byzantine (clockwise from bottom: Chris Ojeda, Sean Sydnor, Matt Wolfe, Brian Henderson) will release its fifth album, “To Release Is To Resolve” Saturday night at The V Club in Huntington.

Reposted (and expanded) from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

For Byzantine fans who haven’t heard it yet, the question over the last few months has been: What will “To Release Is To Resolve,” its new record, with two new members, sound like?

“How should I put this?” singer and rhythm guitarist Chris “OJ” Ojeda responded when asked that question over the phone with his band, “All I can say is, everybody better be ready for a decibel shower, because it is comin’.”

Byzantine will release “To Release Is To Resolve,” and perform Saturday night at The V Club with opening acts Horseburner and Among The Dead.

“I’m pretty pumped about it,” Ojeda said of the new album, the band’s fifth release and second on its own Snakepit label, and funded again this time by fans. Like past releases, it has already received critical praise, from press outlets large and small, most recently Revolver Magazine.

“It’s the second time around that we get to do this kind of on our own label and on our own terms,” Ojeda noted. “We’ve got the new guys, so there’s a lot of provin’ to do. I think we’re gonna shut up some people who, uh, wanna see us fail, and we’re gonna make a lot of people happy.

“When you’ve got a group that’s put together four albums, and then you have a sudden shift in members, you feel like you’re up against the wall. With me and Matt being here for so long, it’s like, we’ve got a lot to prove on this.”

Fifteen years after starting the metal band, playing shows with a drum machine, and after the agony of keeping the band together with members spread out over the east coast, Byzantine is now based entirely out of Charleston, and moving forward with its new lineup.

“From my point of view, it was fairly seamless,” drummer Matt Wolfe said of bringing lead guitarist Brian Henderson and bassist Sean Sydnor on, replacing longtime members Tony Rohrbough and Skip Cromer. “Brian and Sean and I have been friends for a very long time, longer than I’ve been in Byzantine. So, we’re very familiar with each other on a musical level.”

Henderson said this, his second stint in Byzantine, feels more special.

“It’s a little different this time. A lot different, actually,” Henderson admitted. “The last time I felt like I was just filling in somebody’s shoes temporarily. Now that I’m a full-fledged member I feel like my fingerprint’s gonna be on what you hear. Playing this kind of music, it forces you to kind of push yourself, and play things you wouldn’t normally think yourself capable of playing.

“Especially when OJ is standing in the room with you, making you play things you can’t play, or previously couldn’t play,” Henderson said to hard group laughter.

“I think all Byzantine fans are gonna love it,” “Hendo” added of the new record. “If they don’t, they don’t, whatever. But I don’t see it as a problem or think it’s too far of a departure from their stuff in the past.”

“I’ve said it from day one, I felt like this was divine intervention,” Sydnor said. “The four people in this band are all on the same page musically. That’s the key to this music, that, whatever changes happen, it’s always gonna be Byzantine because OJ is OJ, and that means Byzantine.

“I’m beyond pumped,” Sydnor added. “This has been a dream come true. The last tour we just did, I’ve been waiting twenty-some years to do that. It’s been a dream come true and I don’t see anything but total awesomeness coming from us from here on out. I just feel totally blessed and privileged to be a part of it.”

“It was neat to get this lineup together on this record because the last record, I think me, Matt, Skip and Tony, we elevated ourselves,” Ojeda said of the band’s self-titled 2013 release. “I think it was our best record to date, and it came after a four or five year layoff.

“To come back after that, have two new members come in, write a new record and keep an identifiable sound, it’s a fuckin’ hard task, ya know? There are some bands that just can’t keep it together over four or five albums. Me and Matt have been able to put a stamp on a certain sound, a West Virginia-based groove metal, and no matter what lineup it is I think you can turn it on, and you can hear it and know it’s Byzantine.

“This new album is going to do exactly that, and then some,” OJ said. “The first song that we put out, “A Curious Lot,” I’ve done a couple interviews already and they keep asking ‘Is this what the album sounds like?’ And I have to tell them no. This song is the most up-the-pike, straight forward song, and we like to put out songs that sounds exactly different from the rest of the album, kinda to fuck with people,” Ojeda said with a laugh.

“It’s what we did on the last album. Our single was “Signal Path,” which was the weirdest song we’ve ever written. It’s fun to do that, so we did it again on this one. The rest of the songs are gonna be a complete one-eighty from “A Curious Lot,” so everyone just needs to hold on to their seats until they get all eight songs.”

“There’s just such a solid sound, that you can’t fuck with it,” Sydnor added. “We all know what to do with this music. This music, the ideas that OJ comes up with, it really stays Byzantine no matter what it sounds like tempo-wise or dynamically. We were just meant to be. That’s why I say it was divine intervention. It’s not egotistical at all. I just think it was meant to be.”

After praising engineer Jay Hannon, the “fifth member of the band,” OJ said crowdfunding albums is really the way to go for Byzantine these days.

“It’s instrumental in how we’re doing things right now,” Ojeda said. “We’ve circumnavigated the record industry, and worked our way back into it without having to sign a record deal. Anybody can get on Kickstarter, or PledgeMusic, or GoFundMe, and try to fund a project, but to actually be able to work it, and to get it out in a timely fashion, you’ve got to have some business sense. I think we’ve gathered some business sense, fifteen years into this.

“When you’re trying to do something that costs some money, you either spend your own money, or you spend other people’s money, and one of the best ways to do it is to sign investors, and that’s with any business. Who better to invest in a project than the people who love it? The fans get exactly what they want out of it, there’s no middlemen, everybody’s shareholders, and if someone has a problem with it, they can go straight to the CO’s, and we resolve everything as quickly as possible. It’s a very streamlined process to get records out, and we’ve been able to do it successfully two times in a row.”

Wolfe said what’s made Byzantine stand out among their metal peers all these years is really just them being themselves.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve gotten accomplished to this point. I think the reason we may stand out, sonically, with some fans, and people that may have never even heard us before, or are hearing us for the first time, is because we’ve always kind of stayed true to our formula, and what we like, and what we wanna write, and what we wanna play, or hear, instead of following any trends.

“I mean, we’ve been at this for going on fifteen years now, and music being the cyclical thing that it is, there’s been a lot of styles and fashions of metal that have come down the road and have since dissipated, but we’ve just kind of stayed true to what we do.”

Ojeda, with his twangy southern West Virginia accent (and ever present sense of humor) said with humility that being called a metal god by media types isn’t really accurate, maybe. The real rock stars are the other guys in the band.

“I have successfully figured out how to fool everybody in the heavy metal industry,” he said laughing. “There are a lot of people who think I may be one of the best front men, and yet, I’ve never been the best guitar player in my band. Now, I’m not even the best singer in my band because we’ve got Hendo,” he said to group laughter.

“So, it kinda keeps me grounded, when people put me on these plateaus, you know, this that or the other, and I look at the other guys in my band and they all smoke me. It’s pretty cool.”

Ojeda said that, with help from his old friends, he’s going to keep Byzantine going for the foreseeable future.

“What I’ve realized, through this whole time of breaking up, and getting back together, is that you really shouldn’t quit anything you love to do just because it’s hard. This is the hardest thing I think I’ve ever had to do, was try to be in a band, uh, and have somebody care about it. But I love it so much it doesn’t matter, you know? It’s not really that hard.

“There’s a lot of people who -- I just turned 40 -- there’s a lot of people who put age limits on it and will say ‘Well, I’m 30 I’m gonna quit,’ or ‘I’m 35, I’m gonna quit.’ I’m kinda fuckin’ done with that stuff. There’s no reason to quit something you were born to do.”

Byzantine, Horseburner, Among The Dead
WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday, April 4
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave. (304) 781-0680
COST: $8 ADV, $10 DOS
INFO: www.vclublive.com
ONLINE: www.byzantinemetal.com


John Lancaster brings "Hell on Earth" to V Club Saturday

photo: Laura Dial

On the heels of releasing “A Penchant for Hell on Earth,” their third record in five years, John Lancaster and his band (L-R: Mac Walker, Lancaster, Josh Adkins, Barry Smith) will perform at The V Club Saturday night with opening acts Floraburn and Sly Roosevelt

Reposted with permission from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

You could say things have kind of slowed down for John Lancaster in the two decades since he was fronting the Huntington-based melodic hard rock band Chum.

Between then, you know, the 90’s, through bands like Guru Lovechild and Earth To Eros, it’s been Lancaster’s own labor of love to front a rock band. With help from old friends he’s not only now released three solo records in five years, but has a rock band he has fun playing shows with.

“Overall, we don’t play out a whole lot,” Lancaster said over the phone. “We do what we can, we kind of have other things going on. We do enough to keep us all somewhat sane I guess,” the singer-guitarist said with a laugh.

Lancaster will bring his atmospheric (apocalyptic?) melodic hard rock band (Lancaster; Mac Walker: guitar; Barry Smith: bass; Josh Adkins: drums) to The V Club Saturday night, where they’ll be joined by Floraburn and Sly Roosevelt.

But just because there aren’t a lot of shows may not mean things are slowing down creatively for Lancaster.

Since releasing the debut full-length, “Phantom Moon” in 2010, following that up with the six-song EP “Crash Test In Progress” in 2012, Lancaster’s studio project has congealed into a band, has opened for acts like Byzantine, Karma To Burn, and Dream The Electric Sleep, and released the six-song concept EP “A Penchant for Hell on Earth” in January.

“You know, this whole thing originally started with the idea that this was going to be a studio project,” Lancaster admitted. “When the first record was coming together, I had the idea of all these different friends coming together and coming in to play on different things.

“But there was really no intention for it to be a live thing. But after “Phantom Moon” was released, I was missing playing out at the time, so I thought ‘Why not put together a solid band to play some of these songs live?’ I wanted to kind of keep the songs alive on some level.

“So we started doing that, and that’s where it’s been ever since,” Lancaster said of the project. “We’ve got three releases now; the first full-length and the two EPs. We kind of take our time with the recording side of things, and we do everything ourselves, so that gives us the opportunity to take our time with the recording.”

Breathing life into the project as a live band has been made easier by working with longtime collaborators Walker and Smith, who recorded and mixed the new EP.

“I love working with Mac,” Lancaster said with emphasis. “I’ve known him for a long time, and I’ve played with him in various projects for years. The same goes with Barry; we did a project together back in the early 90’s, then we did Earth To Eros. But with those two guys, there’s a lot of history there, and I love working with them.

“But back to Mac, our guitar tones seem to mesh really well, and our styles seem to compliment each other really well, and that’s really nice. When I present these songs, it’s just in demo format and it’s just my guitar, so, it’s nice to add these other guys and their playing styles to what I have. It kind of breathes life into the songs.”

Lancaster said that from “Phantom Moon” to “A Penchant for Hell on Earth,” what began as a studio project has become an actual rock band.

“One thing that was different in the process on that record, was, on the previous two records, definitely on the first record, and pretty much the second one, was that a lot of those songs, I’d already written them and demo’d them myself, and then showed them to the guys, and from there we recorded them.

“So, the difference with the latest record is we worked on those songs quite a bit in rehearsal. This latest record sounds more like what we sound like live. The vocals are more aggressive on this record, and I think that’s because when you’re working on vocals in a live environment, it definitely pushes you more. The difference in the process made the end product something I’m really proud of.”

While not meant to literally be about Hell on Earth, obviously, Lancaster said it may not be a surprise the new EP plays like a concept album.

“The interesting thing is that it wasn’t meant to be a concept record, but it totally plays like one. I’ll admit that and I’m happy that it does. It does have the same themes lyrically throughout, which is more or less, letting go of things that you can’t control, and moving forward, you know?

“But, without getting into each song, it does have sort of a conceptual vibe to it,” Lancaster added. “I didn’t really mean it to, but it has part one at the beginning and part two at the end, so it kind of wraps the idea up at the end and gives you an intro and then concludes at the end. So it does have a conceptual feel.”

Lancaster said despite the Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify pages and social media platforms, getting the music out these days, compared to the 1990’s is easier. Getting people to shows? Sometimes, not so much.

“On paper, you would think, in this day and age it’s perfect for getting your music out,” he said after an exhausted sigh. “But there’s just so much out there, and I think a lot of people just aren’t as excited about hearing new music or seeking out new bands that excite them, at least not like they used to be. We’re definitely in different times now,” the 42-year old Huntington music scene veteran said with an understated laugh.

“You’d think with the technology you have, you’d just be able to promote yourself better, and you have the possibility to, but I just think it’s a lot harder to get people to come to shows now. Everybody has their reasons why they think that is, and there’s not one specific reason, I think it’s a lot of different reasons. Umm, I don’t know. It’s definitely a different time. And it’s not just around here, it’s everywhere.

“I was having a conversation the other day with somebody, and we were both talking about how we just hope it’s one of those cycles that’ll come back around. You see how that works, you know? It’ll be really hot for a while then it’ll die off. Then, at some point, it’ll come right back. Hopefully that’s how this’ll turn out.”

Moving forward with his band into 2015, with his old friends backing him up, Lancaster said he not only is looking forward to playing The V Club Saturday, but just having a good time playing shows.

“I have a family and help run a business, so obviously my priorities lie there. But music is still important to me and it’ll be important to me until I’m long gone. I think I look at getting out and playing shows differently. Like, I appreciate it more, you know? I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. In a strange way I enjoy it more and appreciate it more.

“You know, I’ve just tried to approach this whole project with the idea that it needs to be fun. If it’s not fun, just don’t do it. It’s not worth it if it’s not fun. We’ll play a gig somewhere and there’ll be five people there, and we’ll still have a good time.”

John Lancaster, Floraburn, Sly Roosevelt
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave.
WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday March 21
COST: $5
INFO: www.vclublive.com
ONLINE: www.johnlancaster.com


Darrin Hacquard and Ben Townsend talk about "Signs and Wonders"

Leave it to Darrin Hacquard and Ben Townsend to, if nothing else, have fun in the snow. Bandmates in The Fox Hunt, the pair, now both calling Elkins home, with help from the rest of The Fox Hunt guys, pulled off no small achievement in recording Hacquard’s solo “psych country” debut “Signs and Wonders,” released in February on Questionable Records.

Talking over the phone together about the record, and preparing to take Hacquard’s project to 123 Pleasant Street with The Fox Hunt Thursday night veered more into what they each hope Elkins, and West Virginia can be: wild and weird.

“Well, uh, drinkin’ a lotta beer, for sure, and playin’ some old time music,” Hacquard summed up when asked how he was holding it down with heavy snow falling.

“We’ve got some friends in town and we’re just making the best of it,” he added. “As far as old time music, it’s just about the best scene you’re gonna find in the country.”

Hacquard said that, while his roots are in old time music, both he and Townsend were/are looking to shake things up in Elkins.

“I’m from Hocking County, in Ohio. It’s a part of Appalachia. The music I guess, I have a deep connection with it, and I believe it goes back to, it’s connected to the landscape, and the culture, and where you’re from. It was also a part of my family, so I connected to it in that way. It just makes sense to me, something that old, to keep it going. But, really, it just sounds right.

“But as far as a weirdo rock scene, we’re trying to get that going as we speak. That’s what I’m interested in.”

Making the best of things (and keeping things weird) with his friends is just how the 13-song “Signs and Wonders” got done, to hear Townsend, who performed on and engineered the album, tell the story.

“You’re talking about playing old time music? I don’t know, I came back here so I wouldn’t have to think about it so much. Like, you can go anywhere and get experimental, but like, here, I kind of came here, like Darrin was saying, some of the best players in the country, and in the world, a lot of them live right here in Elkins. I came down to hang out with my buddies, who I consider to be some of the top musicians in the old time world.

“But I came down here to get away from that,” Townsend added. “Or at least to get away from the idea that I needed to do that everywhere. So, there’s a good solid foundation of old time music, from which I hope we are able to continue to do creative, and experimental, and visionary things. But I think that while it’s great to have a foundation in the past, it doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time there.”

Hacquard said enlisting Townsend, The Fox Hunt guys, and talented dudes like William Matheny to help on the record made it more special.

“I’m proud as hell of it. I’d like more people to know about it, but I’m just glad to have it for my own accomplishment, you know? I wrote the first couple of songs like five years ago, and they kind of trickled in over the last five years but my vision for them was pretty much what you hear on the record. I didn’t have to look very far to find the people that could make that happen.”

Making it happen proved quite the challenge, recording in “The Doodio” as it is known, Townsend said.

“We used to live in this house in Martinsburg that was my granddad’s house. Darrin and I had lived there, some of The Fox Hunt guys had lived there over the years, it’s really been kind of a rotating cast. We used to call it The Doodio and I guess we still do, but there ain’t much of it left. So, John [R. Miller] and I had been playing in The Hackensaw Boys for two years, and I’d been living in Richmond, and I hadn’t seen the house. It had been vacant for like three or four years or something. And I had this wild or stupid idea to, we were financially necessitated, to go in there and record. So I took all my gear up -- we couldn’t lock the doors or anything, so somebody had to stay there all the time -- and there was black mold all over everything, just fucked up, man, you know?”

“There were Wolf Spiders,” Hacquard added.

“Yeah, there were Wolf Spiders everywhere, and it looked like some sort of rodents had gotten in and kind of tore up everything, and the ceiling was falling in. So we just decided that it would be a great place to make this record. We cleared all the shit out of the sink, and we got a cooler, and we filled the sink and the cooler up with ice and beer. Darrin got a bunch of Kombucha on his food stamps, and a half gallon of vodka and some groceries, and we sat up there for four days and just tracked them all out.

“The power wouldn’t work, so we couldn’t run a bass amp, the power wasn’t strong enough to run it. We had everything all plugged in and I had everything all mic’d up. We tracked everything out, and I took it to my house in Winchester, where I was living at the time, and I did all the overdubs. Then, Darrin and I got back together at the house in Martinsburg and mixed the thing. It definitely was a trial by force, you know? Computers died, just about anything that could go wrong did.”

“We almost lost the whole thing,” Hacquard recalled with more horror in his voice than when describing the spiders.

“Almost, and more than once,” Townsend noted. “I spilled a beer on my laptop and fried it. But it’s those inconsistencies in life -- you don’t have to have everything to make a great record. I think sometimes our limitations are what allows us to really thrive. I think the attitude around that record was just like the record itself, there were some ups, there were some downs, you know, that’s life.”

Townsend said he’s both impressed with Hacquard’s songs and proud of pulling the record off, despite the challenges.

“Oh shit, dude, I think it’s awesome,” he said of the experience. “I get pretty crazy in the mixing situation, and can tend to be a little bit of a perfectionist. We’d set a mastering date and we were coming up on it and I was stressing out about it, and I’m talking slight changes. Darrin, though, had the wherewithal to just be like ‘This is done. It has to go out,’ you know?

“We didn’t even have a room to monitor it in. We’d just burn the CD off and go listen to it in the car. Usually I have a really good setup, and that’s kind of what I’m working on down here, is getting my setup back together. I mean, we didn’t even have a set of speakers to listen to the thing on. And I don’t say any of that because I think it’s an interesting story. I think the record sounds awesome, I think the songs are awesome, the performances and the energy, I just think it’s all right there.”

Hacquard said he’s glad that friends and fans like the album.

“You know, a certain number of people would have bought it whether they liked it or not,” he said. “But it’s cool that people actually like it. Some of these songs, I take a risk putting what I think out there. People know me as one person, and I share some of my struggles and some of the weirder aspects of my personality on the record. I’m a little surprised that people are rolling with it so much, but I’m glad that they are.”

Townsend said that Hacquard, everyone involved in the making of the record, and area bands as a whole have something to be proud of, and it is something they are glad to be a part of, being from West Virginia.

“I’ll chime in on that stream of thought. I’m not sure if it’s a good way to say it, but I think that’s the overall view too in the state, that like, there’s a big reception when we’re doing something that’s more traditional. Then you kind of have to like guide people along for the other side of things.

“That’s a big part of why I came back here, specifically to this area, because a lot of people that are into old time music in Elkins, are also into some other creative aspect of music, or art, or life, all those things. What led me to this wasn’t having a closed mind and being interested in one style of music, it was being open to just about anything. I think what we’re really hoping to do is push the bar, like ‘Yeah, sure, you can play old time music, and that’s great, but what do YOU have to say?’ Let’s all encourage each other.

“How many cool bands are in West Virginia right now? You mentioned Horseburner, everything Bud Carroll is doing, The Demon Beat, when they were going strong, there’s just a ton of creative people in West Virginia, and I came back because I wanted to be a part of making the world know that.

“To hell with, ‘Let’s move to L.A. and play old time music,’ let’s move to West Virginia and make it happen here.”

--- Signs and Wonders and The Fox Hunt perform Thursday, March 12 at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown.