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.


Seven Year Itch: Tucker Riggleman debuts new single, announces new solo effort "Burn Out Too Bright"

Photo: Renzo Velez

Before he was in The Demon Beat, Prison Book Club, Bishops or RHIN, Shepherdstown’s Tucker Riggleman was doing acoustic stuff by himself. Roughly seven years after starting down his own musical path, Riggleman will release his seven-song sophomore effort, “Burn Out Too Bright” on translucent yellow cassette March 24 on Twin Cousins Records.

Tucker took some time to talk about the debut single, “Signal” and bringing the solo material to fruition with friend and longtime collaborator Paul Cogle…

“Burn Out Too Bright” was essentially seven years in the making. It was that long ago that my only other proper release, “Let You Down”, became the first Big Bullet Records project that was completely handled in house. That feels like a lifetime ago, and a lot of really great things have happened since then. I was very lucky to be a part of some awesome bands with some of my best friends throughout that time. During that span, and especially once Bishops got up and running, it became easy for me to forget about my solo material that got me started down this crazy path. Even though I am the songwriter in Bishops, my solo material has remained a separate entity throughout the years. This particular batch of songs covers that whole seven year span --- some were written that long ago, while the single “Signal” is my newest solo song.

 photo solocoverrough_zpszpwcpbsw.jpg
While The Demon Beat, Prison Book Club, and Bishops received the bulk of my focus during that stretch of time, I continued writing songs that didn’t fit with any of those projects. I would play them alone in my room, at the occasional open mic, or keep them hidden in notebooks. I finally set aside a couple of days to track some of them for posterity’s sake with my good pal (and founding member of Bishops) Paul Cogle this past October. I went in with a bunch of ideas, but ultimately kept it incredibly simple. All of these recordings are one take with no overdubs. It is just me in a room with a guitar, the way all of this started. I thank Paul as always for being an amazing producer, and knowing just what the songs and the performer need to make the record be its best.

The result is an intimate collection of songs that were written on the sideline of my twenties, in which a lot of good and bad things happened, just like in anyone else’s life. This is what I was writing when I wasn’t out touring and playing loud music that I love with the people that I love, and I’m glad that it is now available for anyone to hear.

The release show for “Burn Out Too Bright” is 3.27 at Gene’s in Morgantown with guests John R. Miller and Tyler Grady, and it can be pre-ordered by clicking on any of the conveniently placed TCR links.


15 Years of Thrash: The False Profit Q&A

Buckhannon-Morgantown thrash punk legends False Profit will play 123 Pleasant Street in Magic Town Friday for its 15 Years of Thrash kickoff show. The band (Marshall Tolliver: vocals; Tommy Fultz: guitar; John Halterman: guitar; John Lang: bass; Steve Halterman: drums) will be joined by False Pterodactyl, High Fives and Hell Yeahs, and Fuck Your Birthday.

WVRockscene caught up with singer Marshall Tolliver, guitarist Tommy Fultz, and drummer Steve Halterman to talk about being a punk rocker, making your own music and your own scene... 

WVRockscene: How exciting has it been having the band back together? How pumped are you guys for this “15 years of thrash” kickoff show Friday night at 123 Pleasant Street?

Marshall Tolliver: I know we are all excited for the show. We have some new songs we’re going to be playing for the first time, and we’re eager to see how the crowd responds to the new tunes!

Tommy Fultz: I am super stoked, I know we are all super stoked. These guys are my best friends, have been since we were wee little. Playing music is something we all do. We took a hiatus but it was never a question to whether we were done. We’ll end up being the meanest fastest thrash band in wheelchairs.

Steve Halterman: We are super stoked for the show, whether 50 or 150 people show up. It is great to be playing shows again. I am not so sure if you could say we are back together or not because we never really stopped hanging out and jamming. Our other band/side project, Wildman Band of Thieves, gave me, John, and Lang an opportunity to practice False Profit while playing some good ol rock and roll.

rockscene: How much did it suck NOT having the band together?

Marshall: We never officially quit playing. We just weren’t actively seeking shows for a while. Some of the guys were performing with other bands, but we were all still writing False Profit songs. I know we’ve all been itching to get back out there as False Profit though.

Tommy: Life is better with thrash

rockscene: Talk about meeting/knowing each other and forming out in Buckhannon and in Morgantown so many years ago. What punk bands influenced you guys or brought you together?

Marshall: When I was in 7th grade (around 1990-1991) a good friend of mine named Jonah had a cassette of the Dead Kennedys, “In God We Trust, Inc.” Up until this time I just listened to whatever was on the radio, whatever was popular at the time. When I heard that DK album, I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard! I was blown away. I liked the fact that the songs were so fast and short (and offensive!). Then he played some Minor Threat for me, and I was hooked on hardcore music.

I loved how you didn’t really know when one song had ended and the next had begun. I loved the aggressiveness. Later, when we were in high school, Jonah and I decided we would start a band. Jonah played bass and I played guitar. We found a drummer and a singer, called ourselves “Big Trucks” and played a few shows. Jonah and Tom had jammed together before, so that’s how Tom got involved.

The lineup then changed to Steve on drums, and me taking over on vocals and rhythm guitar, Tom on lead guitar, and Jonah on bass. We changed the band name a few times, but eventually ended up calling ourselves Aneurysm. This was around 1993, 1994. That’s when we started writing our own songs, as opposed to playing covers, and taking things more serious.

We played quite a few shows around West Virginia and surrounding states, and put out a few albums. During this time, a lot of local bands really influenced me. Bands that were more established, who took the time to help us out and sort of “show us the ropes” so to speak. I really looked up to bands like Malicious Intent, Screw Worm, and Dead Ant Farm, all West Virginia bands.

Somewhere along the way Jonah moved on, and Steve’s brother, Dave took over on bass. After a short dormant period with Aneurysm, we were all ready to fire back up again. We made some more lineup changes, with John taking over on second guitar, allowing me to concentrate solely on vocals, and Tim on bass, as Dave had moved to Columbus, and was playing with a pretty successful band there. This was in 2000, and we decided on the band name “False Profit”.

Tommy: we have an awesome story about how we formed. I got asked to play one song with this garage band called Big Trucks that Marshall played guitar in. This was 1994 or ‘95. We ended up winning this battle of the bands, not because we were good, but because we were crazy lunatics on stage. That’s how I met Marshall. Another crazy fact: my uncle and his uncle had a band in high school, had no idea.

First day of school in art class the teacher asked us to draw something, anything, I drew a Dead Kennedys symbol. I look over a couple seats down and this long haired dude drew the same thing. “You play drums?” ‘yep,’ “Awesome, practice is Tuesday, see you then,” or something easy like that. That’s how we met Steve.

Tuesday practice came, our new drummer showed up two hours late. We thought he wasn’t gonna show. He did, first song was “California Uber Alles,” and ANEURYSM was formed. We started, by playing our school talent show, and played Black Flag’s “My War,” again, we were lunatics. Audience didn’t expect that.

Big Dave Halterman, Steve’s brother, later played bass for us and we tore up shows in West Virginia for a few years. Big Dave moved to Columbus, Ohio, and John Halterman, Steve’s other brother joined, and False Profit was born. This was 2001. False Profit was faster, meaner, a completely new band. John Lang, a lifelong friend, came into the picture to play bass in 2010. This is our final lineup. This is False Profit.

Steve: In as far as what punk bands influenced us I would say for me first and foremost Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys and too many more to mention. One day I heard NOFX’s “Linoleum” for the first time and said “We can play that fast.” From that point on we have been playing with speed and precision blowing the rest away.

rockscene: So you have new demos and are gonna have a new album?

Tommy: We have all of April booked to record our new full-length. We have 10+ new songs, faster and meaner than ever. You can tell through our 15+ years how our songs have progressed. We are known for our blazing fast drums, stop-on-a-dime riffs, and our oohs and awws in the background.

The new songs and album will be no different, just better. I’m super stoked and I’m sure the False Profit fans out there are too to hear some new songs. I know we are.

rockscene: Looking back on your 2004 full-length release “Thrash Till Death” how proud are you guys of it still?

Marshall: Actually, the “Thrash Till Death” CD is a compilation of songs from all three of our albums. I’m proud of everything we’ve ever recorded, but I think our self-titled album (our second album) that we recorded ourselves in 2003 is my favorite. Kevin Lyman (founder of Warped Tour) heard that CD and called me up personally to offer us a stint on the Lyman Stage at Warped that year.

He commented on the production of the album, which we did entirely ourselves, from recording to mixing to mastering. He thought it was a great recording for being done entirely DIY. I felt that this was very positive feedback, considering the overwhelming number of bands and albums this guy hears on a daily basis!

Our newest album, “Hallucinatory Terrain” is definitely better quality of any of our previous recordings, as we went into a real studio. We recorded it in 207, so we’re anxious to get back into the studio with our new material!

Tommy: “Thrash Till Death” is just a compilation of every False Profit song ever recorded, songs that we recorded at our home studio and songs off the “Hallucinatory Terrain” album. It’s nothing better than a crowd singing along to all your songs. Every False Profit song is fun to play or we wouldn’t play them.

Steve: “Thrash Till Death” still sounds just as great as it ever was. Some of the songs are still a challenge to play even with as far as we have progressed since.

rockscene: You released that record over 10 years ago. Is the desperation gone for you guys? People change over time have you felt that influence how you feel about punk rock or do you feel the same love for it?

Marshall: I still feel the same about playing and performing my music as I did from day one. Life happens, (marriages, kids, mortgages, etc…) but we still have that same drive to get out there and rock it out!

Tommy: We play THRASH PUNK, that’s what we do, and we do for shits and giggles at practice but we play the fastest blazing pissed thrash that we can. Our business is thrash and business is good.

Steve: I still feel as passionate about playing as I ever did if not a little more.

rockscene: It happens that people can kind of put music down for a while and just not be in a band. The worst thing would be to try to do something if your heart wasn’t/isn’t in it. What made you wanna start False Profit back up? Did it take not having it around to make it seem kinda more special?

Marshall: When we weren’t playing all the time like we used to, I definitely missed it. Going to shows and watching bands play made me miss it more. We all still hung out and there was no doubt that we would be playing as False Profit again. I think we all just finally had had enough of not performing together as False Profit!

Tommy: False Profit never ended, it just took a break. There are two things that we do when we see each other and always have, is we have a handshake we do to say hello and goodbye and we talk about False Profit. False Profit is a part of my life, it’s what makes me, me.

It is cool though, friends and fans are stoked to see us playing again, and we are greating great response from new fans that haven’t seen us. I get more people saying they can’t wait to see False Profit for the first time, they say False Profit was legend.

Steve: I am not one of those people who can put down music for a while. I am always playing and have been in multiple bands at multiple times and all the while have been working on False Profit stuff.

rockscene: What/when was the high point of/for False Profit during your operational time? Favorite show?

Marshall: Really, the whole time has been a high point for me! Playing with some of my favorite bands like the Queers, The Murder Junkies, D.R.I. The Warped shows were really fun, getting to meet and hang out with bands like Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Rise Against, NOFX. It was a blast!

I really miss the 516 Pearl St. house parties in Morgantown. We had some crazy shows there to say the least.

Steve: My favorite show was playing with D.R.I., or Vans Warped Tour. But our high points just keep getting better and better as time goes by.

Tommy: Right now is the tightest we have ever been since 2001. We area ll focused on practice, shows, and recording our new full-length. This Friday starts off our schedule of shows booked until the end of June so far. In 2001 we all lived together and practiced day and night in our basement. We have played so many kick ass shows, shared the stage with so many awesome bands. I miss the house party, anything goes, beer flying chaos shows we had in Morgantown the most.

rockscene: Do you think it was much different forming/having/keeping a band together back in, say, the mid-to-late 1990’s? Pros and cons, promoting bands online versus getting people out to shows? Even/especially as it relates to Morgantown?

Marshall: I don’t think it’s any different now keeping a band together or starting a band than it was when we first started. Of course now everything is much easier in terms of setting up and promoting shows, as well as distributing one’s music. With the internet you can let hundreds of people know about a show instantly with the push of a button. Press kits can be sent electronically to promoters or clubs. We used to use “Book Your Own Fucking Life” and mail out cassettes to every venue when looking for a show in the early days.

Honestly though, I miss some aspects of that. It was more personal. You had to talk to an actual person on the phone instead of doing the email, Facebook, text thing.

Steve: It has always been easy for us to keep the band together from the beginning until now because we are all good friends. It’s much easier to promote and to get people to come to your shows with online media. You can gain fans on the other side of the world and not have to play a show in their hometowns.

Tommy: Flyers, zines, and word of mouth was the only way to promote your band. It’s a lot different now with online social media. We have only been on Facebook for a month and we’ve reached out to so many people, new and old. Promoting is a lot easier now but vinyl, cassettes, flyers, those were the days. When this new full-length comes out, what’s the point of producing CDs? They are obsolete now. Digital downloads are the new big thing. We will put all of our stuff online for anyone to have and check out, but we are thinking of putting this album on vinyl to have at our merch table. I’d buy vinyl over anything, any day.

rockscene: The drummer from Charleston-area punk band Miniature Giant lamented the lack of a punk scene in West Virginia recently in a Facebook post. It does seem like there are cool punk shows going on in Clarksburg at Main St. Café, and 123 has cool punk bands play there. How supportive and/or active of a scene is there for punk bands?

Marshall: I think the scene is what you make of it. Coming from Buckhannon, there was no “punk scene”. No bands played punk rock when we first started. No venues wanted to book a bunch of rowdy punk rock kids! This is West Virginia for God’s sake! Your average bar crowd wants to hear hip-hop. If there’s a band playing the crowd wants to hear Skynyrd, AC/DC, or country.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But that’s not what we do.

So we started our own scene in Buckhannon. We started renting out firehalls and community buildings. We booked tons of touring bands, and put on numerous kick ass shows. We basically started our own scene and we realized that people would come. They wanted an alternative to the bar band, DJ club scene.

Tommy: It’s not like it used to be. We’re just getting back into the scene but so far it’s been encouraging. Morgantown will always have a scene, and 123 Pleasant St. and Clarksburg used to be on of the best towns to play in, and I’m sure it hasn’t changed, if anything it’s gotten better with the Main St. Café. I think what Daniel Bonner is doing at Main St. Café is great. Our first show back in Clarksburg is Saturday, February 28th.

North Central West Virginia is definitely lucky to have two major venues that are being packed and bringing traveling, touring bands. Elkins is also starting to form a new thriving scene at Captain Ron’s, so our idea is growing. If you look around at our neighboring states, this whole area has a lot of venues that we can all keep the music going. And social media just makes it easier to promote and schedule.

Steve: I’ve always thought the scene in West Virginia has been rather weak compared to other regions, but that being said, there has been enough for us to play shows comfortably for almost 20 years now. I’m always hearing about bands playing in the Charleston/Huntington area, Clarksburg and Morgantown and a multitude of bands coming and going so it seems robust enough.

rockscene: You call yourselves “West Virginia’s Kings of Thrash” -- influenced by these old punk bands like you are -- do you think thrash is something that’s kind of lost on a generation of punk and metal fans? Or, not?

Marshall: I’ve always said “to each his own.” You can’t force someone to like a style of music they’re just not into. So many bands are influenced by thrash bands and they don’t even know it. I hear people saying “I love Avenged Sevenfold,” but put in some old Sacred Reich or Nuclear Assault and they’re like, “What’s this crap? This band sucks!” If not for these bands, the bands out there today wouldn’t exist!

Old school thrash is basically punk rock, just faster with more distorted guitars. Most of the kids out there, into this brutal slam metalcore stuff, have no idea where extreme music came from! It didn’t start with Korn and Slipknot, that’s for sure!

Tommy: That title didn’t come from us, but we will proudly use it. Every band comes up with their own sound, something that sets them apart from the rest. Our sound is straight forward, blazing fast. We will see if the generation is dead or not, maybe a resurgence. Even back in the day we weren’t like the others, we fill a niche that nobody else does.

Steve: NO, because the thrash that we play rides the line between punk and metal. We fit in playing with pop-punk bands and get good responses as well as hard ass metal shows and rip it up. I think what we play is right at home with punk and metal fans.

rockscene: You guys play thrash, right, haha? You guys have no doubt witnessed this kind of safer punk rock emerge over the last 20 years. When DID punk rock become so safe? Was it the late 90’s? Seriously though are False Profit shows safe?

Marshall: Yeah, punk rock has become safe. I do believe this happened in the late 90’s. After the whole “grunge” scene was done, the corporate record labels were looking for the next big “underground” sound. Poppy sounding punk was the obvious next step. Punk rock became so mainstream, and easily accessible. Nowadays automobile manufacturers use Sex Pistols music on commercials to sell cars. You can go to Wal-Mart now and pink up the latest “underground” band’s album. We used to have to order albums from labels like SST, Alternative Tentacles, or Epitaph and wait for them to show up in the mail. You couldn’t just go down to the department store’s record section and ask for the new Anal Cunt album. Nor could you instantly download it and listen to it on your cellular phone, ipad, or laptop.

There should be a sense of danger associated with punk and underground music. The topics discussed in our lyrics are not happy or sugar coated. But we want everyone to feel welcome and safe at our shows. I can’t stand the guy who gets in the pit with the intention of causing harm to others. That’s not what we’re here for.

Some minor injuries have to be expected when thrashing with others at a show (I know I’ve had my share), but if we see someone acting like a total jackass in the crowd, we will stop playing and have that person removed from the show. Actually, one of our new songs deals with this exact subject (tough guys at shows).

Steve: I think that safety in punk rock started with the emergence of bands like Green Day, Blink 182, and other happy sounding overly emotional bands who have months of the year or days of the week in their names.

Tommy: We encourage safety. Everyone, be safe while stage diving. Make sure there is someone who will catch you or it’s going to hurt. If the pit’s too tough, take a safety-breather-beer-break and jump back in.

It’s funny, we don’t look like your typical punk rockers. None of us try to pull off that look. We would roll up to a venue, show, or house party and people would look at us like ‘Who are you guys? You got the wrong place.’ Until we flipped the switch on our amps.

We look safe, actually probably out of place, until people hear what we’re all about.

--- False Profit performs Friday at 123 Pleasant Street with False Pterodactyl, Fuck Your Birthday, and High Fives and Hell Yeahs.


Horseburner Gets Grilled: The WVRockscene Q&A

In 2015 Parkersburg-based stoner rockers Horseburner are looking to release a new record and play as many shows as possible. The band (Adam Nohe, Jack Thomas, Rob Howard, Zach Kaufman) will open for Byzantine for their CD release show (in Huntington) in April, and tonight will perform with Karma To Burn and Sierra at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown. 

A few of the guys talked with WVRockscene about writing, recording, playing shows and grilling hamburgers... 

WVRockscene: You guys are demoing new material -- how excited are you about writing and recording a debut full-length?

Adam Nohe: Oh man. I couldn’t be more excited. We’ve passed 6 years together as a band, so I think it’s well past time we finally got a full-length LP under our belts. Since we’ve been around for a bit, we’ve got a good number of songs out there. Some of the songs we’re recording for this album are near five years old.

Rob Howard: A full-length is just the next step for us that we wanted to take as a band. It’s always been important to us to keep things moving forward and we are so stoked on the new songs...and revamps of older ones too!

Jack Thomas: My previous two bands which were in the middle of writing for a full-length both stalled and broke up shortly after. Hopefully the third time is the charm? All kidding aside, I’ve got high hopes for this one.

rockscene: You most recently released Strange Giant in 2013 -- from then (and even Dirt City) to now, has much changed in the way you approach the process? You recorded a 7” D.I.Y. in your basement before sending it off will this new record follow a similar process?

Adam: Yeah, this is looking to be a fairly similar process. I think we’re working on finding somewhere other than the basement to record this one, but we’re doing everything in-house once again. We’re really aiming to spend more time actually tracking this time. Spend more time getting the sounds we want, making sure each take is the right one. Without paying for a studio, we’re afforded some extra time.

Rob: We love the ability to have complete creative control in the recording process. If Zach wants his guitar louder in a certain spot...or Adam wants more thud out of the kick drum, we have the advantage of messing with the faders with impunity.

Adam: On one hand, that’s cool because we don’t have an outside influence on the songs. But on the other hand, if they suck, that’s all on us too.

rockscene: What is it about what is generally called stoner rock or this kind of more sludgy stuff, or classic rock inspired stuff or whatever you wanna call it that appeals to people after so many years and styles and genres?

Rob: I think there’s something universal about the music that all of those genres come from. If you really think about it...All of the prototypical bands that would go on to inspire the countless number of weirdos in their bedroom rebelling against their parents or “the man” ...they all had one thing in common. How many of those bands do you actually SING the guitar riff? THAT to me is the enduring legacy from bands like Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple....hell, even Rick Derringer or Edgar Winter for that matter. ALL of those bands had riffs you sing...and the music is so infectious that you can’t escape it.

Adam: For me, some of the classic rock bands were some of the best. Not to say I don’t listen to more current artists as well, but take a band like Thin Lizzy or Tom Petty. Those songs, those riffs, they stick with you. And especially with Lizzy or Petty, those guys were just cool. If anyone brings some level of that vibe, I think people will latch onto it.

Jack: I think another big part of the appeal is aesthetic. Everything, the amps, drums, volume level, is larger-than-life. There’s a certain raw energy, a “no rules, just be loud and fuzzy” attitude not found in other genres.

rockscene: You guys are from Parkersburg. You don’t hear a lot about Parkersburg as it relates to cool rock bands or shows do you think that’s an accurate assessment? Are there venues to play? Cool bands? Is it an asset kind of being in between Morgantown, Charleston and Huntington, geographically?

Jack: There are still a few fantastic musicians and bands in the area who are friends of ours. There’s pop-punk band Street Food, hardcore band Killjoy, and more. The lack of a real music venue (one interested in more than just cover bands) is a big problem. It’s just a lot less hassle to make the short trip to Morgantown, Huntington, Columbus, OH, etc.

Adam: Funny story. We’re opening for Byzantine’s album release show in Huntington later this year. Yet, we were not approached by anyone to play their Parkersburg date. Figure that, ha. Parkersburg used to be really cool for shows. When we had dedicated all-ages venues, it was great. Shows every weekend. Then those died out and we did the D.I.Y. thing with houses and renting halls or community buildings. Then that died out a few years ago, so there’s not much of anything going on anymore.

I don’t hear of any shows or even bands really anymore unless my friends are in them. It’s shocking to me. Back when Jack and Zach and I were in high school, it seemed like half the school played in a band or came to shows. Now, I’m a teacher and it seems like hardly any of the kids even listen to music, let alone play it. That makes me sad for them to not have that experience. Those formative experiences for me are irreplaceable. Rob was in the Parkersburg scene years before we were, so I’m sure that as much as I see a difference, he has to see an even bigger one.

Rob: I’ll use my “old man” status again.... When I was a teenager, the Internet didn’t exist on the plane that it does now. We had to create our own fun. So there was somewhat of a burgeoning scene that started in Parkersburg/Marietta by a few college kids and the random kids who caught a Bad Religion video on 120 Minutes.

There were countless bands from here. A few good ones...A lot more not good but just kids having the time of their lives. I suppose the biggest band to come out of here was Zao (not from Pennsylvania like others may say). And they seemed to do pretty well for themselves.

My generation’s scene died in around 1999. However, after a couple of years, the guys in my band resuscitated it as best they could. But what's terrifying and depressing to me is that I’m not sure something like that can happen again. I realize every generation is different. But it’s such a bummer to me to not see kids actually picking up an instrument and making a fool of themselves by belonging to a music community.

rockscene: You guys (I think Adam specifically) had posted on the band profile about how special Huntington was/is to Horseburner as far as support and friends and misery. How special is Huntington and the V Club to Horseburner?

Rob: I was born in Huntington. Spent the first few years of my life there. I always have a soft spot in my heart for that town, (and a Gino’s Pubwich) and the wonderful humans we’ve been lucky enough to have in our lives who call Huntington home.

Adam: I think if you read that post through, you get an idea. Huntington is one of those places that’s become more of a home to us than Parkersburg. We have more fans down there than here. We’ve met so many awesome people there, many who have become close personal friends. Every time we make a trip down there, it feels like a homecoming. Down there, everyone, we’re all miserable, but we’re all miserable together.

rockscene: You guys have a bandcamp page and Rob was asked in an interview about label support how important IS a label in this day and age do you think?

Adam: I think it depends on your goals. If you just want to record and release some music online, it’s never been easier to do that than right now. However, I think if you want to widen your reach, having a label can be a great way to get that support. I’m not saying throw your name on any contract placed in front of you, but if you find people you trust, and you dig what they do and they dig what you do, why not? As long as you’re not expecting to magically morph into some global phenomenon, and you put your share of the work in, I can’t see how it wouldn’t be beneficial.

rockscene: How excited are you to open for Karma To Burn Friday at 123 Pleasant Street?

Adam: Dude, I’m really stoked for the show.

Rob: Super pumped. Those guys have been kicking ass for many years and it’s a testament to the spirit of rock staying alive in all of us.

Adam: Our buddy Evan [Devine], who used to play in Ancient Shores (and may possibly still be in Sweet Life and who knows how many other bands), ended up filling the drum seat for Karma to Burn. It’s been awesome to watch him as he documents life on the road. Personally, I’m kind of living vicariously through his Instagram account. But the bands rule, 123 Pleasant Street rules, and we have tons of awesome friends in Morgantown. It’s going to be a good time, man.

rockscene: Just how passionate are you guys about grilling hamburgers? More than most bands?

Rob: A wise man once said, “No life til burger.”

Adam: I remember several of the cities we’ve played or visited based soley on where I got a great burger. I would challenge any other band to match our passion for burgers. I guarantee they will come up short. Except maybe Lo-Pan from Columbus...

Jack: I think pizza and burritos deserve an honorable mention too.

rockscene: Aside from getting the new record out do you guys have anything you’re looking forward to in 2015? Shows? Tour? Grilling hamburgers?

Adam: Like you said, we’re focusing on the record right now. We’re also looking into booking as we speak. I said we have the Byzantine show coming up. We’re working on some short summer tours, we’re working on spring weekends. Every year, we’re like, “Let’s play more shows than ever!!!” and then life gets in the way. I’m hoping that this year, we can really get out there and hit the road. We haven’t done that as much in the last year, and it’s been slowly driving me insane. So, if all goes as I think it will, expect to see us revisit the northeast, midwest, and the south sooner rather later.

Jack: Personally, I’m most excited to watch more New Japan Pro Wrestling and to NOT cut my hair (my worst decision of 2014).

Adam: We’re hoping Jack brings his dreads back.

rockscene: It seems like, whatever genre or style you get plugged into, for most musicians it seems to come back to having fun sharing something you love (music/rocking out onstage) with friends and fans. The vast majority of bands will never be a commercial success or barely break even. Is just having fun and having the respect of your peers what it’s all about at the end of the day?

Jack: When it comes to playing music, having fun is always priority number one. I think everyone in the band has lost interest in music at one point or another, but we all come back around. It’s addicting. There’s no feeling quite like it.

Rob: Fun. It really is about fun. If money was the driving interest, I’m not sure that many bands would have even started in the first place. For me, money isn’t where I define success. Playing to a boatload of people who enjoy what you’re doing IS. I would honestly take no pay to get the rush of a huge show where everyone was just waiting to hear that first note. You play music for yourself... but wow it sure is amazing when you have a group of people who want to share that same experience with you at the same time. That is the essence of rock and roll to me.

Adam: It’s all about the experience of sharing the energy, the vibes, and this thing, whatever it is, that we’ve created. I know it sounds cheesy, but for me it’s this cathartic, almost spiritual thing. To have that energy passed between the four of us, to the crowd, back to us, it’s the only reason to do what we do.


Shepherdstown-based band RHIN to play Huntington on Saturday (H-D repost)

Courtesy photo

Since forming in the summer of 2013, Shepherdstown-based sludgecore band RHIN (L-R: Tucker Riggleman, Ben Proudman, Dominic Gianninoto) has been writing, recording, and rocking out at shows. The band will perform at The V Club Saturday night.

Reposted with permission from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

RHIN has been on a good run lately.

The Shepherdstown-based sludgecore/punk band, comprised of members of Bishops and Black Blizzard and fronted by a “Two Ton Rhino” singer-bassist, Dominic Gianninoto, released ‘Bastard,’ its debut full-length in December to some critical acclaim, and has been playing shows with West Virginia stoner rock pioneers Karma To Burn.

The band will ride no small amount of momentum into Charleston and Huntington this week for shows at The Empty Glass and V Club for its first shows in the respective cities.

“We’ve started off on a good foot,” Gianninoto said of how his band has started 2015. “The last couple of months, we’ve been getting some shows that we enjoy being on, and playing with some bands that we really look up to.”

RHIN (Gianninoto; Tucker Riggleman: guitar; Ben Proudman: drums) welcomed Karma To Burn to Shepherdstown for the band’s record release in late December, and things went off without a hitch.

“It’s been really great, all the support we’ve got,” Gianninoto said. “We were really nervous about the record release show, with Karma To Burn coming down, making sure it all went well. I was blown away with the response.”

Before blowing some critics away with its sophomore full-length, released on Grimoire Records out of Baltimore, the band’s home away from home, you could say Gianninoto, influenced by the Melvins and Mike Patton, got into “some heavier stuff” living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“When I started messing around with a bass and a distortion pedal, that was what started RHIN,” he said.

Returning to Shepherdstown found Gianninoto briefly fronting Domino and the Two Ton Rhinos.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t very focused and I just didn’t know what the hell I was doing, just being in a band, what that means, you know?”

After reuniting with his college pal Riggleman, and recruiting Proudman on drums, RHIN was born in the summer of 2013.

“I was thinking about doing something with music again, because the whole Domino stuff was very short lived,” Gianninoto said. “Tucker told me I should meet this guy Ben, who I’d went and seen in Black Blizzard, and it kind of went from there. I must’ve asked Tucker to play, and he was down.”

The band released its self-titled debut in October 2013 and from there, Gianninoto said the good chemistry and approach has bore sludgy fruit.

“Ben’s really into more extreme metal, and he’s always expanding my tastes with really aggressive stuff. And he’s not afraid to get aggressive or angry,” he said laughing.

“Tucker brings a cool approach to it, in the sense that some of his lead work is really great, classic rock stuff. We both have a love for classic rock, so we share that. Having been in The Demon Beat, he has that garage influence. Some of his lead work is really cool noise rock 90’s stuff, and that’s right up my alley.

“It’s a nice little melting pot I guess. I think me, Ben and Tucker work well together. I like our songwriting process, because we can get it together pretty quick. I think we all just want to be respected and play music that our peers or people we look up to respect in the end.

“I mean, we’ve only been around for, maybe a year and a half or so, and we’re very pleased with our recordings,” Gianninoto said with pride. “We definitely felt like we matured a lot and we’re very pleased with [‘Bastard’].

The guys in RHIN, more used to the Baltimore scene than Morgantown, are looking forward for their first shows in Charleston and Huntington.

“I know it’s the first time, and it’s a building process of trying to get people out but we’re really excited to be coming down that way,” Gianninoto said. “We’ve talked about it now for almost a year, and we’re hoping to do it some more. That’s the cool thing about being in a band, you get to go different places, and we’re always down to play shows, so let’s make it happen.

“We’re just trying to keep the forward motion going, and just keep getting better and writing good songs and playing good shows,” Gianninoto said.

“We don’t waste too much time in general,” the singer-bassist said, kind of summing things up. “I haven’t had much band experience. I’ve had some, but, this has just been an awesome experience.”

If you go:
WHO: RHIN with Rat Ship, Cavern
WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday Jan. 31
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., 304-781-0680
COST: $7
INFO: www.vclublive.com
ONLINE: www.facebook.com/rhinwv


Popular W.Va. band Karma To Burn back with a new album (H-D repost)

Courtesy of Evan Devine

The popular West Virginia band Karma To Burn is touring the United States and Europe with a new album, “Arch Stanton”

Reposted with permission from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

The more things change, the more they stay the same, they say. Such is the case for Karma To Burn.

Over twenty years after forming the Morgantown-based instrumental stoner rock outfit, guitarist Will Mecum, again, after a detour and some road bumps in recent years, has the band rolling again as a trio, with a new record, “Arch Stanton” and more touring in Europe and now the U.S.

Hanging out after a rehearsal at the band’s base, 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, Mecum, drummer Evan Devine, and recently recruited guest bassist Eric Clutter said 2014 has been great, and they’re all pumped to get out on the road in January.

“Well, it’s been quite busy and uh, a little crazy, with trying to formulate the new record and get it out to the public, and tour Europe,” Mecum said.

“It’s weird, I haven’t talked to too many people in the states that have heard the new record, and I talked to some people last night, and they were saying it’s the Karma To Burn that they grew up with, that they know, and they’re really happy that the new record is what it is.

“It just makes me very proud. It’s cool.”

Karma To Burn will perform at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown Saturday, December 27th. The band will embark on a U.S. tour, spanning 34 shows in 37 days, starting January 7th in Akron to promote its sixth full-length album.

Mecum said that “Arch Stanton” was an intentional return to a more direct, instrumental stoner rock sound, like that found on Roadrunner Records releases, 1999’s “Wild Wonderful Purgatory” and 2001’s “Almost Heathen,” records that put the band on the map. This, as opposed to the last two Napalm Records releases that found the band in an incestuous, experimental relationship with L.A.-based Year Long Disaster, 2010’s “Appalachian Incantation,” and “V,” released the following year.

“With the last couple of records with Karma, there was always like, a lot of different influences, like, different opinions here and there,” Mecum said diplomatically. “I would try to accommodate everybody and try to write the best song that I could. [Arch Stanton] is basically like, go straight forward at it and just get back to basics and just slam it out and make it a total, grind your teeth kind of sound, you know?”

For Mecum, there has likely been no small amount of frustration keeping his pioneering instrumental rock band going over the years. After a long hiatus between 2002 and 2009, and an attempt to reunite the band, longtime members, bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald could no longer be in Karma.

“Ya know, there’s been some member changes, and I think things are working out just great,” Mecum said. “I really am proud of [Arch Stanton] and I’m proud of Mr. Devine for writing it with me.”

Devine, the 26-year old drummer and veteran of Morgantown’s music scene, said the recording of “Arch Stanton” at FABA Studios in Biel, Switzerland marked a turning point for Karma To Burn.

“Getting to write with Will was kind of refreshing, because everything kind of got grounded. It was kind of like a fresh start for me, and sort of for Will, as well. It was the next step for us, but it was the first step in everything that’s happened since then.

“It’s just been really cool, because now it’s songs that Will and I wrote, and writing with Will is great, you know, he’s a riff machine,” Devine said to group laughter.

“It’s just great to finally have a record out, and say they’re my songs, our songs, it’s been really cool.”

“It’s always nice too, that you only got one other person to tell ya ‘f--- off!’” Mecum added, laughing hard.

Devine said ending up in Karma To Burn, and getting to tour Europe, was, and is, kind of surreal.

“Every time I get home, when I get back to Morgantown, and back to my friends, and I just look and I’m like ‘Wow. All of my friends are some of the best musicians I know and everyone I know deserves to be on tour,’ but it’s just not how the world works. I wish it did. I hope all my friends get to go on tour one day. So many, many guys deserve it. But I would’ve never expected it, or claimed to have deserved it. I was just in the right place at the right time.

“It’s really humbling. I get home and I talk to people, and I’m sure you know Bud Carroll, he’s been working his ass off for years and years, and I talked to him about you know, like ‘I just toured Europe,’ and it’s kind of weird for me, because I just kind of stumbled into something. But there are so many people that deserve to be on the road, to be out there, but it is hard. I’m just trying to do the best job I possibly can.”

When asked about being a stoner rock pioneer from West Virginia, and featuring and reminding people of that, Mecum said he’s proud to be a mountaineer.

“I’m not so sure I wanna be the music poster boy for West Virginia,” he said to group guffaws.

“No matter what the band has been doing, no matter what Karma is up to, I always make sure that there’s a little sideline to let people know where the hell we’re from,” Mecum said with emphasis.

“Most of the time, like Evan was saying, there’s a great pool of musicians in West Virginia that people don’t really know too much about. I’d love to take an army of em to go Los Angeles and kill all those f---ers.”

“Yeah, really. Let’s do it man,” Devine added.

“But I’m happy to be a part of West Virginia,” Mecum said. “I’ve lived here for 25 years. I’ve spent more than half my life here and I’m always proud to fly the flag and tell people, when they ask, ‘Where are you from?’ I say West Virginia. West By God.”

Mecum said heading into 2015, he’s still pumped about Karma To Burn twenty years and running.

“It’s definitely pepped me up a bit,” Mecum said of the renewed focus and energy Karma has found.

“You know, with any kind of like, business in the music realm, you have your ups and downs and things like that, and that’s never gonna stop. But at this point I really enjoy playing with the guys that I’m playing with, and it really gives me somewhat of a solace in my head to always go back to like, listen, you’re playing good music, you’re with good people, and just keep on rollin’, keep on doing it, ya know?

“I mean, there’s a lot of people that, talk about times where their jobs get them down, their family gets them down, and things like that. I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a very lucky person because of that. Even though it’s not always a bed of roses, it’s just a great thing. Of course, I don’t want to die tomorrow, but if I did I’d be like ‘F--- it I had a good time!’”

If you go:
WHO: Karma To Burn with Keep, RHIN
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday Dec. 27
WHERE: 123 Pleasant St., Morgantown (304) 292-0800
INFO: 123pleasantstreet.com
ONLINE: www.k2burn.net/