Friday, February 27, 2015

Interview W/ Doug Brown (Dir. "Slave To The Grind")

One of the most amazing things about a genre or culture of music is when hundreds and thousands of it's loyal fans and followers can band together and all fully support a developing piece of it's history. Doug Brown, a filmmaker from Toronto, is the spearhead for this unity by creating the first feature length documentary about the history of grindcore. "Slave To The Grind", is a film that has had a profound presence on the internet, and has weaved it's way through the grindcore scene worldwide. Teaser trailers, kickstarter campaigns, and the genuine, humble and enthusiastic attitude of Mr. Brown himself have been shared and passed around by fans, musicians, and labels over the past year. The anticipation of a professional documentary about our favorite genre is exciting enough, but Doug's obvious passion and dedication to making sure the story gets told correctly solidifies to me that "Slave To The Grind" will be a masterwork. Eager to find out more information, and do my part is spreading the word, I decided to interview Doug via email. Please enjoy. 

Operation Grindcore: Hello sir! Please introduce yourself
Doug Brown: My name is Doug Brown.  I’m a schoolteacher; grind freak, record collector, filmmaker, and concert goer.  I have a wife and daughter that I love very much, but do not like grindcore…

OG: Explain the genesis of "Slave to the Grind". Where did the idea first come to you?
DB: My last documentary was on collectors and why they collect.  While it was a great experience, I found that my topic was too broad. I interviewed people who collected everything from My Little Ponies to Cadillacs. I knew that I wanted to continue investigating topics that influenced my life, and I knew that I wanted to do it on something more specific.  Collectors are very passionate people, and I find that grind fans are too – so it was a logical next step. Plus, I collect grind records – so it made sense. Outside of my personal love for grind, It was about time for there to be something retrospective on the genre.

OG. What was your first exposure to the grind, and how your passion for it grew over time.
DB: My first grind album I wouldn’t even consider fully grind – Soilent Green’s "Sewn Mouth Secrets". I would likely call it sludge-grind, though that damn guitar tone is filthy. I still love S.G. to this day, and I was happy that Ben was the first interview that we got for the film.                 
Soilent are a great entry point for those not fully ready for grind. Keep in mind it was 15 years ago when I first heard it, so my tastes have gotten more aggressive since then. I grew up on thrash, then got into death metal, then death grind, and now I’m digesting grind at an absurd rate.  

OG: To my knowledge there hasn't be any in depth documentation about grindcore ever before. A little in books like "Choosing Death", but never about just specifically grindcore itself. Is this lack of exploring into this genre surprising to you?
DB: It is and it isn’t.  To me it’s all about timing.  When "Choosing Death" came out it was a huge step for heavy metal documentation. I remember reading that book front to back in awe of all of the stories and anecdotes from the musicians. In the last 10 years a lot has happened historically. Jesse Pintado passed away. Seth Putnam passed away. Brutal Truth got back together, then broke up again. Dave Witte recorded another thousand albums.It just seemed like the right time for a film.  An original title for the film was ‘The Complete Fucking History Of Grindcore” – but we realized that there was two things wrong with that.  1) There was no way we could capture all of history (Yes, we will include history…but I think people will be happy that this film will be about passion more than anything) and 2) By the time people watch it, history will have changed. 

OG: I've been loving the trailers that you've been posting. You've interviewed so many people I actually want to listen to. Like Dave Witte! Tell us about that, experience. Obviously he was a big part of one of our favorite albums.
 DB: Dave Witte is  one of my favourite drummers of all time. I’ll admit, doing that interview was one of the first times I was nervous to meet someone. As you will see in the film, he is an unbelievably relaxed, controlled, and pensive person. Beyond loving grind, Dave has played with an unbelievable breadth of musicians, in an absurdly diverse quantity of styles. Being able to talk about all of it was a treat. I’ll admit that I got a little side tracked when interviewing him.  I know it won’t make the film, but we chatted beer, jazz, and cats. It was totally badass in the nerdiest way. 

OG: Do you talk about the genre's that were created out of grindcore's influence at all? Like powerviolence, goregrind, deathgrind, etc?
DB: For sure. It’s important to investigate the reach of grind. This said, I know that the film will be 90 percent grind, but expect a slew of offshoots. Also expect bits on proto-grind, (The genres that contributed to the sound).  

OG: Talking to the pioneer's, Napalm Death, must have been a high honor. You mentioned Shane Embury was one of your longest interviews, is he an opinionated fellow on grindcore and were it is now?
DB: I am going to not say much about this interview. Mainly because it is so fucking good I don’t want to spoil it. Embury is the man. 

OG: The wide spread support for "Slave to the Grind" is incredible. I've seen everybody from Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Fuck The Facts to the littlest up and coming bands spread the word of your movie. This kind of support has to really goes to show not just how excited people are for it to come out, but just how much people love grindcore, and care that it is properly documented. Response?
DB: What is particularly exciting is know that people truly want this film made, and more importantly, people have been assisting me to make it properly. I’ve received nearly 2000 emails since December from fellow grindheads, musicians, and label owners sending me positive vibes. I’ll admit that it has far surpassed the reach that I anticipated, but I’m not shocked by the strength of the underground.   

 OG: You've got some very alluring merch up for grabs on your kick starter to help fund production. Kickstarter has been a pretty polarizing way of funding yourself. Is that the suggested way to go? Seems like a win-win to me.
DB: I believe that Kickstarter is good to kick start a project that might struggle getting funding in a traditional way.  I’ll admit it was a huge decision for us. We knew that making a film on grindcore was going to need a lot of support from the community.  From day one we have been asking for fan filmed footage, audio from up and coming bands, photos shot by fans… It only made sense for it to be funded by the fans. I’m not going to lie – I know it has frustrated some people, though I need the world to know that we had meetings where execs offered us money to make this film.  In fact, more money that we will likely get from the Kickstarter campaign. BUT, there was limitations on content, swearing, and they would have say on the final cut of the film. No way in hell were going to allow this to happen. Like Kickstarter or not, for us to make this film in a timely manner AND to have control of the output is dependent on this campaign.  Many extreme music genres are already ostracized, and while I am not trying to make Grindcore mainstream – I do believe it should be humanized. The last thing I was to do is make a, ‘These bands scream and are abrasive – Isn’t that silly?’ film, which many investors wanted us to make. So fuck it – we went with a Kickstarter. If anything, having so many people pre-order it is just going to egg us on to make it as good as we can. 
The perks are set up as exclusives.  The only way to get the bonus featurette and the uncut interviews is by donating in advance.  In turn it will help us make a better film, and fans can have a little more than those who will buy the film when its actually released.

OG: You definitely seem like a guy who'd connected to what's happening in the underground. Your "Underground Shout Out" posts on the "Slave To The Grind" FB page obviously say that. Are you a lurker of bandcamp like all of us? Interested and connected to the the smaller bands and scenes?
DB: Oh, I’m a huge lurker – I have been for years.  I can’t tell you how hours of my life have been spent on Grindcore Karaoke,  Bandcamp, and blogs like Operation Grindcore. I often buy a 7” directly from bands and small labels, which is something I suggest that everyone does.   
From a documentary stand point; I am starting to think geographically.  I love that there are mini scenes popping up where there are a 5-10 grind bands able to play regularly.  While I live in a city with an amazing metal and punk scene, It’s a shame that we have so few grind bands. 

OG: Are there any bands active right now that you find particularly impressive?
DB: There are endless bands that impress me. I was recently sent an unreleased recording of the next Organ Dealer release.  If you are a deathgrind fan, you will dig this. I’ve also been enjoying a band called Deboned quite a bit.

OG: Now, we've actually done an interview before for a very short lived column on OG. Point being, I know you are an avid vinyl fan. Any great scores as of late?
 DB: Killer score – I just got a first pressing of "Ready For Freddie" by Freddie Hubbard.  I’m a huge jazz head as well, and I likely spend just as much on Jazz as I do on grind.  
 I also just got a collection of nearly 1,000 classic rock albums.  Mainly things I have, but I’ll be doing some upgrading and swapping with friends.  I have a lot of albums…

OG: What even are Mr. Brown's favorite grindcore albums?
DB: Ugh… this is tough.  And I bet I will miss a few. I own an absurd quantity of records, so  I’ll do 15 (IN NO ORDER)
1)   Terrorizer – World Downfall
2)   Insect Warfare – World Extermination
3)   Napalm Death – From Enslavement to Obliteration
4)   Rotten Sound – Exit
5)   Nasum – Human 2.0
6)   Noisear – Subvert The Dominant Paradigm
7)   Lock Up – Necropolis Transparent
8)   Brutal Truth – Sounds From The Animal Kingdom
9)   Repulsion- Horrified
10)   Pig Destroyer – Book Burner/Prowler at The yard (pending on the day)
 11)  Fuck The Facts – Die Miserable
12)  Assuck – Anticapital
13)  Discordance Axis – The Inalienable Dreamless
14)    Dahmer - Dahmerized
 15) Antigama – Warning

OG: Do you think we'll ever see a "Slave To The Grind Part 2" in the future? I'm sure there is more that can be told haha! And you know we'd love to see it!
DB: No. We are going to do this once, and do it right. There is a lot to be told – that’s for sure. We are currently offering a ‘bonus film’ with anyone who pre-orders the film on Kickstater. This is our way of addressing that we will have way too much footage to cram into a feature.  It is also a way of thanking those who had faith in the project from day one.

OG: What do you think the next great grindcore subgenre will be? 
DB: Murderviolence (which I actually read on a forum the other day as someone said ‘if Slave To The Grind doesn’t include any Murderviolence bands, they are fucking too mainstream.  I hope it was a joke, as I was very confused) .  

OGAny final words?
DBI said a lot… is anyone still reading? 

Slave To The Grind Kickstarter: HERE

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Music: Noisear, Sidetracked, Gas Chamber, Suffering Mind

Let's all give a nice, welcoming slow-clap to Jay and the Sidetracked crew for finally climbing on the Facebook train and getting a real internet presence. Although I was one of those people that would routinely check up on the actual Sidetracked Blogspot. It would only get updated like, twice a year. But when Jay give's updates, he gives you more then could ever think you'd want. Like hyping 10 in-progress records at once. Sidetracked's virgin posts on the 'Book are several new tracks from a few tent-pole inducing releases. Some stuff that's apparently been in the works for years. As usual, Jay gives us only the littlest taste of what these record's have in store for us. What we've been given so far of the "Escape" EP, a CD release which I believe Jay is releasing himself,  is literally only 12 seconds of music. Between two songs. A much rawer recording, reminiscent of the "Wrench" tape, which I dig a lot. The track "Unanswered" has a nice hardcore punk-era Beastie Boys riff. Next to that is a teaser for the stupidly anticipated split 7" with neo-legends, To The Point. This track, "Manipulate" is a much more standard-sounding powerviolence number. Fleshed out with rapid snare rolls and crusty grind riffs. Now with this genre of music, fastcore, it's pretty hard to get the impact of Sidetracked from just a few seconds. But honestly, if you haven't already heard Sidetracked and know what to expect, you should do your homework and listen to "Uniform" and their split with In Disgust asap!. Of course this is only the beginning for Sidetracked in 2015. If you take a look at the sidebar on their Bandcamp page, they've barely even scratched the surface of what they have planned. A new LP on To Live A Lie Records and splits with God's America and Limbs Bin are also in the works. Please give the boys a like HERE . 

Discordant grind nuts Noisear are right at the beginning of having an incredible year with a triple stack of new records for 2015. Recently reuniting with founding vocalist Alex Lucero and bassist Joe Tapia, and are in the middle of working on a brand new full length album! And have seemingly finished recording for a split 7" with the mighty Lycanthrophy, which will be released on Bloody Scythe Records. A nice pairing seeing as both bands will be gracing the stages of the annual Maryland Deathfest this year. And if there's a band that can keep up with Bryan Fajardo's drumkit abuse, it's Lycanthrophy. The new track we have here today, "Face First Into Concrete", comes from said split, and it brings that Noisear magic that they've honed to perfection. The wonderful production that they captured on "Subvert The Dominant Paradigm" is recaptured here, in my opinion. Dorian Rainwater's signature guitar skronking is bright and technically flawless, and of course Mr. Fajardo effortlessly lays waste to his drumkit. No word yet on when they Lycanthophy split or the as-of-yet untitled LP will be released. The fabled 3x7" boxest split with The Kill and Antigama is supposed to come out this year too. Very VERY excited to get my hands on that. You can (hopefully) thank Haunted Hotel Records for that beautiful piece of wax. That split was also released on CD by Selfmadegod Records. Listen to the track HERE !

And last but certainly not least we have the triumphant news of a new Gas Chamber EP, and the jaw dropping anthem, "Always Coming Home", to stream in anticipation. A new 7" entitled "Stained Hand", which will be released on SPHC Records. A label I certainly trust to deliver some of highest quality records of hardcore and grinds noisier and weirder side. Proceeding their incredible LP, "Hemorrhaging Light", released on Iron Lung Records last year, "Stained Hand" already has me amazed and feeling feelings I haven't felt about hardcore in a long time. "Always Coming Home" is a near five minute composition of pure brilliance. Opening with Gas Chamber's instrumental body in full jam mode, performing a gorgeous instrumental passage. With some very uplifting and beautiful interplay between the guitar and Patrick Bolger's bass wizardry. Slamming into a driving and powerful d-beat driven second half of more familiar hardcore song structure, and ending in complete satisfying victory. One of the best pieces of music I've heard all year, and definitely my favorite track Gas Chamber has created so far. Carrying the torch of such legendary bands like the Minutemen and Man Is The Bastard, Gas Chamber are the modern powerviolence and hardcore's titans of creative supremacy and integrity. If you haven't been converted yet, you might just be hopeless.

That time of the week to talk about new Suffering Mind songs (I swear do these guys ever sleep?). The split 7" with Milwaukee's shreddiest bass n'drums powerviolence band Lifes is very near it's release. So naturally two songs have been put up on Suffering Mind's end for streaming. "Subtle Manipulation" is a HEAVY short and fast number, that throws in some very nice crazy-man screams at the end. "Failed", the closer, is the real attention grabber. Certainly being one of the bands more, unusual creations. The standard grind fare trailblazes through the opening, and then rides an almost Jesus Lizard discordant note strum on top of some drum rhythm from Daro. It's a cool little left turn from SM, I like hearing the boys give some new tastes. That cover are is tripping me out too, and I love it. Great looking abstract textures. Anyone know who did this? This split will be released on SM's US home Halo Of Flies and Now Records.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bandcamp Artist Of The Week: Drug Mule

Instead of following tradition today, buying crappy chocolates and acting like an all around goofball, I say give the gift of blast beats to that extra special loved one. Show them you really care by making their taste in music even better by schooling them about some hot, new groups. And since I love and care for you all, here is one of those said groups. Drug Mule (sometimes DrugxMule), are a fastcore influenced powerviolence band from California. I definitely remember being exposed to their first demo thanks to the amazing Vinod Karki Youtube channel last year. Definitely a solid first recording, relying closely on sounds akin to bands such as Gets Worse or Despise You. Nothing mind blowing honestly, but Drug Mule showed signs of individuality with some excellent use of guitar noises and great sample choices (see the track "I Need A Bath..."). Drug Mule's next two releases however, showed the band had gained all the improvements that I would hope for. They got an excellent third vocalist (aka Blake from Chainsaw Squid), and became faster, tighter, and more urgent.
Drug Mule have an upcoming split 7" with Chainsaw Squid, MxDxFxL and No Fucks Given (to be released by Opaques Records), and a split with Snuffx. The later definitely being my favorite of their releases so far. Drug Mule really get wonky with the songwriting on that one, and also much more technical. Vocals are rapidly traded to match the franticness of the music, and the guitarist really captures some creative sounds and tones. The samples are also a huge addition to this bands sound and inspired aesthetic. Obviously, almost every one deals with drugs or drug references in some way, and actually sometimes do a pretty effective job at showing the grotesque and putrid parts of addiction. Loving the new higher/bitchy screams too, I have a serious soft spot for the kind of vocals in my grind. Stoked too see what else these mules have in the works.

Stream/purchase Drug Mule's music HERE


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Limbs Bin/Two Million Tons Of Shit - Split Cassette Review

Noise punks love splits. Noise punks love doing splits with Sete Star Sept. Sometimes noise punks who do splits with Sete Star Sept do splits with each other. I only say this because an SSS split is probably how all of you even heard of Two Million Tons Of Shit. A seemingly rando tape release that was highlighted to me by none other then Josh of Limbs Bin! Who hyped them as one of the best bands in noisegrind right now. Love like that can only mean one thing: split tape asap! Released on what has to be Josh's label, Follow Me Into The Laser Eye. Both acts toy with territory that is usually tip toed around in noisegrind; long track lengths. Particularly one track each at eleven minutes and fifteen seconds a side. Intended as an all out noise assault, of course, but also a exercise in deeper listening and total immersion in sound. Another detail I learned when asking Josh about this tape. One you can tell he is particularly happy with. With that aesthetic in mind, TMTOS's track "Cackhanded" blasts off into the cosmos with an overblown, no-fi drum and noise build up leading into torturous echoey vocals, and waves of drums beats. It's an incredible level of intensity that serves through barely noticeable bass noodling and a steady white noise of vocals. Everything is buried in thick recorded distortion. There is so much noise on this recording it's hard to tell where all of this sound is coming from sometimes. There's definitely bass and drums, that much I'm sure off, now. I honestly thought it was just a contact mic'd drum kit at first listen. While the blast parts are intense, TMTOS really let some creativity shine though with the mid-paced, tribal drum drones that pop up near the beginning and end. Imagine the most fucked up Lighting Bolt or Can free jams, right when whatever psychedelic of the night kicks in. Imagine the Gerogerigegege also somehow got on stage! These passages are great hypnotic segways, and give TMTOS a pretty unique sound. It's a monster jam that twists and turns and remains interesting throughout.
Limbs Bin, one of my favorite noise/noisegrind artists in the NY scene, delivers "Halloween 2014". Another excellent composition and recording adventure, toying heavily with his growing love for long-winded pieces. This piece, which is quote, "a series of shattered songs about ebola, confronting cars in cross walks, feeling like societal slack, and being miserable". Sounds brutal ay? Limbs Bin's core trademark sound is in tact, but all around somewhat more lo-fi and with a lot of influence from power electronics. The syncopated blasts of vocals, 1000 bpm drums and oscillating noise carry the piece. But it's all so raw, bleeding into one another, the drums pretty much act as a noise wall. The piercing feedback that's spread all through out the track is effectively hard to listen too. Even a bit disorienting at the end (listen with headphones). The recording definitely shines light on the way the recording sounds. Comprised of spliced together recordings at different times with different microphones, volumes and effects. At times Josh could be dueting with himself! Some passages are louder then others, some less distorted, more distant. Intimate and even breaking the "4th wall" of sorts (one part when you can hear the effect switches being flicked). Like TMTOS, Limbs Bin makes use of his time well and give many excellent, varied performances of consistent intensity. Watch out for cars on the road Josh!

Buy/Stream the tape HERE


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Suffering Mind 2015

It looks like Poland's grindcore Czars Suffering Mind are going to dominate yet another year with their masterful and expansive recording output. Seemingly never slowing down despite line-up changes and missing band members (that was scary). The duo of Kuchar on guitar and Daro on drums have proven their complete loyalty and dedication to their band. Reaching out to some of the best projects the Canadian, midwest and European scenes have to offer and releasing split after incredible split. The status that Suffering Mind made for themselves as one of the most impressive grind bands today, doesn't dismiss the fact that these guys are fans of the music, first and foremost. Getting connected to and supporting the smaller bands they love as much as any of us do. Grindcore to the bone in a completely down to earth kind of way.

Suffering Mind will finally be making their way on to some North American soil for the annual Maryland Deathfest, as well as a few select shows along the mid and East coast (a few of which I will be attending). Performing alongside some newer split partners like Lifes, Nak'ay and Excruciating Terror. Let's hope that at least a few of these new records will be out in time for these shows. New tracks and cover art from these obligatorily amazing records has already shown the light of day. And so, let's get into the real point of this post, showing off some cool music!

One of my personally most anticipated records is the split 7" with Edmonton's fastcore spazz kings Detroit. Both sides of this record have been put online, and both are expectedly fantastic. Detroit's side is 13 tracks in something like 3 minutes of blood-red raw fastcore. Seriously hard stuff, this band has yet to let me down. Suffering Mind have 3 new tracks and a Dropdead cover. Longer songs, all with a lot more metal/grind chord progressions, and some very powerful screaming vocals. There is a very strong animal rights message on their side, made even more abundantly clear by the excellent cover art by Roland Straller. No idea who's putting this out yet.

THIS RECORD! This is the kind of split that just seems destined to happen. If you're not yet aware of Nak'ay, then you have a bit more homework to do. These guys (now a duo) have been making some of the heaviest blaturbation grindcore I've heard in a while. The kind that sounds like if you put Insect Warfare, Kill The Client and Blasphemy in a blender and then put that on fast forward. Originally going to be a 7", Fat Ass Records has decided to boost this behemoth up to a full 12". The amount of blast beats on this will be down right illegal. Two songs and some amazing cover art have been posted today from Suffering Mind's end. A rawer recording, and unadulterated blastcore the way Suffering Mind do. I got to say I'm really liking their new vocalist Ben's sound. He has a much more unhinged, visceral higher scream then SM have really had before. No word yet on Nak'ay recordings.

Of course SM eventually got around to doing a split with Agathocles. My only question is why did it take until 2015!? So far there is one song and a Dezerter cover from Suffering Minds side. Hopefully Agathocles can offer up some new tracks for this record instead of some live gig someone recorded on their Walkman. This will be released on Dark Side of Punk Records.

Lastly, as many of you may already know (maybe I told you), Suffering Mind's 2nd 12" of new recorded material will be released soon! The new record, entitled "Waste Farm",  will be Suffering Mind's first new full length since their "S/T" record back in 2010. Almost half of the album has already been put up for stream. And from the look of things, it looks like "Waste Farm" is going to be a super short and tidy slab of 100% grind. I'd be surprised if this thing goes over 15 minutes, which is perfectly fine by me! A real treat for all grind fans comes on track 12, where none other then Spinach from Assück makes an appearance on vocals! "Waste Farm" will be coming out soon on 625 Thrashcore and Crucificados.

Other records in the works include a 1-sided LP compilation of their long out-of -print splits with Asshammer and Septic Surge on Give Praise/Power It Up Records. A split 7" with Lifes and two split 10"s with Endless Demise and Warfair? Grindcore is alive and well.