So tomorrow — Friday the 29th — the new Lord Mantis EP NTW will be released, the band’s first recorded material since their big line-up shakeup (and merger with Indian) last year. You can read all about those changes, and take a look at that new EP as well as their previous album, 2014’s Death Mask, all right here. But beyond just reading about my thoughts and reactions to this new and old material, perhaps you might be interested in learning more about what’s been going on with the band — in their own words?
Hello again, readers. As I’ve mentioned numerous times lately, things are still crazy busy around here, and I’ve been having some trouble finding much time for writing. But, I suffered a pretty traumatic experience this past weekend — while attending a bachelor party for a friend of mine, I found myself squished into a van with a bunch of other guys, subjected to something called “redneck hip-hop” at very a high volume. Trust me, the less said about that, the better.
But as unpleasant as that experience was, an even worse thought came to mind: I imagined a scenario in which folks didn’t have access to any good music simply because they didn’t know where to find it. That sounds like a nightmare, for sure! Now, I’m not going to pretend like I’m anybody important, or that there aren’t plenty of other places out there to learn about new music, but if my writing this helps even one person discover something that they might otherwise have missed out on, and if it saves them from listening to some other sort of rubbish, then it’s worth the effort.
Having said that, I’m pleased to bring to your attention Horrible Chamber, last fall’s sophomore full-length from the experimental/industrial/noise ensemble Gnaw.
The past year or so has been quite an exciting time for classic Pittsburgh bands… for example, Derkéta finally got around to releasing their debut album; Dream Death had such a big response to their reunion show that they decided to do it a few more times; and hardcore/thrash legends Castle Blood followed suit last fall with a couple reunion shows of their own.
Well, here’s another one to add to the pile: after 25 years of broken-uppedness, Travesty — the hardcore/thrash band which included some of the members of Castle Blood during a couple years in which that band had gone dormant — is reassembling all of its original members for some local gigs, in addition to finally putting some of their classic material on tape!
Their first show together since 1988 is happening this Saturday — tomorrow night!! — so I had a little chat with a few of the band’s members this week, to find out more about Travesty, what they’re doing now, and what the future might bring…
So my next Person or Persons Unknown interview subject is someone I did not know very well before I decided to ask him for an interview, but I suppose that was the point of these: to shed some light on people not very many people knew much about. This one definitely qualifies. I first officially met Tree when his band Lycosa was having their Innervenus dual-release show with Grisly Amputation. Over the course of meeting all these new people, I would say that I am constantly surprised at how warm and friendly they are — which is a vast contrast to the mood and feel of the music that they play. No one surprised me quite as much as Tree — he’s sweet and kind and, just like my husband, you sometimes have a hard time hearing him because he really doesn’t talk all that loud (when he talks at all!). I have since gotten to know him slightly more speaking to him via Facebook messages and seeing him out at shows, and I am happy to now call him a friend. I hope you guys will find him as interesting as I do, and that you’ll check out Lycosa — maybe even venture out to Kent, Ohio, this weekend for a mini road trip to check them out. The band is great on CD, but even better live! Take it from me, it would be worth the drive from Pittsburgh.
Have you ever been going to an event somewhere, where you don’t really expect things to be different — you figure it’s totally going to be a fun night, but nothing out of the norm — then suddenly after you’ve walked in the door, something begins and BAM!, you are completely blown away?
Yes? No? Doesn’t matter, that’s basically the exact scenario of how I first heard Annakarina: I was attending a punk show with Eric in Charleroi, PA, last December. This show was about five minutes from our house — quite a change from our normal hour-plus drive, so I was happy to be attending for that reason — but with the inclusion of the word “punk” I didn’t expect to be hearing something that Eric later described to me as “Post-Mathcore,” but we did. It was seriously gorgeous in its expression of angst and precision side-by-side.
So Annakarina and their music really never left my mind after the show. Soon afterwards, I found out that someone had taped their whole set and put it on Youtube, and I’ve probably watched it like five times since then — needless to say, I was a fan.
Anyway, last month we were attending another punk show at the same venue — where as it turns out, Annakarina was going to be making another appearance — and on this day I happened to decide that I needed to drink A LOT of tequila before the show (and during). Probably because we were so close to home I was feeling a little more rebellious, I don’t know. Drunk or not, I was extremely excited to see Annakarina again, but this time I decided that I needed to talk to those guys. In my drunken stupor, I basically poured my inner fandom out for them, sharing the fact that Eric was a blogger, that we attend shows at least once a week in Pittsburgh, all sorts of stuff.
[Editor’s note: at one point, I recall she had told bassist Kurtis Kelley about the description I made up the first time we’d seen them. He seemed a bit puzzled, but then said, “Well, I know what post-hardcore is, and I know what math rock is, and — yeah I guess I can see that.”]
I’m sure they were like, who’s this crazy lady, but even so they were all very kind. I got introduced to them all one by one, and in particular I felt drawn to [guitarist/vocalist] Craig. In between bands I talked casually to him (or as casually as I could manage — remember I was very drunk) about his music, his friendship with the drummer and other bandmates, and soon I realized this guy was special pretty special.
In a way, I was feeling sort of annoyed that no one else we knew really knew anything about this band — because I’ve never seen them at any shows in Pittsburgh, and (I mean this in the nicest way possible) honestly they’re better then a few bands that we’ve seen playing other shows in the past. So I decided I needed to introduce Craig and his music to more people — so there’s the core reason for this interview. I think you’ll agree he’s quite a special guy — that magical combination of intelligence, wit, weirdness, awkwardness, and sincerity that you couldn’t fake if you tried. So here he is, pouring his heart out to you, via my six questions; I hope you will find him as endearing as I do, and I hope you will venture out to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg this Sunday to see his band playing a charity show benefiting PLEA. Trust me, Annakarina is a band you won’t want to miss, and this guy is one of the major reasons for that.
Here I am again, writing another Person or Persons Unknown about another Pittsburgh band member, but this time I decided to change things up a bit. This time I am focusing on two guys actually: Steve Kaczynski and his son Aaron.
While I have never really had too much interaction with Steve in the past, I have seen their joint band Jericho Theory and was impressed with the chemistry and talent they both posses. I must admit, doing this particular article was one of the main reasons for starting these interviews. In truth, I have known Aaron for a while now, and I’ve liked him from the first time I met him. He’s got an infectious enthusiasm that you couldn’t fake if you tried. I have gotten to know him better through this journey of Facebook messages, attending shows together, and also attending shows that his bands have played. I am not sure if I have ever met a more honest and caring person in our music scene. He is that guy that knows all your songs, and knows what shows you’re playing; he’s the kind of fan that makes playing in a band in Pittsburgh worth it. I don’t even think people realize what a positive and caring member of this circle he really is. He has a way of making shows I attend with him more fun — even with my weird habit of buying him a PBR at least once a show — it’s more a level of comfort and happiness when I know he’ll be attending a show. He’s kind of turned into an unofficial little brother for Eric and me, and listening to him tell me at least once during each show that this is his favorite band or his favorite song makes me happier then I could ever state — because his influence has actually made me want to be a better fan.
So with that, I figured that this kid with his infectious nature and love of music had to have an amazing musical role model just like I did. Now that I have the ability to figure that out, I was on a mission to do so — hence the reason for this interview, so I could see if my inkling about him was correct. I am very proud to call Aaron a friend, and I hope after reading this you’ll want to be friends with him and his dad too, and I hope it will make you want to see them in action this Saturday, March 30th, at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern.