Migration Fest tickets are on sale now! Presented by 20 Buck Spin and Gilead Media, Migration Fest III has booked False, Mizmor, Spirit Adrift, Yellow Eyes, Immortal Bird, Obsequiae, Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle Obsequiae, Imperial Triumphant, Buried At Sea, Falls of Rauros, Kowloon Walled City, Spirit Adrift, Tomb Mold, Ulthar and many more. The full list can be seen below. The fest takes place July 31st – August 2nd, 2020 and returning to Mr. Smalls in the Pittsburgh suburb of Millvale, PA.Continue reading
Migration Fest is coming back for its third edition and it looks like a rager! Presented by 20 Buck Spin and Gilead Media, Migration Fest III has booked False, Mizmor, Spirit Adrift, Yellow Eyes, Immortal Bird, Obsequiae, Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle Obsequiae, Imperial Triumphant, Buried At Sea, Falls of Rauros, Kowloon Walled City, Spirit Adrift, Tomb Mold, Ulthar and many more. The full list can be seen below. The fest takes place July 31st – August 2nd, 2020 and returning to Mr. Smalls in the Pittsburgh suburb of Millvale, PA.Continue reading
“We haven’t been doing any interviews, so it’s a miracle it’s been getting out there at all. Europe seems to be latching on to this record, so that is good.”
These are the first words Stavros Giannoplous said to me concerning the just released final album from bleak black metal super-group Twilight, III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb (Century Media). In addition to Stavros, the group is made up of underground metal luminaries like Wrest (Jeff Whitehead, of Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice) Imperial (Neill Jameson) (Krieg, N.I.L.) and Sanford Parker (Corrections House, Minsk, Nachtmystium, Buried At Sea) and alt-rock legend Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth, Chelsea Light Moving). Steve was on tour with his main band, The Atlas Moth, but took time to chat with Ghost Cult back stage at The Sinclair, in Cambridge MA. He talked about the difficulty in finishing the album, some drama going on in the band, the idea of a whether a super-group can really work in this day and age, and working with Thurston Moore.
Right off the bat, he first touched on why Twilight is ending:
“The reason this is the final record is with all the negative shit that’s going down with Blake (Judd), I think it’s just best. Me and Jeff, Sanford and Neill are all really close friends. I have seen everyone, all but Jeff on this tour and we wanted to continue to make music. But at this point we are just mired in bullshit. Also before we started this band, before I even became involved with it there were no movies with sparkly vampires (laughs). Shit’s changed and it’s for the best. I was in Philadelphia just 48 hours ago and we were talking about doing something else eventually, so there is always a door open to work with Neill, Jeff, and Sanford again, just not under this name. We definitely won’t call it Twilight. I wouldn’t say its the total end of the band, but the end of this chapter with this band. We we very adamant about cutting the ties. Especially since Blake isn’t even on this last record.
Pulling no punches, Stavros gave us an inside view of the events leading up to Blake’s departure from the group and the aftermath of trying to finish the record without him:
He brought in a couple of songs, but once everything went down, that was it. It was two songs and they made up a very short amount of the record. We were just, not wanting to deal with this anymore. He had pulled some really backhanded shit, and I won’t go into the details. The songs he brought in, we got rid of them and made it known that this was it. He’s got problems. Unfortunately at some point or another when you end up in a scenario when you are constantly getting shit on, whether it’s on purpose or not, or just happenstance, it doesn’t matter that someone is just fucked up. At some point or another, no matter how much you care about a person, you can’t deal with them business wise. When I met Blake, he was not as nearly as fucked up as he is now. People change that way. I absolutely wish him the best, and good luck to him.
We mused about the notion that by nature super-groups are not really meant to last. Stavros argued that it depends on the collection of artists in question:
“Look at even Down, right? That band put out one of the best fucking records I have ever heard in my entire life to this fucking day, and what did it take, 7-8 years before they ever put out another record. It was a while. It kind of all depends on the timing, I guess. With this particular group, there isn’t a live presence to our band, nor will there never will be. So I just can’t see it being in the forefront in out minds. See Imperial does stuff all the time. Sanford does production all day long, and also he has Corrections House now, which is almost like a full time band now. This is something like the flip side with a so called super-group where Corrections House can work. That is one of those things for instance for Bruce, where Yakuza and Bloodiest don’t work all the time. Sanford doesn’t have a full-time band. And both EyeHateGod and Neurosis tour limitedly. So these guys, that is the other side of coin of the super-group story. Like “Oh! Something like this works, because we had some free time.” Or we happen to have some free time. So for Twilight, particularly for our group, inevitably it would get longer between records, or maybe even never have another one. You never know.”
Since most of the remaining members of the group live far from each other in some cases, we asked about the creative process and how the tracking was all done: “Jeff was living in Chicago at the time, so he and I wrote the bulk of the record together. Actually all the guitar riffs that weren’t Thurston’s, were written by me and Jeff. And you know…we just added on top of it and added on top of it, and added on top of it. It’s much different than a band that is just in one studio. Thurston came in and did his parts. We could do all kinds of looping and other crazy shit. All of the sudden someone is banging on a jug of water, which is cool. The two records that we did together, we just settled into a certain vibe. That is just how it works. That is how we write music for that band. It kind of showed. The song structures definitely vary throughout any of the Twilight records, and we were pretty loose form wise, and we definitely got experimental with the writing.”
Century Media is doing a very nice, limited digipack release of the album along with other formats. We asked about the value of limited edition releases, and if other versions will be forthcoming.
“The vinyl is out. You know honestly as far as I know, there will only be the digipack and the vinyl forever. Because I didn’t do any more layout work than that. At the time everything was going down with Blake, everyone was mad at each other, not particularly us at each other, but more all of us at Blake. really. And so when that started happening, everyone stopped giving a fuck. And then our relationship with the A & R guy fell apart, so I had to take control of everything business wise and then I got busy with some other business opportunities too. I really didn’t have much help. And I didn’t really want to take the time to put together a booklet for a record that everyone had checked out on, since everyone was so mad. So there is not going to be more a limited release than there is now, but knowing Century Media, they will keep it in print anyway.”
Sometimes in the business of music the challenges come from outside of the band too, as Stavros learned: “I’ve always done all the business for The Atlas Moth. But this is like a machine. It’s the five of us, a well-oiled machine working together, grooving together and sharing the responsibilities together. I am not running the show here by any means. We’ve all worked our way up together, so we know how the inner workings of the band goes. But all of the sudden when it comes to being voted in as the guy to handle stuff, someone already had their hands in the pot mixing things up before me. So I was the guy that almost had to come in and clean it up. It was definitely a bit much for me, and I was already dealing with a ton of crap. The Atlas Moth will always be my first and foremost priority. So I was doing countless, worthless hours dealing with bullshit, doing stuff for a record no one seemingly gave a fuck about. I’m really happy everything came together, and we are all really proud of it. But at the same time, under the circumstances, you can hate something! (laughs) The things that bring up memories from the record, man, that could really piss you off. But in hindsight we are all still really stoked on it now that we’ve gotten a little hindsight. It’s been almost two years since we recorded it.”
One of the real bright spots of the record was working with Moore. Not only did the mainstream media latch on to the notion of him joining the band, the band was equally intrigued about working with him. A seemingly random sequence of events led to their collaboration:
“He came in for the second half of the session. We did two sessions and he came in for the second week. The Sonic Youth sound guy worked with Sanford in his studio in Chicago. He told us Thurston was really into black metal. This was around the time of the second record. And we said “Send some of this stuff to Thurston Moore and see what he thinks about it. And see if we wants to do a record with us.” And he did! (laughs) And I was like “Well I’ll be damned!” (laughs) “We’d better write a brand new Twilight record!” He was incredible. He was super rad to work with. He was totally mellow and great to work with. He totally knew his black metal. It was fucking awesome to be able to write a record with that dude. And also to watch him play and get that much closer to someone with a unique style, it was awesome. He was super awesome to work with. We talked about including him for future sessions, which I would love. He is just a music library. He is fucking incredible. I don’t know how that guy puts it all together in his head. He’s something else man!”
Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Super-groups have become a dime a dozen aspect in the music world, where players from well recognized bands team up to create music in a variety of ways that allegedly differ from their point of origin. Corrections House is that rare project where four personalities brought together spoken word pieces and experimental rock and metal into an experience beyond what many could truly comprehend.
Corrections House features Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod vocalist), Scott Kelly (Neurosis guitarist), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza saxophonist) and Sanford Parker (Minsk bassist/noted producer who handles keyboards and extra percussion). Their live set consists of their entire Last City Zero CD, along with “Hoax The System”, which closed the set.
The foursome had an interesting set up, as Williams’ lyrics came from his book Cancer As A Social Activity, as he recited lines from it in between songs. The show operated as part experimental metal show and part spoken word set, which blended well and his words were quite powerful yet grim. Lamont and Kelly both traded vocal lines at times with Williams, adding to their atmospheric vibe to their sound. Plus Parker playing the multi-instrumentalist role switching from keyboards to percussion gave them a cold industrial-esque vibe on top of their already darker overtone.
Despite only having a limited amount of material, Corrections House still managed to resurrect a powerful live show and left quite an impression. The four members bring a lot to their overall sound and made it quite the interesting experience. Hopefully this won’t be the end and future material is in the works, either musically or through future writings by Williams or any of the other members. This is something fans of dark, experimental music should not miss as it is unknown how often they will be bringing Corrections House onto the live circuit.
By Rei Nishimoto
Corrections House is a super group of sorts, bringing together five creative minds into project that evolved in front of the public’s eyes and ears. Featuring Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Mike Williams (Eyehategod) and Sanford Parker (Minsk), they quickly evolved their experimental sound into this powerhouse project and took the world by storm.
Lamont was vague about how the band moniker (as well as many other specific points about the band’s overall message and vision), due to their Minister of Propaganda, Seward Fairbury, being missing in action at the time of the interview. Lamont said Fairbury is the spokesperson of the band but could comment further on his involvement.
As for as what is known about Corrections House, they made a huge splash into the world with a brief North American tour in 2013 and an underground buzz grew.
“I think close to a year,” explained Lamont, about how quickly Corrections House came together. “It evolved into a band out of some previous collaborative efforts. Scott Kelly and myself collaborated. We’ve done some shows together as well – his solo and my solo stuff. Mike (Williams) and I have also collaborated a number of times, some noise and experimental works. We discussed to doing a tour and doing a collaborative effort at the end. Sanford (Parker) got mix as well and said why don’t we write some songs and start a band. So we did and went on the road for three weeks in January and February of 2013 with three songs recorded. We did some solo sets which all merged into one thing. Then the collaborative works at the end – that was it. Then it blossomed from there.
As of interview time, Corrections House has done one North American tour of twenty or so dates and a couple of one off shows in Chicago prior to their debut European tour.
“We did one three week tour. It was twenty plus shows,” said Lamont. “We are doing a European run when our record comes out. It’s twenty shows when we’re there. Then we have a West Coast run in January, and then we’re going back to Europe in January. We definitely have enough shows under our belts – definitely comfortable in the live setting.
He explained how they make the set list work with a minimal number of songs. “We were interweaving ourselves in and out of each other’s stuff. The set would begin with Sanford and Scott (Kelly), and then I would come in, and then Mike would do something. Then we would go in and out of stuff, which is the basis of a lot of the recordings of the record.
They released their debut full length Last City Zero (Sargent House), amidst a strong buzz in the underground music scene, where fans as well as the press were raving with anticipation over the release. Despite the hype, Lamont claims this never influenced a second of Corrections House and their decisions on how to operate this project.
“No. I could speak for all of us and none of us think like that. It was something we wanted to do. We love each other and working together is satisfaction enough. As far as there being reaction to it at all, obviously it’s nice that there’s positive reaction but there was never a thought about it.”
The lyrics behind Last City Zero works like poetry in motion, and the members of Corrections House creating a piece of musical works that went beyond anyone’s expectations. Inspired by writings taken from his book, it took on a life of its own and created a work of art.
“Like it says in the liner notes of the recording, it said it was either taken from or inspired by Mike’s book, Cancer As a Social Activity, a few years back and went from there,”
“Things were written with that in mind. Everybody had their hands in that kind of stuff. Majority of it is Mike. He’s an amazing lyricist. His spoken word stuff – you get a sense of it in couple of the songs. He did “Last City Zero”, which is the second to last piece which he does a spoken word thing. When we play live, we would change it up and do different pieces every night. His choice of words is excellent. Normally I’m not so critical of it because it’s been done so often and poorly. I could say every night the three of us watching him is captivating by what he’s saying and the way he articulates his words. It wasn’t just us who felt this way. The crowd was pin drop quiet. They were hanging on every word. The guy’s the real deal. It’s amazing what he could come up with.”
Vocals were also a collaborative effort. Even though Williams is the main voice in Corrections House, Kelly and Lamont also take part in the vocal mix- “We all sing. Mike sings the majority of the vocals. The three of us – me, Mike and Scott – Sanford does some backing stuff, but Mike sings not all of it but a good amount. It’s like the song ‘Serve Or Survive’, the first song on the record – Scott starts, then me and Mike. Then we go back and forth.”
Musically, each member has its unique styles from their individual bands but found a medium into creating Corrections House’s dark, experimental sound.
“It’s still a collaborative effort. It was still all of us working with each other. In various situations, we recorded in multiple studios. Sometimes at the same time and sometimes not, but we were able to bring it together. Sanford is not only a member of the band but he’s also the main engineer of the band. He was there or bringing things together and making it cohesive. The base of all the writing was already there, but he pulled it all together. Having the engineer one of the creative entities makes things a lot easier.”
Lamont’s saxophone sounds do shine through on the record and once again his role shines through in Corrections House. He speaks about his background and his writing style:
“I trained in my youth. Then I gave up for a while, and then I picked it back up 15 or 16 years ago. I had some formal training, like a one on one basis. But I do have that training and can read music, but I didn’t intend on becoming a jazz player. I do have interest in other music besides that – heavier stuff, experimental music, noise and soundscape. I started tinkering with the horn and electronic by manipulating sound and looping pedals. I’m into that kind of stuff. It’s a lifelong challenge trying to do something different or taking a different approach or not settling and getting comfortable with one idea or style. I try to take in as much as possible. I listen to a ton of different styles of music, internalize all of that and somehow seep into the creative juices – keeping the mind open to new possibilities.”
Corrections House is embarking on their debut European tour in December. Fans there should be expecting quite the experience, and will be hearing much of Last City Zero live. Lamont explained:
“We’re going to play the majority of the record. We may have some open-endedness, more like the first tour we did. We always like to keep the audience and ourselves on our toes. We may have some improvisational moments. We’ll see where it takes us. Mostly stuff off the record and a song off our last seven inch – that’s basically what you can expect.”
That word alone conjures up many strong opinions depending upon who is in it and what we believe they are in it for. But there is one thing most fans can agree on. Known musicians from different groups who decide to embark on a project together should represent the best of what those individuals bring to their “home” bands. This ideally combines into a mind-bending experience in which we get to hear what those same bands may force those musicians to shelve, rein in, or repress.
Needless to say most of these blended projects are either too trendy, too lackluster, ego-fueled, or seem to be songs not good enough to make the cut in the musicians’ main groups. Sometimes the combination of people just doesn’t work, or the overall sound is so far from some of the members’ usual sound that they may as well not be involved.
I am very pleased to say that Corrections House nails it. Not only should most folks know at least two of the members once heard, the lesser known members bring enough to the party to make this release even more exciting and intriguing. The Corrections House lineup is Neurosis‘ Scott Kelly, Eyehategod‘s Mike IX Williams, über producer/Minsk/Buried at Sea‘s Sanford Parker, and Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont. These are four people you might see drinking together at some European festival, but never attempting to blend their unique sounds together without it sounding like a train wreck. However, this works, and it works brilliantly.
Corrections House had released the Hoax The System/Grin With a Purpose EP/single earlier, but that really just hinted at what was to come. Curiously, neither of those songs are on this full-length, Last City Zero (Neurot), which is just a sonic immersion. There is nothing one-dimensional about this group or their music. It is engrossing, never allowing you to get comfortable with a tempo, a style or an approach. The songs are great and each one is its own bird without losing overall cohesiveness. This is achieved without Kelly, Williams or Lamont straying too far from what marks them musically, but giving them a type of musical space where they can do their thing and then some without forcing it. Kelly‘s screams still cut to the bone, but his guitar playing remains utilitarian, showing a tasteful restraint when he could have easily made too much of being the only guitarist. Williams voice is unmistakable, but here he shows more of his poetic side. Lamont‘s saxophone seems to appear exactly where it should, even though this is the last instrument you would expect here. What ties this all together is the keyboard/electronics work of Parker, whose sonic landscaping appears to be the basis from which of a lot this well seems to spring. Each member is flexing his maturity and confidence in what he does, and it sounds so natural that it’s almost unfair such artfully crafted, yet deliberately unsettling music is their first release together.
Standouts include the opener ‘Serve or Survive’, with starts out with a very Neurosis feel at first, but twists into something different; ‘Party Leg and Three Fingers’ has a very cool swerve to it; ‘Dirt Poor and Mentally Ill’ has an almost dance-y Ministry bent, with Williams citing poetry in the middle break. Williams‘ poetry is the focus of the title track, which features a beautiful, minimalist guitar melody as a backdrop.
Like their main bands, there is no relegating this music to the background. It is so insidious, stark and sure of itself that it righteously demands your full attention. Corrections House has much more depth than labels such as “Doom” or “Experimental” could ever justify. This review is prejudiced by the fact that I was lucky enough to catch them live during a stop in Atlanta, where the experience was that much more intense and suspenseful. Not only are these men masters of their own individual sounds, they have managed to create something together that is bigger than themselves. And that is a “Supergroup” that gets it right.