Knotfest 2015: Live At San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, CA.

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Slipknot brought back heavy music into their brand of a festival called Knotfest once again to Southern California as they packed two days (plus a VIP only Friday evening event for campers) full of headbanging and mayhem at San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, CA.

The VIP pre-party show consisted of brief sets by Khaotika, Motorbreath, Rings of Saturn and The Faceless, while Sepultura became the main focus of that evening, performing many longtime favorites from their 30th anniversary tour, such as ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’ and ‘Propaganda,’ while working on a few of the newer songs such as ‘Choke.’

 Corrosion of Conformity, by Melina D Photography

Corrosion of Conformity, by Melina D Photography

Saturday’s main stage led the charge with the return of Pepper Keenan with Corrosion of Conformity, working in favorites such as ‘Clean My Wounds’ and ‘Albatross’; then Trivium and Mastodon both brought out powerful sets of powerful guitar driven hard rock leading into Korn’s semi-setlist of their début self titled album (ie they played only half of the album but they still brought their usual powerful live show) while working in other favorites like ‘Freak on a Leash’ and ‘Falling Away From Me.’

Korn, by Melina D Photography

Korn, by Melina D Photography

 

Mastodon, by Melina D Photography

Mastodon, by Melina D Photography

 Corrosion of Conformity, by Melina D Photography

Judas Priest, by Melina D Photography

Headliners Judas Priest came out strong with a cross-section of newer songs such as ‘Dragonaut’ and ‘Valhalla’ while working in longtime favorites such as ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Hell Bent For Leather,’ as well as ‘Turbo Lover’. Following a strong showing on their previous tour, they did not disappoint and showed that after all of these years they can still deliver classic metal the right way.

Unlike the 2014 edition, Slipknot only played one day instead of both days, and they brought back the mini roller coasters and the Slipknot museum for attendees to enjoy. Another addition to this year’s edition was the Extreme Stage with such bands as Kataklysm, Abysmal Dawn, Belphagor and Inquisition living up to their musical brand and the headbangers representing as well.

 Reaktion, by Melina D Photography

The ReAktion, by Melina D Photography

The only band who did not quite fit the stage was Chilean-Canadian alternative-metallers The ReAktion, where their synth-driven riff metal was something fans grew accustomed to but was greatly out of place on that stage. The early set time worked in their favor on Sunday, with fans enjoying sightings of Slipknot DJ Sid Wilson around their set. Despite that, their eclectic sound was refreshing and somewhat interesting to see how they evolve from here.

Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor made a brief appearance with fellow Iowans Green Death during their brief set later on Sunday. Fans got acquainted quickly with the band despite their lack of recognition prior to the show.

Stages 2 and 3 were placed on the revolving stage where bands could get going much easier. Saturday’s set began with Battlecross, Red Fang and Goatwhore getting early set calls, but the packed crowd showed up to rock out with each band. Even the well publicized Josh Barnett joined in the pit action early on.

Trivium, by Melina D Photography

Trivium, by Melina D Photography

 

At The Gates, by Melina D Photography

At The Gates, by Melina D Photography

Veteran metallic hardcore outfit Earth Crisis brought back memories of their appearance of Ozzfest 1996 at this venue. Other highlights included At The Gates’ aggression driven set, while Body Count plowed through their set of classics (despite minor technical difficulties with Ice T killing time with his attempt at telling jokes on stage). GWAR capped out the stage with their usual antics and over the top stage show, moving forward post Oderus Urungus (a.k.a. Dave Brockie).

Mobb Deep, by Melina D Photography

Mobb Deep, by Melina D Photography

Sunday’s main stage opened with Ghostface Killa and Mobb Deep’s brief old school hip hop set that attracted curious onlookers, while Clutch came in with their usual power riff rock set that their stripped down stage show appeared a bit bare for such a large sized stage.

Clutch, by Melina D Photography

Clutch, by Melina D Photography

 

Bring Me The Horizon, by Melina D Photography

Bring Me The Horizon, by Melina D Photography

Bring Me The Horizon’s updated stage show and sound definitely caught the attention of the crowd with their LED powered backdrops with the letters to SPIRIT aligning with each word of their opening song ‘Happy Song.’ Frontman Oli Sykes had the crowd moving along with his commands, and kept the show entertaining. Plus their newer synth oriented melodic rock sound on songs like ‘Throne,’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ made their live show much more anthemic driven tunes for the crowd to sing along to. Even with the older heavier songs like ‘Chelsea Smile,’ Bring Me The Horizon showed that they have a full arsenal within their bag of tricks and is no surprise why they have the attention of the hard music world.

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

 

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

Slipknot, by Melina D Photography

When Slipknot took the stage, they unveiled their new stage setup that resembled the carnival from hell, and they took charge from the opening minute. Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’ and leading into ‘The Heretic Anthem’, Slipknot was on a mission to show why they are one of the biggest hard acts on the planet and can command their own festival. They even worked in ‘Me Inside’ (which they have never played live before apparently) and ‘Eeyore,’ giving the crowd more to get manic over.

The second and third stages on Sunday featured hard rockers Devour the Day and Kyng giving the crowd energetic melodic rock to nibble on, while semi-hometown favorites Snot got the crowd rocking with selections from their Get Some album while paying tribute to their late singer Lynn Strait.

Cannbal Corpse, by Melina D Photography

Cannbal Corpse, by Melina D Photography

Helmet, All That Remains and Beartooth all plowed through power sets of rock and metal that got the crowds working up a sweat, while led into the massive stampede of fans eagerly awaiting Cannibal Corpse and Suicidal Tendencies to perform. Cannibal Corpse simply owned Knotfest’s second stage and possibly had the largest crowd of headbangers and mosh pit participants of any act, which bled into Suicidal’s already veteran LA punk rock fan base. Overall, the insanity that came with those acts simply made the observing that much more enjoyable.

Overall, Knotfest 2015 brought together a strong collection of acts within the heavy music world once again and gave fans something to be excited about. After two consecutive years, hopefully Knotfest will continue to be an annual event (or something close to it).

 

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PHOTO SET DAY 2:

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WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO 

PHOTOS BY MELINA D PHOTOGRAPHY

At War With World Domination – Martin Larsson of At The Gates

 

At The Gates. Photo credit: Ester Segarra

At The Gates. Photo credit: Ester Segarra

Swedish extreme metallers At The Gates have been keeping themselves busy on the road, and venturing into new areas on each stop. Their venture took them to Knotfest in Devore, CA where they played to a packed second stage area on the Saturday of the two day event.

It has been over a year since they released At War With Reality, their first new album since 1994’s Slaughter of the Soul. Being away from the music scene under this moniker since the band stopped, guitarist Martin Larsson spoke about how different their writing approaches were, versus prior to their abrupt stop years ago.

The actual writing [is] not much difference, but the collaboration is so much easier. Now we’re so spread out. In the 90s we were all in Gothenberg…um I wasn’t so nevermind…basically Gothenburg.

But now the drummer’s [Adrian Erlandsson] in London in the UK and three of us are in Gothenberg, and the bass player [Jonas Bjorler] is about three to four hours away in Sweden. With the internet and email and files to Dropbox and what have you, usually what happened on this album is Anders [Bjorler] made a demo and then once he’s satisfied, in a second we can all listen to it wherever we are and comment on it. Ideas bounce back and forth over the internet.

I think we spent the better part of a year just sending ideas back and forth and doing demos. We had such a full idea of the album already when we went into the studio. I think that’s the big difference – the whole collaboration is so much easier.

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

During the time away from the band, the various members were at various times involved in a number of other bands and projects. Frontman Tomas “Tompa’ Lindberg was involved in The Crown, Disfear, Skitsystem, Nightrage and Lock Up; guitarist Anders Bjorler was with The Haunted and now his solo project; bassist Bjorler is with the Haunted; and Erlandsson with Nehain, as well as his stints in Cradle of Filth and Paradise Lost. Larsson himself is currently playing with Agrimonia when At The Gates has down time.

Have doing other projects re-energized the members of At The Gates towards adding a new spark into the band? “Maybe in a way yeah. I guess doing other stuff always gets you excited to do At The Gates, I suppose. A lot of outside influences and ideas or whatever, so I guess so,” he said.

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

When it comes to the touring side, Larsson explained how they balance out who will be touring with what band and aligning schedules to make it work in the long run.

With the other bands it’s first come first serve, so it’s an easy rule to follow. Whatever band gets the booking first has the privilege. All of us do regular stuff on the side or At The Gates is on the side. Mostly Tomas and Jonas have regular proper jobs. They work part-time during the week. We mostly play weekends. We’ve done that for this year since the album came out. We’ve done a couple of tours. We did a US tour for three weeks in March. Right after this we have a week in Australia and a couple of dates in Japan. It’s mostly weekends.

There’s a lot of travelling just doing weekends. I feel like I’ve been jet lagged constantly for about a year, but playing is such a pleasure. You don’t mind it at all. We’re privileged that we get to do this and that people still want to see us.

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Since the band has reformed, At The Gates has found themselves touring new territories they were unable to visit the first time around. Larsson spoke about some of their target areas they wish to hit.

I’m a bit of an explorer myself. I always like going to places I haven’t been before. We’re going to South Africa in March. I’m stoked to do that. I’d like to play more in Eastern Europe and Asian countries. We’ll take it gradually.

He spoke about their visit to China, one of the newest frontiers for many artists in recent years.

We played China twice. Things haven’t really happened in China metal wise, but they’re starting to. First time we were there we played to 100 people, and the second time 200 people. There’s a progression. Things are happening. It’s exciting. It’s like when we started 25 years ago.

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Aside from their upcoming US tour with The Haunted and Decpaitated, he also unveiled another upcoming tour stop on a cruise. “The cruise in the Carribbean – 70,000 Tons of Metal. We’re playing that. This is the first time under that name. We did the Barge to Hell ones, which is kind of the same. That one had even more focus on the extreme metal. I guess this one is all around metal. It’s going to be great.

Lastly, he talked about the possibilities of a new At The Gates record and whether it was realistic to talk about one yet. “No. I’m not saying we’re not gonna but we don’t know. The only plan we have at the moment is not quitting. So we’re going to take it as it comes. We’re already booked until August. Once this goes down we’ll just sit down and see.

We’re not going to push it. If there’s more music – fine. That’s good. I’d like it there to be more music but we’ll find out.

By Rei Nishimoto

Motörhead – Saxon -Crobot: Live at The Shrine Auditorium

 

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40 years of the loudest rock n roll band known as Motörhead made its presence felt as despite recent rumors of frontman Lemmy Kilminster’s health dilemmas, they still powered through a somewhat up and down performance that lacked the magic of their legacy.

Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Following a classic Lemmy opening greeting, they opened with ‘Damage Case’ and ‘Stay Clean,’ (both from their 1979 Overkill album), which brought out the classic Motörhead feel that fans have grown to love. While guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee were on fire and lit up the room with their larger than life performances, Kilminster’s vibrant stage personality took a back seat and was not quite as electric as usual. Regardless of the reasons, Dee still blew the crowd away with his dynamic drum solo and Campbell brought out his guitar solos that fans have grown to love.

Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

The highlights of the evening included their well known tunes ‘Going to Brazil’ and ‘Ace of Spades’ to close the main part of their set list, and Kilminster’s son Paul Inder joining the band on stage for ‘Overkill,’ which Dee once again lit up the room with his lightning feet pounding away on the drums.

Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

 

 Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Motörhead © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Motörhead set list:

Damage Case
Stay Clean
We Are Motörhead
Metropolis
Over the Top
Guitar Solo
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
Rock It
Lost Woman Blues
Doctor Rock
(With drum solo)
Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
Going to Brazil
Ace of Spades
Encore:
Overkill
(Lemmy’s son, Paul Inder, joins on guitar)

Saxon © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Saxon © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Veteran UK metallers Saxon are celebrating 35 years as a band and coming out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene, they showed the crowd despite their semi-cult status in the US, they are a force to reckon with elsewhere and still have quite a bit left in the tank. Frontman Biff Byford was on fire and belted through a strong cross section of classic tunes fans have grown to love. Favorites such as ‘This Town Rocks’ and ‘Power and the Glory’ got the crowd going, and rarely was the room quiet while they performed. Campbell joined the band during ‘Denim and Leather,’ closing out a strong set that hopefully will bring them back to US shores again in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

Saxon © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Saxon © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

 

Saxon © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Saxon © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

 

Saxon set list

Battering Ram
This Town Rocks
Sacrifice
Power and the Glory
Heavy Metal Thunder
Wheels of Steel
The Eagle Has Landed
20,000 Ft
Crusader
Princess of the Night
Denim and Leather
(with Phil Campbell)

 

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WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO

PHOTOS BY KEVIN ESTRADA

Vans Warped Tour 2015 – Pomona Fairgrounds and Seaside Park at Ventura Fairgrounds

Warped-2015-lineup

Another year has arrived for the Vans Warped Tour full of anticipation and excitement to hit the summertime across North America. This year’s edition maintains their tradition of youth oriented angst filled music (or whatever the kids call it these days) and carving a path for the next batch of rising stars on the scene. Thanks to photographer Kevin Estrada for shooting these two dates of Warped tour for Ghost Cult!

The main stages (Shark and Unicorn) showcased the main attractions on the tour, ranging from the pop punk acts (The Wonder Years) to the screamo/emo (Pierce The Veil, Blessthefall) to the crossover half melodic and half aggro (We Came As Romans) to the harder sounding (August Burns Red) managed to keep the kids bouncing around in the crowd and rarely laying low.

August Burns Red,   photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

August Burns Red, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Tour veterans Motion City Soundtrack made their brief California run appearance, showing the crowd how things are done on this tour. Metro Station (featuring Trace Cyrus, son of country performer Billy Ray Cyrus), melodic punk act Man Overboard, and hardcore outfit Fit For A King all set the pace for the day with their respective sounds while keeping the crowd engaged.

Atilla, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Atilla, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

The main acts on these stages won over the crowd throughout the day. Memphis May Fire got the crowd into a high with their half heavy yet melodic styling that struck a nerve with them; Attila, led by their enigmatic frontman Chris “Fronz” Fronzak and his guitar crunching yet Eninem-esque “meth” suit bouncing along with the crowd; Black Veil Brides and their legions of die hard fan base singing along to every word; and Miss May I and their modern metallic sound that got the crowd worked up later on in the day.

The Amity Affliction, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

The Amity Affliction, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

While the main stage had their moments going on, there were a number of side stage acts making noise of their own. The Monster Stage housed their own brand of chaos throughout the day, as Senses Fail, Being As An Ocean, Beartooth, Mallory Knox and The Amity Affliction all got the pit crew throwing down alongside each band and rarely letting down. The harder driving acts such as hardcore outfit Hundredth had the pit kids going in effect, while veteran Canadian post hardcore act Silverstein had their mix of longtime fans as well as newbies who both showed their appreciation for the band. Australian metallic hardcore outfit I Killed The Prom Queen appeared to be bass player less, but that didn’t stop them from bringing out their At The Gates meets hardcore stomp to these fans. British metalcore act While She Sleeps briefly were down a singer (ie visa problems kept frontman Lawrence Taylor making a late start on the tour) but friends pitched in to lend a helping hand and fans didn’t even notice. Plus Escape The Fate closed out the evening with their eclectic brand of punk meets screamo meets modern metal that got the late comers their last bit of a sweat.

Neck Deep, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Neck Deep, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

On the other stages, indie hip hop acts MC Lars gave a lesson in nerdcore with rhymes about video games and Game of Thrones (ie his latest single “Dragon Blood), while Kosha Dillz brought out his East Coast blend of Spanish, English and Hebrew rhymes; and electro-DJ-performance duo mystery men Drama Club put on an interesting performance that combined part Blue Man Group-esque percussive moments with part electronica meets EDM moments and spontaneous bursts of energy that kept the interested crowd on its feet.

Pvrvis, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Pvris, photo © Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

The Journeys Stages found Juliette Sims and Night Riots wowing the crowd with their high energy sets, while hotly tipped electro pop outfit PVRIS became one of the much talked about acts on the tour and their set did not disappoint. Hip hop act Riff Raff put on quite the entertaining show on this stage, with his colorful summertime dress and animated raps to get the crowd bouncing along.

New York alternative rockers The Karma Killers stood out amongst the vast number of acts performing on the Ernie Ball Stage, with their fresh take on classic pop-punk, rock, and alternative rock with an energetic stage show. While they are newly signed to Island/Def Jam and new to the scene, they showed that they could one day end up on one of the larger stages in the new future.

The Acoustic Basement easily became an area largely for shade against the sun, but while most of the acts attracted stragglers throughout the day, Canadian singer-songwriter Saywecanfly and Brian Marquis were two of the acts who attracted a decent sized crowd throughout the day. Saywecanfly attracted a packed tent and entertained the audience with his emotion filled lyrics that got his largely female audience awaiting with anticipation.

Overall, this year’s edition featured a good mix of repeat acts moving up to larger stages, as well as a number of fresh faces to the scene. It is a positive sign to see new acts on the rise at a time when the music industry is struggling to attract new acts to the public. Hopefully someone is paying attention to this tour to see that there is a new generation of artists on the rise.

Set it Off,  photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Set it Off, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

 

 

 

Tat,  photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Tat, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

We Came As Romans,  photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

We Came As Romans, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Miss May I,  photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Miss May I, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

 

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WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO

PHOTOS BY KEVIN ESTRADA 

Mall – Directed by Joe Hahn

Mall_(film)

The thought of Linkin Park turntablist Joe Hahn’s directorial debut to be a story based on author/actor Eric Bogosian’s 2000 based book of the same name, Mall. Forget about whatever thoughts you may have of his band or his music – this film is quite impressive and gives viewers quite the ride within this quasi-psychological thriller.

The story draws is formatted somewhat like Crash, where it is centered around five strangers and how their erratic lives overlaps. Malcom (played by James Frecheville of Animal Kingdom fame) is a Crystal Meth ridden, ready to snap guy who is equipped with a bag full of weapons and self-made bombs, and is on a vendetta to wage war on the world, and his destination is the local mall and the unsuspecting shoppers there.

The narrator of the film is Jeff, a pot-smoking, day dreaming, social outcast teenager (played by Cameron Monaghan of Showtime’s Shameless TV show) is wandering around the mall with his so-called friends and attracting trouble by the mall police. He is fascinated by the Hernan Hesse’s 1927 novel Steppenwolf and liked to recite passages from it as he wanders around the mall.

Under peer pressure by his friends and to impress the girl he likes, Adelle (India Menuez), he drops Ecstasy and the effects of the drug rages while the shootings were happening. The way Jeff’s inner conflicts was portrayed in the film shows created quite the demonic roller coaster range of emotions he was dealing with.

Danny (played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who also co-produced the film) is depressed pervert, who is wandering around the mall, and ironically is caught peeping on Donny (played by Gina Gershon), a regretful housewife who is seeking personal thrills while she is out and about. Danny gets arrested and cuffed in the back of a squad car, until the arresting officer (Ron Yuan) gets shot by Mal by flying bullets from above, as he was about to let free and served a court summons. Danny survives but deals with the guilt of being a pervert by Jeff’s friends, and especially by Adelle, who takes advantage of him in the back of his car, in a sadistic fashion, while he is struggling with what he had done.

As Mal enters the mall, he crosses paths with Michel (Gbenga Akinnagbe), a mall security cop who had a past as a bully and later changed by honoring non-violence to his late wife. He sees Mal after he confronts his ex-boss Barry, a tuxedo store owner with whom he blames for his life spiraling out of whack. Their interaction throughout the movie plays a key part, including how Michel’s inner conflicts about how he dealt with confronting Mal, when the police were trailing him.

Hahn and co-vocalist Mike Shinoda’s original competitions are featured in the film, which flow well with the fast pace of the story. The story itself is somewhat of a social commentary in sorts, from what a shopping mall represents to society and the variety of people who frequent them. Plus with the rash of similar incidents like what was portrayed in this story tells a sad story of the societal ills in today’s times.

 

 

Mall film on Facebook

Joe Hahn on Facebook

 

REI NISHIMOTO

Balancing Act – Carla Harvey of Butcher Babies

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00059]

Butcher Babies co-vocalist Carla Harvey issued her first book titled Death & Other Dances (available via www.carlaharvey.bigcartel.com). She shared stories about her pre-Butcher Babies’ life, including growing up in Michigan and relocating to Los Angeles to pursue music, as well as working as a stripper and a mortician.

She is open about her life as a stripper, which she wrote about in her book. Fairly candid about that period of her life, Harvey talked about how she became attracted to this.

I write about that in my book. I find it funny people always think that strippers are horrible human beings with daddy issues and blah blah blah…yeah yeah sure maybe I have some daddy issues growing from my abandonment of my father, but my fascination with becoming a stripper started when I was very, very young child. Way before my parents separated. Way before my father was out of my life. They brought me back a doll from Las Vegas on a stand and it was a showgirl doll with a costume on. I was so fascinated by that doll and I wanted to look like a doll, be the doll and I wanted to be a showgirl or a stripper.”

I always give the rest to hair metal. I don’t think there’s any girl who used to take off her clothes and dance around the room to ‘Girls Girls Girls’…that probably didn’t help! I’ve always been very sexual. I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. I think if you brave it for a short period of time, it’s not a big deal. For me, it helped me grow as a person in a couple different ways. I was very shy. I would never talk to people one on one ever. It helped me open up. It helped me talk to people. In certain ways it was a good thing. If you get stuck there too long, you’re around the wrong people. I started doing drugs. But not all of it was bad.”

Harvey also shared how she found a brief career as a mortician and her fascination with death, something many musicians from Jonathan Davis (Korn) to Gen (Genitorturers) have been enamored with.

What is the basic attraction to death for musicians? “I don’t know but for me, I was always fascinated by death since I was a kid,” she said. “The first chapter of my book, I talk about that fascination. I’m sure it’s the same with a lot of people since they were a child, and I think musicians more so because we’re creative people and things people wonders about. I don’t know. Maybe we’re weirdos.”

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Another connection has been select goth and metal people have been connected to this profession. Television shows such as
NCIS have a gothic looking coroner (Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto character) have portrayed such people in those professions. But very seldomly do those folks last.

It’s funny because I went to mortuary school – for me it was fulfilling a life long dream. There were a few kids in my class who were goth kids. As soon as the first embalmment lab hit, they were all gone. They couldn’t handle it. I think a lot of people think embalmment is very rock n roll, very cool and tough and they want to do it, but when it comes down to it, it’s a very hard job. It takes extreme empathy to do it. It’s definitely not a job that people could do.”

School was something she did well in and managed to excel during her years there. She got good grades and was at the top of her class. Plus being in Mortuary College, science was also one of her best subjects.


“I was always great at science. It was one of my best subjects in school. I’ve always gotten straight A’s and on the dean’s list and all of that. I think a lot of times in my youth I was very bored, did drugs and stuff like that. I’ve always gotten great grades and always been smart. I think my first semester was chemistry, anatomy, physiology, embalming, mortuary law and all of that stuff. I hadn’t been in school in a very long time when I went back, but it was great to dive into it and let my brain be full of that kind of stuff than drugs.”

There’s no way that I could do drugs during a time like that at 8 in the morning. That really helped me stay sober knowing that I had to do that if I wanted to graduate that program. I graduated on the dean’s list. It was a turning point in my life, going from being a complete drug addict to being a college graduate on the dean’s list within a couple year’s time. That really saved me.”

So how long did she work in this field? “I was in school for a couple of years and I practiced for about two years. My band started to…then I couldn’t do it any more. It’s a very demanding job – no time off, no vacations. You really can’t have a full time job like that and do music. Obviously at this point in my life I choose music. It’s my dream.”

I think one day I might go back into it. I’d like to be a funeral director or a grief counselor. I like to help people and I have a lot of fans who have had loss in their lives reach out to me for grief counseling. I really enjoy that. Maybe I’ll do that again but I also love music so much that I don’t see myself stopping that any time soon.”

bb covers album artwork

Butcher Babies on Facebook

REI NISHIMOTO

Fortunate Sons – Sam Loeffler of Chevelle

 

Reaching seven albums in 15 years is quite the success story for Chicago hard rockers Chevelle, as they continue to put out strong records and winning over new fans everywhere they perform.

During their recent stop at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, CA, the band was on a West Coast tour behind their latest release, La Gargola (Spanish for ‘The Gargoyle’), in front of a packed house.

It’s been selling out a lot,” said drummer Sam Loeffler, talking about their US tours. “The US is so big. We’re still opening up markets, especially if you haven’t been somewhere for four, five or six years. So in that case, we played a couple markets that we haven’t played before. We’re trying to go to Canada as we can. There are a lot of markets we’ve never been to or been to in a long time. North America is very big.”

They have been playing various songs off of La Gargola (Sony), which has been met with anticipation from their fans. While the public has grown familiar with their melodic hard rock sound, the band was up for the challenges of creating newer songs that kept their sound growing without being repetitive.

This is album number seven. I don’t know if there’s necessarily a different mindset,” he said, talking about the making of La Gargola. “It’s just at this point we’ve published over 90 songs, so you’re only interested in writing songs that don’t sound like your other songs. So I think the songwriting process might be a little bit longer because you want to do something different. We’re a hard rock melodic band and still write songs like that because that’s what’s appealing to us.”

They worked with veteran producer Joe Baressi (Bad Religion, Tool, Coheed and Cambria) once again on La Gargola. Being familiar with his working style, the members of Chevelle got to experiment a bit more on this one and throw around different ideas this time around.

We did Hats Off To The Bull with Joe as well. This was our second record with him. Joe is really an experimental producer. It makes things go fast because he knows what all of his gear sounds like. He’s got like 30 to 40 amplifiers, a bunch of weird instruments in his studio. The place is packed with instruments. So being with him, I don’t know how we would do it with somebody else at this point. The more we used Joe, the more experiments we have. It’s a perfect set up because that’s how we are. As a band, we don’t want everything to sound the same.”

With Hats Off To The Bull, when we got sounds, for the most part we would mix up the sounds. It’s real consistent in tone – the guitars, bass and drums. Whereas this one, we really changed the tone on every single song. That was a lot more work. But we wanted to make each song sound completely different from the last one. I think they do.”

 

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With Chevelle entering album number seven, they encountered the challenge of keeping ideas fresh and not repeating ideas from past material. Many bands who reach this point in their careers often face similar dilemmas, but Loeffler and the band were up to the challenge of dodging this obstacle.

I think it definitely is a challenge. Pete [Loeffler, singer/guitarist] is our principle songwriter. He writes all the lyrics. I think a big part of it is he gets influences from all different kinds of places, just from what’s going on in the world. That helps makes a different thing for each song. He’s not just writing about high school relationships or relationships at all, for that matter. He writes about zombies and something he saw on television that is an accounting error. It’s all different topics that encompass anyone’s life rather than one simple thing. That adds to where the song’s going. “

La Gargola also marks the fourth album with bassist Dean Bernardini, who replaced their biological brother and former bassist Joe Loeffler, in 2005. With each record, Bernardini has grown with the band and continues to evolve within their sound.

He’s always been important to us and am important person in our lives. When he joined the band, we were able to grow the way we needed to grow. Sometimes things don’t work between people, but in our case, we really work well together.”

In that case, it improved the chemistry. I think most bands have leaving members – people coming and going. That’s just the reality of a business, not to mention a family. It went the way it was supposed to go.”


“Dean’s our brother in law. He does have a different last name but we are definitely like family. We are family in marriage. We’ve known each other for 22 years. We were friends and played in bands way before he played in this band,” said Loeffler.

 

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Loeffler briefly looked back at the band’s career until today. “We played our first show as Chevelle, probably in 1993 or 1994. But our first record came out in 1999. So 15 years of recording and touring ‘professionally.’ “

Seven records in 15 years is an amazing career for anybody in this day and age in rock music. I tell people all the time – your chances of having a successful rock band…you’re more likely to win $10 million in the lottery. People win that every week across the US, but two or three rock bands a year have some success. That’s a very defeating fact, but we need rock music. We need to good rock bands. Not to say there aren’t some now…there are, but we always need new ones. We’re interested to see who the next crop is.”

As for future touring, Chevelle will continue to move forward with writing new material and more touring in the near future. But in between this time, family life has been squeezed into their schedules, keeping their lives exciting in another way.

Pete is about to have his first. My wife and I had our first ten weeks ago. Dean has a two year old and a six year old. Like anyone else, we’re at that age where you want to have a family.

You have to balance it all but this is our passion. We’re here because we’ve always been in love with music.”

 

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REI NISHIMOTO