Monday, February 25, 2019


“It’s a Shame That a Family Can Be Torn Apart By Something As Simple As a Pack Of Wild Dogs”.  That’s the whole title.  It’s funny though, right?  But you will never see me actually use that whole title to describe this record, except for right now.  As it stands nothing has topped this record insofar as how many I have sold and it still gets more plays digitally than anything else I’ve released.  And I would say a lot of that is due to how hard Ed Gein worked as a band that toured relentlessly.  At their peak the guys were on the road for probably almost 9 months out of the year playing every corner of the United States that they possibly could.  I think in one year they toured the country 4 separate times.  They even had their van (and all their gear) stolen at one point and still finished a tour.  Luckily they got the majority of that back a few months later.
But I couldn’t believe the reception this got from people.  It was just crazy.  I had distro’s re-ordering hundreds of copies from me each month, which was really weird for me to think about.  On my side of things it is where Lumberjack Distribution officially picked me up as an exclusive label.  That meant a lot to me at the time.  They carried all the best punk and hardcore record labels and it opened plenty of doors.  It also meant that I had to learn a lot about deadlines, street dates, and all that other stuff that goes along with it.  Up until that point if I decided to put out a record I just put it out and let it go from there.  Now I had to plan my releases 3-4 months in advance and start coming up with ad copy and press releases way before I knew exactly how the record was going to look when it was done!  I was also still mostly just pressing CDs and this new Ed Gein would be in a somewhat different sort of package than I had done in the past.  I had just been doing jewel cases for the most part, but they wanted to do something a bit more artistic and who was I to argue?  I knew people were already excited about them and that whatever they did next would probably go over well, so we worked out some ideas and the band set off to do what they do, which was to write ridiculously fast and complicated songs with stupid long titles.  Our old friend, and Syracuse go-to guy, Jason “Jocko” Randall recorded things, which, in turn, helped gain him some attention within the metal world for his skill and engineering know-how.  “The Marlboro Man Is a Douchebag” will likely never be topped as a wacky song title with some of the most aggressive and pissed off music ever committed to tape, at least in the Hex Records catalog.  If things set off early on for these guys this was the one that fully unleashed Ed Gein upon the world.
There’s not really too much else to say about this one that hasn’t been said a million times already and you all know it.  So instead, this just gave me an excuse to catch up with my long time friend, bassist extraordinaire, screenprinting expert, and beard farming champ Aaron Jenkins.  We reflect upon the times when each of us still had hair on the top of our heads.

OK, so the 3-song EP was out, you all were touring, and you’re getting ready to write, record, and tour for “It’s a Shame…”.  What was going on with the band during this time period?

Oh man, you’re talking to the member of the band with the worst memory so I’ll have to stumble around to remember stuff.  So, we put out the three song thing around 2002.  I think we were practicing up in Oswego (NY) at the Wet Paint Factory at that point.  That was wild.  So when we were writing “It’s a Shame..” we were practicing about 7 nights a week, for 4 or 5 hours each night, if not more.  We would just go up there whenever Graham and Jesse got out of work and I got out of school.  I was going to community college…  I think maybe Jesse was too around then.  I took a year off between the end of high school and going to college, so it was around 2001 or something.  So we all would get out of work or school and then just go up to the practice space in Oswego and just be there all night until 3 or 4 in the morning.  We’d be there all night just writing music and goofing around.

Discuss your practice space, as it was kind of the stuff of legend.

Yeah, we had this huge room on the top floor of the Wet Paint Factory.  Were you ever there?

I know I passed by it, maybe I went in before.  It was called Wet Paint Factory?

Yeah, I don’t know why.  There was a store in the first floor or something.  Maybe it was the name of the paint store.  I never paid much attention to that part of the building.  But I believe Anthrax practiced there at one point.  It has some history to it for sure.  Anyway, we had the whole top floor of this place, like where the old ass elevator mechanics were, like an old lift elevator.  And it was this really old brick building, so the bricks were pretty much falling out of the building.  Snow would come in the holes in the bricks and pigeons would be flying around in there.  It was a mess.
So we made this place awesome because it was so big.  We put a couch in there and rugs, and everything was running on kerosene heaters because it would get really cold in there.  We had an N64 in there.  Me and Jesse would be like, ‘hey Graham- go write some riffs’, and we would just play video games while Graham would write some weird shit.  And we would do that for 6 hours.  Go grab a pizza and hang out.  We had a white board where we would have to write out sequences for songs and riffs.  It was all mathematical.  We would pick out a random sequence of numbers and then try to write songs to it, play it over and over, and over until we remembered it.  That’s how “It’s a Shame…” came about, just from all that.  For six nights a week.  At least.

Were you touring at that point?  Or just playing here and there?

We were playing around here and there.  I think we did a week with Found, Dead…Hanging out to the Midwest or something.  We didn’t go much farther than maybe Pennsylvania or Ohio.  We did a bunch of solo weekends on our own around the Northeast too.  I know we definitely did a couple things with Found, Dead… Hanging.  I know after “It’s a Shame” came out is when we did our actual first tour and that was with The Minor Times.

Can you talk a bit about where you all grew up, which was literally in the middle of nowhere.

The first point to make is that I’m not from there.  I’m from Syracuse and I moved up there with my mom after my parents got divorced.  I was dragged up there against my will and hated every minute of it.  There is literally nothing to do up there.  You’re so isolated from everything up there.   As a kid you couldn’t be in a worse spot.  You were stuck.  I did not belong in that area.  It sucked for me.  I hated it up there. 
But for whatever reason the Central Square school district spawned a lot of bands.  When I was in high school there were 30 or 40 kids who were straight edge, just in one high school!  And we were in the middle of nowhere.  Maybe it was because we were all bored.  So you’d hear that a couple kids were going down to Syracuse for a show, lets pack everyone into a car and go.  The people from up there seem to embody that whole DIY thing.  It’s even more ingrained in us because what else were we going to do? 

You literally have to do it yourself.

I mean, Jesse, Graham, and Adam (Williams, co-owner of Recess Coffee) are all from there and they have Recess going.  The Gorham brothers (Engineer, Blood Sun Circle) are from the North country too, but further west and they have their store going.  The owner of Strong Hearts CafĂ© in Syracuse is from there and he’s an old hardcore guy.  It kind of seems like North Country people all run stuff in Syracuse (laughs).
I spent part of my life living in the Westcott neighborhood in Syracuse when I was a kid before I moved up north, so my early childhood was running around Westcott and it’s where I’m most comfortable so that’s why I moved back here.

What was the reaction to the band early on and up to when “It’s a Shame…” came out?

It’s not what we expected at all.  We didn’t give a shit what people thought, at all.  I was in a really terrible band before Beyond Fall and I just needed something to do.  Graham and I have been playing music together since I was 13 or 14.  I started off playing drums and I was horrible at it.  At one point I heard my brother say ‘bass guitar is pretty cool’ so I decided to do that.  I started screwing around with it on my own and then I heard through the grapevine there was this kid named Graham who was a really amazing guitarist.  I had never met him before and I was at a friends birthday party and some kid said ‘hey, that’s Graham over there, you ought to go talk to him’.  He was this skinny little nerdy kid with long hair, hunched over in his own space, not really talking to anybody, all shy, and his arm was broken and in a cast.  And I said, ‘hey, I play bass, you play guitar, we should do a band!’ And he said back (imitating a shy, nerdy voice), ‘OK, sounds good man, I broke my arm though.’ (laughs)

And he’s still pretty much the same!

He’s still Graham, Goofy Graham, but me and him have been playing together for a long-ass time and we did Beyond Fall together and it was just bad metal.  So we wanted to do something that was faster and crazier, and we didn’t give a shit what people thought of it.  When we did Beyond Fall we kind of got tired of doing a thing that people sort of expected us to do, and do something weird, and we didn’t think people would like it at all.  We thought people would see us and just think, ‘what the hell is this crap?’  But, for whatever reason, people were immediately stoked on it.  It really surprised us.

                                       GrahamnationAD on the guitar

When you all were still doing Beyond Fall you played out of town a little bit, but once Ed Gein started you began touring quite a lot.  How did you all manage to make that jump and find contacts and out-of-town shows?

I did all of the booking pretty much.  I kind of got the reputation in the band as the band dad, and more of an asshole.  When we toured with All Else Failed they gave us all nicknames and they called me General Gein.  Like I was a commander.  Whatever, I was cool with it.  Someone had to do it, right?  Otherwise nothing would have gotten done, we wouldn’t have really done anything.  I’m totally cool with that role.  Yet out of the three of us in the band I have the least musical talent, but I have the most drive and ability to get shit done.
But as for touring we were doing this kind of before booking was all through the internet.  I think I got some of my initial contacts from doing shows with Found, Dead…Hanging, and Keith (vocalist) had all these contacts too.  I’m sure I asked you for contacts at one time or another.  Plus, when I was 13 or 14 I would be reading Maximum Rock n’ Roll and hearing stories about bands writing letters, like actual letters, to get shows booked.  Ya know, just going and doing the damn thing.  Since I’ve always known that that’s the way you do it- you just fucking do it.  You figure it out.  So I hit up some people up for contacts, I sent MySpace messages, or whatever we used at the time.  Maybe I was just using an AOL account or AIM at that point!

Were the other guys cool with just getting in the van and going for it as well?

Oh yeah.  Definitely.  Graham’s dad had this old beat-up Dodge van from the 70’s and it had a bed built in the back that they would take camping.  So we had a van we could use.  And we were all like, ‘we’re just going to do this.’  Looking back I don’t think we had a discussion about it, it was just me saying, ‘I’m going to book us some shows’ and that was it.

What was with the long song and album titles?

Ah….  We were pretentious douche bags?  We were kissing As the Sun Sets (pre-Daughters band) ass?  That’s it.  Ed Gein was basically an As the Sun Sets rip off band.  Bottom line.  But I suppose, at the time, we just didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing.  But we were just straight-up ripping other people off too kind of subconsciously.  The more you try to be different the more you’re going to be like everyone else who was trying to be different, ya know?  We just tried to put our own stamp on it.  Even our band name.  We didn’t want something like Poison the Well, or some generic metalcore band name.  Plus, I kind of suck at naming things.  So that’s where it came from- trying to do something different and that I suck at coming up with catchy names.

                                               It's a long title

At the time of recording “It’s a Shame..” were you set with recording with Jocko (Moresound Studios), or did you look around a little bit?

That’s a good question.  I honestly don’t remember.  We did the three song EP with some weird guy down in Liverpool (Syracuse suburb).  It was really random.  This guy had no idea of what we were trying to do.  I think he was listening to douche-y rock shit like Buckcherry when we got there.  The guy was a total weird too.  At one point he was setting up drum mics and he was all hunched over and had like plumber butt going, but he didn’t have plumber’s crack.  He was wearing this pink, frilly thong!  Ad we were kind of poking around at this studio, which had this apartment attached to it, and I went into this storage area and there was a tanning bed in there.  It was just weird and he was a weird guy.  Plus, when we recorded that I was probably around 18 so it was just a weird situation for kids that age to be in.  The guy was like, ‘I don’t know what this is, it’s just noise to me, I’m going to press record and you do your garbage, and then get out.’
So we didn’t want to do that again.  Maybe you might have told us about Jocko.  Everyone had sort of started going to him at that point.  It was still in his parents basement.  I hadn’t really met him at that point. 
It was really cool.  I think I met his mom once while we were there.  I mean, they let him take over that whole basement.  And to let loud stupid bands to come record all day, they must have been the coolest parents ever.  Extremely tolerant.

What were some of the friendships between bands, promoters, people in other towns, that you began forming during this time that continued to last?

The Minor Times guys for sure.  We did our first real tour with them.  In fact, I’m looking at pictures from that tour right now.  My memory really sucks, but I have very clear memories of that tour.  Those guys are just fucking awesome.
We also did a couple things with Anodyne (pre-Tombs)- Mike Hill and those dudes Joel and Josh.  The earlier days of us touring are the memories that I hold on to more.
Some of those people and bands from then I almost consider family.  I don’t see them much or talk to them much.  It’s a weird connection.
The dudes from Anodyne, Minor Times, the guys from Breather Resist- we did a bunch of stuff with them.  We toured with All Else Failed.
We did this ridiculous tour, it was probably almost two months long.  We went around the country, starting in Syracuse, down South and then out West with Breather Resist.  Then we got to Northern California, or something, and met up with All Else Failed and then went back through the country for almost another month.
Those guys are all great.  The All Else Failed guys are all hilarious.  They were a band we all loved for years before we ever started Ed Gein, they were one of our favorite bands.  So when we were touring with them years later we were like, ‘man, these guys are old and they’re still doing this!  That’s awesome’.  At the time they were not old at all, it was just a weird perspective to me since I was a bit younger.  I had no perspective on time, or a band’s life expectancy then.

                     Aaron, pre-beard takeover, pre-chrome dome

What were some of the things that happened that made you think- ‘we could do this all the time’, such as bigger shows, or tours, or attention from larger bands and so forth?

I don’t know.  That kind of stuff didn’t stick with me.  We were young and stupid and we weren’t really thinking about that sort of stuff.  It wasn’t a thought with us.  That sort of stuff kind of came later on when we were touring on “Judas Goats…” when we had to start thinking about paying rent while we were on the road, like adult stuff.
During the “It’s a Shame..” years we were just flying by the seat of our pants and still living at home with our parents.  As long as we were making enough money to put gas in van we would just keep going.
It’s strange because I thought of some of the stuff we were playing then was sort of a flash-in-the-pan genre.  And a lot of the bands that spawned out of that style I don’t like at all.  So I’m surprised when people are still into it.  I’m not really sure why we even played that style.  It’s just sort of what came out of us.  We didn’t sit down and discuss what kind of songs we were going to write.  The only discussion we had is that we didn’t want to be Beyond Fall part 2.  We just wanted to write weirder and faster songs.  We were listening to a lot of As the Sun Sets, but we didn’t say ‘we want to be like them!’  Personally, I was probably listening to more stuff like Turmoil and All Else Failed.

There was a vinyl version that eventually was made of “It’s a Shame…”.  Can you talk about that a little bit?

That was the three song demo, plus “It’s a Shame…” record on record.  Our friend Tim from Shock Value Records did that.  He was in a couple bands we would play with every now and then.  He was out of Long Island.  I think he asked us if he could put it out because he was into records.  It came out a year or two after the CD version I believe.  It was on bubblegum pink vinyl.

              The limited vinyl version of the EP

Did you do the screenprinting of the covers of that?

No, that was done by someone else.  I was interested in it at that point, but I didn’t know how to do it.  I hadn’t figured it out yet.  But I was interested enough in it that I knew I wanted to have screenprinted covers for it.  So I asked if the covers could be screenprinted and they agreed to it.

What was your favorite part of being in Ed Gein? What was your least favorite part?

My favorite thing was probably travelling and hanging out with the guys.  In fact, my favorite thing and least favorite thing are probably the same thing honestly!  Ya know, travelling around is great.  I’ve been to every state except Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota.  So that’s cool, even if a lot of it is just Interstate highways and rest stops.  Even then, just hanging out, making stupid jokes, and sleeping in the van almost every night was great.  I’d rather sleep in the van than at some random person’s house.  I have great memories of doing that.
The worst thing is spending that much time with people, and that much time away from home is tough.  The relationship between me, Jesse, and Graham is weird.  We’re all friends.  It’s more like brothers.  But not in that family sort of way, more in that awkward, resentful, but I still-love-you sort of way.  We’re brothers in that way.  They love me and hate me at the same time and I love them and hate them at the same time.  It’s awkward and weird, but I love them.
I want to add another thing to the ‘best’ part.  I have an associates degree from college.  But I learned more about just dealing with people, organizing things, and the world in general by touring and doing this band than I would have ever learned in college. It’s like a master’s degree in just doing shit.  I’ve been to 47 out of 50 states just from touring. You really just have to go out there and do it.  Just go for it.  And it all kind of ties back to living in the middle of nowhere and having to be DIY about things.  But after having been in that band I really realized that I can do whatever I want.  I can do anything because of that attitude I learned from touring with this band.

So now that you've gone through that feel free to head over to the Hex webstore and pick up a copy of "It's a Shame..." for only $4 this week HERE.
Or, if you're a digital-only sort of person go over to our bandcamp and score the digital version for only $3 this week.

Monday, February 18, 2019


Not long after Inkling had split up The Minor Times began.  In fact, it was pretty much immediately after Inkling broke up that the core of the band began writing in earnest and honing the songs that became the “Chris Chambers Never Misses” EP.  I was a little miffed with them for splitting up, especially since it was not that long after the Inkling record I released had come out.  I didn’t see them all for several months and we didn’t talk much.  However, they were hunkered down, writing music and working out their new vocalist, a local Lansdale guy by the name of Brendan McAndrew who been playing in a band of his own for a bit.

Once things began to come into focus I distinctly remember guitarist Chris Mascotti calling me up and stating that he wanted to come visit me up in Syracuse.  Just kind of out of the blue.  That’s kind of how it was with those guys after that.  They would just randomly say they wanted to come visit and next thing you know, they were in town.  Why anyone would want to visit my city as a tourist destination is beyond me.  But here we were.  And within a week both Chris and other guitarist Tim Leo were knocking on my door.   I hadn’t seen either of them in at least several months.  Chris looked the same but I didn’t even recognize Tim.  He had had some health issues and lost a ton of weight.  Prior to that he was a pretty big sturdy guy, but now he was someone different.  He had easily lost over 100 pounds, probably more.  It was a pretty wild transformation.
Either way, we caught up and any feelings of frustration I had about Inkling ending were quickly dissolved because these guys made the effort to come and visit, and hang out, and catch up.  We talked about what they were up to now and, indeed, they were hard at work on The Minor Times.  It was really a thing that was happening.  We kept in close contact once again after that and pretty soon they were ready to record and start playing shows under this new identity.
 The Minor Times (from left): Tim, Brendan, Justin at See Spot Gallery, Ithaca, NY

The Minor Times were heavier, weirder, more technical, and really had it together.  It seemed like everything that they weren’t quite sure of how to do in Inkling they figured out with this band.  Brendan, who had previously played in a band that took more than a handful of cues from stuff like Sunny Day Real Estate, really showed his versatile nature as a vocalist and produced one of the meanest screams possible and a confrontational stage presence that pushed the band into people’s faces.  Pretty quickly they returned to Salad Days Studios (where the Inkling EP was recorded) with Brain McTerrnan and recorded their EP and then set out to get in the van and tour.  They were finally able to make big moves as a band that saw them hit the road frequently.  This is where the real first grouping of Hex-related bands began to coalesce with The Minor Times, Ed Gein, Achilles, and Engineer all playing together and touring together on a pretty regular basis.  The Minor Times ended up moving on to doing records with Level Plane, Robotic Empire, and Prosthetic Records and doing multiple tours across the US and Europe before calling it a day.  Since that time I still try to stay in touch with the guys.  It’s also where my friendship with Tim Leo really began to take off and we became pretty tight since that time.  So much so that when I called him up to do this thing he was in the midst of having a baby and didn’t blow me off, which would have been a totally reasonable thing to do.  Instead I got a message back saying, “I had a baby, I’m at the hospital.  Can I call you back tomorrow?”  Tomorrow?  Dude just had a kid.  I can wait a few days, no big deal.  So a few days later we caught up for real and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that my old pal Tim Leo has a kid now.  Holy crap. 
So anyway, aside from that, it’s long overdue that I finally pick his brain about that time with The Minor Times and catch up.

So basically right after Inkling split up you began working on The Minor Times, right?  How did that come together and what were things like for you during that transition time?

So the last couple Inkling songs we wrote became Minor Times songs.  Brian (Shmutz, Inkling vocalist) had written vocals to one of them and the other just sort of hung out and they were sort of the starting point for the band.  So we just turned them into Minor Times songs.
We had booked a tour of sorts, like an East Coast tour, down to Florida.  And then Brian Schmutz quit so we just went anyway as a vacation- me, Brain (Medlin, drums), Chris (Mascotti, guitar), and Justin (LaBarge, bass).  We all just went to Florida for a week because we had all taken vacation time from our jobs, since we were planning on touring.  When we got back we started writing songs.  It was a little slow going at first.  I’m sure you remember we were going to get Raver Bob to sing for the band.  He was planning on coming down here.  We sent him a bunch of demos-

Wait, what?  I do not recall this.

-Real deal.  Raver Bob (Bob Swift, Syracuse guy who later ended up being the singer for the Seattle band The Helm, who released records through Hex Records- ed.).
We would just talk on the phone for hours about ideas for the band.  But logistics kind of played out, and then Brendan came into the picture.  Brendan had just played in some local punk bands around here in Lansdale.  One was called Unsuspecting Public.  He came to our practice and at first we didn’t really take it seriously.  But he was so serious about it. It was just this side of Brendan that we had never seen.  He had written all these words to go with certain parts.  So he really impressed us with his preparation.  I think after that Justin was the only one not sold on him because I think he preferred the idea of Bob.  Plus, Brendan was very young at the time, so maybe that was part of it.

I thought Brendan fell in with the band because he was already a local guy and you all knew him.

It was a total surprise.  A total surprise.  He had the one punk band, and then he did another band called Fairmount with Mark Price (visual artist and frequent collaborator with The Minor Times), which was way more mellow, kind of Weezer or Hum sort of music.  We didn’t expect anything like that from him.  He came to practice and flipped out in our tiny little practice space.  And before he was doing lights for us Mark (Price) came in and did this sort of harsh noise stuff for the first few songs we wrote and it sounded really cool at first, but it was pretty limited.  He had only, like, five or six sounds he could make so it stopped making sense.  But at first it was really cool.  So at that point we were like, ‘well, we should probably entertain Brendan as our singer because the noise stuff isn’t really panning out.’
Early ad for the EP that appeared in several zines around the time

Did you have some of that material already set, or a plan in place, once The Minor Times began because you moved really quick on it.

A little bit.  I think that everyone was a little nervous because we weren’t sure if it was something that you would want to get behind.  Do you remember when Chris and I came up and we stayed at your place, like shortly after Inkling broke up and Minor Times wasn’t exactly a thing yet?

Oh yeah, I remember.  I remember you looked so different and I didn’t even recognize you.

That’s another thing about being in that band.  It sort of follows me around.  Any time that anything that I thought about for so long disintegrates I kind of just go nuts for awhile.  When Inkling broke up I lost 160 pounds in four months.  When The Minor Times broke up I got divorced for the first time.  When Ladder Devils and Legendary Divorce all imploded and I dragged myself into oblivion and got divorced again.

Maybe you should stop doing bands! (laughs)

Right! (laughs)  But yeah, we came up to see you and we were a little tentative about bringing it up that we had a new band.  But you were just like, ‘fuck yeah, let’s do it!’  That was the first stepping stone, to see if you wanted to do the record.  So next was recording and the recording process for that EP was a fucking nightmare.
                         Skeletal Tim, not doing so hot here

Why did you decide to return to Salad Days to record “Chris Chambers”?

We really liked being in a studio where there was an engineer that you didn’t have to direct in any way.  I thought Brian McTerrnan (Salad Days engineer) was awesome.  He’s just steeped in the same type of music we liked, he’s just like 10 years older so he had more experience.  We didn’t have to explain to him what we wanted to sound like, he would tell us- ‘this will sound cool. Or this will sound cool’.  It was great recording with him, he was funny as fuck.  When we went to record “Chris Chambers” with him his studio had moved to Maryland so it was all new.  But I was really, really sick when we went to record.  I was super sick.  It was freezing cold.  I remember trying to play guitar and I just couldn’t.  I could barely do it man.  I just wrapped myself in this electric blanket because I weighed like 98 pounds, and trying to play the electric guitar.  And McTerrnan was finally like, ‘I don’t need you to die in my house.’  I tracked as much as I could and then Eric (Haag, former Inkling bassist) came down and got me before they even started tracking vocals.  I just went back to Philadelphia.  I was out of it for about three days.  It was brutal.  But then things started to get better.
Once that record came out we really wanted to tour and started doing weekends and stuff.  Breather Resist took us out for about a week and a half.  We went out as far as Louisville and then stayed at the Patterson compound (Ryan and Evan Patterson’s house) for about three days and played a bit more around there.  That was the first time we went out with a band that was like-minded people.  Same with the Ed Gein dudes.  We liked just finding other weird people and playing weird shows.  And it didn’t matter how many people were at the show, we were just happy to be around good-spirited people that we toured with.  After that we did tours with All Else Failed.  We toured with that band Dead To Fall.  All Else Failed was fun, but Dead To Fall just didn’t feel like the crowd we wanted to play to.  They were a cool band to hang out with, just their audience was not our audience, ya know?
Plus, at the time, none of us really drank and neither did the Ed Gein guys.  Most of the Engineer guys didn’t either.  So we would tour with them and we were all just weirdos.  It was just hanging out with friends.

What was the idea of calling the EP “Chris Chambers Never Misses”?

We threw a bunch of titles around but we settled on that.  It’s from that movie “Stand By Me” and it’s that idea of the camaraderie, all the kids in that movie have their jokes with one another, and when River Phoenix is saying that line about having a dream where he’s falling and the other person doesn’t drop him…  I don’t know, it’s just a melodramatic thing about how the whole world was just us.  It’s literally how we spent our entire early 20’s- we just practiced all the time, and if we weren’t practicing then we were just writing songs.  My first bachelor party was literally all of us in our practice space just jamming the night before I got married the first time.

There was a weird European pressing that happened with the EP where it became a split with another European band called Llynch on a 12”.  How did that come about?

That might have been Medlin.  He tended to handle most of the correspondence that came in for the band because he’s such a friendly dude.  And that Llynch band hit up Medlin saying they had just recorded this record, and had a label, and do you want to hear it?  So they sent us some songs and we thought it was cool so they asked if we wanted to split a record.  So, sure, let’s do it.  I remember, too, they had really specific art direction for that record.  They didn’t want photographs.  They wanted video stills instead.  So we all went to my old apartment and took video in my hallway of us just standing around, it was really awkward.  I still never met those guys, but I know one of them is in that band Heads.

The LP version of the EP, released as a split in Europe with Llynch

It seems like Minor Times were really set on hitting the road even more and you all didn’t waste much time in doing that.  How did you manage to get over the issue of not having as many contacts or resources which held Inkling back from touring more to going full-on with Minor Times?

I think it might have been you.  I think it was the Hex stuff that did it.  When you think about it the first tour we did with Minor Times was with Ed Gein.  The first real exposure we had that mattered to anyone later was at Hellfest.  And then we went out with Breather Resist and we had gotten tight with Evan (from Breather Resist) through The National Acrobat, which he was in, and you put out their record too.  I don’t think they would have heard of us if it weren’t for another thing that had come out on your label.  That’s the way I always saw it anyway. 
I was thinking about why we played more shows in Syracuse than we did in Philadelphia, like 10:1.  I think that has a lot to do with it.  We played shows in Philly, some great ones.  But we were always just the local band.  When we would come to Syracuse we were the traveling band and we had you there to tell us other bands to check out.  That’s why Ed Gein gave a shit about us, ya know?  And in Philly, even to this day, it’s a very clique-y place.  I remember going to eat with some people one night after work back when I worked at Relapse and there was a kid who joined us wearing a Minor Times shirt.  And the whole time I felt so awkward that finally at the end of it I just said, ‘hey man, I like your shirt, I played in that band.’  And he just said, ‘oh, I never listened to the band, I just like the t-shirt.’  It was super weird.  If that makes sense to you- you’ve been in bands- it’s weird to just be ‘the local band’ unless you got some crazy gimmick.  But when you go somewhere else people appreciate it more.  We definitely had local people who came out and would see us, and hung out with us, but we were never going to be another Ink and Dagger, or some other well-loved Philly band.  All Else Failed, for most of their existence, were kind of like that- just the local band no one cared about where the singers would just bludgeon themselves and they played this super chaotic music.  No one cared until they played one of their 20 farewell shows, like ‘where were all these people before?’  But ultimately, having the Syracuse thing where we got to meet other bands that were like us was a good thing.  It got us started on some good tours.

Not long after the EP came out your brother Matt came in on bass.  Had he been in other bands before this, or was it all new to him?

Matt played guitar in high schools bands.  Then he moved to California and became an engineer and started playing with these guys who were in a band called God Lives Underwater.  He came back to Philly for my wedding and he ended up just staying.  Justin ended up quitting and sort of getting kicked out.  Everyone was just fighting all the time.  So we were trying out bass players at the time and Matt just said, ‘I’m not going back to California, I’ll stick around.’  So it just worked out, it made sense. 
                                         Bassist Matt Leo
You all started touring with a lot of gear including TVs and Brendan had his little sampler station thing. I imagine that got to be a real pain in the ass getting everything set up.

Yeah.  But Brendan was really good at it.  When Mark Price would tour with us he and Brendan worked out this system where all the extra stuff just fit in these two tupperware containers.  They also had this light system set up that involved a switch that you would use for like Christmas lights and the whole thing would fit into a suitcase. It was pretty cool.  We would end up often playing these tiny little places and figured as long as the power was there we were good.  But we would blow the power in a lot of places we played.  It was one thing to have these 150 watt amps, but when you put those lights on there and now it’s 1000 watts, you just blow the power.  We blew the power catastrophically in Kansas City one time.  It was this really big venue and into the first song the entire place just went completely dark.  That was the down side, but the rest wasn’t too bad.

Chris left the band after touring on your first full length “Making Enemies”.  What led him to leave?

Well, basically his parents gave him a hard enough time about focusing on school that he left to complete school.  It was a tough decision, but an obvious one.

Why did The Minor Times end up splitting up?

So Chris left, and then we got Lou from Fight Amp for a short amount of time, and then he quit.  So I was the only guitarist for a while.  And I remember we played this show in Philly with Trap Them down in a basement and the promoter was like, ‘did you bring a PA? I was expecting you guys to bring a PA.’  And it was a real deal basement, like a six-foot ceiling, I had to duck to be down there.  So we drove back to Lansdale, got the PA, and then drove back into Philly for the show, and I think we parked in this tiny alley.  Brendan was drinking and I think he was just tired of it.  We had a show a couple days later with Doomriders and he was like, ‘that’s going to be my last show, I’m tired of it.’  I remember him trying to get out of that alley and just banging into everything, it was crazy.
                          Healthy Tim (on left)!
Was it just burn out?

Yeah.  We had just done the “Summer Of Wolves” record and we decided that at that point it was either go on tour forever or just quit.  I was working for Relapse Records at the time and for the first time in a long time I was just like, ‘let’s do it, let’s just be gone for months on end’ and everyone else was like, ‘yeah, either get to it or don’t.’  And Brendan was like, ‘Nope, I’m tired of playing shows, I can’t do it.’  And that was it.  We played maybe a few more shows we were required to play and that was it.

What was your favorite part of being in Minor Times?  What was your least favorite thing?

There were times where writing songs together were the best times and there times where that just totally fucking sucked too.  I remember we got towards the end of writing that “Summer Of Wolves” record and everyone was just so mad.  There was just a lot to be mad about.  The beginning of the writing process would be so fun and the end was just not fun.  What was fun became not fun.  When the Minor Times started we just thought it was all going to be so fun.  We were going to do all this stuff we didn’t do in Inkling.  And we did.  We would play these amazing shows too.  We toured with Engineer and played in New Orleans with Thou and there were like six people there.  We played with Anodyne and Majority Rule in a basement in Philly and like two people came.  That basement show with Trap Them we played, I think one person paid.  After years of doing that we got tired because we would throw everything we had into it and the fun of it became tedious.

 The Minor Times playing one of their early shows in Rochester, NY

Whew, that was a long one!  Well, now you get to the bit where, this week, you can grab the "Chris Chambers" CDEP through the Hex store for only $4!  And if you just want the digital tracks you can grab them via the bandcamp page for only $2!  Sorry, I don't have any of those Euro LP pressings to dole out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


It’s weird to think about, but by 2002 I was already feeling like part of the old guard in Syracuse.  I was only around 25.  But that’s how hardcore goes- the generational gaps are short and fleeting.  I speak to this because there was already a younger crop of kids coming out of the middle of nowhere, making their own noise, and starting their own scene.  When you begin to feel that you’re a little out-of-the-know that’s when it’s clear that the next generation is on it’s way.  That younger group seemed to be led by a handful of maniacs from what we in the central NY area called ‘the north country’.  These were all the rural suburbs north of Syracuse, extending up to Oswego and out east to Oneida Lake.  No one had any interest in going up there.  There was literally nothing up there.  And if we thought Syracuse was cold and got a lot of snow, some of those northern areas got double that.  25 miles makes a big difference in those parts.  These kids had a band called Beyond Fall- a run-of-the-mill kind of name for a younger band in that era.  But when you heard them it was kind of wild what they were doing.  They all had to be around 16 or 17 and were playing really technical metalcore that, whether you were a fan or not, had to respect due to the level of musicianship they all displayed.  I mean, when you live in the middle of nowhere what else is there to do, right?

So Beyond Fall gigged around for a couple years, eventually making their way on to Syracuse bills with more established bands before they decided to call it quits.  In the wake of that, three of the members- Jesse Daino, Graham Reynolds, and Aaron Jenkins decided to keep going under a new name- Ed Gein.  And they ditched most of the metalcore parts in favor of playing as fast and as insanely technical as humanly possible.  It was crazy.  They cut a two song demo tape and quickly heads around town turned to witness what these three wild dudes, who all shared vocals by the way, were doing.  How many riffs could they possibly cram into a single song?  Into 10 seconds?  It was nuts.

I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t super into it.  It just seemed like too much mushed into one song with no cohesion, even though I did totally admire their ability as musicians.  They reached out to me and asked if I would put out their next effort- a CDEP they had pretty much ready to go.  In fact, I think they all came over to my apartment to meet with me and the guys sort of wafted in the background awkwardly and made Aaron do all the talking.  It was definitely strange.  I wasn’t really in a position to make a commitment based on not really having a lot of money at the time.  They offered to cover a chunk of the costs and the reproduction was going to be pretty minimal because they planned on just doing a simple sleeve with a sticker on it and an insert.  So I relented and gave it a shot and put in to help out with the release.  I kind of thought people wouldn’t be too into it, but what did I know?
An Ed Gein show down in Pennsylvania with some like-minded bands
That summer the EP came out and the band played the annual Hellfest in Syracuse and a lot of people were curious.  When they did their set the whole place went completely bananas.  It was wild.  I distinctly remember near the end of their set everyone was going crazy and so was the band and Graham’s guitar went out.  Instead of trying to fix it (why bother? They were into the last 20 seconds of their last song), Graham just air guitared the part and dove into the crowd.  And everyone loved it.  It was hilarious.  I think I sold somewhere around 300 of those little EPs just in one day.  I’ve never had such a crazy interest in a band that I released something for.  And here I was, a little bit of a naysayer, but I was thoroughly convinced after that.  And pretty soon these three guys would have bigger things on the horizon for their band.  This is where things also began to really take off for this label in a bigger way.  Finally, Ed Gein was the reason I became close friends with all three of the guys and they would end up being a big part of my life for years and years after that.

I don’t have too much to say about this particular release because while it definitely put the band on the map and totally surprised me insofar as the response it received it was almost a half-release for the label as the band did the majority of the work in regards to bringing it to fruition.  And, as I’ll look more closely into within the next few weeks, plenty more happened for these guys that I’ll get way more in-depth with.
 Various old logos the band used when they first started out

This is a short one so now it gives you plenty of time to purchase the digital tracks for this release, which, for the next week, will only be $2.  Not bad right?  That works out to about $.005 per part in each song.  Go over to the bandcamp to get 'em because physical copies of this one have been gone for a long time now.

Thursday, February 7, 2019


Fresh for 2019, or considering we're already two months into the new year maybe more like 'close to expiration date'.  Amirite?
Between announcements about new records coming out and doing the weekly retrospective series there has not been much time to dedicate to posting up new reviews.  And to be blunt, I do not expect to dedicate as much time to them this year as I have in the past.  But some stuff has come my way and I don't want to be a jerk and ignore it.  So I wrote what came down and here we are.  It's a real mixed bag, I'll tell you that much.  But that always keeps things interesting.  So here you go.

DARK BLUE, “Victory Is Rated”
This is my first time really listening to Dark Blue, though I have been aware of their existence for awhile now.  This is actually their third record and it comes as a great surprise to me because I’m more familiar with the members past work, most notably Clockcleaner, who were one of the most abrasive and purposefully annoying bands I’d ever heard.  I quite liked their take on Big Black-meets- Arab On Radar-meets Jesus Lizard stylings.  But Dark Blue is nothing at all like that whatsoever.  This sounds more like early Interpol, but a bit more somber and straight-laced.  They like Britpop, but their sound is a little more developed and mature.  It’s like they’re all really excited to go to the soccer (that’s football to you, chump) game but they’re sure as hell not going to let you know it.  And they’re certainly not going to show it.  I’m not sure what led to a radical change from one incredibly abrasive style of music to a very accessible and pleasant one, but I respect the ability to transition like that and do it well.  (12XU)

GREAT FALLS, “A Sense Of Rest”
I know I should have gotten to this earlier, but life, things, plans, busy doing my own record for this band, etc kept me from doing a proper write-up on it.  So anyway, this is the third proper full length from Seattle’s most punishing trio Great Falls.  They also have about a thousand other splits, comps, and other assorted bits and pieces to their vast catalog.  But “A Sense Of Rest” feels like their most ambitious effort.  It’s one of the only times they haven’t done the artwork themselves, it’s a double LP, and it’s so ridiculously heavy and painful that if they all just exploded after this record came out it wouldn’t be a surprise.  I’d go on to say that if you have heard any of their full lengths prior to this one you know what you’re in for.  It’s the same ground the players here have been treading, going way back to Demian being in Nineironspitfire and Kiss It Goodbye, him and Shane pulverizing faces in Playing Enemy, and now (for at least 8 years) that continuation of sound with Great Falls.  They have an incredible way of consistently sounding utterly tortured and legitimately pained, and it never sounds stale.  Their music is emotional and vicious, combining the weight and tone of Neurosis with the gnarled dexterity and ugly menace of Rorschach (of which this band also has a shared lineage through one degree of separation).  They can transition with ease from creepy melodies to destructive off-time sludgy beatings and slide into a quick blast beat before the whole thing collapses into a storm of feedback and broken instruments.  Great Falls do what they do very well and I hope to see them continue to do this for a long time to come.  (Corpse Flower/ Throat Ruiner)

GREAT REVERSALS, “Stalactite” 12” EP
This record starts with the vocalist awkwardly screaming “trepidatiously” out into the void.  It’s a weird way to start things off.  My Word program doesn’t even recognize it as an actual word (it is).  However, I also think my Word program kind of sucks.  All that aside, on Michigan band Great Reversals seventh (holy shit, that’s a lot of material for a very part-time band) release there’s really no re-invention of the wheel.  They continue to worship at the alter of the slower, moshy hardcore Trial excelled in.  In fact, the only song here that has a faster, more traditional sort of fast hardcore approach would be closing track, “Little Did You Know”, which also happens to be the best song on this EP.  Once again, Dropping Bombs comes correct with some inventive packaging as this clear 12” has a screenprinted b-side that looks pretty cool. (Dropping Bombs)

ILS, “Pain Don’t Hurt” demo
A handful of old-school Portland guys got together, proved that age don’t mean shit, and have laid out a handful of burly rocking heavy stuff that is 100% legit.  I don’t really know where to place this in the never-ending expanse of sub-genre labels.  But I will say it leans hard into noise rock territory, and the vocals sort of remind me of Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan (more of the screamy side, and less of the singing side).  That still doesn’t tell you much.  OK, how about a list of like-minded distortion freaks who would pair well with Ils like a complimentary side dish?  Let’s see…  maybe some Great Sabatini, Cellos, Will Haven, and maybe even a little Unsane.  How’s that sound for you? (self-released)

LIFT, “Harsh Light Of the Truth” 7”
Total Snapcase, “Progression Through Unlearning” worship.  To their credit, Lift do it very well.  I mean they really got that groove and driving feel down pat.  The three songs on this record are very strong and despite their obvious influence Lift have a good thing going.  Additionally, these days hardcore lyrics don’t generally move me all that much just because I’ve kind of heard it all before, but I think the lyrics here are very well-written and are compelling.  So if my ‘heard-it-all-before’ old ass can find some inspiration and motivation within the words here than I guess this band must be on to something.  As an added bonus this three-song 7” is one-sided and has a cool screenprinted B-side, so if you’re into art and all that I recommend picking this up.  Ya know, for hardcore.  (Dropping Bombs) 

Two of the best new(ish) bands out of Texas team up for this split, which was intended primarily for the tour they did together late last year.  Pinko come correct with two more spazz freak outs that combine all the best elements of chaotic, yet rhythmic, groups like earlier Frodus, Forstella Ford, and some Ebullition hardcore, and then mix in screamy Guy Piccioto (Fugazi) vocals.  It’s excellent stuff.  A little on the rougher side of recording than their previous material, but I’m still all about it.  Exhalants, who put out one of my favorite LPs last year, also give up two new songs.  While these were recorded by the same person who did their LP they have a bit of a cleaner sound to them and emphasize the faster side of the band.  Their two tracks go by quick and roll with an inventive take on upbeat…  whatever it is that Exhalants do.  It’s part noise rock, part catchy as hell punk, and lots of Unsane and Unwound love rolled into this really cool package that I can’t quite put a finger on.  All I know is that they’re one of the more interesting bands to come around lately and pretty much anything they do is worth checking out.  (Self Sabotage Records)

TALK WRONG, “Feral Bearings” 12” EP
Some of the guys from Mayflower, and other Syracuse usual suspects, have come together to start this new band, which is essentially a continuation of what Mayflower was doing…  which was some very Fat Wreck-influenced Dillinger Four love.  I mean, Syracuse doesn’t have much of that going on so someone has to make it happen right?  There’s a lot of ‘man, fuck this shit, let’s go have a beer and not pay our taxes’ kind of looseness to it all and if you have ever been to Gainesville Fest you have seen at least a dozen bands that exemplify this style, and likely not on purpose.  You could throw a rock there and hit at least three bands who love this sort of stuff.  I got no beef with it.  It’s fun, and easy to roll with, and yeah, sometimes you do want to just say ‘fuck it, I’m quitting my job and not paying my taxes’, and you do it to the sound of fun music like this.  Also, once again, this is a record with just an A-side and a screenprinted B-side.  This is the third record I’ve received very recently like this.  Are B-sides dead?  Is everyone required to not put music, only screenprints, on the B-sides of records now?  (Ersatz Reality)

TUNIC, “Complexion” LP
I know this band is going to hate this, likely because they get this a lot, but there’s some parallels that Winnipeg’s Tunic share with Metz.  First off, they’re both trios.  Secondly, they both hail from Canada.  But more than anything, they both tend to go with simple, punk noise blasts, played quick, (objectively) catchy, and aggressively.  The differences lie in Tunic not only playing in a different tuning, but also almost making an effort not to be catchy, even though to this listener it comes off that way regardless of all the skronk and feedback happening.  They exist in a jarring, hyperactive space filled with cold sweats and nervous panic where post-punk, noise rock, and art-damaged punk rock cross paths to blow through ten tracks and a couple interludes.  They even resurrect some lyrics from their last 7” and re-apply them to the closing bit on this record.  Bonus points for the addition of some wailing saxophone noise on the next to last song.  It works well.  This is a damn fine debut LP for these touring machines after a few 7” efforts and worth your attention.  (Self-Sabotage)

USA/MEXICO, “Matamoros”
This is the ugliest sounding record you will hear all year that still somehow manages to be ‘music’.  Recorded in such a way that focuses completely on the grimy, harsh, feedback-encrusted, raw-as-fuck filthiest aspects of their molasses-like crawl through fucked-up songs, and not an ounce of polishing to be applied anywhere, this Austin trio return from the cultural apocalypse on their second outing to further demolish eardrums.  Imagine Harvey Milk with an ever-present buzzing of a malfunctioning distortion pedal and recorded in a moldy, flooding basement, or perhaps early-era Cherubs slowed down to 16 rpms (in fact, Cherubs vocalist Kevin Whitley guests on a cover of his own band here made somehow even more fucked up than Cherubs material already is).  Some of you may be reading this and thinking me a hypocrite as I tend to get bored by sludgy doom-y stuff like Primitive Man, and I’m not really swayed by bands looking to be edgy by purposefully having recordings that sound like shit.  But this is a different animal.  I will say, I am a bit partial because this features members of the band Todd, whom I was quite fond of and that band sounded legitimately crazy and super weird.  Add to that another member of the Butthole Surfers within the ranks and it starts to make sense as to why USA/Mexico sounds so completely off the rails.  The band is composed of lifer weirdos who have spent decades completely warping the minds of freak maniacs and drug fiends with absolutely no regard to conventional music.  Yeah, there’s riffs.  But they sound so completely overwhelmed with fuzz and noise that scraping your way through to the surface is an exercise in futility, followed by the sense that you’ve drowned in weirdness.  I can respect that.  (12XU)