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Friday, June 13, 2014

Pelican's Trevor De Brauw on Why Life Is Better as a Part-Time Metal Icon

Posted By on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Pelican plays Slim's on Sunday. - MARK DAWUSK
  • Mark Dawusk
  • Pelican plays Slim's on Sunday.

The early aughts were an improbably fallow time for the metal underground: While The New York Times (and some academics) expounded at length on the intellectual virtues of doom metal, Chicago-based Pelican -- an instrumental metal quartet whose songs filled whole LP sides -- packed theaters around the world, playing to audiences newly enthralled by so-called "thinking man's metal." It was highly unlikely for a band of this ilk to find a niche, let alone thrive in it. But somehow, four young men who were just trying to play the kind of music they wanted to hear (a kind of turned-up Mogwai with shades of emo's melodic palette and Neurosis' grandeur thrown in) stumbled upon a successful half-decade as a full-time band.

Eight years later, after a major equipment theft in Europe, the departure of founding member and writer Laurent Lebec, and at least one hyperbolic takedown by a taste-making music site with a numbered rating system, Pelican is a much different beast. Owing to much of the above, 2013's Forever Becoming is a rather bleak and intensely funereal offering for a band that once declared itself "fucking triumphant" on its MySpace page. Although change made Pelican's music scarier, abandoning the pursuit of music as a career left its members happier and healthier, by all accounts. Ahead of the band's show this Sunday, June, 15, at Slim's, Guitarist Trevor de Brauw, now a full-time music publicist, walked us through the new era of Pelican.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Morbid Angel's David Vincent on Leaving, and Rejoining, the Band: "I Retreated From Everything"

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Morbid Angel at Slim's last week. Read our review of the show. - STEVEN CHEW

As lead singer of the only death metal band your mother might have heard of (she hasn't), Morbid Angel's David Vincent shoulders a not-insignificant privilege. Alongside guitarist Trey Azagthoth, he ushered the Tampa outfit through most of its two-decades-plus career into the first major label deal for a death metal band, past the (good-humoredly) upturned noses of Beavis and Butt Head, and into six-figure album sales. Morbid Angel won this success without any "just kidding" qualifiers attached to the profane imagery and rhetoric that betrayed its earnest involvement in magic and the occult. Both Vincent and Azagthoth attest to the influence of such far-flung pagan inspirations as ancient Sumerian gods, the Necronomicon, and... Tony Robbins.

Vincent, however, took a hiatus from the band after 1995's Domination and joined industrial metal outfit the Genitorturers alongside wife and lead singer Gen. He rejoined Morbid Angel in 2004 and, after a series of reunion shows (and maybe not the most celebrated comeback album of all time, 2011's Illud Divinum Insanus), he's back on the road celebrating his band's crown jewel, 1993's Covenant. 2 Minutes to Midnight spoke with him on Thanksgiving Eve, mere hours before he presented that record to a rabid crowd at Slim's.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Metal Cellist Jackie Perez Gratz of Grayceon and Giant Squid on Why She Wouldn't Want to Do Music Full-Time

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Jackie Perez Gratz with Giant Squid
  • Jackie Perez Gratz with Giant Squid

Jackie Perez Gratz has graced the local metal scene with her electric cello since the late '90s, when she was part of the seminal neo-classical/metal chamber ensemble Amber Asylum. Since then she's helped found Grayceon, arguably the best prog metal trio out there, with drummer Zack Farwell and fingerstyle electric guitarist Max Doyle, and joined Giant Squid, the post-metal juggernaut founded by her partner, guitarist AJ Gregory. In 2011, Gratz and Gregory welcomed their daughter Pearl into the world (whom Gratz commemorated with this year's Grayceon release Pearl and the End of Days) and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. In addition to a handful of tours and recordings with both bands, she is still lending strings to bands like OM and holding down her day job as a production manager at Electronic Arts. In the midst of preparing for three local shows with Seattle epic doom titans Lesbian (including a gig this Thursday, Nov. 7, at the S.F. Eagle), she took the time to tells us why playing the cello is all about hugs.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

The Sad State of Nostalgia-Bound Metal Reunions

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 9:03 AM

  • Carcass

In keeping with the rest of the entertainment world's ever-blossoming desire to cling to the warm, fuzzy blanket of existing intellectual property, with its easily calculable returns on investment, it seems like everyone everyone is getting the band back together. And if the band in question never broke up, it's touring on the promise of performing a classic album, often one that dropped in the '80s or '90s, when more people listened to a collection of songs all the way through, and when merely selling tens of thousands of records -- even hundreds of thousands in some cases -- could've been considered a flop. It's the creative equivalent of finding a five-dollar-bill in an old pair of jeans. But when does focusing on old work become a crutch for new bands that haven't got it anymore? And when does fan nostalgia lead bands who are still making interesting music to perform dull greatest-hits sets, instead of pushing their sound (and their fans) forward?

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Local Metal Lifer John Cobbett on Surviving San Francisco's Tech Booms: "No Real Art Happens at $300 a Square Foot"

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 9:34 AM

John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune and Ludicra
  • John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune and Ludicra

We haven't actually done the math, but 99 percent of metal musicians give up "the dream" and get real on the day job front before they go grey, insane, or broke. Half of that remaining 1 percent consists of bands like Metallica. The other half consists of hard-working blue-collar artists like John Cobbett, whose classic heavy style is equal parts Thin Lizzy, Emperor, and Diamond Head. Cobbett has been holding down the distorted six-string since before the first tech boom, most notably with Hammers of Misfortune and (the now-defunct) Ludicra.

In that time he's watched S.F. morph from a bohemian haven to a sun-dappled playground for the upper-middle-class to the pre-gated community that it seems to be at the moment. Of course, he's got some good stories about negotiating that familiar dance of livelihood and art, including one big break that had an eye-opening fallout. Ahead of the Hammers of Misfortune show Oct. 10 at the SF Eagle, Cobbett was kind enough to share some of these for this installment of 2 Minutes to Midnight.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Ian Miller of Kowloon Walled City on Baseball, Day Jobs, and Touring on a Budget

Posted By on Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Ian Miller (on bass) with Kowloon Walled City - SHANNON CORR
  • Shannon Corr
  • Ian Miller (on bass) with Kowloon Walled City

Welcome to the first installment of 2 Minutes To Midnight, a regular series that will go behind the scenes of the Bay Area's world-renowned heavy rock scene. We'll be checking in on topics like the realities of touring in a recession economy, the social media tempests in virtual teacups that shake up the metal world, and the notable extracurricular activities of our native sons and daughters.

In the case of Ian Miller, bassist for Kowloon Walled City, he's nearly in need of clones. His band's last release, Container Ships, was one of our favorite local metal records of 2012. And while the members of Kowloon Walled City juggled day jobs to bring their Low-meets-Godflesh post-hardcore melancholy to the rest of the nation, Miller was also attending to his true love: baseball.

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