Damian Abraham is a guy you might recognize for different reasons. He makes records and tours the world with his critically-lauded band Fucked Up, while at the same time hosting MuchMusic’s The Wedge. He’s exposed to a diverse range of audiences and has crazy stories about some of the biggest bands on the planet.
I had a chance to sit down with Damian at the Amnesia Rockfest in Montebello, Quebec. A largely punk festival with a DIY flair, Rockfest finds the small village turned into a tent city, as many festival-goers pay locals for the use of their properties. From farmer’s fields to churchyards (and of course behind the liquor store) there are tents as far as you can see. This was the festival’s eighth year and apparently this model has worked before. But the loose atmosphere upon arrival foreshadowed the problems to come.
A wristband pickup snafu that left people waiting for hours was only the first hint of many organizational problems that plagued the proceedings. Over two days trash accumulated, porta-potties overflowed into rivers, and there was not a security guard to be seen (although the walking beer servers were plentiful). However, if you were able to grit your teeth and bear it, you may have caught some amazing music.
Like Fucked Up, who would later bang out a lively set in front of an appreciative crowd and bewildered security. But for the moment all is placid. As the Sun began to set we found a spot by the Ottawa River while Rancid provided the soundtrack. This is a largely unedited conversation between Damian and I where we chat about loud music, pleasing the fans, and even the Juggalo’s place in underground culture.
During my trip to the both great and gross Amnesia Rockfest I had a chance to sit down with Roger Miret, frontman for the New York hardcore punk institution Agnostic Front. Going strong for over 30 years the band not only set a standard for their genre, they also were on the forefront of the crossover movement with metal titans like Slayer and Anthrax.
The journey was a long one. Towards the end of the 80s Roger spent time in prison on drug-related charges, and the band imploded for a few years shortly after. So when he sits down and cartoon theme music seems to emanate from thin air, it’s a bit out of place. Turns out it’s one of his children’s apps that’s been inadvertently triggered on his phone. Now firmly grounded in the present we proceed to talk about his modern life as a family man, and what makes real hardcore music.
Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa are a down-tuned psychedelic sludgy metal band who, like their friends in Mastodon, have managed to attract an audience outside of the usual heavy sphere. The band evokes the sensibilities of The Melvins and Sonic Youth, processing their eclectic rock tendencies through the needle-head of extreme metal. Describing their show as loud would be an understatement (they have two drummers by the way).
They’ve just released their sixth album Ultraviolet, and I had a chance to sit down with guitarists / vocalists Philip Cope and Laura Pleasants to talk about the progression of their sound, possible divisions in their audience, and their faithfulness to the heavy music scene.
George Fisher is a monster. Well ok he’s not really. Except that he is. It just depends on what you’re talking about. As the vocalist for the world’s biggest death metal band Cannibal Corpse, he has a bit of a reputation. Physically speaking, everyone in the band is huge. They’re all tall as hell with varying degrees of muscular prowess. Combine that with the band’s horror-themed lyrics and ultra-gory album and merch art, and you have a recipe for intimidation.
The truth is far less exciting. The members of Cannibal Corpse are some of the most normal musicians you’ll ever meet. Originating from Buffalo, NY the band transplanted themselves to Florida and became stalwarts of the death metal scene along with bands like Deicide and Morbid Angel. The band endured censorship around the world, but their popularity has only continued to grow. They’ve sold over a million albums worldwide and Brendon Small copied their onstage stances for the live appearance of his faux-metal cartoon Dethklok.
But back to the whole monster thing. The band’s first four albums with original vocalist Chris Barnes are still hailed as genre defining, but since he joined in 1995 the band has become far more associated with George, not only vocally but in image as well. His pitch-perfect guttural vocals cut through his bandmates’ groove-laden heaviness like a machete through a zombie’s skull. Then there’s the headbanging. There’s no other way to put it but bluntly: George has a massive neck. Probably the biggest in all music (I’d bet), and it makes for incredible displays onstage. Every night he proclaims to the crowd: “try to keep up with me, you will fail”.
So yeah, when it comes to death metal vocals and headbanging supremacy, George Fisher is a bit of a monster. I had a chance to sit down with George before the band’s recent performance in Toronto to speak about his neck muscles, his time in the band, and the stigma against extreme vocalists.