Photo by Alexey Makhov
The Winnipeg hardcore squad return with a new album of heaviness and melody
“I’m always hoping before a record that it’s somewhat of a moment,” says vocalist/guitarist Andrew Neufeld of Winnipeg punk veterans Comeback Kid. He’s referring to the new album Outsider, their first for New Damage and Nuclear Blast. It’s a step up in terms of visibility, and having also just kicked off four months of touring, the band could be poised to create the moment Neufeld is talking about.
They found their sound early on by combining thrashy hardcore with melodic chant-along choruses. These days the intensity and the melody seem to be divided. Outsider features punk bangers alongside epically melodic mid-tempo tracks (which Neufeld gigglingly refers to as “soaring”).
“I don’t feel a lot of rage when I’m writing heavy music” he says cautiously.
“It’s ‘Oh shit that’s an exciting riff!’ or “That part’s hard!’ and it makes me feel the same way I would feel when I listen to a hard hip-hop song. The other guys in my band, Jeremy and Stu, I remember they brought some songs to the table and there was so much double-picking fast stuff going on. I really do love that stuff and it always has a place on Comeback Kid records. But in direct response to that I would write another song that would open up with a light riff and then go into a punk rock-style melodic hardcore song. I would do some of that on purpose. Especially with hardcore, which can be so one-dimensional, if I’m gonna hear the same shit over and over and over, I’m probably gonna change it. I wanted to write a record with a bunch of dynamics because we can kind of get away with that. We’re walking that fine line.”
That’s perhaps been a key to the band’s wider appeal. In the early 2000’s they were one of the very few hardcore bands who seemed to get some attention and acceptance from outside their scene. They toured with different kinds of heavy bands over the years, diversifying their fanbase. Now pushing towards two decades together, the fans have grown with them.
“I always feel like we started as being that band, like sometimes playing with hardcore bands, or punk bands, or metal bands, we were able to ride that” says Neufeld proudly.
“I even see it more so now. It’s nice, I like the variety. It’s nice that we can play different kinds of shows and I think people are open to that now. There’s so much music at our fingertips now, you’re not gonna just stick with one thing... maybe when you’re younger.”
Their musical diversity also seems to have had some affect on the themes of the new album. Although apparently written without rage, there’s a heavy feeling of resentment that inhabits the lyrics of Outsider. It’s a change in tone that makes the songs feel less self-referential than the band’s older releases. It’s not quite clear if Neufeld has crossed over into social commentary on this album, but apparently the vagueness is intentional.
“I kinda like that about it” he says laughing.
“I definitely write songs that are angsty. Dealing with stuff like anxiety and using excess to get over that, that can be a vicious cycle. But also, being 2017 I mean... we’ve never been a political band but having a little bit of social commentary, it’s kind of impossible to ignore.”
That kind of yearning to be socially outspoken is something that’s written into the DNA of hardcore music. Although it’s not necessarily something that fans may immediately associate with Comeback Kid, it’s an essential component of their sound and identity. They’ve found a balance between the desire to create and explore, and their obligations to their musical roots.
“We definitely still take a lot of influence from traditional hardcore and that world. But we’re trying to do our thing, and we’re trying to do new things, keep it fresh and exciting” says Neufeld.
“I like modern production as well. We’re moving with the times. A lot of it is about making music, I’m not gonna lie, that’s what I live and die for. But I also really connect with the community of hardcore and that values that it’s taught me. We really connect with the culture that our music comes from, and we’re thankful that it’s got us to where we are now. Again, I’m not that super-angry of a guy, I don’t find our music to be angry really. It definitely gets certain emotions up. Sometimes that’s what the world needs.”
Comeback Kid’s new album Outsider is available now. They’ll be on tour across Canada for the rest of September, followed by American dates in October, and then Europe for the rest of the year. See all the dates here and check out the video for “Hell of a Scene” below.
Photo by Kristján Carlsson Gränz
Zombitrol Productions are heading back to Iceland’s Eistnaflug festival next week, and so we reached into our vaults to bring you an interview with synthwave artist Perturbator filmed at last year’s edition. The French electronic artist otherwise known as James Kent has amassed an eclectic following, including legions of metalheads, with his dark, futuristic, and most of all danceable tracks. I spoke to Kent about how his unique upbringing, passion for extreme metal, and love of isolation all play a part in the creation of his music.
Shot by Kristján Carlsson Gränz
Edited by Justin McKoy
The Eistnaflug festival runs from July 5 - 8 in the town of Neskaupstaður, and this year features international artists like Neurosis, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Cavalera Conspiracy, as well as Icelandic artists like Skálmöld, Sólstafir, and Auðn.
Perturbator has his first full North American Tour coming up this fall, including Vancouver on September 9th, Montreal on September 30th, and Toronto on October 1st. Click here for full list of dates, and stream his latest album, The Uncanny Valley, in full below.
Photo by Eric Beiers
A decade after winning the Eurovision song contest with the track “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” the Finnish costumed monster-band Lordi finally made their debut in Canada. I spoke to frontman Mr. Lordi after a sweaty show at Toronto’s Opera House about what has changed for the band ten years after flirting with mainstream culture, where their characters end and begin, and why they turned down a massive North American and European tour with Gwar.
Shot by Eric Beiers
Edited by Chris Tung
Co-Edited by Eric Beiers
Lordi have European and Russian tour dates lined up for the summer and fall. Their latest album, Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy), is available now, and you can watch the NSFW video for “Hug You Hardcore” below.
Photos Courtesy of Adrenaline PR
The Mongolian Metallers Return with a New Album and Tour
Mongolian folk metal band Tengger Cavalry is releasing their new album Die On My Ride today, and tomorrow they kick off their North American tour in Montreal, followed by dates in Ottawa and Toronto. The band, led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nature Ganganbaigal, was originally formed in Beijing as a death metal act in 2010. But all that changed when Ganganbaigal moved to New York City four years ago. He integrated throat-singing and Mongolian instruments into the sound, and even re-recorded older songs in the new style (much to the chagrin of some of his old-school fans). I sat down with Ganganbaigal in Toronto and asked him about why he decided to go in that direction, and he didn’t mince words. “The change of my environment” he says earnestly.
“I experienced different things over the years because when I was young... you live in such a high-pressure society which doesn’t support freedom, and has a lot of cultural prejudice. It makes you create rebellious music. But living here I feel more calm, more free to choose who I want to connect to. That’s part of the reason. I’m not putting down any country, I’m just saying it’s how I feel about my environment.”
There is perhaps no greater source of cultural diversity in heavy metal, than in the world of folk metal. Weaving traditional music into metal isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has reached new heights in the last two decades. At its best it inspires fans to explore the history and art of other cultures and nations, as well as a bit of metal tourism. It also inspires metal musicians, and it moved Ganganbaigal to ensure that his nomadic culture was properly represented. “When I was young I didn’t care that much about ancestry, culture. When you’re young you just have fun in the city,” he says grinning.
“But when you get older, you want to write something that’s meaningful to yourself. You want to incorporate the culture that you feel connected to with metal music. I hear people making heavy metal all around the world, like Viking folk metal, Celtic metal, so I figure we should have our own. Like Alex (Abayev, bassist) is from Uzbekistan, which is also a nomadic culture. We feel like we’re entitled to create something that’s closer to us, rather than just copy whatever people have done.”
Die On My Ride - 2017
Folk metal bands like Týr from the Faroe Islands or Chthonic from Taiwan, often become the most internationally well-known symbols of their culture thanks to metal’s extreme cross-border appeal. Tengger Cavalry (or “The Army of the Sky God”) is now in a position to become the biggest contemporary representation of Mongolian and nomadic culture in the world. “We definitely want to promote the nomadic culture” says Ganganbaigal.
“If they find it’s just interesting at first, maybe just enjoy the sound. Maybe later on they will dig in and find out, ‘What is that instrument? What are they singing about? Why is it all like, horses, and what is this fuckin’ nomadic shit?!’ You get people asking questions, that’s good. But it’s out of our control. We have no intention to control which direction people want to take it, as long as it’s not something severe like racism, or nationalism.”
Those elements may seem on the rise in U.S. to some, but the heated political climate in America doesn’t faze Ganganbaigal. “I just see this as a baby discussion compared to what I experienced” he says with a laugh.
“That’s like no big deal to me, I feel like I can have fun with it. Here I feel more culturally accepted. People are more focused on what you’re doing, rather than other bullshit.”
You can grab Tengger Cavalry’s brand new album Die On My Ride here. Their North American tour begins tomorrow in Montreal, and you can get the rest of the dates here. They will also play the prestigious Wacken Open Air festival in Northern Germany on August 5th. You can stream the lyric video for the track “Cursed” below.