Pulling off sweet Ollie kicks at Poco Loco? Nah, it's just a night of Grindcore
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Grindcore. Just typing the word makes my ears hurt. When the average person sees the word grind they would probably think of a grind saw or grinding your teeth or the thing they do before pulling off a sweet ollie kick flip. Core at least has some resemblance to music with Hardcore, Metalcore or even fucking Nightcore with those shitty anime AMV’s and borderline hentai thumbnails. So when my friend Jack-Daniels (that’s his name not a metaphor) invited me to a Grindcore night at my favourite haunt Poco Loco, it was only the implied promise of alcohol and the knowledge of my old drummers new band Sheena playing that convinced me to go. And whilst I am not sold on Grindcore being anything other than something to play at my funeral to annoy the people who went as one last joke beyond the grave. It was still a great night with some of the friendliest bands I’ve met.
Sheena - the doom punk duo.
Dead Kaczinski - the awkward to spell trio.
Total Consumption - the Nutella warriors
Oriza - with more bass than Meghan Trainor (and probably a longer career too).
As usual the gig was advertised for 7.30, with the usual murmurs of how “These things never run on time”. Which is either an excuse for the musicians to drag their heels or a clever ploy to make sure their friends could make their set. I’m starting to think the latter as I look around at the familiar faces from my previous gigs with Luke Cooper (drummer, Sheena). After the pleasantries of walking into your regular (drinks for friends, curt upward nods to people I may have spoken to once), Sheena began the build up to their set.
I had almost finished my drink by the time it had finished. There’s a build-up and then there’s showing off, but I can say with confidence that they delivered. Almost immediately after they started playing the room started dancing. Despite their lack of bassist the drums gave the room enough rhythm and energy to pay tribute to Dionysus. Though it could have been the familiarity of their vague cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t get you out of my head”. That made it so easy.
Whilst watching I noticed one of my pet peeves in a band. The pair would barely look up from their instruments (though with the drummers hair it’s difficult to know where he’s looking). According to the band this is part of their idea of levelling the band with their audience. They choose not to rely on gimmicks to make the audience watch them so that they and the audience can connect in the music. No one being better than each other. This kind of philosophy calls back to the early punk days that allowed us to get to this point where anyone with 3 chords and an amp can play. Where the singer onstage can also be the same person that serves your food at your favourite fast food restaurant. Where music becomes a message instead of entertainment. My second peeve is singers taking the lyrics to songs on stage with them though this is related to my first peeve as it prevents the singer from looking at the audience. However, with the bands newness to the scene this could be forgiven.
Their music was a wash of noise with Jude’s luridly bright blue Telecaster played through a gritty big muff and digital whammy pedal, creating an almost Lo-Fi seattle grunge sound. The bands political stance becomes more evident as the set goes on and their confidence grows introducing songs like “Serpent” as an ode to Boris Johnson, which seems about as happy with him as any facebook post I’ve come across. Spit balling lyrics at the audience more akin to rapping than actually singing. And at the end of the set giving away free stickers of an awesome graffiti style mouth designed for them by artist friend Callum Shurmer.
I caught up with the band after their set to get to know them a bit better. They explained that the band had been planned “for ages” between them. They had come together on their love of “noisy shit”. Having known each other since they were 8 years old and playing in bands together since year 7. It was in fact Jude who had inspired Luke to take up the drums after hearing Jude play and feeling the need to compliment his playing. They describe their music as “Doom punk” a genre of their own making. Wanting to make Punk music, but not wanting to be mixed up with the cliché punk like the Sex Pistols. They are instead inspired more by bands such as Slaves, Lady Bird and Doom Metal bands like, Electric Wizard. Luke brings the punk Jude brings the noise. Luke lays claim to being the main songwriter and Jude “Just clicking” with what he creates. Their tightness as a band being so strong they felt confident enough to (according to them) improvising their whole set at their last gig. (which they asked me not to mention, but as I have learnt through many films and autobiographies you should never trust a journalist). Throughout the interview we were interrupted several times by friends of the band. Some looking to see where the band had gone. Others simply wanted to pee. We were crammed in to the only available toilets at the time, trying to escape the background noise of the next band tuning up and line checking.
An overall good band that can be hard to understand in a live setting and not quite a band I’d travel to see quite yet. But, I look forward to hearing how their recordings come out and how the band develops. 6 outta 10.
After the obligatory fag break and next round of drinks it was time for the next band Dead Ka..Kazin…Dead Kaczynski…If I have to write that again in this article I’m just putting DK. Whilst tuning and getting their systems online like Megatron with a cold. Their nervousness was almost immediately obvious. After taking a long time to set up as they fretted about getting the sound right, the audience started getting restless and begun some light jeering of “one more song” during the sound check. Though the singer rather swiftly put this down with a “we haven’t got anymore”, which relaxed the air a bit. With a shaky voiced introduction to the band and the song the band kicked in and everything changed Their music was reminiscent of The Ramones and Muse. Short and sweet songs that worked with an almost pop-like dissonance. Like you’re happily being crushed by a train. What I enjoyed most about this band was how imaginative they could be. The drummer would use all parts of his drum kits to create a rhythm section and when he lost his drumstick, the guitarist decided to use it instead, in lieu of a pick!
As the set progressed the singer’s legs would get more bendy as he played creating quite the distinctive dance. The band seems quite fresh and could benefit from taking some time to think about levels while they play and need to realise they’re better than they are. Their self-deprecation was less endearing than it was sign that they felt insecure. Bands like this need the support that the audience provides to give them the confidence to carry one. Their playing and their experimentation on stage shows this band has a wonderful potential. But I wish they would act like it. After watching Sheena I was already sick of looking at people’s hair. It was also time for pet peeve number 3. Don’t forget about the audience. Making inside jokes between yourselves on stage and not communicating with your audience between songs risks alienating them. It’s a stage not a practice room.
I caught the band outside (how abou’ daht) and they were just as lively to talk to as they were playing. No more awkwardness now, however I don’t believe all the information they told me was very accurate…in fact I’m pretty sure it’s not. For one both the Bassist Olly and the drummer Liam claimed to write all of the songs. They were also apparently given the gig by Luke Fabian (who I met later) an international Jewel Thief who lives on the moon. The band’s biggest gimmick is that no one rips off as many people as they do (certainly not true and if it is they do it well). And as a Progressive left political band they thought Donald Trump was a great guy doing good things for America. They slipped up in several places though and accidently gave me true information. For instance, the bassist uses a 1978 Kramer bass with an aluminium neck that he derides as “old and broken”, which he claims to have bought because the bassist from Duran Duran played one. This night is turning slightly more 80’s than expected.
The band are part of the Skingasm record label along with Punching Swans, which happened to have been started by a few friends of theirs. DK has been together for roughly 3 years though two of the members had previously been in a band called Why Mother that split for a reason I was not allowed to print (sometimes trust a journalist). All members of the band are sadly from Medway, but do try not to hold it against them. Singer and Guitarist Sha plays a Fender Jaguar which he needs for its extended bridge (for those wondering by this he means he plays the strings behind the bridge of the guitar to get a high ringing harmonic sound. A popular technique in alternative guitarists). And whilst the band isn’t big on the use of pedals Sha uses a rather lovely DD-20 delay pedal from boss.
I’m sure my feelings on the band are well known by the end of this. Wonderful to listen to, far too shy to watch. Maybe after a few more gigs under their belt 6.5 outta 10.
Before I could get any more information out of DK we were interrupted by very strange woman letting us know she was going to the bathroom, whom none of us knew. The band helpfully advised her that if she has any trouble with getting to the toilets just to scream in whoever is blocking her way’s face. Ollie was then chastised for taking his drink outside by the bar staff (the little rascal) and we all went in to watch the next band. The End.
Only it’s not the end cause next up we had Total Consumption. The Nutella Ninjas. The Chocolate Spread Soldiers and all ‘round nice guys. The band (especially Matteus the guitarist) was almost impossible to miss the entire gig. Having the best attitudes towards each band that went on. Dancing and starting chants of “Get your tits out” (that old british classic) at the bands on stage. The heaviness of their sound was a bit more of what I was expecting walking in to a Grindcore night, but what I wasn’t expecting was the amount of audience participation. It was so refreshing after the last two bands to finally have a band that looked like they were enjoying their performance not just their music. With singer Debs dressed up in a boiler suit and with Matteus and Shawn in their High vis jackets, the warning signs were there that things were going to get messy. But as a man of 1980’s glam sensibilities I was not prepared for a chocolatey holocaust.
With fans throwing and smearing Nutella all over the boiler suit until the singer looked like a mixture of G G Allin and Michael Myers. It would have been very distracting from the music if the singers deep growl of a voice didn’t surround the dance floor come chocolate flavoured firing range. This band has no need for a bassist, Matteus’ guitar fully fills in for the job between some surprisingly melodic licks. It was almost hilarious how the level of energy went through the room. The audience pace the floor trying to size up victims for a mosh pit. Deb goes between head banging and pelvic thrusts. Matteus stands powerfully with his pseudo manhood of a guitar. And during this whole shebacle drummer Shawn plays some real hard hitting beats…whilst, casually nodding his head like a stoner listening to a slow AC/DC song.
After their set it was back to the toilets for an interview. After telling their loyal fan Jackdaniels to fuck off we started with their name. None of them could remember the original name of the band, but eventually they started using the name Anal consumption considering how much they sing about shit, which put me in mind of the south park episode where people learn it is possible to consume food through their anus. Eventually, this changed into total consumption, but again none of them seemed to remember the actual story. They share song writing credits as a band as they each contribute to the shape that the song takes. This would usually start with Matteus playing a riff, then Debs coming up with suitably dirty lyrics before Shawn brings in some drums. They boast on their facebook page about how they enjoy breaking lyrical boundaries including songs about Madeline Mccan, unhappy with how many lyricists these days avoid breaking taboos with what they can write about.
I quizzed them on the origins of the Nutella, because as they themselves admit it it’s the gimmick that got their foot in the musical door. It started not long after their first show together. They had sang a song about eating shit and felt that they had to find a way to represent it. In a pseudo G G Allin style move they started creating a mixture of sweet chilli crisps and Nutella to smear on a white shirt. They also claim that this is some genuine munch food for when your stoned!
In contrast to Sheena’s aversion to gimmicks, it is interesting to note how Total Consumption have no qualms with saying that their career was pretty much made because of theirs. According to singer Debs, they are tired of bands sounding the same and doing the same thing as other bands and expecting the same results. Gimmicks are a good way to “wedge yourself on to the music scene”. However, they do caution that a gimmick can only get you so far. You still need to have the talent to back it up. Which kind of put an end to my soy sauce xylophone idea (Soylophone). The band seems to slightly revolve around Matteus with Shawn their drummer being the newest member and Debs being their second singer. After some problems with their last drummer, Matteus found a cover of an Anonymous Decapitated song Shawn had posted.
After questioning the equipment the band used, I was shocked to hear that they achieved such a massive sound out of almost completely unnamed products. Besides the drummer’s double kick pedal because as they mockingly put it “Shawn has money”. They also wanted to say as a final mention that we as consumers have a duty to spread the music we listen to regularly to help the struggling bands of your local music scene. Also that they have an EP Spread or Dead coming out soon.
Whilst this band isn’t really my taste musically they were still thoroughly enjoyable as a performance. There was rhythm, there was a wall of sound and a song about a cat. And I was pretty drunk by this point. I would likely see them again though. Might even take a few pancakes with me. 8 outta 10
The final band of the night was Oriza and I finally found where all the bassists went. Sporting two bassists one on a four string the other with a greedy 5. This Margate based band was different right from the start with two bassists, no guitar and a singer with a look inspired by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas playing some kind of sampler (Not that he spent much time on it). This was something interesting to see. Poco was emptying out a bit more at this point, but I honestly wished it hadn’t. Not just because it meant I’d have to start paying for my own drinks as my friends left, but because this band could certainly inspire some new band ideas. Using political speech samples and mixing it with some very heavy music and an entertaining switch in dynamics as the male singer James, takes the high end over the female bassist Ria’s impressive growls.
It was also cool to see some tremolo picking (picking the string up and down quickly on one string. Think the start of “Miserlou” by Dick Dale) from the 4 string bassist Sam. I may not be knowledgeable enough about Grindcore to know if this is a common trait, but it was the first time I’d seen a bassist do it and it was rocksteady. The drummer Jimmy had excellent control over the music speeding and slowing down with relative ease. The music itself was practically Musique Concréte more akin to Pierre Schaeffer’s Étude aux Chemins de fer than Kylie Minogue, which was exactly what I was expecting from Grindcore. As much as I enjoyed watching the band perform and the singer throw himself around the audience like the baby in the basement from the first season of American Horror Story, I don’t think the music would be a regular on my playlist. They had technical issues part way through and I only know that because they told us. But for Grindcore it was ace.
I could barely keep this interview together. The night was ageing rapidly. Everyone was drunk. I had almost fallen asleep at the bar at one point until a surprise Jagerbomb woke me up. I was practically forced to promise the band the recording I was taking of the interview would not go online and were only notes for your humble handsome writer to remember what to write come sobriety. Sam pointed out that this paved the way for me to write about them to fit my narrative. I agreed that his observation was true and was swiftly presented a shot by the singer (since sam was too drunk to drink it) to write favourably about them. And as you can see from the abundance of synonyms above for the word ‘interesting’ the debt has been repaid. Always trust a journalist if you’ve bought them a drink.
The band proudly announces their support for the LGBT scene with Ria boasting her place as “The resident queer”. This becomes more apparent with songs of theirs such as “41%”, which is a reference to the trans suicide rate. A shocking statistic. Their song “Lander” is named after a gay slang term for a straight person and contains samples of a BBC news report about a man in their hometown of Margate who was bludgeoned by his house mate simply for being gay. The band was started by Singer James and drummer Jimmy, who took up the drums just to start the band. They later found Bassist Ria and a guitarist who seemed to disappear into the Aether. He had apparently been on the way to a band practice with them, but strangely vanished. Even leaving a guitar of his with Jimmy! If seen please return. After he disappeared Ria started playing his parts on her bass with each of them starting to enjoy the new sound more than the last! With the new guitar in place they recruited Sam as a “proper bassist” and filled the high end sound of the band using a sampler. The band proclaims Jimmy as the most talented and considering he had only been playing for a year and a half I could well believe it. He modestly announced that this was the first of their gigs where he had felt comfortable playing which to me is a testament to the relaxed atmosphere of Poco Loco.
Overall, I couldn’t appreciate the music as music. Finding more melody in the drum beat than any of the other instruments. But this is not a critique on the band. What they do and how they execute it is extremely clever and interesting and is a must see for any fans of the industrial music scene. And also I owe them an apology for some of the jokes made whilst recording the interview. On a listen back I’m not as funny drunk as I think I am. In future I’m gonna stick to knock knock jokes. The band will have an eponymously named EP very soon. 7.5 outta 10
- by Coor Brow-Obles