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Kantis rocks your face off

By Ben Larson

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-09-08


On September 25th, local act Kantis will release their first official full album on Chainsmoking Records. That night will see shows at both The Brass Rail and Harrison House, with another release party the following night in Indianapolis.

To try and classify this band within a specific genre of music is tricky at best. It’s true that they are a hard rock band. To try and classify them as metal would be a misnomer, though, even though they definitely lean that way at times. Kantis could also be considered a math rock group, at times, with their layered, textured instrumentation, but that also doesn’t quite hit the mark. Any way you choose to describe them, however, it is near impossible to deny that they are a trio of immense talent and technical ability.

Kantis was formed 3 years ago by Scummy (bass, vocals), Russell (guitar) and Turbo (drums). Since then, they figure they’ve played around 100-150 shows. Scummy said “I kept track until about 5 [shows.]” After that it seems to get a bit blurry. They do recall playing in bars, back yard parties, wherever. Specifically, they recalled playing a warehouse show in Dayton, OH, as being one of their favorites. “It was supposed to be in a basement,” Russell said. Turbo then added “and we get there and everything’s about to fall apart. . . they moved the show to this warehouse.” “They didn’t even have a P.A.” Scummy said. “We had to go pick it up.” After that, apparently it turned into one of the most fun shows they ever played. That’s part of what makes rock n’ roll what it is, though. What seems haphazard and insane at first glance becomes what people generally remember the most. Or, as Turbo put it, “once the evening came out it came alive. God bless it; I love it.” They did mention a 13 minute cover of “Purple Rain” coming just before they took the stage. In regards to that, Scummy said only “it wasn’t a very good cover.” Knowing Kantis, I suspect this actually may have helped their performance that night. Anyway, on to the album.

The band recorded about a third of the album last year at Monastic Chambers, and did the rest of the album with Geoff Montgomery at The Ensomberoom. “[Geoff] is a cool guy. We had a good time recording there,” said Turbo when I asked him about their experience.

All the songs were recorded live to tape, instead of tracking each instrument individually. I asked why they chose this way of recording, Turbo said “it’s essential for a band like us to do it like that. That’s our selling point.” What he meant by “selling point” is that Kantis is known for being a high-energy act, and they found that it was easier for them as a band to capture the feel and energy of their live performance by playing the songs together. “We rely on each other to push the songs through,” he added as an emphasis for why they chose to record this way.

They layout and artwork were done by Anderson Design and Anthony Fanger, owner of Chainsmoking Records. “That was our first time dealing with Anderson on that level,” Turbo said. “He really threw us a bone and helped us out.”
When I asked them how they felt about how the album turned out, all 3 guys agreed that it came out just how they wanted it. “It’s about as good as you can get, considering how much money we had to put into all the parts of it,” Russell said. Also in regards to cost, Turbo said “it’s very important to us that we keep it cost effective for people to buy it.” In short, they’re not looking to make money. “That’s the beautiful thing about doing what we do . . . what money we make goes into making CDs. None of it goes in our pockets.”

The album opens with “Laughing Jones,” a 42-second homage to Spike Jones (the musician, not to be confused with the director of the same name), and is merely an overdubbed cacophony of Scummy’s maniacal laughter (some of the only overdubbing on the album). This actually helps set up the album by pointing out that, while Kantis is definitely a hard band, they are not without a sense of humor, and it’s that humor that helps distinguish them from other hardcore sounding bands.

Tracks such as “Go Home,” and “White Dancetastic” show a band that is able to show how intensely musical they are without losing any of the edge they are known for. By adding such elements as syncopation and polyrhythm, Kantis stands out among rock bands as a trio of guys who demonstrate their collective knowledge of both their music and their instruments.

Other tracks (“Metal Song,” “Horsejacker,” “One.Two.Three.Four.”) show the more metal side of the band, and are good for curing a bad day at the office. These are the ones that just plain rock, and they bring up another aspect of Kantis that has made them one of my favorite local bands --they manage to have a little of something for most listeners, but without catering to any lowest-common-denominator tactics. It’s diverse within the hard rock genre, but manages to stick to a central feel throughout the album.

The band will be debuting the album on Sept. 25th, with an early, all ages show at the Harrison House with The Utah Spirit Babies, and a show later that night at The Brass Rail with Zebras (Milwaukee), Heart-Shaped Hate (Chicago) and local one-man-band Poopdeflex. The CD will be available for $5 from the band or at any of the Wooden Nickels around town.

One final note before I sign off for the week — I’m always looking for bands/artists to cover, so if you are in a band, or know of a band that you think I should cover, please feel free to email me at ben.larson.musicscene@gmail.com.

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