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Punxsutawney's Black Mask talk
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
A while back I stumbled upon this band called Black Mask. I'm not sure how, really. Possibly through some strange fever dream? A friend's recommendation? Maybe the darkness reaching out to me from the ether? I don't know. One Saturday morning I found myself sitting in my comfortable chair with a cup of coffee next to me, like a lot of Saturday mornings. Headphones on my head and this chaotic, violent, ragged swirl of noise raging into my ears. As the rest of the outside world was oblivious, a storm of guitar shrieks, drum violence, and vocal chord annihilation ran through six tracks at breakneck speed on a Bandcamp page and I realized I needed to get in touch with this band. After an email here and there I was able to ask a few questions and get a few questions answered. Michael Stello, Justin Shirey, Tyler Long, and Matthew Casey are Black Mask, and here's a few questions they answered.
Black Mask are a black metal, crust, grind, hardcore, heavy metal, punk rock band from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania...and just a little bit from South Bend, IN
Michael Stello: We started in April 2012, and we are in fact not from South Bend, we are based out of Punxsutawney, PA. In August of 2013 we added Matt Casey on Guitar and he is from South Bend, and our bass player is from Erie, PA so we all do a little traveling to get together.
Black Mask's sound is a lot of things; punk, hardcore, grind, sludge, doom, black, and metal. But most of all it's heavy.
Michael Stello: We just say that it's heavy. We pull influence from a lot of different places and we try not to limit ourselves too much.
Black Mask live is an intense experience. And a hot one.
Michael Stello: (Laughs)It can get a little sweaty at times, depending on the temperature of the venue. We just try to match the intensity of our songs with our live show.
In the studio, Black Mask know what they want. There most recent EP, Lost Below, shows that.
Michael Stello: We generally have a pretty clear vision of what we want our songs to sound like going into the studio. We've worked with the same producer, Matt Very, on both records, and he's done a great job of capturing our sound the way we want it.
Black Mask know no boundaries when they hit the road. They've played pretty much everywhere.
Michael Stello: We've been around the United States a couple of times and have played in 38 states as well as Mexico. Last October we did a European tour and got to play in a bunch of countries over there as well. We try to go everywhere that we can with this band.
Along with Europe and Mexico, Black Mask have played Fort Wayne as well. They even invaded New Republic Skate Park as recent as February 21st, 2014.
Michael Stello: "Yes we played at the Harrison House in 2012. Fort Wayne is awesome."
So far Black Mask have released two very solid and intense EPs. Black Mask in 2012 and Lost Below in 2014. A full-length is in the works.
Michael Stello: We plan on our next release being a full length record. We've begun preparing and writing for it, but we don't have a definite timeline yet for when it will be released.
With as many shows as Black Mask have played, it would be hard to think of one that stood out. Unless the Arctic Circle is involved.
Michael Stello: We played a show in Orebro, Sweden which is only a few hundred miles from the arctic circle, and when we got there we had no idea what to expect. But it ended up being a packed show, everyone had such a fun time and it's a show we will probably never forget.
So where do a band like Black Mask hope to be in five years? Do they have a five year plan?
Michael Stello: We have never really thought that far in the future, we just try to take everything as it comes. We hope to be doing some great things and to keep traveling around the world, but only time will tell.
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is mostly known for that damn groundhog and a hell of a good movie with Bill Murray. But I think if you give it a little time they may actually end up being known for this extremely heavy band called Black Mask. Regardless of where I heard of them, I'm glad I did. You should check them out at blackmaskpa.bandcamp.com You can also keep up to date with shows, album news, and whatever at facebook.com/blackmask.