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5 Bands You Should Know
By Sean Smith
Fort Wayne Reader
Graves of the Endless Fall: Neverending Metal
Graves of the Endless Fall
Members: Adam Lewis – drums
Eric Rutkowski – guitar
Mike Vojtkofsky – bass
Ryan Bennett – vocals
Albums: Graves of the Endless Fall and Film at Eleven: Six Inches of Doom EP
Recommended If You Like: Neurosis, Isis, Converge, Botch, His Hero Is Gone, Iron Maiden, Mastodon, Black Sabbath
Who knew that if you mixed together musicians who had previously played everything from black metal to indie rock, grindcore to roots ska/reggae and hardcore to punk that you would end up with one of the most ferocious metal bands in the area? The guys in Graves of the Endless Fall decided to roll the dice and it looks like they won the house.
“It’s a long list of bands that we all come from,” says Eric Rutkowski, “Nuclear Jealousy, Alexander the Large, Ratzkrieg, Skavossas/Heavy Step, Sunday School Suicide, Freak Magnet, The Migraines (secular version) and many others. Our drummer is currently playing in Lurking Corpses as well.”
As for how this band compares to those in past, it was all part of shaping the current sound. “All our former bands have helped shape what Graves is now,” suggests Adam Lewis, “We’ve all been in a wide range of bands and those experiences and backgrounds have helped form the band that Graves has become.”
Just what has the band become? Well respected in their genre and they have also received attention from a record label. Terrorizer magazine reviewed their first self titled album and called it a ‘sickenly impressive debut.’
But this has somehow prevented them a bigger following in their hometown. There are a few reasons for this perhaps. “Maybe because they haven’t ever even heard about us or maybe they know we’re a metal band and they don’t like metal,” offers Rutkowski, “I think we may have lost some folks due to some significant down time while we dealt with some lineup changes as well.”
Those lineup changes took place in 2004 and 2005. Mike Vojtkofsky replaced Byron Wendling on bass and they also lost their vocalist and two guitarists in that time as well. In the fall of 2005 they brought Ryan Bennett into the fold and began writing new material.
Anyone curious about their music should come out to a show and give it an honest chance. “I would say they should open their mind a bit and maybe if they give us a listen they can find something in it that they can connect with, whether it’s a vocal line or a musical passage,” says Rutkowski.
They hope to find the support from fans that they have already received from like-minded musicians in the area. “We’ve had good support from the Hardcore/Punk/Metal community as well as the Rock community in general,” admits Adam Lewis, “Different people take different things from what we do, I suppose, and with all our varying musical influences and our goal as it were to not limit ourselves to have a particular sound, people with varying interests can find something they enjoy. In a broader sense, of course there could probably always be more unity amongst the smaller communities, but it seems like a good scene exists in that you’ll either see Hardcore/Punk/Metal bands playing together or at least people from the different genres will be at each others shows.”
You can find a copy of their new EP at Convolution Records and find upcoming show information at www.myspace.com/gravesoftheendlessfall.
Sub-Surface: BoomBox Hip-Hop
Members: Illiana Jonze – DJ, Scripture – MC, RhymeWise – MC
Albums: Full Length Available by Years End
Recommended If You Like: Little Brother, Brother Ali, Glue
The early elements of Sub-Surface came together when RhymeWise and Scripture met in high school and realized they had a mutual appreciation for Wu-Tang and Old Dirty Bastard in particular. After Scripture vouched for RhymeWise they collaborated in their first group and when the group began to splinter, the two of them struck out together and eventually hooked up with DJ Illiana Jonze. Both RhymeWise and Scripture collaborate on hooks but each of them write their own rhymes. They never spit something that they did not themselves write.
From the end of 2004 until the middle of 2005, Sub-Surface were performing for crowds almost as often once a month. They slowed their pace down and began working on a full length album that will be released by the end of 2006.
The one thing they have noticed in the last year is the broadening of Hip-Hop’s appeal. “When you look at what has become mainstream it’s kind of weird because Sankofa isn’t really mainstream, traditionally. But he has certainly crossed over and is accepted by the rock audience,” says RhymeWise, “The same can be said for someone like Glide who was sitting as a judge at WhatzUp’s Battle of the Bands. That’s huge to see a guy like that sitting next to all those rock and roll guys.”
He also sites Third Frame consistently doing shows and the new crop of Hip-Hop that got people paying attention.
They aren’t taking the attention lightly. “We take the craft seriously. We have many styles. A track like ‘Rawness’ is a battle rap. ‘Habit’ is a life song. A song about addictions. ‘Say It’, well that’s the closest thing to a club banger we have at this point. That’s what BoomBox Hip-Hop is all about. When we were coming up there was everybody doing their thing. Public Enemy, N.W.A., Kid N Play. There was dope music bumpin’ outta BoomBoxes. That’s how it used to be!” remembers RhymeWise.
There seems to be an element of fear when it comes to Hip-Hop in Fort Wayne, but rest assured, there’s nothing to be afraid of and you just may very well end up having the time of your life at a Hip-Hop show. “Hip-Hop is different than Rock,” offers RhymeWise, “There’s an immediate response. There’s the call and response. We try to get the audience involved in the show. It’s a really, really good show. It’s fun but it has substance. We put a lot of concentration into the live show. All three of us: DJ Illiana Jonze, Scripture and myself all have a say in the tracks we perform and we all put a lot of thought into it. You pay for a live show then you’re gonna get a live show. You won’t wish that you had stayed home and listened to the CD. We wanna stay true to the focus and sustain our lives off doing the music. We really wanna open minds to the fact that there’s more than just Hip-Hop on the radio. There’s more than that.”
Be sure to find out what more Sub-Surface has to offer by checking out their live show. Information on their appearances can be found at: www.myspace.com/boomboxhiphop
The Chinese Express: Fist Pumpin’ Rock n Roll To Go
The Chinese Express
Members: Cameron Green – vocals, Micah Rapp – bass, Austin Hammond – drums, Eric Townsend – guitar, Tim Neff – guitar
Albums: New Jersey’s Finest and After the Matinee: From the Silver Screen to the Sky
Recommended If You Like: CKY, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Clutch, Pantera
If you want to hear some dirty, nasty, gritty, trashy, southern, fist pumpin’ rock n roll, look no further than The Chinese Express. Look a little closer and you’ll discover that these guys offer a little more than most bands in the genre: Hope. “When kids listen to the music we write, we hope they find inspiration. Encouragement. We hope that they find a glimmering ray of hope,” offers Cameron Green, “A reason. Jesus Christ.”
If nothing else they will get their money’s worth at any given show put on by the band. “When kids come to watch a show they always know there will be visual stimulation as well as aural stimulation. Headbangin’, fist pumpin’ and hip swingin’ is usually encouraged by us redneck rockers,” beams Green, “We generally play about 20 to 25 minutes because after that we’re too exhausted to continue.”
Fans soon become much more than just someone who buys a shirt. “We have the best fans in the world. In all of Indiana to be quite honest. If it wasn’t for the fans we wouldn’t have over 104,000 plays on Myspace.com. We wouldn’t have sold over 400 t-shirts. We would not be able to do half the things we have done,” admits Green, “Many of the kids who go to our shows end up becoming closer than just ‘fans’. A fan is someone who when I am at the Auburn car auction and I see them wearing one of our shirts and I tell the kid, ‘Hey, nice shirt’ and the kid looks at me and gives me one of them bugger off looks, not knowing who I am at all. That is a fan. But we have kids who evolve into way more than that, quite often. This band has allowed us to build some of the best friendships we’ll ever have with any mortal human.”
Another thing that the guys are proud of is their hometown. “We’re lucky here in Fort Wayne,” says Green, “We have something not many other cities have and that is a thriving all ages scene. The only issue most people have with it is it only exists in churches. I personally love the all ages scene because of the unity and desire to actually listen to music as opposed to gettin’ loaded and startin’ a fight.”
The Chinese Express have a growing audience and have had help to build their fanbase by sharing the stage with The Showdown, August Burns Red, Project 86 and Skillet. Be sure to pick up a copy of their newest album, “After the Matinee: From the Silver Screen to the Sky”, and check their Myspace page at www.myspace.com/thechineseexpress for upcoming gigs.
Saints Never Surrender: Intense But Positive Hardcore
Saints Never Surrender
Members: Tony Baird – vocals, Stephen Boyd – drums, Mitchell Green – guitar, Max Hatlem – guitar, Tyler Lebamoff – bass
Albums: OneLifeOneChance and Set Our Hearts to Burn EP
Recommended If You Like: Shai Halud, Comeback Kid
Saints Never Surrender are a band that have played hundreds of shows including mini-tours of the Midwest for the past two years, but they really love playing Anchor Community Church in Fort Wayne because it feels like home to them. That sense of community is something they try to extend to their fans and anyone who attends their shows.
“I can’t speak for every kid in the scene, but we as a band try to be positive and really welcoming to new people. We run a venue (Anchor Community Church) and when we see new faces we at least try to throw in a ‘Hello.’”, says Stephen Boyd, “The shows are always exciting. You get a big variety of music from punk to hardcore to metal and it’s still amazing to see kids as young as 16 playing excellent music. People should come to shows with friends and just have fun really. Meet new people and listen to rad tunes.”
It all sounds so simple and really it is. What holds people back from trying something new and different? Stephen thinks it could have something to do with division and decibels. “I think a lot of the reason people haven’t come to our shows or don’t plan on coming is because there is a lot of division between ‘scenes’. The punk scene. The hip-hop scene. The ‘bar band’ scene. The hardcore scene. None of those have any huge ties. It’s hard for someone from one scene to go to a show at another scene and feel extremely welcome. It kinda sucks but I guess that’s just how the music scene in Fort Wayne works. For people who don’t go to shows, they probably just haven’t heard of us or any of the bands in the hardcore scene. The screaming also has been known to turn a few people away.”
In spite of all this, the guys keep positive and are keeping their heads and hearts in the right place. They keep playing the music they love because they are motivated by the right things. “We all love the Fort Wayne Hardcore scene,” says Boyd, “We have watched it grow into the positive scene it is today. We hope to get signed sometime to a label but none of us really care either way, we’re just in this to have fun. The only reason I personally am in this band is because it is with some of my closest friends. It would be nice to get signed, but that’s not why we’re in this. My favorite memories of this band are just hanging out with my friends. Laughing all the time. Driving 17 hours to play for 30 people. We look back on that and laugh. Everything about being in this band with my friends is a highlight.”
In turn, Saints Never Surrender is a highlight of the local music scene and to learn when and where you can see them live check out their site at: www.myspace.com/saintsneversurrender
The Orange Opera: Brilliant Pop Masterpieces
The Orange Opera
Members: Kevin Hambrick – vocals/guitar/piano, Matt Tackett – guitar, Bryan Brubaker – bass, Kevin Hockaday – drums
Albums: Land of Tall
Recommended If You Like: Beatles, Wilco
“Hambrick is brilliant!”
Those are the first words out of Bryan Brubaker’s mouth when I ask him to tell me what he enjoys about playing in The Orange Opera. He’s not alone in thinking that the man behind such Fort Wayne based musical projects as Big Red & Rojo and Blueberry Hurricane is the cream of the crop. I recently spoke with Jon Ross, who seemingly plays for every band other than The Orange Opera and he had this to say about the group in general and Kevin in particular. “Orange Opera played my Memorial day party! How much cooler can it get? I’d like to hang out with Kevin Hambrick. That guy can write his ass off. Anyone who’s heard of him loves his music and they should because it’s brilliant.”
Another reason that Brubaker digs playing in the Opera has to do with the overall intentions of the band. “It’s the first band where everyone in the band is serious. I encourage everyone to come check us out for the simple reason that our music has never proven to cause jock itch.”
The people that seem to be finding this to be fact presently are those outside the Fort Wayne area. “We have been playing some shows at the Melody Inn in Indianapolis. So far that has been a big personal highlight for me. We’ve been playing Spike’s in Warsaw and they love us there. Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The people there really appreciate us. It’s nice to get some recognition outside of Fort Wayne.”
But why are they not so well received here in the city of three rivers? “I can’t put a finger on it,” admits Brubaker, “Maybe it’s a little bit our fault marketing wise. But the only people that seem to want to hear live music are true music lovers and musicians. Once you take out the musicians then how big of an audience is truly out there?”
When it seems like it’s an uphill battle the band doesn’t mind and they take it in stride. “The music pushes us forward,” insists Brubaker, “We would definitely like to quit our day jobs and devote ourselves full time to this.”
Hambrick echoes those goals as well. “My goal is to catch a small break or even just have an agent who sets us up enough shows to be touring and to make the same income that we have now so we can play music instead of working a regular day job.”
But what if that doesn’t happen? Is there a plan B? Brubaker has certainly given it some thought and has a fallback in place. “If it all goes away and doesn’t work out in our favor then I think I’ll just have to get myself a trendy heroin habit.”
To discover when you can get swept away by the pop brilliance of The Orange Opera make sure to check their website frequently. You can find them on the internet at: www.theorangeopera.com