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Kan-tis: Here to Rock Your Face Off

By Sean Smith

Fort Wayne Reader


"We met at a Star Trek convention and noticed a void in the time and space continuum. After that there was no other choice."

Russell Jay has just filled me in on how he met Scummy and Turbo and why they decided to form their band Kan-tis. While I'm always glad to learn of a new band being created, I have to be honest and admit I'm not a fan of Star Trek. I don't have anything against it. I've just never been able to grasp sci-fi and I think it's a direct result of wanting to be the exact opposite of my older brother, a bit of a Trekkie while growing up. So I wasn't sure what to expect when I listened to Kan-tisí new album, Rock Your Face Off, but I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the first song, a demand for KFC. I mean, come on, who doesn't love KFC? I've often enjoyed a ninety-nine cent Snacker or a few Twisters for dinner. (OK, that seals it. I know where I'm having lunch today.) Other songs on the album deal with everything from characters in Stephen King stories to the city of Kalamazoo.

Russell Jay (guitar), Scummy (bass and vocals) and Turbo (drums) formed Kan-tis (or Kantus or Kantiss) nearly a year ago and if there is an alternate story as to how they met, it has been lost to the ages. The genesis of the band is now part of music folklore. The stuff of legends. Russell and Scummy grew up in Fort Wayne, along with Turbo, who is originally from Oklahoma. Turbo played with a honky tonk band, The Red Barrels, and Scummy played with Audiotopsy and is also currently playing bass with Pleasing Melani. They all share similar music tastes and consider some of their influences to be Body Count (Ice-T's speed metal/hip-hop fusion), Jucifer (the Athens, Georgia band that specializes in atmospheric punk-metal), the Melvins (slow and heavy post-punk) and Primus (quirky). When it comes to creating their original songs, Scummy writes all of the lyrics and the music comes about after everyone has had their say and given input.

The result of that input is Rock Your Face Off, an album whose cover is adorned with the image of a skull vomiting porridge, eyeballs, an ear and nose. The liner notes, appropriately enough, inform listeners that, "Instructions for putting your face back on will be on the next release." Everything having to do with the record was very much a team effort and done with a determined DIY spirit. "We recorded all the music in about three weeks or so and then we did the vocals for another few weeks or so," recalls Russell Jay, "Turbo mixed everything and I designed the CD case. We recorded all the music at Turbo's house and the vocals in Pleasing Melani's bathroom. We've been a band only nine months, so we're broke."

The album is currently available at Wooden Nickel and at any of the band's live shows, which have been going rather well so far. "We've had some pretty crazy shows and a lot of good feedback," shares Russell Jay, "We love the Brass Rail and we just had a show at Benson's with Definitely Gary, Pleasing Melani and David Costa that was off the wall. We gig with Pleasing Melani a lot and Scott, the sax player, does a couple songs with us at some of the shows. We plan on staying pretty busy this year in and around town."
If you missed the album release at Wooden Nickel you can find footage of the show on youtube.com and be sure to check out myspace.com/kantus to find out when and where they are playing live.

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