Wednesday, February 28, 2018

CHAINLINKS: March 2018

Chainlinks returns with recommendations from Shannon Hemmett (ACTORS), Becky DiGiglio (photographer, Three One G), JC Lobo (Ritualz), and Crow Jane (Egrets on Ergot, The Deadbeats, Bustié)...


1) BBC Synth Britannia / JG Ballard

I’ve been researching the stark, urban aesthetics depicted in the work of JG Ballard for an upcoming music video that I am directing for ACTORS' latest single, ’Slaves’. A few days ago, I stumbled across this fantastic, new-to-me, BBC documentary ‘Synth Britannia’ which discusses the influence and impact that JG Ballard’s writings have had on several British post-punk artists who were also exploring the use of synthesizers in their music. Featuring The Normal, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode and more.

2) David Bowie Vancouver Rehearsals 1976

Before I was alive to see it, David Bowie’s Isolar / White Light Tour (in support of Station to Station) kicked off in my hometown, Vancouver in 1976. I never had the opportunity to see my hero perform, but I especially love the style and swagger of the Thin White Duke era captured here. It’s a delight when David breaks character to smirk and laugh with his band as they run the set. The vocal performance in Word On A Wing sends shivers down my arms. 

3) Fearing - Black Sand EP

I got to know California’s Fearing when our band ACTORS played a show with them in Vancouver this year. They just released an EP called ‘Black Sand’ on Funeral Party Records and I’ve had it on repeat all week. It’s lighting up all my wheelhouses; mean post punk grooves, darkwave hooks, and hazy shoegaze atmosphere. If you’re into The Chameleons or the Pornography era from The Cure, this EP was made for you.


1) Phantom Thread

I'd been waiting for this to come out for a long time. PT Anderson is brilliant. Jonny Greenwood creates amazing scores. There Will Be Blood is one of my all-time favorites. So, although I saw the movie the first night it was showing in San Diego, I'm still thinking about it now. It's grown on me the more I thought about it. As always with PT, and particularly with his more recent films, I feel like I'll need to re-watch this one numerous times to appreciate the nuances of it. But for now, I'll just leave it at saying that I found it haunting and awkward and weird and clever, and the female lead, Vicky Krieps, is such a great actress alongside Daniel Day-Lewis.

2) Accidental Wes Anderson

Speaking of Andersons whom I love, Wes Anderson is another favorite director of mine (I know; aside from the last name, the two are like night and day). I am so psyched for Isle of Dogs. But, the purpose of this post is to draw attention to my obsession with this phenomenon called "Accidental Wes Anderson," in which people document locations around the world they find that look like they could be the set of one of his films. The photos are all far different than my personal style of photography- they're all symmetrical and cute and pastel colored- but I still find it very aesthetically pleasing. The Instagram account for it is cool as well, because it shares historical information about all the locations of the posted photos, so that I can add them to my list of places to visit.

3) Hinchcliffe Stadium - Paterson, NJ

On my most recent trip to New Jersey (where I lived all my life before moving to San Diego), I was cruising around the state with some friends, looking for stuff to explore. We ended up stopping at Paterson Great Falls, a common location for photographers due to the massive waterfall that is smack-dab in the middle of the city. It's a pretty rad sight. But for the first time, I noticed that there was an abandoned stadium right behind the park. It's totally sketchy looking: falling apart, filled with trash and graffiti, and maybe not the safest spot to be wandering through... which is the sort of stuff I love to photograph. The entire stadium was open to walk through, including under the bleachers, locker rooms, etc. Upon some research, we came to find out that it used to be a major stadium for "Negro league baseball" during the Jim Crow era. It was created in 1932, during the beginning of the Great Depression. It was the home of the "New York Black Yankees" until 1945. Let that one set in. Apparently, it's going to be restored by the end of 2018, so that (I assume) people can go back to enjoying jock stuff at it. Anyway, the whole experience of being there and reading about its history blew my mind, and it made me a little uncertain of how to feel about it emotionally. I guess overall, I hope it can serve as both a source of African American pride for the talented, resilient athletes who played there, as well as a reminder of the shame of this country and its segregation and racism, both in the past and still in the present.


1) crime shows.

there’s been a lot of crime shows in recent years, american crime story, mindhunter, manhunt: unabomber, etc., all quite good, and based on actual events, so that made me want to watch more tv on the same line so i started watching docs about crime on netflix. making a murderer, one about a nun murdered in the 60s, another one about people convicted under false confessions, etc. even american vandal which is a parody of these shows. growing up i would watch e! true hollywood story, america’s most wanted, unsolved mysteries, the first 48, etc. so it’s dark and morbid but there’s also a bit of nostalgia watching stuff like this.

2) god of war. 

i always liked the first god of war on playstation 2 but i never played the rest of the games. with a new game coming out soon i thought it was finally time to play them, so i played the original 4 games on ps3 during christmas break and i loved it. i like greek mythology, puzzle, and action videogames, and this series has it all. good times.

3) comic books. 

i’ve liked comic books for as long as i can remember so this time i’m just going to mention recent reads and purchases: megg, mogg & owl; patience (best one i’ve read in years); saucer state; paper girls; glitterbomb; supergod; goodnight punpun; preacher; invincible; the x’ed out trilogy; and the walking dead (which everyone should be reading instead of watching that awful, awful show). 


1) A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die, by Chris D.

A collection of writing by Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters. Along with a preface by Byron Coley, foreword by John Doe, and afterword by Lydia Lunch. After seeing the Flesh Eaters performance at the Echoplex a short while back I saw that Chirs D. put out this book for the first time. I have always wanted to dive deeper into the intelligent, horrific, and curious mind of Chris D. I was seduced by this book and heavily inspired by his style of songwriting and poetry. A unique mixture of Edgar Allan Poe and Baudelaire with his own personal touch of early LA punk scene filth. Also comes with great film recommendations. The Flesh Eaters were around in the same LA punk scene as The Deadbeats band I play in and have also been an influence of my band Egrets On Ergot.

2) The Story of Crass, by George Berger

I have also been reading THE STORY OF CRASS, by George Berger recently. In the mix of everything going on with #metoo and other politics I was inspired to write a feminist viewpoint spoken word piece with a new track Egrets has written. Usually I play guitar but for this I put the guitar down and with a roll of paper go off on my Crass, Penis Envy, "Bata Motel"-inspired story/poem about a family having a baby girl, named Daisy, who they brain wash from the day she is born into being what "society's image"  of a girl should be. A pretty-looking caretaker, sex, and baby making machine. 

3) Refuse Fascism 

This LA organization has been invited and present at all the past Egrets On Ergot shows since December. Everyone we have met has been very nice and helpful in getting involved in a political form we support. Its been a great opportunity to have them at shows in the LA music scene.


Friday, February 23, 2018

THE SWORD - Twilight Sunrise



The Sword today premiere the lyric video for the track "Twilight Sunrise" from their forthcoming album, Used Future, set for release on March 23rd. 

The track is available as an instant grat track for anyone preordering the record on iTunes:

The preorder for the physical CD and vinyl continues at both the band's IndieMerch store and Razor & Tie's MerchNow store.


The video can be viewed here:

Also today the band announces the second leg of the Used Future tour which begins on April 25th in New Orleans. Support on these dates will be provided by The Shelter People. VIP packages are available for all shows (except Jacksonville, Virginia Beach, and Charlotte) and can be purchased here:

For complete tourdates (first and second leg) and tickets for all shows, visit the band's website, here:

Apr 25 - New Orleans, LA @ Parish at House of Blues
Apr 26 - Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
Apr 27 - Knoxville, TN @ The International
Apr 29 - Jacksonville, FL @ Rockville
Apr 30 - Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
May 2 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
May 3 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
May 4 - Richmond, VA @ Canal Club
May 5 - Virginia Beach, VA @ Lunatic Luau
May 6 - Charlotte, NC @ Carolina Rebellion
May 7 - Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
May 8 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
May 10 - Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
May 11 - Montreal, QC @ Foufounes Electriques
May 12 - Rochester, NY @ Anthology
May 13 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
May 14 - Detroit, MI @ Saint Andrews
May 15 - Columbus, OH @ Skully's Music Diner
May 17 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom
May 18 - Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar n' Grill

Photo by Jack Thompson

Out today: DEAD EMPIRES - Designed to Disappear

Dead Empires' new album Designed to Disappear is out today on Silent Pendulum Records.
Buy, here:

Further info, here:

"New York progressive metal outfit Dead Empires had long mastered the art of frantic, sludge-drenched instrumental music but on third full-length Designed to Disappear, the band upped the ante with the addition of vocalist Jason Sherman..."

"Traditionally an instrumental group that played on the heavy side of prog-metal, Dead Empires' recent inclusion of vocalist Jason Sherman has resulted in a tremendous shift..."

"Angular and unpredictable... Soaring, cinematic, Mastodonian."

"Tasty licks, mathy grooves, and a hell of a good time..."
–Metal Injection

"The band treat noise not as set dressing or background filigree, but as its own instrument... Rhythmic shifts and screeching guitar patterns... From a sound indebted to skronky Northeast hardcore to a climax that shares melodic DNA with an Ariana Grande hit."

–Invisible Oranges

"The best parts of hardcore, sludge metal, technical bits, groove towns, and literally whatever else they want to do."

–Gear Gods

"A wild, proggy joyride into the heart of Dillinger Escape Plan worship, Designed to Disappear is also so much more, shredding through one major/modal/mixed-up riff after the next."
–Free Williamsburg

"The sound of a band using new elements to expand its scope and breadth."
–Pure Grain Audio

"If you’re a fan of progressive metal, and especially extreme progressive metal, that isn’t afraid to take the chances, this is the album for you."
–Heavy Blog Is Heavy

"With the addition of vocalist Jason Sherman (Torrential Downpour) the band takes on a new persona. And it’s one of a heavier ilk... The hues painted with this album are some of the deepest the band has mined to date and they pull it off with an ease befitted of only the most seasoned vets in the game."
–Nine Circles

"A fascinating listen... Even the heaviest and darkest moments can be contrasted by instances of sparkling clarity... Merging Torche with fucked up prog a la Dillinger Escape Plan and then tossing in elements of Mastodon is no mean feat."
–Two Guys Metal Reviews

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ghost Ship Fire Benefit LP + IDIOTEQ

“I wanted Love Oakland to be really special. The community in Oakland welcomed me when I moved there and I wanted to give back. One of the first people I met when I moved to Oakland was Ara Jo; she passed in the fire. I was able to get a recording of her band HGS and get it onto the record. Being able to do that made me really happy. … Without the help of so many people there is no way this record would have happened.”
-Ed Taylor, Loose Grip Records owner

IDIOTEQ interviewed Ed Taylor, Hannah Lin Nelly (Naked Lights), Noah Charnow (Scraper), and Justin Pearson (Dead Cross, The Locust, Retox) to "discusss the tragedy, conditions under which DIY spaces operate, the survival of independent venues, politics in arts, and more." Read more, here.

This project is the brainchild of Ed Taylor, who runs Loose Grip Records. All proceeds from this release go to The Oakland Family Fund, which was started in the wake of the Ghost Ship Fire to help artists maintain and keep their living spaces in the Oakland area. Much of the funds raised thus far have gone towards other artists’ spaces to upgrade smoke alarm and sprinkler systems, purchase fire extinguishers, upgrade electrical and plumbing issues to bring spaces up to code, and to pay for attorney fees in many eviction cases. This benefit is a mix of well-known artists such as King Khan, John Dwyer’s synth-heavy Damaged Bug, Tony Molina (of Dystrophy), Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian of The Locust with Nick Zinner of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (collaborating as Planet B), as well as Bay Area artists connected to the DIY scene like Nopes, Naked Lights, Scraper, and New Faultlines.

The Love Oakland LP was released July 2017 and can be purchased here. It was curated by Ed Taylor and mastered by Jonah Strauss at Survivor Studios in Oakland. Cover art and insert created by John Felix Arnold III, a well-known Oakland artist.

Love Oakland tracklist:
1. Damaged Bug - Anchorite Showdown
2. Planet B - Never Let Me Down Again
3. Nopes - Shedding
4. Naked Lights - Hyde
5. Scraper - Lookin' for Pain
6. HGS - Mopey Monster / Klown March
7. Saba Lou - Love Letter Full of Promises
8. New Faultlines - Mendocino
9. Tony Molina - Fluff
10. King Khan - The Mourning Song
11. Silver Shadows - You Were Right (Part Time Punks Session)
12. Jaime Paul Lamb - When I'm Gone


"New York progressive metal outfiDead Empires had long mastered the art of frantic, sludge-drenched instrumental music but on third full-length Designed to Disappear, the band upped the ante with the addition of vocalist Jason Sherman..."

With new Dead Empires album, Designed to Disappear, out tomorrow, Decibel has launched a premiere of the full album.

Listen, here:


Known as an instrumental band, Dead Empires deal in a heavy-rocking brand of metal that veers toward the exuberant. New album Designed to Disappear marks the debut of new vocalist and knob-twiddler Jason Sherman of prog-death freaks Torrential Downpour; Sherman adds a whole new layer of darkness and danger to the sound, via his wide range of voices and his palette of electronics/noise. The album is a must for fans of Mastodon's rock majesty as well as The Dillinger Escape Plan's radical gear-shifting.

Invisible Oranges' recent review of a track off the album, nails it: "The band treat noise not as set dressing or background filigree, but as its own instrument... The song moves from a sound indebted to skronky Northeast hardcore to a climax that shares melodic DNA with an Ariana Grande hit." 

Founded in the Hudson Valley of New York in 2009, Dead Empires began with 2010's Monuments EP and followed it up with Waiting in Waves (2012) and Secret Snakes/Silent Serpent (2015). 
Bassist DJ Scully is a member of The Number Twelve Looks Like You and Black Table.

Showcasing the debut of new frontman Sherman, Designed to Disappear was recorded and mixed by Scot Moriarty at Backroom Studios in Rockaway, New Jersey, and mastered by Alan Douches (Mastodon, Every Time I Die). 

Photo by Joseph Pelosi

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

RITUALZ - Trash Mental

Mexico City's Ritualz presents new single, 'Trash Mental," premiered today via New Noise. "Trash Mental" is the lead track off debut full-length Doom, coming March 9th on Artoffact Records.

Listen to "Trash Mental," here:

Preorder Doom (digital, vinyl, CD), here:

Ritualz is the one-man army of producer/vocalist JC Lobo. Born, raised, and based in Mexico City, Lobo launched Ritualz in 2010 and ascended quickly – by 2012, iconic streetwear brand Mishka had released his third EP, Hypermotion X, and heavy world touring followed, including shows with the likes of HEALTH and Prayers. 

Six years after Hypermotion X, Lobo returns with an album that overshadows all previous work: the debut Ritualz full-length, Doom. 
Inspired by the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode, Doom was recorded and mixed entirely by Lobo at apartments in Mexico City and Paris, and mastered by Martin Bowes (Nine Inch Nails, Psychic TV, Front Line Assembly).

Murky and unsettling, Doom is an album of cryptic pop songs – emotional and anthemic songs under a blanket of fog. The album's eleven songs are a portal to Lobo's world: a dream-state, shrouded in gloom, marked by minimal beats, synth hooks, and soulful vocals buried in the mix. 

Of new single "Trash Mental," Lobo says: "The song is about the negative thoughts that come from listening to people who would rather talk shit about someone else to bring them down to their level, than work on getting better themselves." Other songs on the album tell stories of ghosts, vampires, and prisoners of war.

Ritualz, live:

Mar 9 - Mexico City, MX @ Foro Bizarro
Mar 22 - San Diego, CA @ Space Bar
Mar 23 - Los Angeles, CA @ Das Bunker
Mar 29 - San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room
April 1 - Vancouver, BC @ Astoria

Photo by Daniela Quant

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

THE SWORD - 2018 bio

With a name as absurdly iconic as The Sword, it’s easy to see why this band might be held up to some subjective and unrealistic ideals. Icons are fixed representations after all. Eternal and unchanging. And in this case, the intended symbolism at one time seemed obvious. How could any band with such a name, who storms onto the scene with a debut like 2006’s instant classic Age of Winters and its 2008 follow-up Gods of the Earth, not be ready-made champions of all things heavy metal? Yet it is important to remember that a sword can take many forms and symbolize many things. Used throughout human history by civilizations all over the world as a weapon and a symbol, it has no singular archetypal aspect, but is rather a continuum of evolving incarnations.

After the astonishing success of their first two self-produced albums, their ambitious 2010 sci-fi rock opera Warp Riders, produced by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus the Bear), saw the band exploring new conceptual territory and injecting their relentless riffing with growing doses of hard rock swagger. These trends continued on 2012’s Apocryphon, produced by J. Robbins (Clutch, Texas Is The Reason). Their first release on Razor & Tie, as well as the first with drummer Santiago Vela III, Apocryphon debuted at #17 on Billboard’s Top 200 to critical acclaim. However, after years of maintaining a rigorous touring schedule and strict two-year album cycles, the band’s creative fires were burning dangerously low.

Feeling the need to explore new territory both figuratively and literally, The Sword’s founder and primary songwriter, John Cronise, relocated from the band’s home base of Austin, Texas to Western North Carolina in early 2012. Somewhere deep in the mountains he managed to find the inspiration he sought, which ultimately led to the creation of the band’s fifth album, High Country, produced by Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Golden Dawn Arkestra) and released by Razor & Tie in 2015. An obvious departure from its predecessors, High Country, as well as its 2016 “acoustic” companion album, Low Country, heralded a new era for The Sword. The low-tuned guitars and aggressive bombast of the early albums were gone, tempered by focused, compelling songwriting and tasteful, expert musicianship. As Rolling Stone said at the time, “The group has moved in a classic-rock direction closer to Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top than anything wearing a bullet belt.” Or to put it more poetically, The Sword had been forged anew.

Fast forward to 2018 as vocalist/guitarist Cronise, drummer Vela, guitarist Kyle Shutt, and bassist/keyboardist Bryan Richie prepare for the release of Used Future, scheduled for March 23rd on Razor & Tie. The Sword’s sixth album shows them pushing further in direction set forth on High Country, digging even deeper into an anthemic, grooving, classic rock style. With tight rhythms, big riffs, and crooning hooks, musically and lyrically Used Future is their most mature and masterful effort to date. 

More than a collection of songs, it is an album in the style of the great rock albums of the ‘70s – a musical ride, intended to be experienced from start to finish. To this end, producer Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, First Aid Kit) strategically wove some of the band’s more experimental instrumental pieces throughout. Often fueled by Richie’s adventurous synthesizers, these songs and interludes invoke a wide array of moods and colors, providing a vibrant, cinematic experience.

Used Future hearkens to the classic works of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Tom Petty, among others, yet is as relevant to our current era as those artists were to theirs. The recording boasts a powerful, raw, yet refined sound, thanks to Martine and mastering engineer Brian Lucey (The Black Keys, Ghost). This sonic aesthetic can be heard on the album’s lead single, “Deadly Nightshade”, described by Revolver as “an infectious, scuzz-rock stomper à la T. Rex.”

Even at this point in their career, there can often be difficulty when it comes to describing The Sword, with woefully inadequate terms like “retro” and “stoner” appearing all too frequently. Like all of the band’s work before it, Used Future transcends such diminishing labels. This is 21st century rock n’ roll in the tradition of the 20th century masters, imbued with a unique sound and vision – a bright spot in the modern musical landscape. Put simply, it’s the sound of a seasoned band at the top of their game, the most recent incarnation of the ever-evolving musical entity known as The Sword.

Photo by Jack Thompson