Localized – January 2013
Embarrassment might hold you back from admitting you were scared to make plans beyond Dec. 21, but if you’re reading this, the new year came and you survived the world’s end. Come celebrate your survival with the thrash-punk-metal noise of Screaming Condors and Simian Greed at Urban Lounge on Jan. 12. Cancer Culture open at 10 p.m.—your 21-plus ID and $5 get you in.
The Screaming Condors’ origin can be traced back roughly to 2004 and a group called Hot Buttered Fart Pumper (HBFP). John Paterson and Greg Hillis got their start playing guitars together in HBFP, which would later become Screaming Condors. After about a year, enough time for Screaming Condors to get serious, the original bass player and drummer left. Sam Compton, a local drummer who was friends with Hillis and Paterson and had jammed with them in Hillis’ basement, saw their potential and was interested in joining. Compton says, “I kind of came in and was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a bass player buddy, too.’ So, I brought Tige [Campbell] over, and it just happened instantly,” which locked in the rhythm section to solidify the band. Campbell and Compton had played in a lot of other bands together, and so had Paterson and Hillis. “We just kind of united,” says Campbell. Screaming Condors have been playing with their lineup dynamic for five years now.
The group’s name has nothing to do with the Taiwanese roller coaster that sits atop the list of “Screaming Condors” Google search results, even though the band does have a song titled, “Colossus,” after the ride at Lagoon. The name was conjured on a drunken trip to Echo Lake. Hillis says, “I was all pissed because there were all these bands with intellectual names and all this shit, and I was like, ‘Dude we need something like a badass football team coming to town to kick some ass!’ and it stuck.” Plus, you have to admit: They have countless potential album covers with the image of a condor shredding its vocal cords in an all-out scream.
Screaming Condors didn’t plan their sound—it was just what came out. Paterson says, “I always knew I wanted to play metal, but we’ve all got different backgrounds, so it sounds different. We don’t try to sound like something … Everyone plays their own thing, whatever feels good.” Compton cites their preliminary sound as being more metal, then growing from there. He says, “When I’m on drums, it has to have a punk rock feel, ’cause that’s where my roots are.” They all agree their sound resembles Metallica, specifically Kill ’Em All, but, like most groups, they’re reluctant to commit themselves to a single genre. They all classify their music a little differently—Compton calls it “skate-thrash-metal,” and Hillis laughs when he says, “I call it aggressive rock.”
Songs mostly sprout from collaborated writing sessions within the Condors’ lair. A song could grow from one of Compton’s drumbeats or from an improvised jam that goes well. Campbell says, “A guy brings a song to the table and then we play it, for the most part … We all put our two cents in.” Not every song is a complete collaboration, though. Compton says, “Sometimes Tige will put together a song completely, like totally do his homework and bring it … He’ll have a completed song with parts and everything.” Screaming Condors’ lyrical writing is less collaborative, and they write lyrics when they’re forced to. They all laugh about fine-tuning lyrics while laying down a track in the studio. Screaming Condors don’t have a lead singer—Campbell, Paterson and Hillis share that duty, so the writing of lyrics gets split between all three. Each vocalist will sing the song they pen while the other two provide backup vocals. Even though they might not collaborate lyrically on a single song, they say they each have a pretty even number of songs to sing. Campbell says, “There was a while there where we were like, ‘Should we have just one lead singer like your typical band?’ But we were like, ‘Fuck it, we’re having fun with all of us singing.’” They say they are more worried about having a good time than what others might think.
Screaming Condors haven’t released an album since 2010’s Nature’s Nightmare, which you can find on iTunes or at their shows, but they’re excited about their recent material and plan to record a new album soon. Hillis says, “All the new stuff is awesome. It just gets better and better.” The new album might sound a bit heavier, but they haven’t made any major changes—nothing beyond a more refined sound. Hillis says, “We’re getting so much better at the vocals that I think we’re going to push singing more, at least background singing … and give the songs more fullness.”
When it comes to some of the local venues, there are places they could play every weekend if they wanted, but they plan to hold off on shows in order to get their set polished for the January Localized show. Compton says, “We’re excited to play at Urban coming up because the sound is so juicy over there.” Other than Localized, Screaming Condors plan to focus on getting some awesome shows lined up and record their new album in the near future.
Like many groups, Simian Greed owe their existence to the evolution of a list of predecessors. For three of the four members (Dave Sanchez, Johnny Lyon and Corey Stan), that list began with a band called Left For Dead. About three years ago, they wanted to expand their creativity and do something completely different. That’s where Flipper Kitten, an intermediate band with the same lineup as Simian Greed (including guitarist Matt Bennett), came from. Bennett knew Sanchez (vocalist) and Stan (drummer) from Bar X where the two had worked. Bennett and Stan had seen each other’s bands play, and when Flipper Kitten needed a guitarist, Stan suggested Bennett. Lyon (bassist) says, “[Bennett]’s a noisy-ass guitar player. That’s what we were looking for. We said, ‘If we’re going to add a guitarist, let’s find somebody that’s open-minded and isn’t going to give us just three chords.’”
Unless you’re friends with the guys in Simian Greed, you haven’t heard of Flipper Kitten. Their run was short—little more than a starting block for Simian Greed. They only lasted a few weeks, wrote two songs and never played a show. Simian Greed incorporated those two songs into their material. Sanchez says, “[Both Flipper Kitten songs] might actually be in one song—it was the idea of ripping off a chunk of a riff, being like, ‘That worked, but add six things to it.’”
Simian Greed deliberately sound nothing like the Ramones/Misfits-style horror-punk of their evolutionary ancestor, Left For Dead. During his time with Left For Dead, Sanchez was also playing in a more experimental punk band called Shackleton that had other musical elements such as jazz thrown in the mix. Lyon says, “I took a note from [Shackleton] and wanted to try my hand at composing some stuff in that vein.” They wanted to push past the restraints of genre and now have something they can’t classify beyond “rock n’ roll.” Trying to describe their sound, Bennett says, “I hate to use the term hardcore, because that generally means the culture and not necessarily the music … but maybe medium-well-core.” In an attempt to classify their sound through comparison, Lyon recognizes musical influences from three-chord punk to metal to stoner rock, but can’t narrow it down. Bennett remembers someone describing Simian Greed as “metal-informed rock n’ roll.” Although he can see some metal attributes, like being a heavy band, he doesn’t agree. Still, Simian Greed are happy to elude classification.
Lyon put the name “Simian Greed” on the table, having heard it at some point in Planet of the Apes. Sanchez says, “I think it just sounded fucking cool.” The band sees the meaning behind the name as a type of political commentary on greed as the base human emotion and origin to all the ills of the world. Sanchez says, “The first murder, the first monkey-on-monkey killing, was probably perpetrated over greed.” Simian Greed may comment on the problems they see within humanity, but they leave it at that, a commentary. Sanchez says, “There are no fucking answers contained in Simian Greed.”
Bennett says of their stage presence, “[Sanchez] usually plays guitar in bands, so he has a little more freedom just being on a mic.” But, as every parent knows, too much freedom can get you hurt. Sanchez has a long scar running up the inside of his left wrist—what remains after wrist surgery from a break playing at Bar Deluxe. He was attempting a stage dive when a monitor rolled as he was jumping from it and he fell from the stage. Stan says, “I could hear his wrist snap when I was behind the [drum] set.” Sanchez walked around to the stairs and got back onstage, where he finished the set. Still, he says his focus is on the creation and not a physical performance, and shifts the spotlight from himself. Sanchez says, “I think [Bennett] is pretty raucous.” As much of a party as a Simian Greed performance might sound like, they discount their antics. Lyon says, “I don’t think that it’s any kind of a preconceived notion that we should have this type of a stage presence.” Simian Greed are just in it to play shows and have a good time.
Aside from a single track on Rock Salt #2, Simian Greed haven’t released anything. They see the band as more of a creative outlet than a way to make money or sell merch, and have spent the last few years creating and perfecting a set they can be proud of. Bennett says, “That’s why we haven’t recorded yet. We wanted to be able to pull everything off perfectly live before we recorded it.” That being said, Simian Greed have honed their songs to the point where they aim to have consumable tunes early on this year, which will surely incite a greedy mania.
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