Work in music journalism long enough and you'll find that bands that spend as much of their time on the road as the dudes in the American Black Lung, traveling from one dismal dive to the next, have stories. Little yarns about experiences they've shared while logging miles and trying to pay the rent. These stories can range from the put-me-to-sleep boring ("One time we watched a porno together") to the unbelievable ("One time we killed a drifter in Idaho, just because").
Diamond Rhino, who fronts the ABL — a band that hails from Tucson, Arizona, and switch-hits between modern hardcore, fist-pumping garage rock and metal — doesn't have too many unbelievable stories from the band's touring past. But he did offer one nugget that falls somewhere in the middle.
"There was this one time when we were in El Paso [Texas]," he began, "and we were staying in this hotel, which coincidentally was the same hotel that booked the show. The show was going to be in the bar of the hotel — already a bad idea. I can see people running across the border in the distance, and we're just yelling, 'Run,' at them and, 'Go for it,' cheering them on. So, we're downstairs, and we're hanging out outside the hotel, and it's a three-story hotel. All of a sudden, this dude jumps from the third story and lands on the concrete."
The band didn't know what to do. The guy had taken a nosedive into the ground and "his leg [was] pointing in a direction that a human leg should not point," according to Rhino. The guys decided to help the man, whose femur was poking out from his leg.
"We called 911, but it took a little while for the police to show up," Rhino explained. "So we decided it was a good time for a photo-op. All of us collectively stand around this dude, and start taking, like, posse pictures. This dude's so f---ed up, he doesn't even know what's going on. He's not feeling any pain at all, and we're there giving the thumbs up with our arms around him — I think he did in one photo, too. I do look at those pictures on a regular basis and giggle."
It was this one incident, Rhino continued, "when I finally realized being in a rock and roll band is fun."
When they're not trying to help or exploit people jumping off buildings, American Black Lung — whose sophomore LP, Sudden Departure of Vultures, hit stores in mid-July — spend their time touring and writing. In fact, they're one of several heavier acts to bolster this year's Warped Tour, which they'll be trekking with through August 15 in Kansas City, Kansas. Warped seems an odd fit for a band like the ABL, but they survived last summer's run and even took a few fans away in the process.
"We're not too heavy," the singer explained. "We skip out on the breakdowns, but we're heavy enough to appeal to the hardcore kids who want to do karate in the crowd. I catch a major dose of secondhand embarrassment when I see that sh-- going on. ... We were the band the old dudes would track down. So this summer, we'll use our rock to our advantage, and we're going to try to appeal to ... dudes in Mötley Crüe T-shirts."
The band's new album isn't much of a departure from 2006's ... And They Rode Their Weapons Into War, Rhino admits. But on Vultures, the ABL did beef up their sound a tad.
"Trends come and they go," he explained. "We're not reinventing the wheel, but I think there's room in popular music for some gritty rock and roll. The first album had a real organic feel. It was gritty and raw but still tight — the way records were made 25 years ago. So, when we went in for the second one, it [was] like making a horror film — you want to up the body count, you want to up the gore. But we wanted to up the raunchiness and the real gritty sound we have.
"A lot of bands, for their sophomore record, they want to refine and almost make things more accessible," he continued. "I think we went the complete opposite direction and made a [rawer] record that comes across as being more sincere and less genre-specific. It's just a strong, gnarly sounding rock record. It's like a musical collage of all the best parts of rock and roll — or what we consider our favorite parts."
The band had hoped to head out in the fall for a tour with the Bled, but the trek was postponed once the latter act was added to the Projekt Revolution lineup. Instead the ABL will hit the road post-Warped with I Am the Ocean for the Your Vultures Need Swallowing Tour from August 17 in Salt Lake City through September 4 in Austin, Texas.
While everything seems to be moving right along for the American Black Lung, don't expect a video from them anytime soon — they cost too much money and, being on an indie label, money's something the ABL don't have, according to Rhino.
"Maybe we'll take one of our songs and do a video montage of people getting hit in the crotch with footballs," he said.
The rest of the week's metal news:
For months, Ministry's Al Jourgensen has said the band's upcoming disc The Last Sucker, which comes out September 18, will be Ministry's last. But that's not quite true. Weird Al recently told German mag Metal Hammer that Ministry will drop an album of cover tunes early next year. In addition to previously released numbers like Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" and Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay," the disc will feature the following new tracks: The Beatles "I Want You (She's so Heavy"), Deep Purple's "Space Trucking," Ram Jam's "Black Betty," Golden Earring's "Radar Love," Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb." ... A name has been chosen for the new band featuring Clutch frontman/guitarist Neil Fallon, CKY drummer Jess Margera and Fireball Ministry frontman/guitarist James A. Rota: the Company Band. The group, which also features Puny Human bassist Jason Diamond and guitarist Dave Bone, hit the studio recently to flesh out some tracks for an EP that's due in stores later this year. ...
In March, Megadeth released the DVD "That One Night - Live in Buenos Aires," which was filmed at Obras Stadium in Argentina in October 2005. For those who dig the DVD — which has since gone gold — but long to hear the tracks on CD, your wish is Dave Mustaine's command. On September 4, Megadeth will release the concert as a live double CD featuring three tracks not on the DVD. "This was one of the greatest nights of my life," Mustaine said in a press release. "I am glad I was able to document it and share it with you." ...
German metal legends Scorpions will release their 17th studio album, Humanity - Hour 1, in North America on August 28. (The disc came out in May everywhere else.) On August 25, Scorpions will launch a North American tour in Shawinigan, Quebec, that's set to run through September 29 in Boston. ... Metal duo Jucifer have released a video for "Hennin Hardine" on SingingFool.com. The clip is the second from the band's 2006 album, If Thine Enemy Hunger. On August 17, Jucifer will launch their fall tour in Huntsville, Alabama, with dates scheduled through October 25 in Austin, Texas. ...
Riverside, California, extreme-metal band Suicide Silence will release their debut full-length, The Cleansing, September 18. The disc was recorded by John Travis (Static-X) and mixed by Tue Madsen (Himsa, the Haunted). Last month, Suicide Silence shot a video for the album track "The Price of Beauty" with Matt Bass (Black Dahlia Murder, the Esoteric). "All I can say is that the treatment is pretty grotesque, and we filmed in some very creepy locations," singer Mitch Lucker said. "This was the first budgeted music video we'd ever done, and we were very detailed in our approach." Suicide Silence will tour with Unearth, Darkest Hour and August Burns Red from September 27 in Towson, Maryland, through October 6 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. ... Metalcore bands Escape the Fate, Lovehatehero, Bless the Fall, Dance Gavin Dance and Before Their Eyes will grace the stage of the Hot Topic-sponsored Black on Black Tour, which starts September 1 in Las Vegas and runs through October 14 in Phoenix. ... Power-doom trio Zoroaster have finished their debut full-length Dog Magic, which is due September 11.