Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Local Santa Cruz Bands and the Dark Ones That Guide Them

Written By Maxine Orr and Annie Gleim

     “After several weeks of meditating in the forest during the harsh winter months in the frozen wastes of Truckee, CA, Chris Patzke and Kyle Kessler were granted a vision. As we delved into the darkest reaches of our minds we encountered a presence, both terrifying in its absolute dark power and awesome to behold. The whispers from the blackness possessed our consciousness and bid us move to Santa Cruz to corrupt the minds of the innocent with the magick of infernal power.” This is what local musician Kyle Kessler had to say when asked how his band, Folivore, got started.
     The Claw often covers album releases of well-known artists, so we thought it was time to discuss some local bands. A lot of people might be not aware of the thriving punk and metal scene in Santa Cruz, and so we took the initiative to interview a few local bands: Holodomor, Folivore, and The Crayon Eaters. We also interviewed Bane Shows, a project that books shows for the Santa Cruz area.
     As one might infer from Kyle’s response, Folivore is a band of a darker genre, self-defined as “Stoner black/doom metal”. Their band name means simply “leaf-eater”, which may relate to one of the aspects of the black metal genre, a respect for nature. Holodmor is fronted by Alex Kirkiles, who informed us that their band name means literally translates to "genocide by hunger" but is also the name given to a Ukrainian "terror Famine". “The Crayon Eaters its nothing more than a cool name for a band,” Jack Kosma, lead vocalist and guitarist, says. “We're not trying to send a special message with our music, we're just trying to play punk rock, and that’s what is portrayed with our name.”
    Of booking shows, Alex Kirkiles says “As a local band, you either need to have money or have connections, and both are hard to come by.” Jack Kosma agrees that the easiest way to book is through friends, and Kyle remarks, “We book shows ourselves for the most part, looking for guidance and omens in entheogenic ritual to assure that we appease the Dark Ones that guide our movements.” If you don’t have the dark ones to guide you, however, you may need help from someone like Nick Bane, front man of Bane Shows, a well-known booking organization out of Santa Cruz. Bane Shows was born from Mr. Bane’s passion for the independent, underground, punk and hardcore genres, and after a time working with Arsenic Productions, Nick Bane began booking his own shows. “Living in Santa Cruz is the shadow of the great punk scene of the 90’s; I missed see touring bands I loved to listen to.” he said. “Seeing kids put on shows for other kids were inspiring.”
    In our interview, Nick Bane also reminisced about some past experiences at other local venues. “The greatest venue of all time was Jim Dandy’s in Prunedale. I saw my first hardcore show there and learned what a scene was.” He explains that the spot was a small truck rental shop by day and hardcore venue at night.
    Of all the folks we interviewed, they agreed that a passion for music is a huge driving force in what they do. This is vital for a local band struggling to create a fan base without corporate sponsorship, in a community where the punk and metal scene has changed drastically over the past decade. As Mr. Kirkiles says, “No one ever wants to pay you for doing a show, so you really just have to love what you do.” One can easily recognize Jack Kosma’s enthusiasm for the music in his answer to why he and his band members chose to join a punk band. “It's the kind of music we grew up listening to. On top of that, it has all the best qualities of music. It's LOUD, FAST and RAW. What else to you need, right?”
     Holodomor admits that a big reason they play is because it’s fun, but adds, “All of our lyrics are typically about problems in the real world, such as rape and class wars.” The irony of this is that to the untrained ear, most lyrics for metal songs are indecipherable through the screams with which they are projected. Luckily, Alex Kirkiles and guitarist Matt Loe have gotten into the habit of explaining the meaning of some of their songs before playing them – I know this because I have attended several Holodor shows, as well as Folivore and Crayon Eaters shows.
    One benefit of being a punk or metal kid in a band in Santa Cruz is that many of your punk or mental friends are bound to also eventually create their own bands that play music of a similar genre as you. This is what happened with the three bands that have been the subject of this article. Alex Kirkiles, Jack Kosma, and Kyle Kessler are friends, and each admitted in their separate interviews that their favorite bands to play with are each other’s. It is inspiring to see the ways which local bands have learned to support each other. When one of these bands plays a show, I always see members of the other bands helping to publicize it. And then, of course, many times they simply play shows together.
     When asked what would be their ideal band to play with, The Crayon Eaters provided a list: Angry Samoans, JFA, or Leftover Crack. Folivore said simply, “ELECTRIC WIZARD. They are the heaviest of the heavy.” Holodomor has had the opportunity to actually preform with a few of their ideal bands, including Age of Collapse, Koalacaust, Blackbird Raum, and Oroku. Almost all of these bands are also local, but have had a success in and outside of the area that might be considered above average.
    To be a local band in the fairly early stages of development is never easy, but after speaking to these individuals, it is clear that the many challenges that come with this are not nearly enough to stop the passion that they feel for the music they are creating. “You see bands that come off the road who have been driving hundreds of miles, day and night, just to perform for a few dozen new people.” says Nick Bane. “Why? Because they believe so much in the music they created that they will put in the blood, sweat, and tears.” 

Inspiring article from San Lorenzo Valley High School student newspaper The Claw. Pretty much sums up the salad days of good ole Santa Cruz. We have great bands and people in the area who care deeply about this scene. I wanted to re-post this article transcript to help gain exposure outside of SLV High campus. Great work Maxine Orr and Annie Gleim!

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