Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ithaca's sludgiest, Iwo Jima Medkit have had their share of band changes since we last spoke with them here on FREE!. They picked up why+the+wires skinsman behind their kit, found a vocalist, lost a vocalist, recorded an EP and toured with guest vocalist Andrew Hernandez of Tombs... many a lesser act have derailed under far less constant winds of change, but (as anyone who caught any of their dates on tour would know) these three find themselves at the core of a perpetual motion machine of impenetrable heaviness.  Ithaca Underground's Vii Caso (also of Hiroshima Vacation) catches up with guitarist Dan Howard and bassist Alex Riberio for what's current. Catch them live with Providence, RI's The Body, the aforementioned HxVx, and Genital Holograms this Saturday at CSMA.

IU: You guys recently did a short tour with Painted Rust and Ready Aim Fired, how did that go?

Dan: Yeah, we did a five day mini-tour through New York and Massachusetts. It was totally awesome. The shows were rad and we actually made enough cash to pay for it. One of the best things about the tour was hearing the other two bands play live five days in a row. It was almost like when you buy a new record and obsess over it. I still have Painted Rust riffs stuck in my head!

Alex: In my opinion the tour was great. Playing outside of the Ithaca area was a breath of fresh air. Every place we went to the crowd was all about an original sound, and that is what we are all about. Hanging out with PR & RAF was a BLAST... great artists with a pro attitude, I was kind of expecting a "click" situation but after the show in Ithaca, when we met in Albany it became obvious that we where all in for a good time, becoming friends and playing together.

IU: Any shows in particular stand out?

Dan: Being that the tour was short, I feel like all the shows stand out for some reason or another but playing with the one-man band insanity that is Irradiated Beef in Albany and partying down at J-Kraks house afterward was the shit.

Alex: The show in NY was the best for me. A packed house, good sound system and the perfect vibe.

IU: Which show on the tour would you say had the best audience?

Alex: The best audience I believe was NY. Also Albany as the second, but pretty close.

Dan: Surprisingly, the audience at the Lit Lounge in Manhattan seemed to be the most into it. Surprising because it was a Monday and also because, as the stereotype goes, NYC audiences are usually nonplussed. I guess they just really wanted to hear some metal.

IU: I also understand that Andrew from Tombs did guest vocals for you on that tour? How did that come about?
Alex: Well, in my opinion Hernandez set the standard for a vocalist. His approach was serious and professional. He was a fourth instrument in the group and that is what we want a vocal to be. How it came about is for Dan to answer, they are old mates...and i think Hernandez likes our project.

Dan: It just made sense really. Given our history with vocals, the chance of finding someone locally in time for the show seemed slim and even if we did, we wouldn't have been able to fit another person in the van anyway. I brought the idea up the Andrew and he was into it. I think the last time that he was able to do vocals without playing drums was a band we were in when we were like 15 so he took it as an opportunity get loose on stage. Fortunately for us, Andrew was very pro about it. He had his lyrics and vocal patterns down before we even practiced.

IU: I hope you don't me saying this, but Iwo Jima Medkit seems to have had a lot of bad luck with vocalists. What's your current vocal situation?

Alex: Looking for a vocalist! That's the scoop. Sometimes I wonder if we even need one.. I like our sound the way it is, but also I feel that a vocalist would enrich the the final has to be the right person that can hang with us and be part of the monster. so let's see...

Dan: The funny thing is that someone always has an opinion about it. If we play instrumentally, someone will say how rad a singer would be. If we have a singer, someone will say how much better we'd be without one. Personally, its my goal for IJM to have vocals 'cause we're definitely not Don Cab or The Fucking Champs but, it's just as satisfying playing instrumentally.

IU: I heard that you guys recently recorded another demo/EP. What can you tell us about that?

Dan: We recorded with Travis Bettencourt at our practice space last month. We rerecorded two songs from the 3" CD and four new ones. I'm not sure what our plans for it are yet. We want to focus on song writing for the remainder of the winter, maybe record in a legit studio.

Alex: Dan has the recordings. He is the one who mixed everything with Hunter Shindo (Wet nurse, Leader). They are working on it. Now, the deal is that I have changed the whole set from a 4 string bass to a 5 string in drop G since the demo was recorded, so the sound just changed again...but I think that the work we did on that EP was very tight.

IU: When can we expect this new recording to be released, and on what format?

Dan: There was talk about a split 7" or 12" with Painted Rust. Keep an eye out.

IU: What are your thoughts in the Ithaca music scene currently?

Alex: Well for starters thank god for Bubba. We all know he keeps the engine running, without him it would be a boring...boring.....scene. Altogether I think there are some great groups in Ithaca, in the punk, hardcore, metal and experimental genres. We all need to keep putting up shows, showing up, advertising and getting pumped about being here now because we are the scene, we make the scene.

Dan: My thoughts on the Ithaca music scene are that it needs more power violence bands. Smoke volcanic dope!

IU: Any final thoughts?

Dan: I'll let you know as soon as I'm dead or I reach an enlightened state that allows me to snuff out out my own mind. Otherwise the voices are nonstop.

Alex: Just like to thank IU and all the venues that keep on booking great shows in Ithaca. Rock on!!

Don't miss THE BODY, Hiroshima Vacation, Iwo Jima Medkit, and Genital Holograms at the Community School of Music & Arts, 330 E State St (MLK Jr) this Saturday, Feb 26th 8PM $5.