Chris Brock, Makh Daniels
Previous Early Graves Interviews
Early Graves are bringing an old attitude back to the forefront of the extreme music scene. Distancing themselves from their earlier identity as a technical metal band called Apiary, the band are playing a vicious form of metal-influenced hardcore punk straight from the heart. They spoke with The Gauntlet from a van in the middle of fucking nowhere in Texas to let us know just what the new band is all about.
The Gauntlet: What was behind the whole transition from being Apiary to being Early Graves?
Chris Brock: Well, what ended up happening is that everybody in Early Graves had played in Apiary at some point, but we were not original members. We didn't record on the albums they released. We were kind of slotted in as time went on. The main songwriter of Apiary left the band very early on and we toured on the record, but then I started writing a bunch of songs for the band and they were totally different. I'm not a really "tech" kind of player or anything like that.
The Gauntlet: Were you not a fan of Apiary's music?
Chris: It's not that I wasn't a fan of the older band. I definitely joined the band because they were all my friends. It just wasn't music that I could really get into. I was always looking forward to writing a new record. That was the only reason why I would want to join, because I would obviously want to write music, and write stuff that I was into. I just don't think that that record was what we're about. We're definitely way more in-your-face. We don't really do the off-time stuff that the Apiary record was doing. When the last member that was in the original Apiary wasn't in the band anymore, we were like, "Fuck it, we're changing our name. We're not gonna be one of those bands that has no original members and keeps the name." We didn't want to be associated with that album at all, because it was so far from anything that we would ever want to do. We got the opportunity to change it, so we did.
The Gauntlet: Did everyone contribute to the new sound?
Chris: All the riffs are written by me, the songs are put together by the drummer [Dan Sneddon] and I, and the lyrics are written by Makh [Daniels, vocalist]. Tyler [Jensen], our bass player, he came in midway through writing the album, so he definitely had some contributions to the record, but for the most part it was written by myself, Dan and Makh. Mike, our old guitar player, wrote a song and riff on the album, but we don't even play that song live anymore.
The Gauntlet: How did you decide on the new name?
Chris: We flipped a coin (laughs). We got all drunk and were told that we were able to change our name. We were gonna come up with an EP called the "Early Graves" EP, so that was the first name. The other one that I was pushing for was to call our band "Hyenas." We literally just flipped a fucking coin.
The Gauntlet: Hyenas would have been a pretty sick name.
Chris: I know! That's what I was saying. They're so vicious. They're the sickest animal in the animal kingdom. I'm way down with hyenas, maybe I'll put one on a shirt or something.
The Gauntlet: What bands are the main inspirations behind the new sound?
Chris: I can only really speak for myself, but Black Flag, Entombed, a big dose of Carcass, Slayer, Converge, all the bands that we think are the most real. That's the shit that we're into. It's a big influence to listen to bands that do their thing and do it well. Tons of Morbid Angel.
The Gauntlet: All the legit late '80s/early '90s stuff.
Chris: Yeah, totally. There's this thing going on right now - it fucking pisses me off. There's this whole "resurgence" of all these death metal bands, and a lot of the people that are in the bands are just influenced by the new bands that are coming out. They don't know about all the old shit. I'm only 22, I wasn't around for that, but that's what I'm way into. It fucking bugs me to hear all these bands call themselves death metal and have the most extreme fucking logo, and to find out that they're a Christian metal band. Or they're not into Carcass but they're into this and that. It's just fucking lame. A lot of it is bands that found heavy music via Korn or Slipknot or whatever. And that's cool, but it stops after they hear whatever's new. I don't have anything against the bands that are on the forefront of it all, it's the second and third tier bands that come around, and it's like 6 weeks ago they were this, a year ago they were nu metal. It's not fucking real to me. It's bullshit.
The Gauntlet: It seems like you're going to be switching scenes now and touring more in the hardcore/punk scene?
Chris: Totally. I mean, honestly, we're down to tour with whoever and whatever. We're down for whatever. I definitely think that our sound would do better touring with a band like Trap Them, although I would also love to tour with someone like Nachtmystium. That new Nachtmystium album is one of the sickest albums. I want to tour with bands that we think are similar to us in heart. Not necessarily music, but they've got the heart. They're doing what they do because they want to do it, not because it's the flavor of the week.
The Gauntlet: Basically anything that's not too shiny and overproduced.
Chris: Yea, it sucks the soul right out of it. When we were recording our record and deciding who to record with, it was like, "We gotta go with fucking Steve Austin [of Today is the Day, not "Stone Cold"]. Lets get our fucking album sounding dirty as fuck." All these records are coming out and all the snares sound the same, all the bass drums sound the same. They sound like fucking tin cans to me. There's no fucking hear in it. It's just such processed bullshit. After a while that shit grates on the ears. But there's a cream of bands coming up right now, like Trap Them and Gaza, and I would like to put us in there too. It's like when there were all those 80's butt rock bands, and then one day Nirvana hit. And that's what I would love to happen. I know never on that level. I'm hoping people can see through that bullshit and hear what the other side of the tracks sounds like.
The Gauntlet: What are you most pissed off about? What are the lyrics centered on?
Makh Daniels: The main thing is that we're all into punk and hardcore and metal, and we're all just pissed off people in general. Who the hell is a happy person that listens to metal, you know? A lot of the lyrics are about my own personal experiences - letdowns, disappointments, frustrations, and losses.
The Gauntlet: The song that is getting all the attention is "House Nigger." What do those lyrics have to do with?
Makh: It's a song that was a long time in coming. It's basically about my experiences, using historical references, kind of a social commentary about being black and playing in a metal/hardcore/punk band. It's seen as being more of a novelty than truly being into it. It's seen as this exotic thing. Same as a woman being a band. Whatever, you know?
The Gauntlet: Haven't people heard of bands like Bad Brains and Suffocation?
Makh: Totally. Even until this day it still surprises people because it's still so uncommon. The term "house nigger" is bringing it out to the front and saying it in your face. It's throwing that racist ideology back into their face.
Chris: I didn't write any of the lyrics, so I'm not involved in the direct aspect of our band, but one thing that has been pissing me off more than ever are the fucking religious heavy bands. It's happened three times - I have these two guitar cabinets with these upside down crosses on them, and three times these motherfuckers have peeled off these fucking crosses. It's like, "Who the fuck are you? #1 you're supposed to love your fucking neighbors according to your God. And #2, don't touch my fucking shit you assholes. #3 What the fuck do you know about metal? You're taking all the danger out of metal and punk rock."
The Gauntlet: I can't believe they actually touch your stuff.
Chris: They do it when I'm not looking, and next time I'm going to metal plate it on there so that those fucking cocksuckers just have to deal with it. Don't touch another band's belongings.
The Gauntlet: What other bands out there do you think are doing punk the right way these days?
Chris: I think Trap Them. And Converge. I think they hit it right on the head. It's not conventional punk with just three chords or whatever, but it's the pissed off attitude. Particularly Trap Them are very aware of what's going on in the world. I have nothing but respect for both of those bands.
The Gauntlet: What do you think of Tragedy? You've been compared to them.
Chris: Fucking awesome band. Probably one of Makh's favorite bands. I was just listening to "Nerve Damage" actually. We get Tragedy and His Hero is Gone comparisons. Some people have said we sound like Discharge, which I was pumped about because that band rules.
The Gauntlet: What's your favorite album of 2008 so far?
Chris: Like I said, that Nachtmystium record is fan-fucking-tastic. Our homies The Funeral Pyre put out a record ["Wounds", Prosthetic Records] that I'm really, really into. I listen to it all the time. We've done a couple tours with them. I'm not just saying it because I'm friends with them. I'm way pumped to hear that new Trap Them record. When we get home we get to see Carcass, that's the most important thing.
The Gauntlet: What are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
Chris: We don't have anything officially lined up. We're talking to some bands about doing something in October. If not, we're just going to do 2 or 3 weeks by ourselves - a West Coast run. In November we're going to do 2 weeks with The Funeral Pyre. The singer of their band is talking to a couple of other bands. If that works out it's going to be a fucking sick tour.
The Gauntlet: Hopefully you'll make it to SoCal.
Chris: We've had nothing but bad luck getting down to SoCal, I want to get in there a couple of times because I feel our band would do pretty well down there.
The Gauntlet: Definitely. Hardcore is still alive in SoCal.
Chris: Totally. I mean the closest thing we've done is play San Diego a couple of times and Rancho Cucamonga, and that was the first night of the church people fucking with my shit. Fucking assholes.
The Gauntlet: Thanks for the interview Chris!