What to do Tonight: Three metal bands play Lawrenceville club
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Lyrics often are instrumental to good songs. Unless, of course, the song is an instrumental.
Solarburn -- one of the three heavy metal bands appearing tonight at 31st Street Pub in Lawrenceville -- doesn't exactly perform sing-alongs. Their songs have no lyrics and they have no vocalist.
"We had a lead singer when the band began, but his goals didn't line up with ours," said Tony Thomas, who plays bass in the three-man band. "We like to rehearse long and often. So, after the departure of our last singer, we looked around and decided we'd rather it be just us, fully committed, going for the gold. We wanted to take it to the next level and over the top. You can't do that if you're trying to pull someone along with you."
Mr. Thomas, 27, of Polish Hill, with bandmates Mike Stains on guitar and Russ Thompkins on drums, are part of the lineup that includes Glenshaw's own Pipewrench and national touring headliner Stonecreep.
The songs by Pipewrench and Stonecreep have words.
Mr. Thomas said Solarburn is so much more focused on the music that the words aren't necessary to connect with their audience. And while their sound clearly has the familiar pound and screech of metal, there are numerous other influences at work.
"We all listen to so many different types of music, and it's kind of funny that we end up playing metal," said Mr. Thomas, who also plays in the funk-driven band, the Old E Allstars. "I listen to and play funk and jazz and R&B. Punk to classical to flamenco.
"We listen to other metal bands, but we don't really compare ourselves to them. We might hear something and say, 'Ooh, I like what they did there,' and we might try to incorporate that into what we play, but that could come from a Latin record as likely as it might come from a metal record.
"Surprisingly, the fans are really accepting of us. They relate to it because its still just rock 'n' roll at the end of the day. There's just no one screaming at you. People that like vocals still seem to get into our music."
Not having a microphone on stage gives the guys with the instruments a longer leash.
"We can challenge ourselves more," Mr. Thomas said. "By not having a lead singer, we don't have hooks and choruses. Sometimes it's like a trick on the audience because they don't know what's coming next. We like to throw in curve balls, what we like to call 'musical left turns.' "
But it's still metal.
"The speed and the rhythms just make it very visceral. It's so cathartic," Mr. Thomas said. "You're playing louder volumes at higher speeds, and people in the crowd are getting moved by it, too.
"We're going to play an hour without stopping. There's not a single break in our set. The music flows the whole time. Anyone who paid that $5 cover is going to get the music nonstop. It can be trying to play, but it's fun to test ourselves. It's the same way we rehearse."
Stonecreep, of course, is the headliner, probably lined up to play the middle set of the night. Mr. Thomas said he is eager to hear them live.
Pipewrench, on the other hand, he is familiar with, having appeared several times together.
"We play with them a lot. They're really great guys," he said. "They're serious, and they bring a good crowd. They're different from us, but we really blend well.
"Anyone who's been around the scene knows that there's bands that don't take the work part of the show as serious, as far as getting a proper sound check, loading in the equipment, getting there on time. They're the first to help you get the gear in the door and the first to help you get gear down off the stage. We've always had kind of a brotherhood going with them."
Pipewrench guitarist Kevin Kieffer, 24, said the group also brings other influences to their music.
"We play metal, but it's got a little bit of everything in it," he said. "We try to keep it fresh, you know, so every song sounds different from the last. One of the big pet peeves I have about heavy metal is that all these bands are doing the same thing, they all sound the same. It kind of drives me nuts a little bit.
"We just play what we like to hear and it seems to work pretty well."
The rest of Pipewrench is made up of Kevin Handyside on bass and Mr. Kieffer's brothers -- Kenny on drums and Steve on guitar. There's a fifth member whenever Danny Morgan, the Kieffers' uncle, joins them on harmonica.
"People seem to love what we do," Mr. Kieffer said. "There's so many people who come up to us and tell us how much they love our music. It's true, there's some real local music fans out there. We do it for ourselves, but we also do it for them."
The show starts at 9.
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If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.
First Published June 28, 2012 2:43 pm