By Gareth Watkins
BeatRoute.ca is proud to premiere “Better Living Through Apathy,” the fourth track from the third album by Calgary grindcore titans WAKE. The ferocious song is cut from their impending third record Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow, which drops on February 26th. Stream the track below and read our interview with guitarist Rob LaChance.
CALGARY — Where would we be without grindcore? Probably still a species of mostly hairless, soon to be extinct murder-apes listlessly orbiting an unremarkable G-type star. That, or the Guinness Book of Records wouldn’t have a single reference to Napalm Death, who continues to hold the prestigious ‘shortest song’ crown, 27 years after the release of the 1.316 second epic “You Suffer.” Despite this undeniable boon to mankind, coupled with Calgary vibrant metal and punk scenes, Cowtown hasn’t really embraced grind like it could – or should. At least Alberta’s most prominent name in the genre more than makes up the lack in quantity with… ‘quality.’ Quality is the wrong word, not that WAKE isn’t an incredible band – they are – but you wouldn’t take a quality beating.
WAKE doesn’t do the micro-song thing. Their shortest recording is “Smolder,” from their 2013 album False, which clocking in at a stately 53 seconds is practically an epic for the genre. Their take on the genre hews closer to the metallic sounds of Virginia’s Pig Destroyer and Sweden’s Nasum but with a vicious twist of black metal at its most chaotic, as opposed to the more punk-orientated sound of Scum-era Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and the obscure proto-grind band Siege. There’s little to no political content in WAKE’s music, except of the personal-is-political kind, and although the subject matter is definitely dark we’re not talking Goregrind, the sub-genre defined by Carcass’s focus on medical and scatological imagery. We’re definitely not talking the avant-garde grind of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, The Locust or Discordance Axis.
Like their music, the band didn’t take long to get up to full speed, says guitarist Rob LaChance.
“The band started in 2009. I guess we were kind of going for that metallic grindcore or grindcore crossed with ‘90s metallic hardcore kind of thing. We started touring right away, released a 7-inch right away, released [the 2011 album] Leeches not long after that. The rest is downhill from there.”
Their impending third release Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow is not just downhill at this point, but drilling deep into the earth. Metallic hardcore will always be there as a backbone, but they’ve added a dizzying array of influences into the mix that create a kind of all-purpose omni-Metal, a possible answer to what you’d play if you had one track to explain the whole of extreme music as it exists in the early 20th century. The band themselves listen to “everything,” says LaChance, “and it shows” (especially since their vocalist Kyle Ball makes Trap beats on the side).
FALSE, their last full-length, was released in 2013, though the years in between releases have seen them tour extensively and play festivals that have included the renowned Maryland Death Fest (they crashed with Blake from Pig Destroyer afterwards). Following tours, the writing for Sowing… was delayed courtesy of drummer Brian Serzynski being in Milwaukee, which, despite plentiful beer, wasn’t proving conducive to recording.
“Most of the writing’s done by myself. I’ll write a bunch of riffs and structure a skeleton around it. I’d send riffs and ideas back and forth, sometimes by something as primitive as video chat. He’d write parts in Milwaukee and come back for week-long writing sessions to make stronger, better songs.”
Although you can name the grindcore bands that have come out of Calgary in the time it takes Agoraphobic Nosebleed to play “Fuck Your Soccer Jesus” (approximately five seconds), WAKE is content being an anomaly.
“Stoner rock, Palomino-core, I guess that takes the front seat for most things. There’s been a few grindcore bands that have been around Calgary but they never last, they don’t have any longevity.”
And why have WAKE lasted?
“We just haven’t gotten bored of it yet. It’s something we love doing, and that’s it.”
WAKE will release Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow on February 26th. You can pre-order the album at their Bandcamp page. The band will be embarking on a large tour beginning February 26th. Western Canadian dates are as follows: Feb. 26 in Edmonton at Local Omnivore, Feb. 27 in Saskatoon at Vangelis Tavern, Feb. 28 in Winnipeg at Handsome Daughter, and March 11 in Regina at the Mercury Café & Grill.AB, Alberta, Better Living Through Apathy, Handsome Daughter, Local Omnivore, Manitoba, MB, Mercury Cafe & Grill, Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow, Vangelis Tavern, WAKE