By Ferdy Belland
CALGARY – Grindcore stalwarts WAKE have been shattering foundations and cracking the skies for nearly a decade. The Calgary act has clocked tens of thousands of seemingly endless road miles, delivering earsplitting messages of internal agony around the world. Highly respected in the international grindcore scene, the members of WAKE are as unassuming and affable offstage as they are fiery and ferocious onstage.
“We’re more than happy with the new record,” begins guitarist Rob LaChance. He’s referring to the band’s fourth full-length Misery Rites. Released on February 23 via Translation Loss Records, it marks their first offering for the celebrated American label and has been critically acclaimed by a plethora of reputable publications.
“It’s better than we ever could have wished. Working with [producer] Dave Otero was awesome. We spent a week down in Denver with him, hung out, drank lots of good beer, and had a great time. He pushed us super-hard and we came out with the best album that I, personally, have ever made.”
LaChance adds, “He’s made a lot of records we loved, production-wise and material-wise, from good bands like Primitive Man and Vermin Womb, so we had to go with Dave.”
The band tapped into that shared pool of contacts when it came to recording. Alongside the scorching barks of vocalist Kyle Ball, you’ll hear a guest appearance from Ethan McCarthy of the aforementioned Vermin Womb and Primitive Man (whom WAKE has toured with previously). McCarthy lends his wretched growls to both “Rot” and “Rumination.” The result is a nine-track album that continues WAKE’s lineage of blistering grindcore in the Discordance Axis tradition. Over quickly, it spans only 27 minutes.
The aftermath of this blast is immediate: the band will embark on a four-week tour across Canada and the U.S.A. alongside blackened death metallers Withered. The tour will be followed by a potential EP recording session and summertime festival appearances before WAKE hits the road once again come September. After all, grindcore is serious business, with one wild experience after another.
“We toured Europe last year with (Philadelphia band) Backslider,” reminisces LaChance.
“They were amazing guys and an amazing band, and it was very cool to play with them every single night. We played the, er, Fekal Party Festival (an open air grind festival in the Czech Republic), which was a downright strange atmosphere. There were people getting tattoos in the alley. That was sure memorable…”
Emerging in the mid ‘80s with the stylistic fusion of hardcore punk, thrash metal, industrial music, and downright noise, the genre of grindcore (first popularized by early artists like Napalm Death) provides a breathtakingly cacophonous framework for highly-charged political lyrics of anti-racism, anti-capitalism, anti-militarism, feminism, veganism, and more. Despite the sonic violence of it all, the aficionados of the music aren’t really violent, per se.
“Most people who attend our shows are total fucking maniacs, for sure,” says LaChance.
“But they’re NICE maniacs. Die-hard guys. Most people who are into grindcore are INTO GRINDCORE! There’s not a thousand grindcore bands touring all the time, so grindcore fans usually come out and support. They’re happy to support. I find the North American grindcore scene is so tight-knit. People are really down to help each other out. Buying people’s merch, putting bands up in their house when they’re touring, or just hanging out as friends. The Canadian grindcore scene is especially close. It feels like a real family.”
In the giving spirit of the community he thrives in, LaChance has this to say to aspiring grindcorists.
“Just get out there and tour. Meet people and make friends. If there are touring bands hitting your city, put them up. Buy their merch. Support. If you want to see a band come to your city, write them, contact them. Ask them to come play. Tell them there’s a scene in your city, be it small or big. Offer to help them book shows. Do whatever you can to help them out. Things go back and forth. You get back what you put into it.”
WAKE perform at their album release party and tour kickoff show at the Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club on March 10 [Calgary], with guests Fall City Fall, Spurn, and Murk. The band will perform at the Starlite Room on March 16 [Edmonton] and at Amigos Cantina on March 17 [Saskatoon].Amigo's Cantina, Fall City Fall, Murk, Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club, Spurn, Starlite Room, WAKE