This week, Twin Cities headbangers will receive a rare treat -- a festival comprised of some of the best local metal bands. Even if the acts are familiar, the venue may come as an interesting surprise. Assembled by local booker Frank "Flip" Arkulary, the ten-band Winterfest: Salute to Minnesota Metal takes place Friday, February 7, at the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul and local favorites like Plagued Insanity, Lockgnar, Morality Crisis, and 2011 Picked to Click act, Nightosaur.
In anticipation, Gimme Noise tapped local Swedish death metal enthusiasts, Ulvmörd (formerly Mordwolf) for a quick chat about the upcoming event and the Twin Cities metal scene. Despite the band's decidedly stoic appearance, the interview began with one of the members playing a video titled "Turtle Has An Awesome Orgasm" -- giving you some insight into the true demeanor of these otherwise serious metalheads.
Gimme Noise: Who are you, what's your role in the band, and what are you most known for in Minneapolis?
Nick: I'm Nick Donner. I play rhythm and lead guitar, growl some vocals and haphazardly string together riffs into songs for Ulvmörd. Probably known for my cat and randomly doing power metal screams while drinking.
Jimmy: I'm Jimmy Claypool, the newest member. I do vocals and play rhythm guitar. I'm not sure what I'm best known for, but I plan on getting known for making the best Tofu scrambler in Minneapolis.
Vern: I'm Vern. I play bass. Not sure what I'm most known for -- probably my clapping skills. I also cohost the Root Of All Evil radio show on KFAI.
Mitch: I'm Mitch, I play the drums. I'm in lots of bands and am chef at Muddy Waters.
Metal is rather infamous for it's sub-genrefication -- where would you say Ulvmörd falls in on the spectrum of metal?
Vern: We kind of started this band to play what was unanimously all of our favored style of metal, which is "old school Death Metal," particularly from the country of Sweden -- bands like Entombed, Dismember, Wolfbrigade/Wolfpack, Skitsystem, old Edge Of Sanity etc.
Jimmy: Yeah, DM in the Swedish vein of Entombed/Nihilist, Carnage, etc. More riff-oriented stuff.
Nick: We should add that we also wanted the to use the Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal as the heart of the guitar tone. An homage to the Sunlight Studios sound. Dirty, nasty and heavy.
At one point, the Twin Cities had a pretty huge metal scene largely due to the efforts of Earl Root (Root Cellar Records) and Don Decker (Nightfall Records). How would you describe the metal scene in 2014?
Vern: I honestly believe the metal scene is stronger now. Growing up in that scene back in the mid-'90s and early '00s it seemed like you had to have a certain persona to fit in. There seemed to be a lot of elitism going on. It was "tough" death metal dudes and "holier than thou (pun intended) black metal dudes. I love metal but I never really felt like I fit into either of those categories. Now you see grind bands playing with doom bands, death metal bands playing with crust bands, black metal bands playing with hardcore bands etc. It seems like most people are more open these days. I like it better. I remember seeing one of Don's "Metal Massacre" shows at First Ave/7th Street and seeing Misery share the stage with Suffocation. Everyone made a big stink about it back then, I don't think it'd be such a big deal now. What's funny about those two guys is that everyone in the scene looked up to them, for good reason, but everyone assumed if it wasn't black, death or thrash metal, it wasn't worth the time. But I remember Don being a huge Tori Amos and power metal fan and Earl loved prog-rock and punk.
Mitch: One thing I noticed pretty quick about the metal scene is that no name or band name is immune to a quick NSFW rewrite.
Hah, meaning promoters or papers censoring names? Not a metal example, but Fuck Knights have been renamed a thousand times by now.
Nick: I think I picked up my renaming of everything and singing along with alternate lyrics because of Weird Al. It doesn't matter if I love or hate the music, I'll start making shit up. I guess more so if I like it. Life's too short to take metal too seriously. Unless it's serious subject matter, then I'll leave it alone. As long as I'm sober. All bets are off when beer is involved.
Nick: I'm super glad there is a lot of crossover between the metal and punk scene and all the subgenres within.
Vern: What were you up to in '95 Jimmy?
Jimmy: In '95, I was seven years old and spending most of my time watching Ren and Stimpy.
Vern: I currently spend a lot of time watching Ren And Stimpy.
What can you guys tell me about this upcoming Metalfest? And what's one thing that you wish you could change about crowds at shows in the Twin Cities?
Nick: I don't know much about the fest, just that we're playing it and there's a bunch of awesome bands playing. Flip seems to be doing a great job of putting it all together. I'm not sure if there will be more fests like this one in the future. If it does well, I'm sure it will happen again. There are other fests put on by the NYDM and other local folks, but they usually have a theme of all death metal or all grindcore. There's also Grind Your Motherfuckin' Dick Off that Tony from Agitate puts together. I think he's going to go every other year with it now.
Vern: I think he was looking to do a diverse lineup too, which I think he hit the nail on the head with the bands on the bill. There are some bands I haven't heard/played shows with that I'm looking forward to doing so. As far as crowds go, I know this is going to sound super corny, but just as long as everyone is having a good time, that's all that I care about. When I go to shows, sometimes I like to be up front and sometimes I like to chill in the back. Hell, Nick and I went to see Deviated Instinct at Medusa a while back. We didn't watch any of the bands at all. We just kind of accidentally sat in the back room, talked to people and got super drunk, but we had a blast at that show. So that's kind of why I think that way.
Nick: Hah, the Deviated Instinct show! Mitch didn't even know we were there because how much time we spent in the back drinking. The only thing I would change about the crowds is that there should be more of them! That's how it goes with heavy and/or extreme shows. Attendance will be hit or miss depending on the weather or other shows going on, etc. That's okay though. It's just how it is and I'm alright with that.