With a Gun for a Face deliver more glam-core punk

Damn, it feels good to be With a Gun for a Face
Damn, it feels good to be With a Gun for a Face
Emily Utne

A band name like With a Gun for a Face doesn't exactly spout cheerfulness. Nor does the glam-core punk they deliver. But it comes at you with an intensity and urgency (and abrasiveness) not found in many corners of the Twin Cities rock scene in 2012.

"Really, we're all pretty upbeat guys," vocalist-keyboardist Nate Graves insists. But draw your own conclusions from the band's sophomore album, the raucous Corporate Callosum. The title is a play on corpus callosum, which is made up with neural fibers that connect the left and right sides of the brain. In With a Gun for a Face's universe, Graves wails and shrieks theatrically about the unshakeable connection between individuals and the enormous corporations we can't live without.

"The album's theme is summed up in its title, which refers to the idea of reconciling inherently opposed realities," Graves says. "This is something I think all of us do every day. We find ways to justify the corporate-industrial complex with our willing culpability in perpetuating it. A lot of the lyrics on the CD describe the conflict between our pull for survival and our cultural desire for mutual destruction."

Feeling more upbeat yet? Well, perhaps the jagged Jesus Lizard-esque riffs Nate's brother Matt "Gravey" Graves unloads throughout the album can do the trick. The lineup is filled out by bassist Brandon "B-man" Dvorak, who grew up on the same street as the Graves brothers in south Minneapolis, and drummer Jake Anderson, who teamed with them in early 2010 after they saw him playing in their friends' band, the Men Who Control the Weather.

"We all regard Nirvana, the Talking Heads, Radiohead, and the Pixies as core common influences," Anderson says. "Not that we sound like any of these bands. We've jokingly referred to the style as 'dumb-progressive.'"

Compared to the group's more mellow first album, Goodnight Ladies, and a live EP from Hell's Kitchen (recorded by local live recordings website Empty's Tapes' John Empty) already under their belt, these 10 bristling songs take their already cacophonous tendencies up a notch.

"We moved to a more visceral, energetic sound," Nate explains. "'Pyramids' was the first song written on the new CD, and it sort of set the pace."

Most of the tracking for Corporate Callosum's acrimonious undertones occurred at "Chug-a-Lug Haus," the nickname of the home that the brothers share. Gravey produced the record along with Joey Ryan & the Inks member Ryan Mach, who played in bands with Matt back in high school.

"Our goal was to write stuff that was fun to play, and capture this sort of gross, dissonant sound we were going for," Dvorak says.

Gross, dissonant imagery comes in the form of the "Parade of Horribles" video, directed by local filmmaker Jason Schumacher. "His concept was to have a group of scientists experimenting on the band in a corporate laboratory in an attempt to 'improve' us as we play," Dvorak explains. "But then things go horribly wrong."

One final piece is the band's apocalyptic album art, designed by Nate, which unsurprisingly has a predominantly blood-red hue to match the content smeared throughout his lyrics. Take the cold, ominous tale of the scariest hospital nightmares in "Artery," which focuses around the refrain "What if there's no face to smile at you?"

"I think it makes sense to evoke the same violent aesthetic in our imagery as we do in our music," he says. "We all live in a state of constant fear, both of death and modernity, and we try to reconcile this with our artificially comfortable consumers' existence. And of course there's the absence of God and meaning."

Emily Utne

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