5 Questions With... is your chance to get to know a new or up-and-coming metal band. Raining Anvils is the second album, and first in 10 years for California's Chemical Burn. Drummer Kevin Jackson introduces us to his band.
Give us a brief history of Chemical Burn.
Mike (Garnica, vocals/bass) and I have been friends for years, playing and partying in various bands in the Bay Area metal scene. One day in 2001, Mike and a buddy Dave Craig packed up their stuff and moved to LA, and on the way down, started the band Chemical Burn, proceeding to build the band with L.A.
members, releasing an album (2005’s Bury Your Demons), and continuing to pound the pavement in clubs like The Gig, The Joint and The Knitting Factory.
Mike called me one day because his drummer just quit with a string of shows coming up, starting with Prong at The Key Club. I did one rehearsal and dove right in! After extensive shows and a revolving door of guitar players, Mike and I clicked on writing songs and ended up starting the process for Raining Anvils. Little did we know that we would end up doing most of it ourselves.
Describe the songwriting and recording process for Raining Anvils.
Before we took the songs to record with Juan Urteaga (Testament, Exodus, Machine Head), we were using all this primitive pre-production gear. We actually demo’ed half the record on a boom box with a cassette tape. Trust me, we didn’t write this record in the '80s. This took place just a few years ago. (laughs)
We didn’t have Pro Tools “know how,” and didn’t have money. We did it the old school way.
We had to remember every riff we ever came up with in our heads. The song “Crush Your Ego” started with 99 different triplet riffs (we counted them). We painstakingly weeded those riffs down to 10 to mold the song.
Needless to say, we poured all we had into making the songs for Raining Anvils just right. You might hear that most bands come up with 30 songs for an album and then cut it down to 12. The thing is, do those bands give all that much time into 30 songs? For us, we had 10 songs that we didn’t give up on. If a song didn’t get us off, we’d rework it, sometimes giving it a completely different and mind blowing new life!
It took us 10 years to write this album, but it was worth it. We were more focused on making a kick ass record instead of just throwing 30 half-assed songs together and picking the best ones out of a pile of (crap). It’s not easy for two guys to build a monster like this. Now that we did, it will live forever and we’re proud of it.
How would you characterize the album's style/sound?
Down n’ dirty, riff chugging, groove metal shaken with the machine gun pounding blasts of death metal and finished with a swig of stoner rock. If you need to an existing band to compare it to, imagine a full-contact party with Pantera and Machine Head in 1994 where Gene Hoglan is the bartender and Corrosion Of Conformity is the referee.
What has been your most memorable Chemical Burn live show, and what are your upcoming show/tour plans?
The thing about playing shows is bringing the party, even in the most random places. We played this place called Angels that was attached to a strip club out in the middle of nowhere in Southern California, deep East of Los Angeles (almost the Palm Desert). Being low on cash, and not wanting to blow everything I had on strippers, I packed a big ice chest full of beer and a couple bottles of vodka. I figured I could hide out in the parking lot on the tailgate of my truck, warm up on my drum pad and have a few beers before the show.
As the night went on, more and more people discovered I had a cooler of booze and before you knew it, there was a bigger party going on my tailgate than inside the venue. At one point, girls were taking their tops off, and a drum circle broke out in the parking lot. People were banging on anything they could find. I guess that was the pre-show warm up!
We eventually had to corral everyone into the club, strippers and all, and play a kick ass set to a rowdy and liquored up crowd. The party went back to the parking lot and ensued until 4am. It was also one of the strippers' birthdays, so even a cake came from somewhere. It was like a hillbilly’s Burning Man. I have no idea how we didn’t get shut down by the cops.
As far as upcoming show plans, you’ll see us continue to play up and down the West Coast. We’re working on getting the band on the road beyond that territory. So if you have a line on booking, hit us up. We could use the help. If you want us to play your area, we’re all for that too!
Anything else you'd like to mention or promote?
The new album Raining Anvils is out now. You can order digitally on iTunes and Amazon.You can also order a hard copy and get the freshest Raining Anvils T-shirts here.
(interview published August 8, 2015)