by Chase Macabre (STL)
In "Freshly Baked," we feature promising young bands or bands that are otherwise lacking the attention we think they deserve.
Fister's records available for download here
Fister are a stoner/doom band from St. Louis, Mo., my current city of residence. The band puts on a crazy loud live show, full of upside-down crosses and guitar faces. The band is pretty funny, too. Check out their bio to see for yourself.
I had the chance to speak with Fister's bassist and vocalist Kenny Snarzyk about humor in metal, recording live, sweet gear and nerding out. Check out the interview after the jump.
Crustcake: Where exactly are y'all from?
Kenny Snarzyk: St. Louis, Missouri. [Our drummer] Kirk [Gatterer] lives out in the woods somewhere though.
Crustcake: Who is in Fister, and how did the band initially come together?
Snarzyk: Marcus [Newstead, guitarist] and I used to be roommates at the infamous 3424 house. We used to crank our amps up at 5 a.m. and piss off the neighbors.
Crustcake: How did y'all come up with the name Fister? Who's idea was it?
Snarzyk: Again, at 3424. (At) 5 a.m., we would crank the amps and yelled "Fisterrrrrrr" a lot. It was our alter ego we would go into when we were drunk and on drugs. We recorded our demo this way, originally planning to just shit out some songs out of boredom. Eventually we decided that we should play a few shows. We called Kirk and there you have it.
Crustcake: I imagine those neighbors are sleeping well now that you've moved! That genesis makes a lot of sense, considering your band feels comfortable being funny on stage and on record. Y'all began playing in more of a jocular manner, jamming on riffs and having fun. The idea of metal being "fun" isn't prevalent except with bands that are concerned with riffs (i.e. a lot of the NOLA bands like Eyehategod, haarp.) Would you identify with that?
Snarzyk: Yeah. Maybe it's a stoner thing, I dont know. I heard Mike Williams is sober now. And he seems to have a pretty good sense of humor.
Crustcake: I totally dig the tongue-in-cheek jokes your band directs at occult/satanic bands. The whole "Bronsonic Invocation" story in the bio is very funny. Given that so few metal bands insert humor into their lyrics, personas and the few that do are often lame. Your band isn't lame at all. Do you think there a disconnect between metal and humor? And if so, how does Fister overcome that?
Snarzyk: Bands that take themselves too seriously are assholes. That's all there is to it. Metal is funny in general, but it's only OK to poke fun at it if you are serious about metal, like these shitstain "metal" kids that think it's cute to crab walk and throw metal horns for fashion and folly. That's not cool. Metal is something I hold very sacred. Just because we overuse pentagrams and inverted crosses, worship Charles Bronson, and often have goofy lyrics doesn't mean we aren't serious about playing metal. We just take a tongue-in-cheek approach to it.
Crustcake: I totally agree with this. I had written a review of Cephalic Carnage's newest record a few months back where I argued the record was good while being humorous because Cephalic seem to truly love metal. They had an inside knowledge and were making fun of themselves just as much as they were common death metal and black metal subject matter. What then do you think of bands like Burzum or Watain, who take their beliefs very seriously and whose music seems like a vehicle to express those beliefs?
Snarzyk: Burzum and Watain can do no wrong. They are exceptions. Seriously. I love black metal, and while it is probably the easiest genre to spoof on, for some reason, the idea of a humorous black metal band sounds incredibly lame to me. So I guess black metal gets a pass. I'm sure it's because black metal already has a theatrical show. You don't need to have a variety act at a black metal show.
Crustcake: I'm a gear-head myself. I totally nerded out when y'all played with Eyehategod this past summer. The Sunn amps and cabs sounded huge at that show. Unlike punk music and other styles that do not emphasize tone, doom bands (like Sunn O))) ) can be characterized as "amp worship" and their tone is central to the bands sound. Is that at all true of Fister? In what ways do you think your tone influences your music and maybe the entire doomy, sludgy "slow music" style in general?
Snarzyk: We are the same way. I have about five amps right now. I'm often selling or trading gear to get new gear. Marcus just dropped some serious cash on a 100-watt plexi clone from Stonecutter (one of the guys in Züül's boutique company). In the same breath, I'm kind of sick of being one of those "sunn gear bands." we dialed back our wall of cabinets to a mere handful of cabinets live, and took off all of our faceplates so people don't know what we are playing through.
Crustcake: Yeah, the wall of cabinets thing has been done. Gear is one of the first things I look for when I see a band live. It's probably just because I am a big gear nerd and a big nerd in general. I think this is particularly true of people who care a lot about metal too. Metal has a huge history that is rooted in fantasy and it is also very empowering. Would you say your initial draw to metal was because of a nerdy proclivity?
Snarzyk: My initial draw to music in general was actually Def Leppard Pyromania. Then came Metallica, Megadeth and all those thrash bands from the '80s. It wasn't until around 1991 when I started getting into death metal that the big nerd factor fell into play, i.e. buying tapes that had really evil looking artwork just based on the fantasy art.
Crustcake: Also, could you indulge my inner gear nerd. You already mentioned one of Marcus' amps, but what gear are you and Marcus playing right now: amps, cabs, guitars, and any neat pedals?
Snarzyk: I couldn't tell you all of his pedals. I know he has a holy grail of some sort. He runs his Stonecutter through a Mesa 4x12 and my Earth 4x12. I dialed back my pedals to just a tuner. I play through a Sunn Beta Bass and a Beta 2x15 and an Earth 2x15 live mostly.
Crustcake: You just finished tracking a few records at Firebrand Studio in St. Louis. Describe that process. Did you do most of the tracking live or individually? Are there any producers or studios you'd like to record in the future?
Snarzyk: We went in one day and tracked seven songs live in a room. Marcus went back in and did a few guitar overdubs and then we did vocals. The whole tracking process took about ten hours and we got songs for our Bronsonic record and a 12-inch split we are doing with The Lion's Daughter. We left all of our fuck ups on the record and went for the raw approach. I prefer tracking live. I like guitars to bleed into drum mics. Engineers probably hate us.
Crustcake: Ya'll seem to play a lot with the bands on your St. Louis based label, I Hate Punk Rock Records, and with those hosted on Pissfork.net, is this just happenstance, or because of the shortage of good STL heavy bands, or is the seeming brotherhood real?
Snarzyk: Well, for one, we have no label to speak of. I put out tapes with my little project (pissfork) Hands Up Records is releasing our 12" split with The Lion's Daughter, who are a killer band by the way. There have been talks of a 7" split with The Fuck Off And Dies that Mike at [I Hate Punk Rock Records] has expressed some interest in releasing, but no label has confined us yet. As far as playing with these bands, yes, the reason is there are very few bands of worth in this city, the music scene is crawling out, but the music scene is pretty slow here.
Crustcake: What's your favorite show/tour story and worst (or funniest) show/tour story?
Snarzyk: Probably the Eyehategod/Nachtmystium show. I was so incredibly under the influence that I nearly passed out during Eyehategod's set. Our drummer carried me out to puke all over myself and a few others. Apparently I went back in and fought my way to the front of the stage again, only to repeat the process.
Crustcake: What's your opinion of the greater St. Louis heavy music scene today? Getting better, worse, stagnating?
Snarzyk: It's definitely gotten better and is starting to show some promise, Harkonin, The Lion's Daughter, ((Thorlock)) and Everything Went Black are all killer bands that are worth checking out. There are a few others as well but I didn't come here to plug everyones band in St. Louis.
Crustcake: What's next on the horizon for Fister?
Snarzyk: Ah, ome records, and we've got a show with Buzzov*en and Cough coming up that we are pretty stoked about. I have a lot of cassettes I plan on releasing in 2011 (Harkonin, Lion's Daughter, Black Dwarf, ((Thorlock)), Rectification) Bronsonic is out now limited to 30 copies and it's up for free download at Pissfork.net.
Fister - "Man on the Silver Mountain/Santabbath"
Fister - "Santabbath (BRONSONIC PREVIEW)"