Interview: Joe Leising (Of Rotten Metal Recording Studio + EVERY BAND IN BUFFALO)

jl5People love to poke fun at how “incestuous” the Buffalo metal scene can be, but when the ratio of bands to musicians is ever nearing “out of whack” proportions, what is one supposed to do? The answer is simple: Join every band in town. People like Eareckson Murray, Josh Mason, Shawn Gomez and Jason Roman have really embraced this idea and taken the bull by the horns. But instead of covering a laundry list of history with all of these folks at once, let’s start off with the current heavyweight champion of “being in a shit ton of bands”, Mr. Joe Leising.

Let’s do a quick rundown of Joe’s current projects. I’m bound to miss a few, but that’s half the fun. We’ve got:

  • Ferus Din (Blackened folk metal)
  • One Way Terror (rock/metal/thrash/punk/stuff)
  • Enthauptung (atmospheric black metal)
  • Pig Rectum (in your face deathened grindcore)
  • Hellcannon (pure fucking death/thrash)
  • Seplophile (pure fucking death metal)

That’s all I’ve got, now who’d I miss, Joe?

Joe Leising: You actually nailed it man, save for a few studio projects I’ve been sitting on. I did have to think about it for quite some time though. It’s a little tough for me to keep track.

Mike Marlinski: Furthermore, a list of current projects this extensive, has had to have left a crazy list of past bands churned up in its wake. Joe, can you give us a list of every band you’ve been in, in chronological order?

JL: Oh, man. This took me a while. Are we counting fill in gigs, studio bands and one-offs? Feel free to redact them if you feel like I’m padding this list. Here we go:

Chikinfist

DREK (formerly Static Carnival)

Pig Rectum

Paradox (fill-in)

Ailment (one-off)

Beaver kill (studio project)

Sekhet

Enthauptung

Horror epics (one-off)

Hellcannon

One way terror

V.O.C.

Wretchedpain (fill-in)

Seplophile

Ferus Din

Anthropic (fill-in)

MM: As for influences, it’d be easy to look at the aforementioned bands, think about what they sound like and come up with a list of bands Joe probably loves. Joe, thinking outside the box, name some bands that got you interested in playing music in the first place?

JL: No joke. Saw the movie “School of Rock” in eighth grade and that kicked everything off. Started stealing my sister’s mix CDs so I could listen to Zeppelin and Sabbath while I delivered papers. Asked my parents if they’d buy me a drum set (wishful thinking) so we compromised and I got a guitar for Christmas that year. That was right about when my grades started to plummet. I’m sure that’s just coincidence.

MM: Joe also runs a recording studio in North Tonawanda called Rotten Metal Recording. He’s recorded some great albums for Cain, Hubris and Enthauptung, just to name a few. What got you into sound engineering and how long have you been doing it?

JL: Started recording my own stuff just to make demos for songs while I was in high school, but that was mostly just to show people what kind of music I was writing to see if they wanted to start a band. I think it was Devin Townsend who really got me interested in real production. He produces and mixes all his own stuff, and really did a lot of creative stuff to make his records sound huge and epic. I think I liked that the engineering side of his records was a piece of art in and of itself-lots of sound effects and sample layering and whatnot. That felt just as interesting and creative to me as writing guitar riffs. So when it came time to go to college, I figured being a recording engineer was a little more realistic than becoming a rock star.

MM: Name some other projects you’ve recorded that you’re really proud of.

JL: HUNS. Their first EP, “Kommen Winter” is still one of my favorite records I’ve engineered to date. I’m actually in the process of mixing their 3rd EP right now. I think I like it so much because of the Devin Townsend stuff I mentioned earlier-they’re a very collaborative group of dudes, and they’re very open to post-production craziness, and even arrangement decisions on my part. I have a lot of creative flexibility with those records, so it’s always nice when they come around.

MM: What currently active local bands are you excited about? Is there anyone you know of, brewing up some tunes that we don’t know about yet? Who should we be on the lookout for?

JL: DUDES. Maybe I just have a thing for bands that spell their name in all caps. Who knows? That band rocks…it’s kind of like early QOTSA…raw, loud, big-ass-pedalboard garage rock, with a bit of psychedelia. They just came in recently to track their self-proclaimed “opus”…it’s a 20 minute stoner rock jam tracked all live and in one take. It’s fucking epic. Keep an eye out for that. And their shows are always a blast.

MM: Who have been your favorite musicians to work with over the years?

JL: That’s tough…although if I had to narrow it down, I’d probably pick C.W. (Hubris/Ferus Din) and Jason Roman (Sertraline/Enthauptung). Dubbs was my rock on Hellcannon’s European tour. We had both jumped on as fill-ins for that, and without much time to prepare (and the added nerves of playing on a different continent), I was a little less than confident in my playing. But CW was so damn consistent night after night that it made getting into the groove super easy. He’s a pro. Glad I can share the stage with him again now that we’re both in Ferus Din. And Jason…that dude rules. Super talented bassist, great ear for music, all around solid dude. Last year I was working on a record for the band Crystal Industry, who didn’t have a bassist, so I called up Jason to come in as a session player. I think he got to hear the material once, like a day before he came in to track. Improvised every take, wrote everything on the fly, and came up with some awesome shit.  And this isn’t some AC/DC four-chord rock stuff, this was Tool-ass prog metal. Time signatures out the ass. Key signatures out the ass. Dude was nailing everything. I think we tracked bass for the whole record in about 3 hours. The guy’s a monster.

jl3

MM: Pig Rectum was a staple at The Funeral Home. Talk about some of your most memorable times there.

JL: Admittedly most of those shows are a blur when I look back…Greg Dipasquale, however, loves to bring up Pat Pagan’s bachelor party show. Rectum had already played a gig that night at Mohawk Place opening for The Bunny the Bear (which was a bit strange) and as soon as we finished our set, we drove out to The Funeral Home to close out Pat’s show. Me and Kurt (drums) were already a little sauced, and we happened to have a taser handy, so we proceeded to taze ourselves and each other throughout the set. I have no recollection of this, but I’ll take Greg’s word for it. Our battle set with Inerds stands out too. We lost that battle hard. That band ruled (And could play about 20 times louder than we could). That place was awesome, even outside the context of playing there, I spent a lot of time there and met a lot of amazing people. It really solidified the metal scene for me…that was the one place I feel like everyone was comfortable at. They had a pretty wide variety of bands/genres/scenes going through that place, but it all somehow made sense there. Not a lot of other venues have felt like that. At least not to me.

MM: Which is your favorite venue to play/visit in the area (Rochester counts.)?

JL: Forgive the brevity, picking favorites is hard. Bug Jar always stood out to me though. Good atmosphere, good sound, cheap beer…Oz has been doing some solid work there. Always bringing in killer bands. Save for driving through a snowstorm to open for 1349, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad time playing there.

MM: Sidenote- Vick and I spent the night in Rochester the weekend of that 1349 show. Nile played Montage the night before, so it was more than worth the time. Both shows were great. The weather did get pretty real though that weekend. Holy shit. Moving on…

Who’s your favorite sound guy in Buffalo/Rochester?

JL: John Shotwell. Space echo 4 life.

(That joke is for about 4 people. Worth it.)

MM: Favorite promoters?

JL: Right now I think Jeff Standish (Coming of Rage Productions) is killing it. It’s tough to find a promoter who’s still passionate about what they do (I imagine dealing with band bullshit for years can make you a little jaded) but Jeff still really cares about what he’s doing. He never half asses a show, and he always brings awesome bands around. And he’s at like, every metal show ever. It’s refreshing to see that…it heavily contrasts my early days of booking shows, where all the promoters were strange shadow people you had to meet at obscure hours of the night to get your stack of typo’d flyers and sign vague contractual agreements. Maybe I just hadn’t found the right people yet.

MM: Do you prefer guitar or bass? OR, does it depend on the band?

JL: I really don’t have a preference, I suppose the band makes a difference…it’s just a different vibe. Bass is a supporting role most of the time, so I’ll play parts that lean a lot more on the drum patterns and make sure I’m reinforcing the guitar parts…when I play bass I’m a lot more concerned about unifying the sound of the whole band, if that makes any sense. It’s nice though, because it forces me to write within limitation, and that brings out a lot of creativity. Guitar is a lot more “open”…which is nice, for a while. I used to love writing all my own music from scratch, on my own…I did that for about 6 years or so. Complete creative freedom is nice, you’re only limited by your own playing ability, and because of that I pushed myself to improve, because at the time my musical influences were becoming increasingly fast and complex bands. After a while though, it’s like I got sick of my own style…nothing felt fresh. I think that’s why I started joining all these bands in the last few years. Learning other people’s styles and writing for songs that already have riffs and structure ideas, writing collaboratively with other people, it all feels a lot more rewarding to me. But who knows. Maybe I’ll start writing my own stuff again one of these days.

MM: Most memorable show you’ve played…

JL: Enthauptung’s CD release at the grain silos. That show was unreal. I think that Dan Drexel’s only redeeming quality is that he has the drive to make his ridiculous ideas a reality. Otherwise he’s just a bald cunt with shitty guitar tone.

(I love you, Dan.)

MM: Most memorable show you’ve attended…

JL: I’ll give you a top 5, because I’m indecisive. And it feels unfair to pit amazing local shows against big tours with huge production value. So in no particular order:

Cannibal Corpse/Nile/Skeletonwitch/Exhumed. Cincinnati road trip with a few other deviants from Buffalo. Many drinks. And the sketchiest of motels.

Hubris’s CD release at The Funeral Home. Severed pig heads. Dagon’s penis. Fun Home in a nutshell. That’s all I care to say about that.

Tony Lorenzo’s benefit at Club Infinity. Didn’t know Tony at the time. But Adam and Kurt from Pig Rectum had spoken highly of SOA. And who was I to pass up seeing half of Cannibal Corpse perform with local legends in their original bands?

Tony Lorenzo’s benefit at the Waiting Room. This time I knew Tony. And a lot of his friends. Incredible day to be a part of…don’t really know what else to say.

Vital Remains and Monstrosity at Michelino’s Bistro. That’s the first show I ever attended…went with 2 high school friends. Didn’t know anyone else. Years later that show would come up in conversation many times, because apparently half my friends in the metal scene were at that show, but it would be about another 2 years before any of us actually became aware of each other. Technically, that was the first time I ever saw Pat Pagan. Back then, to me, he was just some random idiot. Now he’s an idiot I know.

(I love you, Pat.)

MM: Sum up the Buffalo metal scene in one word.

JL: DragonLordFrodo.

Just kidding.

How about one quote? Paraphrased, more or less. Greg DiPasquale, drinking a beer with me before practice:

“Buffalo really has the best bands. I’m sure everyone says that about their town. But not everyone is right. We have the best bands. And I’m right.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s