INTERVIEW: MICHAEL WOODS (DROPgOD)


*DROPgOD performance at The Continental in the late ‘90s (Halloween show

DROPgOD

Mixing hardcore with nu metal, DROPgOD got their start in Buffalo in the late ’90s. They were poised to put their own unique spin on a style of music ever growing in popularity at the time, and in doing so, created yet another staple in the history of heavy music in Western New York. Fronted by Michael Woods (Down the Drain, Grady’s Ax, Varices, WarSaw), DROPgOD probably wrote one of the first demos I ever heard when first entering the local music scene, and since I was big into bands like Slipknot, Korn, local hardcore heroes, Snapcase, and yes, even Primer 55 back in high school, I instantly fell in love with DROPgOD upon first listen. Singer, Michael Woods, was kind enough to do this interview with me.

1. When did you officially start up DROPgOD?

1996 or 1997.

2. How did you come up with the name?

Originally we were called Clockwork. We did a couple shows and a demo under that name. It just wasn’t fitting us, and too many people kept saying it was like the movie Clockwork Orange. We wanted our music to get more “evil” and we were talking about how people needed to drop God from their lives and put faith in themselves. We decided God was less, and spelled it DROPgOD. Almost instantly we knew it was meant for us.

3. What style were you originally going for?

Well, the members in the band had different styles. The band was kind of started before I joined. Stef (guitar) and Sam (drums) were playing in a band Blindcide. They ended about the same time I left the band I was in, Vent. I had been friends with Sam for a while already, played in a band with him years before, and it just worked to get together. Long story short, I would say hardcore mixed with nu metal at first.

4. Talk about some of the best, most memorable shows DROPgOD ever played.

Almost all shows at the Continental were memorable. We were fortunate to become regulars there and were invited to play most of the holiday shows, which were good crowd nights. Opening for Bloodlet at Showplace was one of my personal favorites, being a huge fan of them. One show I’ll never forget is a show our bass player Chuck got us. It was called “Burnout on the Hill” which took place in a garage. It was a big party in the country where people were doing burnouts in the cars on the road, on a hill. The other bands that played were cover bands. We were the last band to play I believe and we just stormed in with fury. Tons of drunk moshing. I remember a kiddie pool used as a cooler for beer, and people getting thrown into it. Also a show at the Legion in Lackawanna where it got so nuts we were asked to stop playing cause chairs were flying and fights starting. We were able to start back up to play one last one and it was crazy. Our stage was filled with girls and the floor was a pit of sweaty dudes. There’s many more shows that were awesome, but I was generally alcohol fueled and my memory is shady now, or I may not want to relive some of those times because I wasn’t a good person at times back then.

5. Talk about your favorite venues in and out of Buffalo.

We didn’t get out of Buffalo much. Any place we may have, I honestly don’t remember. I loved the Continental and Showplace. I really liked every place we could drink and make noise and make a spectacle of myself.

6. List off and discuss some of your favorite bands in the scene at the time DROPgOD was active.

We played a lot with Motherbirth and Skungk. Was always fun playing with them. I really enjoyed Yellow No. 5 a lot, and Short of Breath were one of my favorites. Three Below always impressed me also. The bands in the scene had so much energy. There were so many bands in the scene back then it seemed. Always seemed band members were at other bands shows for support. It definitely felt like a metal community.

7. List off and discuss other projects you’ve been involved with in the Buffalo scene that have since disbanded.

After DROPgOD, in this order were, Dross, Down the Drain, Sidis, Grady’s Ax/Narcisse, Varices, Warsaw. I loved them all. Dross was one of my favorites because I got to play with the Popielski Brothers, Phil and Dean, from Against All Hope. The music was so metal and powerful. Down the Drain was shorter lived for me as their vocalist. Damn those were party days!!!! Sidis led to Grady’s Ax. Damn that challenged me. We got more math grind style. It was going exactly in the direction I wanted, HEAVY. Then Varices and Warsaw picked up after that and more brutality. Warsaw was just reaching a sweet spot of writing when Jeff became sick. We had something special with him and Dean. I feel so lucky to have played in so many bands with amazing, talented musicians.

8. How did you get started as a vocalist? Who were the singers that first inspired you to go this route?

I was too lazy to learn an instrument and wanted the spotlight. I always had anger and needed to scream it out. I absolutely love people who can sing beautifully and can carry a note, wish I could, but that’s not me. I was inspired as a kid by Elvis and Prince. Two of my favorite singers are Mike Patton (I mean, what vocalist doesn’t like Patton?!?!) and Chino Moreno. I love aggressive vocalists who have feeling in their voice. Daryl Palumbo from Glassjaw had that emotion. Jonah Matranga from the band Far, that dude had it. I need to feel the emotion. Mike Muir, that’s a voice I would try to emulate when I was singing, cause it was soft and laid back, I could handle that. Scott Angelacos from Bloodlet was always a voice I loved also. I really like the voices I couldn’t be like, weirdly. Sebastian Bach, I would love to have his voice. I know there’s so many that are buried in my mind. I could just name probably 100 more and why I like them.

9. Back in the days of DROPgOD and Down the Drain, did you have any recurring lyrical themes you found yourself always writing about?

Girls, breakups, killing of those girls. Anti religion. Hatred towards society. I was very angry. (laughs)

10. Going forward in time a bit, talk about what it was like working with Jeff in Varices and Warsaw during his final years.

Man, that dude became one of my best friends. It clicked with me and Jeff. I can’t believe we hadn’t met until Varices, we knew so many of the same people from back in the Death Metal days. First thing I loved about him personally, the dude could make you laugh. He said the funniest things. He always put me in a good mood. I loved his guitar playing and sound. In Varices, him and Phil had such different styles and sound, but damn did it sound so good together. His picking was ridiculously good. I got to get even closer with him in Warsaw. We wanted to keep playing after Varices, so onward we went and I got my old drummer Deaner from Dross to get jamming again. Him and Jeff hit it off so good. Awkward as fuck at first meshing their styles, but then it just clicked and they became a tight unit. The best thing I remember with Jeff was him and I going somewhere for a couple beers before most Warsaw practices. I literally could talk with him about anything in my life and I know he was truly listening and would give me honest advice. I miss him a lot. I had some of the best, real, conversations with him. I trusted his words, he didn’t mince them. Right before he passed, we had some beautiful, heart wrenching talks. I could go on and on and on about him. Nothing but loving memories for that dude. You should probably do an issue of stories on some of our dearly departed Buffalo metal musicians in the future.

11. As sort of a “Where are they now?” segment, discuss the current happenings in your life. You recently moved to North Carolina. What was the reason for this, and how has life been since leaving Buffalo behind? How often do you come back to visit?

It was just time for me to get out of Buffalo. I just couldn’t do the long dreary winters anymore. I do miss so many people from there, I truly do, but I love these Blue Ridge Mountains I moved to. Personally, I’m in a much better headspace now in life. I’m my own boss as an independent contractor working on gravestones out in the cemeteries. It’s outdoors and peaceful. I pretty much just do family life now. We all train Martial Arts and I’ve taken my overall health very serious now. It’s a whole family endeavor. This place is definitely the place for the Woods family for the long haul. I do come back to Buffalo to do work several times a year. I’m usually very busy and don’t really get to make plans with anyone. But one of these times, I’m seriously thinking of just inviting every one of my fucking friends out somewhere for food and drink. Whoever shows, shows. To be honest, somehow, someway, I’d like to make one last trip to the stage in Buffalo to perform. We’ll see.

12. Do you have any plans to do harsh vocals again for any projects? Anything new in the works?

Well, I’ll say you never know. Right now, as much as I’d like to do something extremely heavy, I also just like not doing music. The metal scene down here just isn’t what it is up there. All my fellow musicians are back up north. If I could find a way to work with musicians remotely, I’d consider it. Play a show like once a year when I’m back up north working. I’m also in a much different headspace these days, more grown up, and I’ve thought of lyrically writing an album of my life and finding a musician to work on an “Eerie Acoustic” soundtrack for it. I guess change it up a bit for myself. Who knows. Nothings on the table at the moment, and I guess nothing’s off the table at the same time.

I really appreciate this little “go back in time” piece you have provided me with.

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