onsdag 27 november 2013

Intervju med Chris Ulsh

I first met Chris Ulsh at a pre show for this years Chaos in Tejas at a bar called Chain Drive. We talked a bit and I bought a shirt and some Impalers EP´s. Only having heard the demo EP before I wasn´t quite prepared for the intensity Impalers brought live. It´s safe to say that festival started pretty great with that show. Day by day it proved that this is a man of many talents as he played with five different bands on severeal occasions throughout the festival. Chris proved to be a really nice guy as we met each other here and there the next couple of days, and since he released records with all of his bands this year I figured an interview could be in place. I put some links at the bottom for every band mentioned in this interview. Thanks you for the interview Chris!

* So, how did it all start for you? How did you get involved with punk/hardcore/metal in the first place?

When I was 8 years old my cousin came in to town and played me two CDs on his portable CD player - Metallica's Master of Puppets and White Zombie's Astrocreep 2000. We listened to them over and over in the back of his mom's minivan and I was hooked on metal for life. Later on I started getting into punk, then in high school my friend made a mix tape for me with Poison Idea, Koro, Mayhem, and some more stuff. I kind of quit everything else I was into after that.

* How long did it take from this first contact with punk/hardcore/metal until you started your first band? Did any of your bands record anything or is Mammoth Grinder the first band that did?

Mammoth Grinder was the first real band I was in that recorded anything. Brian and I started it in 2006 when we were 17 and recorded a couple times but I doubt either of us think it turned out very well. The split with Legion was the first release where I think we finally hit the mark.

*Tell me about Mammoth Grinder. Was this started as a two man band just like Impalers or were there more people involved from the start?

The core of the band has always been Brian and I. We had a slew of other bass players before we found Alex. Then Wade joined on 2nd guitar. Both of them contributed writing the last LP and the extra help shows a lot.

*I hear alot of similarities between Mammoth Grinder and Impalers in the sense that Anti Cimex, Celtic Frost, Venom, Discharge and Poison Idea seems to be the main influences although Mammoth Grinder focuses more on the metal side of things and with maybe some swedish death metal influence where Impalers focuses more on the hardcore side of things. Did you start Impalers because you wanted to do a more hardcore oriented band with those same influences but thought it didn´t fit for Mammoth Grinder? Or am I just out on a whim here?

We were on tour in Baltimore on a particularly grim night of tour and Mike and I were in the van by ourselves listening to Discharge. That's pretty much where it started. When we got home we would practice while waiting for people in our other bands to show up, then started scheduling our own practices. At first we wanted it to be more metal than it turned out to be, like a punk NWOBHM mix, but it sort of turned into it's own thing.

*I´m guessing you´re the main singwriter in Mammoth Grinder and Impalers. How is it playing in Hatred Surge, Power Trip and Vaaska. Are you as involved in song writing in those bands or is it a more lean back and just do your thing situation?

Not nearly as much. I wrote a riff or two on the Power Trip LP but mostly helped out putting together the arrangements. In Vaaska it's d-beat, fill, repeat. Alex has always written everything for Surge but I might have added a pinch harmonic here or there.

*Seeing you play in five recording/touring bands at the moment, as well as having been to Australia as a live guitarist for Innumerable Forms this year. Where do you find the time? I asked this question in Austin but if you could elaborate a bit more. Where do you find time to hang out with your girlfriend between working and rehearsing with five bands? And since Power Trip is based out of Dallas and you live in Austin I imagine they do alot of rehearsals without a drummer.

My girlfriend is the sweetest most patient person in the world. When I'm not on tour I usually get home from work and go to practice most days. Whenever I don't have practice we'll make food and watch a horror movie or something. We don't really go out very much. Everyone in Power Trip does a lot of practicing on their own. If we have a show coming up we usually meet up somewhere and practice right before. We play live a lot so we don't need too much refreshing.

*Power Trip is doing a European tour this fall but you´re not going with them. I guess work gets in the way of doing all the tours imaginable. How much does this bum you out? And while talking about Power Trip, I hear alot of similarities to Iron Age, almost to the extent that I thought for a while that some members of that band were involved. How much did they mean for you as a band?

They were huge for everyone in Texas that was into hardcore. I might have seen them live more than any other band I can think of. We owe a lot to them. They got Mammoth Grinder on a bunch of their shows when we were relatively unknown and Jason eventually released two records for us on his Cyclopean label. They don't share any members with Power Trip but I filled in for them last weekend at Not Dead Yet fest in Toronto. It was a bummer not to be able to do the PT Euro tour but the fest was so much fun and entirely worth it.

*You mentioned in Austin you had really fun playing in Vaaska. What makes it so fun? How long have you been a member of that band?

I can't remember exactly, more than a year but not much more. The only records I have played drums on so far are the Skizophrenia split and the Impalers split. I always really liked Vaaska before I ever joined. We all live close are usually at the bar together if we aren't working on new stuff. Never a dry practice. Impalers are the same way.

*All your five bands have released at least one record this year, some even two. Which one´s are you most happy about? Anything you´d like to change regarding sound, mix or whatever?

I think I'm most happy with the Mammoth Grinder record, only because we sent it back to many times to get everything perfect. It took a really, really long time but the final result was worth the trouble I think. It got mastered twice, mixed who knows how many times. I went in for weeks to change vocals or guitar solos. It got to be pretty grueling. None of the other records I played on this year took that much work so I can absolutely be thankful for that.

*Impalers have just released the first LP. As imagined it´s great. Some songs remind me alot of some of the riffings from Lanchy (Totalitär) and Jallo (Meanwhile). Are these bands you return to often for inspiration?

Totalitär is one of my all time favorites. We listen to meanwhile a lot in the van on tour. You guys have always had the sickest punk bands over there and I am so jealous. I just heard the new Institution stuff and I love it. Tell your friends I'm trying to get my hands on some Damaged Head stuff!

*The music scene in Austin seems amazing with all the shows and all the places to play. Are you satisfied living in the warmest city I´ve ever been to? I guess you get used to it but for me coming from chilly Sweden and seeing native Austin folks being out in that heat with jeans on just blew my mind. And I heard it got even warmer later on in the summer.

Hah I can imagine. I was so cold when I went to Sweden, I would never last there. Austin is the best city in US. It has it's bullshit just like any other city but I won't be leaving any time soon. We have great bands, record stores, venues, food, everything.

*What´s up next for you? Supporting all the records with your various bands or are you already writing new songs and planning for new releases?

Mammoth Grinder and Power Trip are about to do a small tour, then Impalers and Vaaska are going to go to the west coast after that. Then I imagine everyone will start working on new songs. We all have riffs and ideas but haven't had the time to get together and churn them out, so I bet once we have a break from touring all of that will start coming together.

Impalers: Bandcamp

Vaaska: Soundcloud

Power Trip: Bandcamp

Mammoth Grinder: Bandcamp

Hatred Surge: Bandcamp

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