Does that band name ring a bell? It should, it was only one of the biggest selling games of its time. But also, if the riffs found within sound familiar but you can’t quite put your finger on it, think back to Sofa King Killer (say it slow and pay attention). Anyway, video game inspired Contra are soon to be releasing their debut full length album Deny Everything and in case you missed the reference above, this is a riff centered metal band kin to the likes of the groovier than ever Clutch and the doomy side of Down. Heavy but extremely catchy is this band’s trademark and their full length is chock full of it. Just ahead of the July 1 release date we got a chance to ask vocalist Larry Brent our set of Profile questions so read on to see what he had to say.
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
I first started playing music in 1989/1990 while I was in high school. I started a hardcore punk band with some friends and continued from there – I’ve been in a succession of bands since. I’m a lifer and have no concerns regarding success in the traditional sense. As long as the band is self-sufficient in a way that allows us to continue to play shows and make records, I’m happy.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
I’ve never debased myself to get on any shows or through promotion, but I’ve played some pretty ridiculous gigs. I almost died at one of my earlier band’s final shows. During the last song, I somersaulted off a stage monitor, fell through the crowd and landed on the back of my head. The club called the paramedics and I was carried out on a stretcher. I don’t remember anything, after landing, until I came to in the hospital the next day. I had massive cerebral hemorrhaging and was in the hospital for a week. After that I was on strict bed rest for a month. The adult in me says, “that was the dumbest thing you’ve ever done”, but the 15 year old in me says, “that was my band’s last show and I almost died – you can’t top that”.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
It’s hard to say, I really don’t have my ear to the street like the other guys do. I haven’t heard any new metal bands that I care for all that much – but then again, I don’t listen to many new bands. I do like Wrong and Hollow Leg a lot though. Ruby the Hatchet is pretty great. Locally, I like Deathcrawl, Supercorrupter, gOOsed and a few others.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
I teach special education at an elementary school, so most of my time and energy goes into work. I don’t approach it as a “cause”. Those kids are my family, so I don’t think about it in those terms. But, I don’t inject any of my political leanings in the lyrics and I’m not one for talking about the meaning in them. Politically I lean pretty hard to the left. If you want to label it, I’d say my politics are pretty “progressive”, but it is not relevant and not relevant to the band.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
14 or 15? I spent most of my childhood listening to my dad’s blues records. But, Sabbath was the first band to rule my life. After that it was hardcore bands like Negative Approach, SS Decontrol, Necros and Die Kreuzen. But, as far as metal goes – Sabbath and Voivod. Voivod is the greatest – ever. I got into all that music through my cousin’s record collection. She always had the best stuff.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Just be honest. We are all adults (well, some of us are) and should be able to take some constructive criticism. I’m probably getting this quote wrong, but “we come into the arena uncalled to seek our fortune, but risk disgrace”. Basically, wear your big-boy pants – nobody asked anyone to start a band so get over it.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
My only goal is to keep playing gigs and continue to put out music I enjoy.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Voivod “Killing Technology”, Negative Approach “Tied Down”, Laughing Hyenas “You Can’t Pray a Lie”, Howlin’ Wolf “The Chess Box Set”, Ruby the Hatchet “Valley of the Snake”.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Larry for his time!